Villa's wall remains solid
Tottenham Hotspur 0 Aston Villa 0
Monday 08 February 2010
With this goalless draw, Aston Villa have failed to score in five of their last six Premier League games. Given that coyness in attack, Martin O'Neill's men need to be able to keep goals out if they are to maintain their push for fourth place. At least they showed they are effective in that department.
"Dunny, Ginge, Carlos and Luke" is how Brad Friedel, the fifth member of Villa's back line identifies the four defenders in front of him, which makes them sound like friends from the school playground, but Richard Dunne, James "Ginge" Collins, Carlos Cuellar and Luke Young are not just playing for kicks. They are now playing for the Champions League, not to mention the Carling Cup final against Manchester United at the end of the month.
The hosts were denied by Friedel on four occasions, notably from a flick by Ledley King and a shot from Peter Crouch low down that was deflected off Dunne.
Villa's back five put in a monumental effort in a clash that was supposed to clear up some of the haze around who will claim that last Champions League qualifying position. By the end of the evening, the uncertainty was even more entrenched.
The managers of both these clubs are as unsure as anyone how it's going to turn out. Martin O'Neill, the Villa manager, was being cute, saying that Liverpool were now the favourites, citing his long-held regard for the club.
"I have had a healthy respect for Liverpool for a long time. They have been a top four side, they finished second last year. Everybody goes through trials and tribulations and I think their big win, to keep going, was the 94th-minute winner against us at Villa Park," O'Neill said.
Harry Redknapp, O'Neill's opposite number, feels the clubs around him are taking it in turns to slip up, which might make him slightly worried that it could be his side next.
They travel to Molineux to play Wolverhampton on Wednesday. The enduring absence of Aaron Lennon – out for another month – on the flank makes Spurs less of a threat.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Dawson, King, Bale; Bentley, Palacios, Huddlestone, Modric; Defoe, Crouch. Substitutes not used: Alnwick (gk), Kaboul, Jenas, Gudjohnsen, Bassong, Kranjcar, Walker.
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel; Cuellar, Collins, Dunne, L Young; A Young, Milner, Petrov, Downing (Sidwell, 88); Agbonlahor, Heskey (Carew, 22). Substitutes not used: Guzan (gk), Delfouneso, Davies, Delph, Beye.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Man of the match: Dunne.
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