Tottenham Hotspur managed to grab their fourth consecutive league win and have moved within a point of Manchester City for second place in the English Premier League. Spurs, despite a perceived slow start, are unbeaten since their season opening loss to Newcastle and look to be in fine form following this 2-0 victory over Aston Villa.
Spurs started the match quickly. Gareth Bale fired just wide of Target in the very first minute of the match. Spurs continued to press the Villa defense in the second minute. This time Jan Vertonghen broke down left and played in a cross to Jermain Defoe, but the England striker was just offside.
A bit of "controversy" came in the 12th minute. Gareth Bale was racing down the right flank when he went down from a "challenge" from Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan. Replays showed quite clearly that Guzan never touched Bale and the Welsh winger was lucky to escape the incident without a yellow card for simulation.
Villa finally managed to threaten the Tottenham goal in the 21st minute as Christian Benteke struck a hard shot that Lloris was able to fist away. The French goalkeeper look confident in the first half coming of his line several times, once to prevent a breakaway goals after Kyle Walker gave the ball away in midfield.
Possession was pretty even in the first half, but Spurs had the better chances of the two teams. Tottenham had several corners, but never really managed to threaten Brad Guzan's goal. Vertonghen looked like Tottenham's biggest attacking threat and as good as that is for the Belgian, it's not a good thing for Spurs.
Aston Villa had the first real chance of the second half following an error from Lloris. His throw was rushed and Bale was caught unaware. Marc Albrighton picked up the throw and crossed towards Benteke who's header from 6 yards out had Lloris beaten but was well wide. The Belgian striker really should have done better with the effort, but he let Spurs off the hook.
As so often happens when a team misses a sitter, Tottenham proceeded to score shortly thereafter. Spurs won a corner and Gareth Bale's delivery somehow managed to find the feet of Defoe who poke the ball in the general vicinity of the goal. The effort looked to be going wide, but it took a deflection off the heel of Steven Caulker and went in. The goal belonged to Caulker, making it the defenders first ever goal for Spurs.
Seven minutes later Spurs doubled their lead, this time through Aaron Lennon. Dempsey found Lennon in the right channel and the English winger cut inside before unleashing a shot that went through the legs of Villa fullback Joe Bennet and managed to sneak just inside Brad Guzan's far post.
Tottenham had a few more good chances to extend their lead down the stretch, but couldn't convert. The best fell to Clint Dempsey who did had a horrendous effort from a good cross from Walker. The American's free-header from 6 yards out was well wide, which was bad considering he had most of the goal to aim for.
Aston Villa didn't offer up much resistance the rest of the way, owing in part to playing the final 15 minutes down a man after Bennet was stretchered off after Paul Lambert had already used all three of his substitutions. Spurs finished the game with 56% of possession and 22 total shots, 6 of those on goal.
The performances of the match belonged to the pair in the center of the park for Spurs. Sandro and Mousa Dembele bossed the game for Tottenham Hotspur. Both completed better than 90% of their paces, but it was on defense that the two truly shined. Dembele managed eight successful tackles and four interceptions, while Sandro kicked in with 2 successful tackles and seven interceptions.
On the flip side, Jermain Defoe, despite his assist, looked pretty poor in this match. The effective hold up play, unselfishness, and movement off the ball were pretty much gone. Too often Defoe didn't pick his head up and instead opted to blast the ball goalward in search of a his 200th career goal (a birthday goal to boot).
Spurs find themselves in sole possession of fourth place, ahead of both Manchester United and Arsenal. Unfortunately, Tottenham's momentum will be interrupted by the international break. It will be two weeks until Spurs welcome Chelsea to White Hart Lane in what could be a clash with huge implications in the league.