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Villa 0-2 Spurs – Mauricio's verdict

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

We dominated for long periods but had to wait until the final minute of the first half to open the scoring as Dele Alli’s quick thinking and early free-kick into Harry Kane was finished by the striker. The same pair combined again three minutes into the second half and that was just about that.

The win moved us to within two points of leaders Leicester in the Premier League – the Foxes play Newcastle on Monday night – and six and seven ahead of Arsenal and City respectively.

“It was very important to get the three points and to recover the good feeling after the last game against Borussia Dortmund, where the feeling wasn’t very good,” said Mauricio at Villa Park, referring to our 3-0 loss at the Bundesliga side in the Europa League on Thursday night.

“Now it’s important to keep in our way, keep this feeling and prepare for the next game.”

Below: Mauricio speaks to Spurs TV at Villa Park

These games are never easy – and we couldn’t get that key first goal until late in the first half…
“It’s always difficult. The most important thing is that we showed respect from the beginning and at no time played thinking like they are at the bottom of the table.”

What did you think of Dele Alli’s quick thinking for the first goal?
Mauricio: “It’s always important to have players who are clever and at that moment, to be ready to take advantage. It was an important action (from Dele) and key because after the chances we created and didn’t score, it was difficult. It was important for us to go 1-0 up and to score early in the second half as well.”

Harry had chances, hit the crossbar – but he keeps going…
Mauricio: “Harry is a very special player, he’s not just thinking about scoring but also thinking to work hard without the ball, and that’s what makes him so special.”

It’s the good end to the week that we needed…
Mauricio: “It was an important win and now we have some days to recover ahead of Thursday (return leg against Borussia Dortmund). That will be difficult, 3-0 down, but we will try to win the game and turn the tie around. It will be difficult because we have Borussia Dortmund in front of us and think they are one of the best teams in Europe, but we need to try.”

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Villa 0-2 Spurs – match gallery

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Goals either side of half-time from Harry Kane, both set up by Dele Alli, saw us claim the points at Villa Park.

It could have been more, too, as Kane and Erik Lamela hit the woodwork in the first half, with Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan in inspired form.

The hosts also hit the frame of the goal a couple of times late on, but in truth it was a comfortable victory for us.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Guzan; Hutton, Okore, Lescott (c), Cissokho; Westwood, Gana, Ayew; Gil (Sinclair 69), Veretout (Green 62), Gestede. Substitutes (not used): Bunn, Richards, Clark, Bacuna, Lyden.

Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c); Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Lamela (Chadli 89), Alli (Mason 86), Eriksen (Carroll 78); Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Davies, Trippier, Son.

Goals: Spurs – Kane 45, 48.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Attendance: 32,393.

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Villa 0-2 Spurs – report from Villa Park

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Having earlier hit the crossbar and then been denied by an in-form Brad Guzan in the home goal, the front man latched onto Dele Alli’s quickly-taken free-kick to fire us ahead on the stroke of half-time at Villa Park.

Erik Lamela had also hit the woodwork in a first period which we completely controlled.

Villa made a purposeful start to the second half but we soon stamped that out as Alli set up Kane to double his tally and draw himself level with Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy as the division’s top marksman with 19 league goals so far this term.

We saw out the game comfortably and, although Remi Garde’s men did hit the woodwork a couple of times towards the end, we closed the gap on leaders Leicester to two points, albeit having played one game more than the Foxes.

There were seven changes from the team defeated away to Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League on Thursday night with just Hugo Lloris, Toby Alderweireld, Kevin Wimmer and Christian Eriksen retaining their starting places. The team was, however, unchanged from our last league outing against Arsenal.

The home side were desperate for a win after four straight defeats, while we were keen to return to winning ways after going three games without a victory in all competitions.

We almost got off to a flying start inside the opening five minutes when Lamela put Kane through on goal and the striker beat Guzan to the ball, but his chip over the onrushing stopper carried a bit too much power and it bounced off the bar and behind for a goal-kick.

Kyle Walker was enjoying the freedom of the right flank and sent in a couple of dangerous crosses early on before Alli stung the palms of Guzan with a low drive from distance.

Villa grew into the game but Eriksen was next to go close when he fizzed a shot narrowly past the post from 25 yards.

Five minutes later Kane saw a snapshot from a Danny Rose cross well saved by Guzan as we looked dangerous on the counter. Wimmer sent Kane away in the channel soon afterwards but again Guzan stood up to beat his effort away.

We were getting closer but Guzan was on fine form, pushing a low Lamela shot onto the base of the post on the half-hour mark after more good work from Walker.

The right-back, enjoying a terrific game, then forced the keeper into another save two minutes later with a low drive from the corner of the box.

We had a let-off late in the half when Rudy Gestede volleyed straight at Lloris from six yards out after a good delivery from Jordan Veretout.

It looked like Villa would hold out until the interval but Guzan was finally beaten on the stroke of half time. Alli showed great speed of thought to take a free-kick quickly after being brought down, which Kane collected in his stride and he drove into the box in the left channel before firing past the keeper from a tight angle.

There were a couple of nervy moments in the opening 30 seconds after the interval as Villa pushed forward, but we killed the game off with another goal at the other end on 48 minutes. Alli kept his cool on the left to pick out Kane, who ran onto the ball in the area and rifled it into the top corner.

We continued to look dangerous on the break and Walker almost grabbed another on the hour mark with a rasping drive that Guzan parried away to safety.

The second goal had taken the sting out of the game and the tempo dropped as a result. There was no room for  complacency, though, and Gestede fired a warning shot with 20 minutes to go when he chested the ball down and rifled wide on the angle.

Lamela had an effort deflected wide with 15 minutes to go and Alli looked intent on adding to his two assists for the afternoon with Villa there for the taking.

Having knocked the ball around with ease for most of the second half, we nearly allowed the hosts back into the game on 84 minutes as Jordan Ayew got away from Mousa Dembele down the left side and hit the post from close to the byline with the ball ricocheting off Lloris’ feet into the path of Gestede, but his thunderous shot hit the underside of the bar.

Four minutes later Villa went close again when young Andre Green, on as a substitute for his Premier League debut, whipped in a corner which Gestede flicked on, with Joleon Lescott hitting the woodwork at the back post.

That was it as far as chances went, though, and we made a deserved return to winning ways.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Guzan; Hutton, Okore, Lescott (c), Cissokho; Westwood, Gana, Ayew; Gil (Sinclair 69), Veretout (Green 62), Gestede. Substitutes (not used): Bunn, Richards, Clark, Bacuna, Lyden.

Spurs (4-2-3-1): Lloris (c); Walker, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Rose; Dier, Dembele; Lamela (Chadli 89), Alli (Mason 86), Eriksen (Carroll 78); Kane. Substitutes (not used): Vorm, Davies, Trippier, Son.

Goals: Spurs – Kane 45, 48.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Attendance: 32,393.

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Sunderland U18s 3-0 Spurs – Kieran's verdict

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Having played some nice, attacking football and kept the Black Cats at bay during the opening 45 minutes, we suffered a blow when Jack Diamond stepped off the bench at the break and fired the hosts ahead within two minutes of the start of the second half.

Daniel Pybus then bagged a brace, his second goal coming from the penalty spot 10 minutes from time, as the home side claimed the points in the Barclays Under-18 Premier League.

“Obviously it’s a very disappointing result but actually we had a lot of positive aspects to the game, especially in the first half,” said Kieran, our Under-18s Coach.

“I thought we were excellent for the first 25 or 30 minutes and we should have put ourselves in a position to be one or two goals ahead. We had two good chances through Joy Mukena and Keanan Bennetts and dominated the game entirely, really, but we let them back into it a little bit before the end of the first half and then to concede the first goal shortly after half-time was disappointing.

“With the way that Sunderland were defending, the first goal was always going to be important. It was tough to break them down but at the other end we had some poor defensive lapses and some poor concentration to let them score again.

“We’re just going to have to take the positive aspects – the way we moved the ball and also the way we shut the ball down after we lost it was very positive but the defending for their goals was nowhere near good enough and we weren’t good enough in the final third to create and convert the chances that we should have done. All the players are disappointed but it’s about moving on now and improving.”

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'Stick to game plan at Villa' – Dele

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Our opponents are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table having won only three times in the league this season.

But midfielder Dele, back in the fray after missing our Europa League defeat at Borussia Dortmund in the week through suspension, is wary of a response from Remi Garde’s side and insists focus will be required from minute one if we’re to avoid slipping up at Villa Park.

“I’ve heard some people say that we have a couple of easy games coming up but I’d have to disagree strongly,” said the 19-year-old.

“I don’t think there are any easy games this season. We’ve seen there have been a lot of upsets over the course of the season in the league and we’ve got to make sure this isn’t one of them.

“Obviously they’re going to be fighting for every minute like their lives depend on it so we need to make sure that we kill them off and just keep trying to get as many goals as we can. It’s important that we stay focused, we go out there, stick to the game plan and try to get the three points.”

Club captain Hugo Lloris and injured attacker Clinton Njie both have prior knowledge of Garde’s methods having played under him at Ligue 1 side Lyon. Dele admits that he may consult the pair ahead of (Click for a free £25 bet) Kick-off in the hope of picking up some pointers about the type of challenge we could face against the Frenchman’s Villa side this afternoon.

“I haven’t spoken to them about it yet but I’m sure they’ll tell me a few things,” the midfielder added.

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Villa v Spurs – team news

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Danny and Eric both stayed at Hotspur Way as the squad flew out to Germany to face Borussia Dortmund in midweek while Dele was suspended for that first leg anyway after picking up three yellow cards in the Europa League.

Jan Vertonghen (knee) and Clinton Njie (knee) continue their rehabilitation

(Click for a free £25 bet) Kick-off is 4pm at Villa Park.



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Villa v Spurs – Mauricio's preview

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Villa are struggling at the foot of the table but Mauricio expects nothing less than a stern test from a team determined to perform in front of their fans at Villa Park.

We travel to Birmingham on the back of disappointing results against West Ham, Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund but we remain second, we’ve won six of our last eight, we have the best defensive record and only two defeats in 14 on the road in the Premier League.

“This is a very big game and you know it’s always difficult to play against a team that’s at the bottom,” said Mauricio.

Below: Mauricio previews Villa with Spurs TV

“Villa play to survive and they are in a very difficult position at the moment.

“We need to show respect and show that we deserve to stay where we are in the table.

“It’s always about mentality. Villa will be a danger, they will compete and we need to have the right mentality and motivation – and our motivation is to stay high in the table.”



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Harry's field of dreams

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Turn the clock back to November 2, 2014 and the striker, who had impressed up until then in cup competitions, stepped off the bench just before the hour mark with us trailing 1-0 against Villa at Villa Park.

Nacer Chadli equalised with five minutes left and then the grandstand finish as Harry struck a free-kick that clipped off the wall and nestled in the top corner, sparking great scenes of celebration in the away section as he raced over to the fans.

You cannot underestimate how important that moment was in the Academy graduate’s career.

Harry has started every match in the Premier League since that day- and racked up 37 league goals in in those 56 matches.

“I took the free-kick, it took a deflection and I could see the goalkeeper going one way and the ball heading towards the other corner,” he reflected.

“As soon as it went in it was pure emotion, I ran over to the fans, slid on my belly and everyone jumped on top. It was an amazing feeling.

“I’ve started every Premier League game since then. It definitely got the ball rolling and I’ve managed to score a few goals after that, so it’s definitely a game and a stadium where I’ll look back at where it all started.

Below: Flashback as Harry speaks to Spurs TV after his winner at Villa last season

“It was amazing game for me and the start of the journey. It will be great to go back and the most important thing is to go and get the win on Sunday.”

We travel to Birmingham in a determined mood after recent results against West Ham, Arsenal ans Borussia Dortmund.

Villa, meanwhile, are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League. “They are fighting against relegation so they will be up for this game,” stated Harry.

“They are at home so they will try to get the fans onside and we have to be ready for that, make sure we’re on our game and try to come away with a win.

“All games are difficult, especially when teams are fighting for points at the bottom of the table. We have to make sure we’re ready for that and try to get the result.”

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Spurs 1-2 Norwich U21s – Ugo's verdict

Friday, March 11th, 2016

First-half goals from Jamal Lewis and Ray Grant set the Canaries on the way to a 2-1 victory as we struggled to get going after an early miss from Will Miller in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League contest.

Chances were few and far between and after Benny Ashley-Seal hit the post for the visitors, we were reduced to 10 men when captain Kyle Walker-Peters picked up two bookings within 45 seconds of each other.

Miller did hit the target two minutes from time after good work from substitute Marcus Edwards and that lifted players and fans alike as we sought a late leveller, but it wasn’t to be.

“Unfortunately we were second best on the night,” reflected Under-21s Coach Ugo as he summed up the performance. “The biggest thing was that we didn’t play like we know we can – there was no penetration, not enough control and not enough passes strung together.

“In the last 10 minutes we had a go, scored, but it’s an extremely disappointing day at the office. We’re privileged to play at White Hart Lane in front of the fans, but it’s disappointing for the boys because we didn’t respond and we couldn’t find that extra level.

“The boys have worked hard, they’re an honest bunch but we weren’t smart enough when it came to a competitive battle against our opponents and we came out second best.”

Young attacking midfielder Edwards was influential in the build-up to our goal, having come on as a half-time substitute for centre-half Christian Maghoma. Ugo explained the thinking behind the switch: “It was a bit of both – tactical and medical. We needed to change, we never looked like scoring and we looked vulnerable so something had to be done. There could have been four or five that we could have changed but Mags also had a wound that opened up.

“We looked more of a threat after the break and Marcus has made an impact when he’s come on. There’s still some off-the-ball work that Marcus needs to do but that’s an ongoing project for him. He had an effect on the game but I think that’s probably just a quarter of what he’s capable of.

“It’s got to be a big learning curve for the boys tonight. We go again, though. The players have got to get rid of the disappointment and try to find another level of performance.”

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Spurs 1-2 Norwich U21s – report from the Lane

Friday, March 11th, 2016

In a battle of two out-of-form sides in the Barclays Under-21 Premier League, neither of which had won in the competition since November, we came up short as first-half goals from Jamal Lewis and Ray Grant proved enough for the Canaries to escape with the points.

Our cause wasn’t helped by the dismissal of captain Kyle Walker-Peters towards the end of the second half after he picked up two yellow cards in the space of 45 seconds but we still managed to find a breakthrough when Miller finished emphatically in the 88th minute after good work from substitute Marcus Edwards to force a save from visiting goalkeeper Jake Kean.

That was as good as it got, though, and we were empty-handed when the final whistle sounded.

Quite how the opening goal didn’t go our way remains a mystery as Emmanuel Sonupe’s low drive from distance was spilled by Kean with Miller dashing in to pick up the pieces but, with his back to goal, he could only hook the ball over the open net with his left foot as he turned in the area with four minutes on the clock.

Less than 30 seconds later the deadlock was indeed broken – but at the other end. Grant picked out the run of Lewis and he rolled the ball low past Tom McDermott in goal from the left angle.

Benny Ashley-Seal then prodded wide on the volley after a looping ball in from the right, although the flag was up anyway, while Anthony Georgiou and Luke Amos had shots charged down as we looked to respond.

If anything, we looked at our most dangerous on the counter-attack in the opening quarter of the game with Georgiou and Zenon Styliandes both working hard down the left side, but the occasional diagonal ball to Sonupe on the opposite flank fell on deaf ears.

Norwich were gifted an opening on 25 minutes when a miscued McDermott clearance quickly found its way back in to Ashley-Seal in the box but, as he tried to get the ball out from under his feet, Christian Maghoma nipped in to take control and bring it clear.

Matters got worse for us on 37 minutes when Grant curled a free-kick over the wall and low inside the near post after Filip Lesniak brought marauding full-back Reece Hall-Johnson down 20 yards out.

Miller took the initiative as we approached half-time, collecting the ball and driving forward with purpose on a couple of occasions – the first almost leading to a goal on 42 minutes. He laid the ball off to Amos who in turn found Sonupe on the right, he was twice denied by left-back Arinse Uade who got blocks in but, after the second one went behind for a corner, the flag kick was taken short and Sonupe drove a dangerous low ball across the face of goal from the right but nobody was able to steer it home.

We made a change at the break as midfielder Marcus Edwards replaced Maghoma with Lesniak dropping in at centre-half, but it took 20 minutes for either side to have a real shot at goal. That was when Norwich’s Glenn Middleton teed up Grant to try a curler from the edge of the box but his effort sailed wide.

Five minutes later, Ebou Adams fired one towards goal from 25 yards but it was straight at McDermott and easy for the custodian to gather.

At the other end, Walker-Peters sent in a menacing low ball from the right which was turned away by Hall-Johnson before the Canaries went close to a third on 77 minutes when Ashley-Seal latched onto a through ball and fired beyond the advancing McDermott, but his effort crashed off the post.

Two minutes later we were reduced to 10 men as Walker-Peters was adjudged to have fouled Adams and, having been booked less than 45 seconds earlier, was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red.

McDermott then made two key saves in two minutes to deny Canaries substitute Louis McIntosh, first turning his low shot beyond the far post and then standing tall at his near post to block a fierce drive from the midfielder seven minutes from time.

We were thrown a lifeline on 88 minutes, though, when Edwards drove down the right and forced a save from Kean, with Miller quick to latch onto the rebound and strike home from eight yards.

Five minutes of stoppage time followed but neither goalkeeper was really troubled and Norwich claimed the points.

Spurs U21s: McDermott, Walker-Peters, Stylianides (Goddard 78), Lesniak, Walkes, Maghoma (Edwards 46), Sonupe, Amos, Miller, J Pritchard (Loft 54), Georgiou. Substitute (not used): Whiteman (GK).

Norwich City U21s: Kean, Hall-Johnson (c), Uade, Grant, Crowe, Efete, Middleton, Adams, Ashley-Seal, Eaton-Collins (McIntosh 46), Lewis. Substitutes (not used): Coker, Ramsay, Awuah, Beauchamp (GK).

Attendance: 972.

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