Tottenham Hotspur-Aston Villa Preview

The Associated Press

Tottenham Hotspur have run rampant in their last two visits to Villa Park, but Aston Villa are hopeful that Christian Benteke will return for Sunday's Premier League matchup to help them reverse those woes.

Tottenham are 4-0-2 in their last six visits to Villa Park, including matching 4-0 victories on Boxing Day last season and in the League Cup on Sept. 25. Spurs scored seven of those eight goals in the second halves of those contests.

Still, Tottenham expect a harder match in this trip.

"It's always difficult vs. Villa," manager Andres Villas-Boas told Tottenham's official Twitter account. "We've been successful recently but it doesn't mean you will be again. Football changes very quickly."

One difference will be if Benteke returns for Villa. Benteke has missed the last two Premier League matches with a hip flexor and also sat out both internationals for Belgium in the last week.

Manager Paul Lambert said he will assess Benteke in advance of Sunday.

"I trusted Christian to be honest, which he is," Lambert told Villa's official website. "That's all you can do - trust somebody to do the right thing."

Benteke ranks among the Premier League leaders with four goals - two fewer than Spurs have produced as a team. Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen expects to see his countryman Sunday, and will probably be marking him in that scenario.

"I think Benteke will be fit," Vertonghen said. "He trained with us (Belgium) a couple of times and he's had a full week to focus. He's an unbelievable player and so important for Villa."

Aston Villa look like the form team among the two with two victories and a draw in their last three. They were sorely lacking Benteke's cutting edge in a scoreless draw at Hull City Tigers on Oct. 5, settling for a point despite an 18-6 advantage in overall shots.

Tottenham Hotspur have also lacked a scoring punch but the player tipped to change that Sunday could be a man who has yet to find the back of the net for them.

Andros Townsend shined with England this past week as he scored on his debut for his country and earned another start in his second match.

Townsend was in the Spurs side that suffered a humiliating 3-0 home defeat to West Ham United on Oct. 6. Villas-Boas is calling for improvement.

"We understand we needed to do better," the manager said. "We've got together with the team to go through mistakes and we want a good response."

Vertonghen was the man in the spotlight in Spurs' last visit to Villa Park as he pulled down the shorts of Villa's Nicklas Helenius in one of football's most bizarre moments. The Belgian, who was not issued a card of any sort, is eager to see his side get its league campaign back on track.

"We want to get back to winning ways," Vertonghen said. "We want to bounce back. It's a very tough game, especially away, but we showed before we can win there and everyone is highly motivated to do it again on Sunday."

What to Read Next