Tottenham Hotspur-Aston Villa Preview

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jose Mourinho has urged his Tottenham players to go back to basics against Aston Villa if they are to hit back from one of the lowest points in his managerial career.

Spurs lost 2-1 to local rivals Arsenal in the Premier League last weekend and followed that up with a remarkable Europa League exit at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg, Tottenham were dumped out of the competition at the last-16 stage with a 3-0 second-leg loss in the Croatian capital, going out 3-2 on aggregate.

Mourinho pulled no punches when offering his assessment of Spurs' recent results, with their campaign now resting on April's EFL Cup final against Manchester City.

"For sure the defeat to Dinamo was one of the most difficult (moments of my career)," he said. "I don't know if it's the most difficult one, but honestly I don't believe I have had a similar feeling.

"Football isn't just about players who think they have more quality than others. The basics of football go beyond that; it's the attitude and they beat us on that."

Tottenham travel to Villa Park on Sunday looking to improve on a run of four defeats in their last five away league matches.

Villa have also struggled for form, drawing two and losing one of their last three, but they can move to within a point of their eighth-placed opponents with a game in hand if they win on Sunday.

The Villans have scored one goal across those three games and boss Dean Smith, who is unsure if Jack Grealish will be back from injury, accepts his side have dropped off in an attacking sense.

"Since the break in January we have created less chances, but I don't think it's just us," he said. "We have been working extremely hard to get that back. We didn't feel like we justified ourselves against Newcastle United last week and we want to put that right."

Despite Tottenham's woes, Smith believes their loss to Dinamo could be a bad thing for Villa.

"The result doesn't help us," he said. "I would expect them to react in a more positive way."

KEY PLAYERS

Aston Villa - Ollie Watkins

Watkins has gone six games without finding the net, but a return of 10 goals in 27 Premier League appearances this term has earned him a first call-up to the England squad.

The striker's scoreless streak has coincided with Grealish's absence, so Smith will be eager to reunite the pair against Tottenham.

Tottenham - Harry Kane

Kane played the full 120 minutes of the defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, but it is unlikely that Mourinho will rest his star player on Sunday when in desperate need of some points.

This is a fixture the England skipper tends to do well in, netting five goals in his last three league appearances against Villa, including back-to-back braces.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Villa have lost 11 of their last 12 matches against Tottenham in all competitions, winning the other in April 2015 under Tim Sherwood.

- Since a 2-1 defeat at Villa Park on New Year's Day 2008, Spurs are unbeaten in nine away Premier League games against Aston Villa (W7 D2), winning the last five in a row - their only longer away winning run against an opponent in the top flight was against the Villans between 1950 and 1956 (seven).

- Villa have only lost six consecutive home Premier League matches against an opponent on two previous occasions - versus Manchester United (2003-2007) and Liverpool (2011-2019).

- Smith's side averaged 2.1 goals-per-game in their first 13 Premier League games this season (27 goals in total), scoring at least three times on six occasions. Since then, they have netted just 12 goals in 14 Premier League games and never more than twice in a match.

- Tottenham have lost nine of their 28 Premier League games so far this season – Mourinho has never suffered as many as 10 defeats in a single league campaign in his career.