Tottenham 2 – 1 Aston Villa
Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo said his players are “unstoppable” when they are confident after seeing them return to form in a much-needed Premier League victory over Aston Villa.
Humbled at north London rivals Arsenal in the last of three straight league losses ahead of Sunday’s game, Spurs overcame a ropey start to produce a display that was far from perfect but at least showcased a greater defensive organisation and attacking edge.
Son Heung-min was typically bright, providing two assists, Lucas Moura looked sharp and Harry Kane -fresh from his 20-minute hat-trick against Mura on Thursday – was more involved in the final third than of late.
Their goals came from the unlikely sources of a coolly-taken finish from midfielder Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg and an own goal from Matt Targett, who stabbed the ball home under pressure from Moura just four minutes after Oli Watkins had levelled for Villa in the second half.
“We are aware we have been through a tough moment,” Nuno told Sky Sports. “When the players gel and combine they can do very well. We have to find the balance between the defensive and attacking part of the game.
“All the players did well, we have talented players and when they are confident, they are unstoppable.”
Spurs had numerous opportunities to put the game to bed but failed to convert, the most notable being an Emiliano Martinez save to deny Kane his first league goal of the season.
The England striker has now failed to score in his last six Premier League appearances, which is his longest scoreless streak in the competition since failing to net in his first six games of the 2015-16 campaign.
The win moves Nuno’s side up to eighth on 12 points, two places and points better off than Villa.
“We needed a win but a well-deserved win,” he added. “We did a good match against tough opponents. Important for us, the boys and the fans. We reacted well after conceding and [were] positive in a lot of ways.
“The boys did well. Villa are a very good team with the press so it was about taking risks. Our front three were always in the middle. They played well.”
Nuno also thanked the home fans for their support throughout the game, saying: “The fans, the support, what they give us today is huge. It is really important and we are very thankful.”
Tottenham badly needed this result, and possibly the process by which they achieved it even more.
All three of the wins with which they began the season were achieved by a 1-0 scoreline. At no point this league campaign had they overcome a setback to pick up points.
They can now tick that significant psychological milestone off the list.
They deserved it too, settling into the game after an opening 15 minutes in which both sides repeatedly gave the ball away to take control. They fashioned more chances and could have been out of sight long before Watkins sent a wave of panic around the stadium with just over 20 minutes left, courtesy of a first goal of the season from Targett’s low cross.
The wounds from last Sunday’s humiliation at the Emirates will still take time to heal, but performances and results like this against a fine Villa side will go a long way to silencing the growing number of critics looking to question Nuno’s suitability for the manager’s job and the application of some of his players.
In Other News – Liverpool 2 – 2 Manchester City
Kevin de Bruyne’s deflected late equaliser gave Manchester City a fully deserved point after a moment of genius by Mohamed Salah looked to have earned Liverpool victory in an Anfield thriller.
Reigning champions City and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were each hoping to take over from Chelsea at the top of the table, but this result means Thomas Tuchel’s side stay clear at the Premier League summit. learn more