Villa Preview vs Tottenham: Van der Vaart Fitness the Key
Villa face Tottenham having not beaten Spurs in their previous 5 encounters, with Redknapp’s side doing the double last season in strangely similar fashion. Both games ended 2-1 and while Marc Albrighton scored in each game for Villa, Rafael van der Vaart netted all four of Tottenham’s goals past Brad Friedel, now a teammate of the Dutchman at White Hart Lane.
A look at the recent record between the sides show that tight affairs are a given in this one, and you have to go back to 2005 since the game was won by more than a single goal (the 5-1 win for Spurs was the only game that has ended in more than a 1-goal deficit for either side in the last 21 league meetings). A look at the Aston Villa stats, and indeed it should be a tough-fought battle in midfield.
Villa’s skipper Stiliyan Petrov should be fit for the game having had the international break to shake off a hamstring problem, and the stats show that he has made more interceptions per game (3.9) than any other player in the league – with Stephen Warnock second (3.4). Another player with a hamstring concern is in-form Gabby Agbonlahor, who was forced to withdraw from international duty with the problem but should be fit for the trip to London.
Like Petrov, Spurs have their own midfield grafter in Scott Parker, with the former West Ham-man and long time Villa target making more tackles per game (5.9), than any other player in the league. It is, however, the fitness, or lack their of, of Rafael van der Vaart that may prove key after he tore Villa apart in both fixtures last season.
The midfielder picked up a hamstring problem on international duty with Holland, missing the second of their two games in order to return to London for treatment. The Daily Mail have reported that he looks likely to be in contention having tweeted ‘So very disappointed I won’t play Germany in Hamburg on Tuesday, hope to be back real quick!’ at the weekend.
Let’s hope for Villa’s sake that they’re wrong but if the Dutchman is at least 80% fit, it is likely he will play considering the dame he did last season. Whether Villa’s star from last season’s games plays is perhaps more doubtful. Marc Albrighton is yet to start for Villa this term and is unlikely to do so come Monday night in what has been a frustrating campaign for the youngster, to date.
For more stats on both sides visit WhoScored.com.