Saturday October 2nd 2010
Opponent: Tottenham Hotspur
Venue: White Hart Lane
Kick Off: 15:00
This weekend’s tie sees Villa travel to White Hart Lane to face European positional rivals Tottenham Hotspur. Harry Redknapp’s side were in Champions League action and despite an impressive 4-1 victory over FC Twente, Villa will be hoping the London club will be suffering after midweek action. Gerard Houllier has selection dilemmas ahead of the clash but may be set to go with the team that beat Wolves on Sunday.
Tottenham had been frustrated prior to their midweek win after defeat to rivals Arsenal and West Ham topped off a miserable week for Redknapp’s men. The hosts will be looking to improve on a Premier League start that has seen them lose pace with the leading pack with the club currently residing in 8th place.
Villa have a two point advantage over their opponent’s after a tough start to the season with managerial uncertainty sees them occupy 5th position in the table. Last weekend’s victory over local rivals Wolves capped a perfect start to Gerard Houllier’s tenure at the club after defeating Blackburn in the Carling Cup.
Houllier will now have to decide whether to recall the returning Richard Dunne after injury has seen him miss the Frenchman’s first two games in charge. The man that has been deputising for Dunne at centre back is Carlos Cuellar who has been impressive in his natural position. Houllier singled the Spaniard out for praise this week likening the 29-year-old to Jamie Carragher after his ‘brave’ performance against Wolves.
The visitors will be without striker Gabby Agbonlahor who is to undergo surgery on a groin problem on Monday night. The club are hopeful that John Carew will be back in contention after a back injury but he is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench. A revitalised Emile Heskey has netted twice in as many games under his former Liverpool manager and should spearhead the Villa attack supported, once again by Ashley Young.
As ever Ledley King is a doubt for Spurs but should start pending his weekly fitness evaluation. The home side have long term defensive injuries to captain Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate joining absentees William Gallas and Younes Kaboul.
These knocks will mean that Sebastien Bassong should partner King at the heart of the Tottenham defence.
Bad news for any Villa fans who thought that Rafael van der Vaart sending off in midweek would keep him out of action as the suspension will not apply to domestic competitions. Heurelho Gomes was fit again for Champions League action and should start the match against Villa. Jermain Defoe remains on the sidelines with ligament damage which could see Peter Crouch line up against his old club.
Houllier would no doubt settle for an away point and will be optimistic that Tottenham’s European schedule will prove a hindrance this Saturday in an exciting match-up.
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