Aston Villa: Gary Gardner, Jores Okore & Charles N'Zogbia - Out; Christian Benteke - Doubtful
Tottenham: Etienne Capoue & Younes Kaboul - Out; Aaron Lennon & Daniel Rose - Doubtful
Aston Villa: None
Tottenham: Emmanuel Adebayor - Relegated to reserves by Andre Villas Boas
Aston Villa: LLWWD
Tottenham are undefeated in 9 Premier League games against Aston Villa and their last two matches against them finished 4-0. However, I am not the biggest fan of looking back at past histories without contemplating present day form.
Only a victory separates the two teams and based on their match performances this season, Tottenham will do well to put four past Villa a third time in a row - the earlier 4-0 victory this season featured a very weak Villa team in the Capitol One Cup.
If anything, this game has all the resemblance of Tottenham's last match with West Ham. Villa like West Ham are a physical and direct side. Tottenham struggled with this pattern of play last time against West Ham. Looking at their seasonal stats Spurs fans have reason to be worried again. They have only managed to win 44% of their aerial duels and although Villa have only won 47%, Christian Benteke's possible involvement should spike those numbers up.
They will definitely need him though, without Benteke the percentage of aerial duels they have won fell to as low as 38% against Hull (slide three). Whilst they are ironically unbeaten in his absence, the fact he has scored 4 of their 9 goals and the fact they rely so much on set pieces - set pieces amounting to 3 of their 9 goals - highlights how badly they need Benteke to start.
The only player capable of creating as many chances as Benteke does is Gabriel Agbonlahor. Slide four reveals Agbonlahor has 12 key passes (2 per game) and 10 dribbles (1.7) in 6 games. However he is small of stature and much more suited to the counter. Considering Tottenham are generally great at defending on the ground, if Benteke does not play or has an off match due to lack of match fitness it is hard to see where a goal is coming from; though such accusations are easily squared at Tottenham.
Taking a look at the comparison of Gareth Bale's and Erik Lamela's stats for last season (below), you will find only Lamela is currently capable of matching the productivity Bale has. More importantly, his presence would create space for others - most noticeably Soldado/Defoe who are both players who cannot create space for themselves.
Aston Villa 1-2 Tottenham *All statistics courtesy of WhoScored