Date : –  3rd October 2021 Kick off : –  14.00
Competition : –  Premier League Venue : –  Tottenham Hotspur Stadium 
Crowd : –  53,076
Referee : –  Chris Kavanagh (Manchester) Linesmen : – Mr. Dan Cook; Mr. Dan Robathan
Fourth official : –  Graham Scott
VAR official : – Michael Oliver VAR Assistant : – Sian Massey-Ellis
Weather : –  Sunny with one heavy downpour during the match
Spurs kicked off the first half attacking the Paxton Road end
Playing time : –   90 + 8 minutes


    Hojbjerg  26m 15s   Watkins  67m 02s
    Targett  (o.g.)  70m 20s   
  Skipp  (foul on Ings)  36   Ramsey  (foul on Lucas)  31
  Romero  (foul on Ramsey)  68     


1.   Hugo LLORIS (c) 1.   Emiliano MARTINEZ
12.   EMERSON Royal 4.   Ezri KONSA
15.   Eric DIER 5.   Tyrone MINGS (c)
4.   Cristian ROMERO  30.   Kourtney HAUSE  (  15.   Bertrand TRAORE  80)
3.   Sergio REGUILON     
  2.   Matt CASH
5.   Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG  7.   John McGINN
29.   Oliver SKIPP  6.   Douglas LUIZ
  Jacob RAMSEY    (  10.   Emiliano BUENDIA  69)
27.   Lucas MOURA  (  11.   BRYAN Gil  89) 3.   Matt TARGETT  (o.g.) 
28.   Tanguy NDOMBELE  (  18.   Giovani LO CELSO  76)    
7.   Heung-Min SON 11.   Ollie WATKINS 
  20.   Danny INGS  (  35.   Cameron ARCHER  89)
10.   Harry KANE   
Substitutes Substitutes
22.   Pierluigi GOLLINI 12   Jed STEER
2.   Matt DOHERTY 16   Axel TUANZEBE
6.   Davinson SANCHEZ 18   Ashley YOUNG
8.   Harry WINKS 19   Marvellous MAKAMBA
14.   Joe RODON 21   Anwar El GAHZI
20.   DELE Alli 32   Jaden PHILOGENE-BIDACE
44.   Dane SCARLETT   


Manager : –   Nuno Espirito Santo Manager : –  Dean Smith
Kit Supplier : –  Nike Kit Supplier : –  Kappa
Shirt Sponsor : –  AIA Shirt Sponsor : –  Cazoo
Shirt Sleeve Sponsor : –  cinch Shirt Sleeve Sponsor : –  OB Sports
Colours : – Colours : – 

Images of kits courtesy of the marvellous Colours of Football website


Spurs came out of this bruising encounter with a 2-1 win over Aston Villa, but it might as well have been Stoke City under Tony Pulis.  It was a welcome three points after the run of three defeats on the trot and one which was well-deserved as the opposition offered little outside of lobbing high balls into the box and trying to capitalise on set-pieces.  The game was spoiled by a truly awful refereeing performance by Chris Kavanagh, who took the “leniency” interpretation to the maximum, but only one way.  How Spurs ended up with two bookings and Villa only one yellow card is astonishing.

Anyway, the game was kicked off in bright sunshine, with Spurs changed from the Europa Conference match the previous Thursday to provide a more first team look to it.  The early part of the match was littered with misplaced passes by both teams; any flow to the game not assisted by the referee’s constant intervention in the match.  It became evident very early on that Villa would try and test Spurs in the air, with Cash taking long-throws from both sides and any free-kick being pumped into the area for the towering visiting defenders to try and make something happen.  As most were hit in aimlessly, there was little gained, as Eric Dier and Cristian Romero won a lot of them.  Another thing that was clear was that Villa were not going to let Spurs play any football.  Last season they out-played us at the THS and without Jack Grealish, Dean Smith has resorted to a more pragmatic approach, which involves bringing a player down if he goes past you.  Sometimes, just fouling them anyway and McGinn committed three bad/cynical fouls in the first 10 minutes, before Ramsey, trying to make his mark in the first team started making his mark on the ankles of the Spurs players.  Being allowed to get away without any further punishment only persuaded them to carry on fouling.

Emerson Royal was chosen at right back and was doing well picking off passes intended for Targett on the left wing, either that or they were over-hit and sailed over the Villa wing-back’s head. That was typical of the first quarter of an hour, but when Tottenham started stringing a few passes together, they began getting at the Villa defence.  Son had an effort blocked and there was space on either side to get crosses in, but they did not hurt Villa.  In response a half-cleared cross went to Hause, who lofted the highest lob I have seen at this ground into orbit before it came down for Hugo Lloris to take above the attacking players.  Son’s pass, looking for Ndombele in the area was blocked, but it ran out to Harry Kane, who struck a first time shot, but well over the bar.  Halfway through the half, Spurs almost opened the scoring, with Ndombele crudely held and then dragged to the floor, but Kane took the free-kick quickly, trying to catch Martinez off his line from about 40 yards.  It nearly worked with the keeper stretching upwards to palm the ball to keep it out. 

There was an opportunity for Son, having received the ball from Lucas, played it back and taking the return pass on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t curl the shot and it went about three yards wide of Martinez’s right hand post.  It was a Cash cross that lead to the first goal of the game.  It went to the other side, where Targett played it back in, but was cleared away by Romero, with Lucas challenging Mings, five yards in from the halfway line, out on our right wing.  The England centre-half could only head the ball infield, like it had come off a square part of his head and McGinn tried to play the ball back to Hause, but Hojbjerg took possession and ran at the defender.  Son moved to the right and received the ball level with the right edge on the area, came inside and laid it across the box for Hojbjerg, who had continued his run to the left edge of the D. With Harry and Tanguy to his left, Pierre took a touch and from the 18 yard line, bent a shot around Konsa, Mings and beyond the left hand of Martinez to bury the ball into the bottom corner to give Spurs the lead.  It was a precisely placed shot that the keeper had no chance of reaching and the Spurs midfielder’s celebration showed that he clearly enjoyed his goal, as did the Tottenham fans.  If he hadn’t taken on the shot, there were three other options in the box, which is something we haven’t had for a while.

That was 27 minutes into the match and Spurs looked to add to the goal.  Reguilon skipped past Targett’s crude lunge to get away down the left wing, playing the ball inside to Son, who moved it on to Kane, who was crudely bundled over from his right by Ramsey, who was shown the yellow card.  Harry got up to take the free-kick and beat the wall, but his shot lacked any power behind it and Martinez saved it simply near his left hand post, as it bounced up into his midriff.  Emerson did well to stop Targett getting a cross in, which left both players down, but Villa had a chance when a cross came in from their left that Reguilon got a head to, taking it to the other side of the box for Watkins to shoot and Dier blocking well.  The Villa striker recycled the ball into the box and Romero headed away to McGinn, centrally 22 yards out.  He knocked the ball up and struck a good volley that whizzed a couple of feet past Hugo’s left hand post.

Kavanagh’s refereeing was incomprehensible and inconsistent, as he allowed Hause to be all over Kane or pull him and when he cynically pulled back Reguilon’s shirt as he looked to break away was a yellow card on its own in most people’s book, but not Kavanagh’s.  The late challenges Villa made after the ball had gone were either very naughty or showed that they are unable to time a tackle properly.  Either way, the referee should have been on top of it.  It made it all the more shocking when he booked Skipp for bringing down Ings with a sliding challenge that was half as bad as a lot of what he had let go without free-kicks, let alone a booking.  If this is one of the Premier League’s best referees, then it is hardly surprising that FIFA don’t hold the same opinion.  He even had the temerity to tell Reguilon to go back in the final few minutes as he wasn’t taking the throw-in from where it went out, when he had allowed Villa to steal 10-15 yards with most of theirs.

At half-time, Rafa van der Vaart was interviewed (as he was before the match), being joined by Mickey Hazard, with both ex-players expounding on how to win favour with the fans.  There were no changes as both teams came out for the second half, with Villa looking to find a way back into the game.  A ball into the box pinged about with Dier and Regi blocking efforts on goal, before Skipp cleared with an overhead kick and the ball came back across to the near post where Romero blocked Targett’s effort for a corner.  When that was cleared to McGinn, again in the position of his previous shot, this time he could only dig his volley into the turf and it bounced up gently for Hugo to take in front of his face.

The heaven’s opened and an almighty downpour fell on the pitch and most of the East Stand as the wind blew it under the roof and onto those seated below from behind !  It was short-lived and on the pitch Lucas smacked a shot at goal that Hause took in the chest.  Spurs were looking for the second goal and Tanguy was freed down the left, but his touch taking the ball into the area was too heavy and Hause cleared, but Son got the ball and fired a low ball into the near post that went off Martinez’s touch across the box for Emerson to run onto and he hit a shot that was stopped by Mings getting in the way, only for Kane to play it outside to Royal, who did well to pull a cross to the far post.  Son was on the end of it and met it on the volley, but couldn’t keep it down.

Targett was another player who took a Spurs man late, when Emerson played the ball and then was bundled over the touchline, but play was allowed to continue.  A few minutes later Spurs worked the ball to Son, but again, his shot cleared the bar and he was wide when Kane played the ball into the near post from the right after a good move.  Villa got into a position where Cash had a shot when the ball came to him in the right channel outside the box, but he dragged it four yards wide, but it was a rare incursion into the Spurs half, as the game was generally going in the opposite direction.  Son was sent free down the left by Reguilon’s pass and he headed it on, but his only option was a shot from a tight angle and Martinez kept it out at his near post, then Ndombele shimmied his way into the box before striking a low shot, but the keeper got down behind it.

When Konsa had the ball on the halfway line there looked no threat, but he moved it on to Watkins, who played it to Ramsey.  Romero scythed him down for behind (something he got a yellow card for) but the ball reached Ings, who played it outside him to the left for Targett to put a ball in, where Watkins tapped home from close range as it got just past the near post area.  It was hardly deserved and the Villa support could suddenly be heard as their section became clouded in purple smoke from a flare that had been let off.

Four minutes later, Cash tried to play a ball up the right wing to Watkins, but Romero smoothly intercepted it and passed it back where it had come from ten yards to Oliver Skipp.  Laying the ball off first time to Dier, Cash went through the back of the Spurs youngster, but the defender found Sergio Reguilon just inside our own half.  A straight ball down the wing picked out Son in space and he took the ball on, losing Hause with a change of pace and then putting a low ball across goal, cutting Martinez out of the play and with Moura coming in at the far post, the last touch was accredited to Matt Targett.  It was a swift move with simple early passes that caught Villa in an area where Cash should have been, but having been more intent on fouling Skipp, he was well out of position, with Son dragging the centre half away from the middle to create space for Moura at the far post.

Going behind so quickly after levelling, Villa looked to hit back immediately and a free-kick created a low cross from Cash and Eric Dier made a good block to keep the ball out and then a ball bobbled about on the edge of the Spurs box, finally ending up with Ings, who turned on it just inside the area, but he didn’t get a lot of power behind his shot and Hugo clutched it as he dived left.  Another long throw was headed away by Romero, but it went to Watkins, who steered his header wide of the goal, but that was sum total of their efforts.

It was Tottenham who were the most likely to hit the net again, with Son putting a cross into the area, but no white shirt was there to make anything of it, substitute Giovani Lo Celso curled a shot a couple of yards wide after Son set him up and then Royal replicated Son’s cross from the other wing with the same result.  A great piece of play almost set up Lo Celso for a third goal, as Son’s through pass to Kane, running into the D saw the England captain back-heel the ball behind him to Gio on the left of the goal and with two defenders coming back his resulting use of the ball looked neither a shot nor a cross, as it was going across goal rather than in and Mings blocked it for a corner.  A minute later, Son played the ball down the left for Kane, who ran into the box and rather than return it to Son or Lo Celso, hanging back on the edge of the area, decided to go for goal himself and Martinez blocked it as Harry tried to beat him at his near post.

Villa’s last throw of the dice ended up in farcical chaos, as Traore had a shot at goal, which Lloris beat out.  Romero booted it away for a corner that Lucas headed out to Cash and he fired the ball at goal, but it went off on the other side of the pitch for a throw-in !  Tottenham won a succession of corners, with the ball kept there, bringing a crude foul on Son by Luiz that was not punished with a booking, when it was much more savage than Skipp’s yellow card and then he fouled Bryan, who had come on for the last five minutes.  As it was, the Midlanders could not win the ball and time ran out for them.

Dean Smith’s comments that there wasn’t too much between the sides rings hollow, as the major difference was one was trying to play football and the other seemed happiest when playing a destructive game, which wasn’t football.  I agree with him that Son was the difference, making both goals and looking very sharp, as Spurs played a more offensive style, but credit should also be given to Dier and Romero, who were rock solid at the back.  Kane looked more engaged with the play today and Emerson showed some glimpses of what he can do.  The pairing of Hojbjerg and Skipp is a sound foundation for the team to build from and there could have been more goals had Moura not been fouled almost every time he shimmied past a claret shirt. 

It wasn’t just the way that Villa played, but their players were poor.  Mings put in a match that makes you wonder what Gareth Southgate sees in him, while Hause, Cash and Targett were awful, I had forgotten that Ings was playing for most of the second half and McGinn kicked players more often than the ball.  So, the decent performance, which produced 17 shots, was a bit more like being back to normal, the international break will interrupt and continuity for Spurs and hopefully they will be able to pick up where they left off when they play Newcastle in two weeks time.

Gary Sampson


Teams wore black armbands and there was a minute’s applause in memory of England World Cup 1966 striker Roger Hunt who died earlier in the week.


Manchester United 1 Everton 1
Leeds United 1 Watford 0
Chelsea 3 South Coast Big Club 1
Brighton & Hove Albion 0 Woolwich Wanderers 0
Burnley 0 Norwich City 0
Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Newcastle United 1
Crystal Palace 2 Leicester City 2
Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2
West Ham United London 1 Brentford 2

Premier League Table 2021-22

Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points Goal difference
1 Chelsea 7 5 1 1 15 3 15 +12
2 Liverpool 7 4 3 0 17 6 15 +11
3 Manchester City 7 4 2 1 14 3 14 +11
4 Manchester United 7 4 2 1 14 6 14 +8
5 Everton 7 4 2 1 13 8 14 +5
6 Brighton & Hove Albion 7 4 2 1 8 5 14 +3
7 Brentford 7 3 3 1 10 6
12 +4
8 Tottenham Hotspur 7 4 0 3 6 10 12 -4
9 West Ham United London 7 3 2 2 14 10 11 +4
10 Aston Villa 7 3 1 3 10 9 10 +1
11 Woolwich Wanderers 7 3 1 3 5 10 10 -5
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers 7 3 0 4 5 6 9 -1
13 Leicester City 7 2 2 3 9 12 8 -3
14 Crystal Palace 7 1 4 2 8 11 7 -3
15 Watford 7 2 1 4 6 10 7 -3
16 Leeds United 7 1 3 3 6 14 6 -7
17 South Coast Big Club 7 0 4 3 5 10 4 -5
18 Burnley 7 0 3
4 5 11 3 -6
19 Newcastle United 7 0 3 4 8 16 3 -8
20 Norwich City 7 0 1 6 2 16 1 -14