Date : –  Sunday 26th November 2023 Kick off : –  14.00
Competition : –  Premier League Venue : –  Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Crowd : –  61,679
Referee : –  Rob Jones (Cheshire) Linesmen : – Mr. Timothy Wood; Mr. Wade Smith
Fourth official : –  Tim Robinson
VAR official : –  Jarred Gillett VAR Assistant : – James Mainwaring
Weather : –  Drizzle before, but cloudy and dry during the game
Aston Villa kicked off the first half attacking the Park Lane end
Playing time : –   90 + 18 minutes


    Lo Celso  21m 47s   Torres  45+6m 23s
      Watkins  60m 52s
       Cash  (foul on Bentancur)  27
       Kamara  (foul on Lo Celso)  38
       McGinn  (holding onto Hojbjerg’s leg)  41
       Watkins  (preventing a free-kick being taken)  82


13.   Guglielmo VICARIO 1.   Emiliano MARTINEZ
23.   Pedro PORRO  4.   Ezri KONSA
12.   Emerson ROYAL 3.   Diego CARLOS
33.   Ben DAVIES 14.   Pau TORRES 
38.   Destiny UDOGIE 12.   Lucas DIGNE
30.   Rodrigo BENTANCUR  (  5.   Pierre-Emile HOJBJERG  32)   2.   Matthew CASH    (  31.   Leon BAILEY  46)  
18.   Giovani Lo CELSO    (  36.   Alejo VELIZ  86)  44.   Boubacar KAMARA 
6.   Douglas LUIZ
22.   Brennan JOHNSON 7.   John McGINN     (  41.   Jacob RAMSEY  90+1) 
21.   Dejan KULUSEVSKI     
11.   Bryan GIL  (  4.  Oliver SKIPP  71) 19.   Moussa DIABY   (  8.   Youri TIELEMENS  46 
   11.   Ollie WATKINS        (  24.   John DURAN  90+2) 
7.   Heung-Min SON  (c)     
Substitutes Substitutes
20.   Fraser FORSTER 25.   Robin OLSEN
40.   Brandon AUSTIN 17.   Clement LENGLET
15.   Eric DIER 15.   Alex MORENO
65.   Alfie DORRINGTON 32.   Leander DENDONCKER
63.   Jamie DONLEY 47.   Tim IROEGBUNAM

    = Assist        =  Goal scored       =  Own goal scored

Manager : –  Ange Postecoglou Manager : –  Unai Emery
Kit Supplier : – Nike Kit Supplier : – Castore
Shirt Sponsor : – AIA Shirt Sponsor : –  BK8
Shirt Sleeve Sponsor : – cinch Shirt Sleeve Sponsor : – Trade Nation
Colours : –
Colours : –Worn with claret shorts
Images of kits courtesy of the marvellous Colours of Football website


Hit by a plethora of injuries and two suspensions, Spurs took the lead, but a brutal foul on Rodrigo Bentancur in the 27th minute changed the course of the game, eventually ending in a win for Aston Villa.

Tottenham’s growing injury list meant that we were only able to put eight subs on the bench and two of them were goalkeepers.  It did give Giovani Lo Celso and Bryan Gil the opportunity to start a match for a first in a long time and both had decent performances, with Lo Celso playing particularly well.  However, it was the absence of van de Ven and Romero that probably cost us the game, as I think that one or even both of the goals might have been avoided if they were there.

The minutes applause for Terry Venables whose death, following a long illness, was announced at lunch-time precede a game with four disallowed goals, a VAR breakdown and a couple of incidents that should have resulted in red cards for Villa players, but with the referee having a peculiar game with some spot-on decisions and others that were way off the way the laws are interpreted. 

It wasn’t apparent while at the ground, but finding out afterwards that VAR had not been in operation for the first 17 minutes probably explained a lot.  Spurs started like a steam train and Destiny Udogie had a chance in the third minute getting onto a long ball from Pedro Porro, but he got too much on it to lift it over Martinez as he came out to meet him.  Spurs almost immediately went ahead when Dejan Kulusevski came inside from the right hand corner of the penalty area to curl a shot out of the keeper’s reach, but the ball flew out across the goalmouth off the far post and Brennan Johnson reacted quickly to fire it back at goal, only for Torres to block his effort. 

It looked like being a very open game, as a free-kick was swung in from the left and Torres was up in the Tottenham box to get a head to it and should really have done better with it than glancing it wide of the far post.  Back to the other end where Bryan Gil came in off the left wing to shoot at goal from an angle, which was saved but bounced up and Porro was there to get a header to it, but got underneath it sending it onto the top of the goal net.  Spurs were finding plenty of space in behind the Villa defence, prompted by incisive passes through their back line by Rodrigo Bentancur, but the final ball was not often the right one, with defenders cutting it out or players trying to find team-mates in a better position.  Udogie couldn’t force the ball across and then Johnson did from the right, but played it behind Son, who could only try to get a shot away that flew way over the bar, only to see an offside flag go up anyway.  It looked like Kulusevski might open the scoring when he got through on the keeper, but he suffered the same fate from the linesman after his shot was saved.  Bentancur again sent Tottenham on their way with a defence splitting pass to Porro, but his ball across the box was cut out.

That was all in the first 20 minutes and Bryan’s cross was just a little too high for Son to head it and it was put behind for a corner.  It was taken short and a cross blocked, but Porro retrieved it and although the cross was half-cleared, it fell to Giovani Lo Celso on the edge of the box and he rifled a shot that came off Douglas Luiz’s hip and flew past the keeper to put Tottenham ahead.  It was a well-controlled shot to keep the ball down and even though it got a touch on the way through, it probably wouldn’t have been saved anyway.

The lead only lasted for a matter of seconds, as Digne made ground on the left to cross and Watkins head the ball past Vicario having ghosted in behind the Tottenham defence.  From almost level with the striker, it looked a good goal, but by this time, VAR had been fixed and after a long time reviewing it, at Stockley Park, the Aussie ruled it was offside.  It was slack marking by Spurs who had allowed Watkins the run on the ball and our make-shift centre-half pairing of Davies and Royal may not have developed the understanding our missing first choice two have.  Having been denied a goal, Cash did what he often does against Spurs and decided to take out a player who was damaging Villa the most.  His reckless challenge from behind was both unnecessary as it was 25 yards from the Tottenham goal and excessive from behind that left Bentancur limping and having to be replaced after five more minutes.  Cash only gets a booking and we lose a player who had been influential in our impressive start to the game.  Looking back on previous Villa matches, he has been involved in incidents where Son and Docherty had been left injured.  He was thus allowed to stay on the pitch to commit another couple of fouls, but the referee failed to tot up those that were being committed by his fellow team-mates too, with Luiz a serial offender and Diaby seemingly unable to tackle with his feet and having to use his arms to pull players back. 

With Rodrigo having just returned from a long spell out, it looked a nasty one and although he didn’t go straight down the tunnel, it was reported that he was still hobbling around after the match.  It didn’t affect the way we went about the game, as Hojbjerg came on for him and while not as easy on the eye on the ball, he was getting in amongst the Villa midfield and looking to start attacking moves.  Kulusevski got sent away on the right again, coming inside for a typical left-foot curler that this time was just a couple of feet too wide of the far post with the keeper beaten.  

Two more Villa players found their way into the referee’s book.  Kamara for a crude tackle on Lo Celso from behind as he looked to break forward and the obnoxious McGinn who was booked for holding onto Hojbjerg’s legs as he won the ball from him and wanted to play the ball forward.  The Scotch midfielder then had the temerity to vehemently argue with the referee that it wasn’t a foul !  The ref was having a tough time.  He made the correct decision to allow Bentancur to stay on after he was fouled by Cash, as a booking had been given, but then he gave a foul throw against Udogie, when the current interpretation is that it would have deemed it as being fine.  In the second half, he rightly awarded a throw to Spurs for Digne stealing about 20 yards for a throw-in of his own.  You don’t expect refs to get everything right (although you should), but inconsistency throughout the 90 minutes is always something that irks players and fans alike.  

Following a fantastic move from Spurs that deserved a goal, it ended with Sonny thundering a right-foot shot past the keeper to find the net, but again, it was wiped out for offside.  It started with Vicario rolling the ball out and it was played up to Lo Celso, whose deft touch turned it around the corner for Hojbjerg to send our skipper away to score, but this match was all about fine margins and dodgy decisions.  That “goal” would have come in the 44th minute and while six minutes of added time were to be played, it would have given us a two-goal cushion that would have been more comfortable.  As it was Pedro Porro was definitely uncomfortable after Kamara clattered him and having already received a yellow card, the referee failed to take any more action, just like he failed to do with Cash.

Villa were pushing forward and when Porro lost the ball outside the box, it needed Emerson Royal’s intervention in the area to take the ball away from a dangerous situation, but following a soft free-kick being awarded on the Villa right wing for a foul against Gio on Cash, the ball was swung in and headed past Vic from close range by Torres to give them a seventh minute added time equaliser.  That made it the fifth consecutive goal against us that had been scored in added time at the end of either half.  It was gutting to concede at that stage, but Torres may have been picked up by either Micky of Cristian had they not been unable to play.

Villa sensibly took Cash off at half-time, as it was only a question of time before even the referee could spot another yellow card offence.  They also replaced the useless Diaby with Tielemens.  Spurs had few options from the bench, so had to persist with the eleven who finished the first half.  Luiz fouled (yes, again) Porro on the edge of the area and he got up to bend the ball over the wall and force the keeper into a punch, but the ball was recycled and Bryan Gil let the ball run for Lo Celso to shoot, but, stretching for it, he was unable to get as much power behind his shot as when he scored, with the ball deflecting off a defender for a corner.  Villa attacked in the 52nd minute and a bobbling shot from Bailey from just outside the area to the right looked comfortable for Vicario to save, but it squirmed underneath his dive to his right and hit the base of his post before fortunately bouncing back into his arms.

A Villa corner launched a Spurs counter-attack, with Lo Celso starting it and it finishing with a ball across the penalty area that Brennan Johnson was just unable to reach as the stretched for it at the back post.  Watkins looked dangerous as he was played into the left side of the penalty area, but he fell face forwards with nobody around him, which didn’t really need any VAR involvement as it was clearly a stumble, but at the other end VAR stuck its nose in again as Hojbjerg’s clever pass put Johnson through and he was aware of Son being in the middle of the goal, so pulled the ball across to be slid in by the South Korean.  Once again, a flag went up and the check confirmed that it would be ruled offside.

Without the pace of van de Ven at the back, there is more reliance on Guglielmo to play the sweeper-keeper role and he had to come well out of his box to head one clear, luckily to McGinn, who has more trouble kicking the ball than players, who tried to lob it into an empty goal, but put it a few yards high and wide.  However, it was only a brief escape as soon after Watkins exchanged passes with Tielemens and put a low shot beyond Vicario’s right hand to make it 2-1.  It was another goal that was too easy for Villa to work, with them creating very few other moments of worry for the Spurs defence.

Five minutes later, Digne, who was coping with the threat posed by Kulusevski by obstructing him every time he pushed the ball past the Villa defender, failed to stop him with that tactic on this occasion and then rashly tackled Dejan in the box, with VAR quickly looking at it and dismissing penalty claims.  As Ange wants, we kept pushing forward and Porro dug a volley into the ground that caused the keeper to have to push it away for a corner and when that came in Davies flashed a header just over the bar.  Vic was then back in action, sliding the ball away from Bailey as he broke forward ten yards outside his box and then springing to his left to palm away a Digne free-kick.  The corner was headed own by Watkins, but nobody was alert enough at the far post to turn it in and in their next attack, it was Emerson Royal who prevented a ball into the box doing any more damage.

Kulusevski’s appetite for hard work is amazing and he picked up the ball deep in the Spurs half before running up to the Villa penalty are and shooting at the near post, but the keeper saved.  Every time the Villa goalkeeper got the ball he took between nine and twelve seconds with the ball in his hands and at goal-kicks, the ref indicated that he was stopping the clock, but this time-wasting will not stop until yellow cards are dished out.  So much for the clampdown on time-wasting – another idea that lasted for a couple of weeks !  Watkins was booked when he tried to knock the ball out of Vicario’s hands after he had been given offside, but this was in the 82nd minute when their goalie had been time-wasting since the fifteenth.

It looked as though we had pulled it back to 2-2 in the 85th minute, when Porro drilled a low shot at goal that bounced away off the base of the keeper’s right-hand post, with Sonny on hand in the middle to tuck the rebound away.  However, he was flagged offside and that was another goal disallowed.  There were six minutes of added time, with Spurs having a couple of free-kicks and a corner that didn’t come to anything and despite giving it a good go, we had lost our third game on the trot.  It wasn’t for the want of trying and we probably were the better side, especially up until the point Bentancur had to leave the pitch, but even beyond that, we created a lot of chances but failed to take them, so perhaps another striker will be on the shopping list this coming transfer window.

The game could quite easily have ended 4-2 to us with the goals being ruled out, but it was only on the way home that social media (and Sky TV) pointed out a third minute elbow into the face of Bryan Gil in the penalty area by Carlos.  None of the match officials saw it and VAR wasn’t working, so not only did Villa get away with a penalty against them, but also a red card for their defender.  While VAR seems a sound system in theory, in practice human and now technical error is making it less than satisfactory.  Maybe the Spurs board will issue a statement asking for a replay like Liverpool !

The positive points from our performance were the creativity that Lo Celso brought to the team and the fantastic energy and attacking threat Dejan Kulusevski brings to the side.  We can only hope that Rodrigo’s injury doesn’t keep him out for too long, but it looked a sore one.  Porro had a decent game and was often in a more advanced position than Kulusevski.

Next week we face Mancashter City, without Romero and now possibly Bentancur, but Bissouma will be back and we will have to be a lot tighter at the back against Haaland et al.  We have a good record against them over the last few years, but it will be a tougher task without our first choice picks.

The Heathrow Spur


  • A minute’s applause in appreciation of Terry Venables who died yesterday was held before the match and black armbands were worn. 


Mancashter City 1 Liverpool 1
Burnley 1 West Ham United London 2
Luton Town 2 Crystal Palace 1
Newcash United 4 Chelsea 1
Nottingham Forest 2 Brighton & Hove Albion 3
Sheffield United 1 AFC Bournemouth 3
Brentford 0 Woolwich Wanderers 1
Everton 0 Mancashter United 3
Fulham 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

Premier League Table 2023-24

Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points Goal difference
1 Woolwich Wanderers 13 9 3 1 27 10 30 +17
2 Mancashter City 13 9 2 2 33 13 29 +20
3 Liverpool 13 8 4 1 28 11 28 +17
4 Aston Villa 13 9 1 3 31 18 28 +13
5 Tottenham Hotspur 13 8 2 3 25 17 26 +8
6 Mancashter United 13 8 0 5 16 16 24 0
7 Newcash United 13 7 2 4 31 14
23 +17
8 Brighton & Hove Albion 13 6 4 3 28 23 22 +5
9 West Ham United London 12 6 2 5 23 23 20 0
10 Chelsea 13 4 4 5 22 20 16 +2
11 Brentford 13 4 4 5 19 18 16 +1
12 Wolverhampton Wanderers 13 4 4 5 17 21 16 -4
13 Crystal Palace 13 4 3 5 13 18 15 -5
14 Nottingham Forest 13 3 4 6 16 21 13 -5
15 Fulham 13 3 4 6 11 21 13 -10
16 AFC Bournemouth 13 3 3 7 14 28 12 -14
17 Luton Town 13 2 3 8 12 23 9 -11
18 Sheffield United 13 1 2
10 11 34 5 -23
19 Everton 13 4 2 7 14 20 4* -6
20 Burnley 13 1 1 11 10 32 4 -22

* Deducted 10 points