Football Features

A case study for Lo Celso? Five things learned as Spurs leave it late to beat Aston Villa

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 19:38, 10 August 2019

In a thrilling contest at Tottenham Stadium, Spurs came from behind to beat Aston Villa 3-1.

The promoted side stole an early goal on the break and Spurs then spent the rest of the match trying to break them down, eventually doing just that. What did we learn?

1. Ndomblockbuster

For 72 minutes, Tanguy Ndombele was having a middling debut for Spurs. The Frenchman is the club’s record signing but looked no more than average against Aston Villa. He passed it neatly enough, but there was no sense of the dynamic midfield general Spurs had been promised. For 72 minutes.

73 minutes into his debut, Tanguy Ndombele showed the world just why Spurs paid all that money for him. Lucas Moura slipped a pass back outside the box, in his direction. He ran up to the ball, facing a massive wall of claret and blue blocking his way. And he bent that ball through all of them, arrowing it perfectly like Yondu would a Yaka Arrow. Tom Heaton had saved everything before this and looked like he was in full-on Gandalf-in-Moria mode, but Ndombele smashed that bridged and dragged Heaton down into the darkness.

Just imagine what he can do when he starts playing well??

2. Big Wes needs a little more

Aston Villa’s record signing Wesley is a big dude. The Brazilian stands 6’3 and has an imposing presence to match that. However he plays the game with the physical robustness of a much smaller man. It’s kind of ridiculous actually, watching Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sánchez knock him around like he were Javier Hernández.

Obviously the pace of Premier League football takes some getting used to, but that was ridiculous. Wesley’s inability to hold the ball under Spurs pressure is what kept the ball constantly coming back towards Hugo Lloris’ goal. Sure, Villa had the odd break but it was nothing substantial and they could never generate a spell of possession.

Eventually this led to Spurs turning the game around. The pressure was just too much. Now, sure, Wesley won’t have to face centre-backs as good as Alderweireld and Sánchez every week but if Aston Villa are going to survive and thrive this season then they need their big Brazilian striker to show them a little more than he did at Tottenham Stadium. He has the power, he should be an absolutely dominant force instead of looking like some sort of Peter Crouch.

3. A case study for Lo Celso

Giovani Lo Celso must have been watching Spurs’ win against Aston Villa with mixed emotions. On the one hand his side won without him, showing lots of heart without him. But on the other hand if he ever had any trepidation about how important he was going to be under Mauricio Pochettino, this game will have confirmed how focal he will be.

The way Spurs played against Villa they found themselves crying out for a player like Lo Celso. Someone with the ability to beat a man but also get their head up and pick the final pass. Until Ndombele’s blockbuster broke the game open, so much of Spurs’ play was fine up to the final pass or shot where they would slow down, panic and pick the wrong decision. With Lo Celso on the pitch that kind of thing is much less likely to happen as he would act as the attacking axis for Spurs.

In the end Christian Eriksen came on and helped turn the game in Spurs’ favour, but it’s clear that given his transfer situation (the Dane has admitted to desiring a new challenge) that Pochettino would like to de-centre him from Spurs’ system. Giovani Lo Celso allows the Argentine coach to do just that with even more style.

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4. Tyrone The Titan

Tyrone Mings cost Aston Villa an awful lot of money (by their standards). £20m is no joke for the Villains, but they forked it out for Mings because he was so important to them in the Championship. Many wondered if the fee was too much since there was no proof that he would be able to scale his abilities to the Premier League.

Despite Villa’s 3-1 loss, they’re probably not wondering anymore. Mings was massive against Spurs, acting as a one-man defence for much of the game. He constantly got his head to balls, or found himself in the way of shots and passes. Mings made an absolutely monumental 15 clearances, nine more than any other player on the pitch!

Mings was so impressive that he even bailed his goalkeeper Tom Heaton out in the 66th minute, retreating onto his line to block Erik Lamela’s long shot that was heading in with Heaton stranded. Even Spurs’ winning goal came because Mings was quick on the block, stabbing away Erik Lamela’s shot but unfortunately seeing the ball ricochet straight into the path of Harry Kane.

5. Big Daddy Kane

Harry Kane went a billion years without scoring in August, it was troubling. Then last season he scored once against Manchester United, but that was a bizarre game that defied logic, so maybe it was a fluke? Well today you found out, no, that was no fluke.

England’s no. 9 and Tottenham’s no. 10 stepped up and delivered two colossal goals late in the day for Spurs. Both sublime finishes, one with each foot. One high into the net, one passed cooly low into the bottom corner. Kane’s up and running on day one, his August hoodoo well and truly banished, and the sky is now the limit for this world-class striker.