After relying on Christian Benteke's incredible hat-trick to salvage a draw against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday, Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood upset many fans by naming an unchanged side on Saturday at Tottenham.
But the efforts of the men wearing claret and blue kits at White Hart Lane justified Sherwood's decision as his new team deservedly beat his old one by a 1-0 scoreline.
And while Benteke will once again steal the headlines after scoring, Aston Villa had several strong individual performances to help steal the three points, particularly by players in central positions.
Based on a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best -- here are the match ratings, as well as stats and analysis, of Aston Villa's players from Saturday's victory at Tottenham.
GK: Brad Guzan, Rating: 7
Key Stat: Three saves.
After coming under criticism in the past few weeks, the American was serenaded by the Spurs supporters -- and maybe by some Villa fans as well -- by a "You're just a sh*t Brad Friedel" chant. Guzan hasn't made "the big save" recently, but he did just that with his stop of Danny Rose in the 27th minute, which allowed Villa to take the lead a few minutes later. Had a decent overall game with his kicking and claiming of crosses, literally making his claim for a starting spot at Wembley next Sunday. But who will Sherwood go with?
RB: Leandro Bacuna, Rating: 7
Key Stat: One assist.
If you're willing to accept that he isn't really a right back, it's hard not to like Bacuna. From the second minute, the Dutchman was making runs into the Spurs final third. His attacking positioning was rewarded with a good chance in the 19th minute that he unfortunately sliced well wide. And of course it was his cross that Benteke headed home for the game's only goal. Covered every blade of grass on his side of the pitch, and defended well when he needed to.
CB: Ron Vlaar, Rating: 9
Key Stat: 10 clearances.
Absolutely immense. Just take a moment to admire what might be Vlaar's last great game in an Aston Villa shirt. Days like this, which resembled his World Cup form, are why he's rumored with the likes of Manchester United sometimes. Defended well in every possible way: Won an early race with Harry Kane, had an unbelievable diving header clearance, made a few great tackles, read the game brilliantly, absolutely bossed Nacer Chadli off the ball and covered when his defenders made mistakes. Would've been a 10/10 for me if he scored with his rushed half-chance following a corner.
CB: Ciaran Clark, Rating: 6
Key Stat: 18 minutes played.
Unfortunate to suffer an injury that forced him to be subbed. Had started well early by winning two aerial duels and making two clearances. Hopefully he's not out for too long.
LB: Kieran Richardson, Rating: 5
Key Stat: Six missed tackles.
Started poorly and never was great. Andros Townsend made him look silly a few times. But he hung in there, made a few tackles and passes and was a part of a defense that kept a clean sheet. Definitely benefited with Fabian Delph dropping deeper at times. So hey, congrats Kieran. You weren't an overwhelming liability for the entire match.
CDM: Carlos Sanchez, Rating: 5
Key Stat: 22 percent tackling (2-for-9)
So I watched Carlos Sanchez very closely in this match, and I could say a lot because he's quite an enigmatic player. But essentially, his performance at Tottenham, like most weeks, came down to two things: passing and positioning. His passing was solid on Saturday, spraying some great balls to both left backs and helping Villa transition to attack well. But it was his positioning that let him down and eventually resulted in the Colombian seeing red. I counted 12 times -- six in each half -- during this match where Sanchez was noticeably not where he should be, covering the space in front of the back four. Thankfully Vlaar, Delph and Cleverley helped him out on many occasions; Christian Eriksen not playing central also helped Villa survive these moments of madness from their defensive midfielder. Sanchez has the potential to be so good, but only when his passing AND positioning can coexist with success consistently.
CM: Tom Cleverley, Rating: 7
Key Stat: Four tackles.
All-action display for Cleverley, who helped cover for Sanchez's errors and then some. Overlapped with Bacuna to create space on the right wing, stepped in when needed and dropped deeper at the right times, and was generally a key cog in a great Aston Villa performance. Even switched sides with Delph at times, which was interesting.
CM: Fabian Delph, Rating: 8
Key Stat: 85 percent passing.
Just a sensational effort from the captain, who incredibly had four times as many tackles (4) as fouls (1). His dribbling was brilliant and his passing kept things ticking for Villa. Absolutely bossed a Spurs midfield that included three young and highly touted internationals: Bentaleb, Mason and Eriksen. Really should've scored late though when put clean through by Benteke.
CAM: Jack Grealish, Rating: 7
Key Stat: Just one misplaced pass.
On his second straight Premier League start, the youngster hardly put a foot wrong in 63 minutes. Was his tricky, threatening self and ghosted around Eric Dier at will several times. Perfect player for the attacking midfield role in this 4-4-2 diamond system that Sherwood is trying because when the long balls to Benteke don't work, Grealish adds different ideas with his dribbling and passing.
ST: Gabby Agbonlahor, Rating: 6
Key Stat: One shot -- off the post.
Not his most involved match, completing just six passes in 70 minutes, but almost stunned Spurs when he rocketed a shot off the right post at the end of the first half. Another Villa player that hobbled off with an injury. Also, the improvement in his first touch since Tim Sherwood took over is rather amazing.
ST: Christian Benteke, Rating: 9
Key Stat: 12 aerial duels won.
Another game, another goal for the brilliant Belgian. Benteke is back to his best, and he was dominant in the air on Saturday, winning 12 headers, including three in the Spurs box. His goal was a beautifully placed header from 10 yards on a cross that lacked pace. Also created several opportunities for his teammates, setting up Bacuna, Agbonlahor and Delph. A joy to watch on days like this, when his hold-up play and physical dominance are world class.
CB: Nathan Baker, Rating: 7
Key Stat: Three tackles -- all on Harry Kane.
With left-footed center backs being such a rare commodity, Aston Villa are lucky to have Nathan Baker. He came in early for the injured Clark and filled the role beside Ron Vlaar well, fending off Spurs' rare dangerous attacks. Was very strong in the air, and kept Harry Kane quiet.
ST: Andreas Weimann, Rating: 6
Key Stat: Shot on target.
A defensive replacement for Grealish, served as a willing runner as always. Didn't get enough power on a late scoring chance. Didn't misplace a pass. Good cameo.
CAM: Joe Cole, Rating: 6
Key Stat: 89 percent passing (8-for-9).
Helped Villa keep possession late after replacing Agbonlahor. Did nothing wrong.
Vote for your Aston Villa Man of the Match from the victory at Tottenham!