Sunday afternoon’s match at White Hart Lane got off to a mundane start. Villa’s lineup saw new signing Sam Johnstone starting in goal, but the Manchester United loanee was not tested once in the first half. Gabby Agbonlahor, tasked with leading the line, created nothing going forward and was often isolated as he chased the ball around Spurs’ back three. The closest either side came to a goal in the first half was a touch from Jordan Amavi that almost looped over Sam Johnstone and into his own net, but Amavi’s effort wriggled wide of the post.
After halftime, Spurs emerged as a more invigorated side. Johnstone was soon forced into a routine save on striker Vincent Janssen and a superb diving stop to prevent Heung-min Son from opening the story. Villa almost snatched a goal themselves themselves when Gabby Agbonlahor was presented with a point-blank opportunity from a scrappy set-piece, but his shot was blocked before it could find the back of the net.
Villa were made to pay soon thereafter. Spurs substitute Georges-Kevin N'Koudou made an immediate impact on the match, fizzing in a cross that found Ben Davies, whose glancing header into the corner of the net left Johnstone helpless. Steve Bruce offered first-team opportunities to youngsters Andre Green and Keinan Davis, but both struggled to make any real impact on the match.
Overall, Sunday’s encounter was a drab affair. Villa showed comprehensive defensive organization throughout the first half, but Jonathan Kodjia’s absence was and will continue to be sorely missed. It appears Agbonlahor lacks the quality to finish or facilitate goals, something that makes Villa’s decision to sell Rudy Gestede for a marginal fee even more puzzling. Steve Bruce will need to sign a new striker to push on for a playoff place in the coming months.