Aston Villa opened their Premier League campaign with a loss to Tottenham Hotspur.
McGinn opened the scoring following a rapid press from the middle to seek out a Tyrone Mings home-run pass - but Spurs’ quality shone through after Christian Eriksen was brought on in the second half. A goal from new chap - Tanguy Ndombele, and two from the old favourite Harry Kane were enough to seal the deal for Spurs.
Aston Villa couldn’t find the possession opportunites to regather themselves, and seemed to be overly excited to get into the game when they did find the ball. It was the perfect storm and AVFC ended up playing themselves into Spurs’ hands.
3-1 in the end, but the scoreline seems so much worse than the game in itself was. Villa gave a good account of themselves and will need to find a way to last ninety minutes if they want to beat the big teams in this league.
Here’s all that you need to know about Villa’s last match.
- Our young writer picked a debutant as his man of the match against Tottenham
- ‘A panicked Villa knew that the game was slipping through their fingers and yet they attempted still to hold onto the fine sands of a single point as Spurs whipped up a gale.’ - more on the ‘one moment’ that unlocked the game for Spurs
- 7500 to Holte player ratings for Villa vs Spurs
- 7500 to Holte - ‘Villa begin the Premier League campaign with a valiant effort that breaks down in the end.’
- BBC - ‘Kane gets Spurs out of jail.’
- The Guardian - ‘Harry Kane’s late double takes Spurs past resurgent Aston Villa.’
The Manager’s Thoughts
The big talking point for Dean Smith after his first match in the Premier League surrounded his choice of lineup. Where was Frederic Guilbert? Smith stated that he wanted “two defenders, two midfielders and two forwards” - so Guilbert missed out. Ezri Konsa - who is able to fill in at centre-back, right back and defensive midfield was a more natural choice for Smith with Matt Targett getting onto the bench.At any rate, full-back wasn’t the concern for Smith - and Neil Taylor played well, as did Elmohamady.
He did say that the new signings - the ones who did play - integrated into the squad seamlessly. None more so perhaps than Björn Engels at centre-half.
In terms of the ‘foul’ on John McGinn - Smith stated that he didn’t think that the tackle on McGinn in the box was a foul, but appeared to be convinced that the Villa weren’t awarded fouls that they should’ve been.
In terms of the game plan, Deano seemed happy enough with the off-the-ball work, but noted that Villa have to “better on the ball” - because with that football on their feet, they don’t have to engage into the pressing that ruined their energy levels. Villa were unable to rest on the ball - and Smith knows very well that Tottenham’s ‘physicality’ was superior in the end.
The biggest positive for Smith was the first-half performance. Same for all of us, I guess!
Conor Hourihane crowned his first PL appearance (after making his way up through every single tier of the EFL) by returning to a five year-old screenshot to own the person who tweeted it. He’s never, ever forgotten it. People have a habit of tagging people into critiques, insults and criticism - they always get bodied, eventually.
Hi Craig, remember this tweet back in 2014... I always remember it to this day. Ironically your a Villa fan who I made my debut with! Never tell anyone they can’t achieve something @CraigTa90961607 pic.twitter.com/smCgi0VSlO— Conor Hourihane (@ConorHourihane) August 11, 2019
Tyrone was a giant on the pitch and proved his worth to everyone watching (as if he needed to do that anyway!) - here he is with a quick, standard appreciation in the face of a loss.
Wasn’t meant to be today, we keep it moving. Fans out in full force once again #avfc pic.twitter.com/oL67C2IPJH— Tyrone Mings (@OfficialTM_3) August 10, 2019
He also spoke to AVFC about the match and noted that Villa need to learn quickly to adapt and survive in this league.
"My overriding feeling is one of positivity. We need to learn quickly – it's a relentless league."@OfficialTM_3 reflects on yesterday's opener at Spurs.#PL #AVFC pic.twitter.com/sgBlOK8vV1— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) August 11, 2019
In terms of the goalscorer - it could only be John McGinn. His press from midfield created the goal that took Villa to the Premier League and it certainly helped against Tottenham as he drove from deep to score Villa’s first goal of the season.
✅ Scored the goal to get us promoted— thevillazone (@thevillazone) August 11, 2019
✅ Scored our first goal back in the PL
Super John McGinn #avfc pic.twitter.com/sZHfl0vAuT
Neil Taylor’s inclusion in the team was a slight surprise, but the Welsh left-back was able to put in a solid performance under pressure. Dean Smith will have to have a good think about this spot - because it seems like Taylor has the nod over Matt Targett right now.
Unfairly ripped to pieces by some Villa fans before the game but Taylor was immense today. Fair play to him #AVFC pic.twitter.com/kdj9VzwpHZ— Mark (@markavfc40) August 10, 2019
Finally, a call for realism. Big clubs make big chances - it’s obvious. Spurs are good at that!
We should keep our heads up after that, we just had Champions League Finalists literally pressure us for 90 minutes, defence played outstanding considering they are on the back foot all game. On to Bournemouth.— Ty (@TyBracey) August 10, 2019
UP THE VILLA#AVFC
Villa on Tour showcase the Villa fanbase to the world each and every AVFC game. Here’s Max and the crew at Spurs.
Post-match interviews and analysis from Match of the Day after Aston Villa's opening-day fixture against Tottenham Hotspur. #AVFC pic.twitter.com/U6RtbEZV2n— AVFC Goals (@avfcgoals) August 11, 2019
Get them while they’re hot.
Expected goals can tell us a fair bit about a match. Here’s an explainer. In the long term we can judge how well a team is doing in front of goal. On a match-by-match basis, we can simply judge chances, and how well they are taken,
Tottenham good value for their win - Villa could’ve done with engineering a better chance in the first half when they had an opportunity. Not much we can take from this except that the big teams make big chances.
Goalscorers: John McGinn got Villa off to a good start before Tanguy Ndombele and Harry Kane scored (Kane twice) to ruin dreams. Boo!
Big winners: We all knew the qualities of Tom Heaton, Tyrone Mings, John McGinn and Bjorn Engels in this match - but Conor Hourihane deserves a shoutout as well. He fit in well - and it was only the total collapse of Villa’s midfield due to fatigue that ruined the day. Villa will need defensive might in future games, but at least Conor proved that he had a role to play. Trezeguet also looked lively - and even though Jack Grealish tired, he’s still Jack Grealish.
Big ‘losers’: This always feels awkward to define - Anwar El Ghazi did not perform up to his standards though and his flank was dead in the attack. Wesley’s first game wasn’t all that great either. They’ll get better.
Best moment: “Ball out from the back. John McGinn recovers - he’s darting forward. Rose pressures, but McGinn finds a shooting chance! McGinn!” - Villa’s first Premier League goal was a beautiful surprise.
Worst moment: The second Tottenham injected Christian Eriksen into the lineup in the second half. You knew it was over, and it was a gamechanger for Spurs.
Man of the Match: Plenty of candidates despite the scoreline. McGinn, Mings and Engels stand out, but I’d like to offer it to Tom Heaton who proved his value. Spurs could’ve had six if not for him and a number of brilliant saves. Well done that man.
Much ado about nothing. Villa didn’t win against good opposition - we move on. Bournemouth are up next in what may represent a better test of Aston Villa’s abilities. Hopefully it will be a match that brings us the first point or points of a positive season.