With Tottenham crashing out of the Europa League at the hands of Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday night, the only way the North London outfit can secure Champions League football next year is a top 4 finish in the Premier League. Jose Mourinho will be well aware of this and will use it to motivate his team, cranking up the pressure on the top 4.
However, Spurs currently sit in 8th position in the League, six points behind their London rivals, Chelsea, who currently occupy 4th spot and with a recent defeat to Arsenal, Tottenham may be more concerned with looking over their shoulders than looking up the table.
If Villa win on Sunday evening, they will close the gap on Tottenham to just one point, but what can the Villans expect from Tottenham?
Let’s look at the stats
The first graph to consider looks at the number of expected goals for and against each team has had over the course of the season.
Tottenham have created a total expected goals of 37.5 while conceding an expected goals against of 33.2.
Tottenham sit in the company of the likes of Leicester, Arsenal, and Aston Villa as teams that are above average for expected goals and below average for expected goals against.
This suggests that both teams are attacking well this season and, in doing so, preventing the opposition from creating chances.
As expected goals is a measurement of shots, it is worth looking in closer detail at shot creation and how Tottenham like to attack.
This next graph compares the number of touches a team has per shot with the percentage of touches the team has in the opposition penalty area.
The number of touches a team has per shot shows how quick a team likes to turn the ball over and create a shooting opportunity or whether they prefer to keep hold of the ball and wait for the perfect opportunity or the ‘killer pass’.
Meanwhile, percentage of touches the team has in the opposition penalty area shows where on the pitch the team is having control of the ball and how much of this possession is in a threatening position.
The y-axis has been reversed to make it easier to visualize which teams are keeping hold of the ball for longer than average before getting a shot away.
The graph demonstrates how Tottenham are keeping hold of the ball for longer than the league average, however, they are not getting many touches of the ball in the opposition penalty box.
When comparing Tottenham to Aston Villa, it’s clear that Villa like to turn the ball over and create a shooting opportunity as quickly as possible. Aston Villa also have a high percent of their touches in the opposition penalty box, further suggesting that the Villans look to turn possession into an attacking threat as quickly and as often as possible.
Graph number three considers how the opposition are able to break a team down and get the ball into dangerous positions such as the attacking third or the penalty box.
The graph looks at how many passes a team allows in their own third and penalty box (the oppositions attacking third and penalty box).
The graph shows how Tottenham are allowing the opposition a high number of passes in dangerous areas as they are above average for both.
Aston Villa will take great encouragement from this as they like to play on the front foot and get into threatening areas as often as possible as the previous graph shows.
Both axis for this graph have been reversed as it is preferable to have a lower number of opposition passes in the final third and penalty area.
The final graph considers Tottenham’s attacking threat and who Villa should be wary of going into the match.
The graph considers the total number of goals and assists for each player to play for Spurs this season. The size of the box and the shade of blue represents the total number of goals and assists.
It’s instantly clear that Tottenham are heavily reliant on Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min when it comes to their attacking threat. Both players account for 59% of Tottenham’s goals this season. With Son likely to miss the game through injury, if Villa can find a way to take Kane out of the game, they could potentially defuse Tottenham’s attack.
With Tottenham playing 120 minutes of football on Thursday evening, Mourinho may look to freshen up his side. Pierre-Emile Hojberg and Tanguy Ndombele are both expected to come back into the starting line-up.
However, Tottenham will be without Son Heung-Min, through injury, and Erik Lamela, through suspension following his red card in the North London derby.
Son’s absence will be heavily missed as the Korean international has been directly involved in 25% of Tottenham’s goals this season.
As for Aston Villa, there remains a question mark over the fitness of captain, Jack Grealish, with Dean Smith stating he is “hopeful for Jack” but will be leaving it “until Sunday Morning” to make a decision. However, the midfielder is now “pain-free and running”.
There are also questions over the fitness of winger, Bertrand Traore, who went off injured against Newcastle United after a painful clash with the St. James’ Park advertising board.
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