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Tottenham put Aston Villa to the sword as Emery’s men take on Spurs’ bottling mantle | Football | Sport

Ange Postecoglou’s Tottenham Hotspur team took a major step towards qualifying for the Champions League, as two second-half goals gave Spurs a crucial victory against top-four rivals Aston Villa. After a cagey first period, a three-minute blitz put the game in Tottenham’s control, after goals from James Maddison and Brennan Johnson saw the visitors race to a two-goal lead. Villa’s woes worsened just after the hour mark, when captain John McGinn was sent off for a nasty tackle on Destiny Udogie, as Son Heung-min and Timo Werner topped off a dazzling Spurs performance with goals in added time.

Villa show lack of bottle in key top-four battle

Rewind a couple of weeks and there was genuine talk of Aston Villa competing for the Premier League title. Now, with just 10 matches of the season to go, Unai Emery’s side are in real danger of dropping out of the top-four race altogether.

Billed as one of the Villans’ biggest fixtures of the campaign, it was clear to see which team had featured in crunch top-four battles in the past. Ultimately, that immaturity in these types of fixtures was evident with McGinn’s red card – a moment of madness from the usually reliable midfielder.

Spurs reaping benefits of Postecoglou philosophy

Whisper it, but Spurs looked great. While they might be less than one year into the Postecoglou regime, Spurs appear to have shaken off the fragilities from previous managers and actually look to be playing with a clear identity.

Questions hung over Postecoglou’s head when he arrived at the north London outfit, but few – if any – people could say the decision to appoint him as Tottenham boss was a bad one. What’s more, after a difficult run of form in the winter months, Tottenham are entering spring in promising form, with the 2008 League Cup winners now boasting Champions League qualification in their own hands.

Harry Kane who? As Son continues strong Spurs form

Tottenham were stepping into the unknown at the start of the campaign. For the first time in over a decade, they began a season without Harry Kane, but can anyone say they’ve actually missed the England captain?

That has in part – if not whole – down to the performances of Son, who has stepped into the role of Spurs talisman. His late strike against Villa was his 14th of the Premier League season, with the South Korean international boasting 20 goal contributions across all competitions so far.

Micky van de Ven would be signing of the season… if he could stay fit

It’s a killer for Spurs fans. They finally find a young centre-back, who is not only composed on the ball, but solid going the opposite way, yet his biggest flaw is his fitness record. Before Micky van de Ven trudged off the Villa Park pitch, shirt pulled up over his face to mask the disappointment, the Dutchman had positioned himself as the standout Man of the Match contender.

During his 50 or so minutes on the pitch, Van de Ven won all three duels he contested, completed 100 per cent of his tackles and misplaced just one pass. Annoyance for Tottenham and Van de Ven, who will be hoping to arrest his fitness woes between now and the end of the campaign.

Context important in what can still be memorable Villa season

The frustrations felt by Villa fans are likely to be long gone by the time their side are lining up for Thursday’s crunch clash against Ajax. While things might not be going the way of Emery and Co. right now, Villa can still enjoy a stellar season, starting with a win against the Dutch giants in midweek.

It’s been a quarter of a century since Villa last qualified for the quarter-finals of a major European competition, and even though Champions League football might be a tall order from this point on, why can’t the Villans go on and win the Europa Conference League themselves?

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