Summer signings return and should remain in the team
Following last weekend’s wretched North London Derby defeat against Arsenal, Nuno Espirito Santo was always going to change things about in terms of his team to face Aston Villa.
Making a total of three alterations to his side as Cristian Romero, Emerson Royal and Oliver Skipp all came in, Davinson Sanchez, Japhet Tanganga and Dele Alli were the unlucky trio to drop out.
Amid plenty of criticism following their first-half showing at the Emirates, what Tottenham fans picked up on regarding the team selection was that none of the club’s summer signings were included from the off.
Perhaps alarming for many given what’s happened in N17 over the past two years, that changed for the Villa encounter as Romero and Emerson were given the nod as the head coach altered his backline.
All will be hoping the new arrivals start to get a consistent run in the team from now on after impressing in the much-needed victory.
The return of 4-2-3-1
A 4-3-3 setup has been the formation of choice for Espirito Santo since he took on the Tottenham job in the summer.
Despite recording three wins out of three with it at the start of the season, many had pointed to the fact that it left the team rather short in attacking areas having previously got some much joy in a 4-2-3-1.
Dele Alli did catch the eye with his running as part of the midfield three but it did take away from the main aspect of his game as he just wasn’t making runs into the box.
Well, having beaten NS Mura 5-1 in midweek with the setup both Mauricio Pochettino and Jose Mourinho utilised, Espirito Santo stuck with it as Tanguy Ndombele lined up in the No.10 role after Alli dropped to the bench.
The Frenchman showed some glimpses of quality but he just wasn’t at his best on a big day for the Lilywhites.
Kane’s quick thinking
Tottenham didn’t have much joy on goal inside the first 25 minutes as both goalkeepers had very little to do.
Seeing a Son Heung-min effort blocked and Harry Kane shooting over, Emi Martinez was finally called into action on 25 minutes as the England captain attempted an audacious effort from 40 yards.
Winning a free-kick after Douglas Luiz had grappled with Ndombele and brought him to ground, Kane, who was behind the play, spotted the goalkeeper off his line and duly went for goal.
Running onto the ball and catching it so sweetly, the striker’s effort looked destined to find the back of the net with the former Arsenal man backtracking to get back towards his line.
Unfortunately for Tottenham, Martinez managed to get a hand to the ball and denied the striker a Goal of the Season contender in the process.
Emerson’s half-time exchange
Having done well in his 45 minutes on the pitch against Arsenal last weekend, Emerson returned to the starting XI as part of Espirito Santo’s changes.
On the receiving end of a big challenge from Jacob Ramsey early on, the Brazilian settled well into the game after that and pushed upfield on a number of occasions as Spurs looked to punish the visitors.
Moments before half-time he also played his part at the back as he produced a well-timed tackle on Matt Targett just as the the left wing-back looked to be going through on Hugo Lloris.
Coming up against fellow Brazil international Douglas Luiz during the match, the duo could be seen walking off together at half-time as they had a quick catch up.
What was also noticeable was that the pair decided to swap shirts at half-time rather than wait for the full-time whistle.
It’s not every day we see that happen at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Skipp’s chat with the referee
Clearly missing Skipp’s defensive qualities in the middle of the park last weekend, it was a rather straightforward decision for Espirito Santo when it came to his midfield selection against Aston Villa.
The England U21 international was keen to put himself about on his return to XI having not started in the league since the Crystal Palace defeat and he did just that inside the opening 45 minutes.
Picking up a rather iffy yellow card at Wolves in August following what looked to be a perfectly executed tackle on Adama Traore, Skipp was given another dubious card before the break following a tackle on Danny Ings.
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Chasing the Aston Villa man down the line and coming from behind to win the ball cleanly, the midfielder looked bemused that a foul had been awarded against him.
The fact a yellow card was then brandished in his direction didn’t go down well at all with the Tottenham team nor those watching on from inside the stadium.
Not happy at all about the decision, the TV cameras picked up on the 21-year-old having a word with referee Chris Kavanagh about the call just before the teams emerged for the start of the second half.
He was extremely unlucky to be in the referee’s book once again for what appeared to be a perfect tackle.