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Preview: Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park.

Tottenham Hotspur will look to bounce back from a disappointing start to March when they travel to basement side Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

Mauricio Pochettino's side remain second in the Premier League table, but they are without a win in their last two in the league. Villa though have serious problems of their own, with a nine-point gap currently separating them from the safety of 17th position.


Aston Villa

Remi Garde cuts a miserable figure during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Aston Villa on March 5, 2016© Getty Images

When Remi Garde spoke to the media on Friday morning, his message was clear: "We can survive. Why can't we?" Villa supporters will be able to think of plenty of reasons and in truth, only a minor miracle will keep the club in the Premier League.

Just three wins from 29 matches has left Villa rooted to the bottom of the table on 16 points. They are eight points from 19th-placed Newcastle United and nine from Sunderland in 17th. Nineteen losses have been suffered in the top flight this term and Villa's points total after 29 games is the third lowest at this stage of any Premier League season.

Garde's side have not just been beaten in recent weeks, they have been beaten badly. They were hammered 6-0 by Liverpool at Villa Park on February 14, before losing 4-0 at Manchester City last weekend. They have only scored 22 times in their 29 matches and conceded 55 and it will not come as a surprise to learn that they are the two worst records in the division.

"You never know in football" were also words uttered by Garde at his press conference, but Villa have, unfortunately, become the whipping boys in the league this season. They are in a very difficult position and it is not as if their fixtures get any easier, facing Chelsea and Manchester United in two of their next four.

What's more, if Villa lose this match, it will be their 20th league defeat of the season, which would equal their worst ever tally of Premier League defeats, which was set in each of the last two campaigns. It has been a difficult few years for the supporters and Championship football next season seems certain.

Recent form: LWLLLL


Tottenham

Dejected Tottenham Hotspur players during the Europa League last-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund on March 10, 2016© AFP

It has been a very impressive season for Spurs thus far, but head coach Pochettino will be a little concerned about his team's form and indeed performance levels in the last three matches. They deservedly lost 1-0 at West Ham United in the league at the start of the month, before drawing 2-2 with 10-man Arsenal in their last Premier League match on March 5.

The chance to bounce back came at Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League on Thursday night, but they were beaten 3-0 in the first leg of their last-16 clash. It is widely accepted that Spurs have the fittest squad in the Premier League, but it has been a testing few months and it is vital that they bounce back this weekend.

Only one team - Leicester City - have lost fewer league games (three) than Tottenham (four) this season and the capital side also have the best defensive record in the division, having only conceded 24 times. Down the other end, they have hit 51, which is just one fewer than Leicester and Manchester City, who have the joint-best goals record at this stage.

If Spurs do pass up the chance to win the title this season, they might look back on too many draws. Fifteen league wins at this stage is impressive, but they have drawn 10 times, which is high for a team chasing the title. Spurs' next three in the league are also very tasty indeed - Bournemouth at home, Liverpool away and Manchester United at home.

Spurs might have lost at West Ham in their last away match in the league, but they have won seven times on their travels this season and conceded just 12 times in 14 away games. What's more, 55 points from 29 matches also represents Spurs' highest-ever tally at this stage of a Premier League season and it is no surprise that Pochettino is a wanted man.

Recent form: WWWWLD
Recent form (all competitions): LWWLDL


Team News

Harry 'big schnoz' Kane sports a protective face mask during the Premier League game between Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City on February 28, 2016© AFP

Adama Traore has returned to training for Villa following a broken foot, but the former Barcelona attacker will not be fit for this match, while Carlos Sanchez, Libor Kozak and Jack Grealish are also still on the sidelines.

Rudy Gestede and Scott Sinclair are both pushing for spots in the final third, but Garde is expected to continue with his five-man defence despite their struggles in recent weeks.

As for Spurs, Dele Alli should return from an ankle problem, while Eric Dier will face a late fitness test. Danny Rose is struggling with a sore calf, however, which should mean another start for Ben Davies at left-back.

Harry Kane, who has scored 16 times in his last 20 league matches, should also return after starting the Dortmund game on the bench, while Mousa Dembele, Kyle Walker and Erik Lamela are also expected to make the first XI.

Villa possible starting lineup:
Guzan; Hutton, Richards, Lescott, Clark, Cissokho; Westwood, Gueye, Veretout; Ayew, Gestede

Tottenham possible starting lineup:
Lloris; Walker, Wimmer, Alderweireld, Davies; Dembele, Mason; Alli, Eriksen, Lamela; Kane


Head To Head

These two clubs have met on 161 occasions in all competitions. Spurs have 70 wins to their name, Villa 56, while the remaining 56 clashes have finished level.

Worryingly for Villa, they have lost seven of their last eight games against Spurs in all competitions, but did record a 1-0 victory at White Hart Lane when they made the trip to London last season.

Villa lost 3-1 at Spurs back in November, however, and were also beaten 2-1 in this stadium last season, when Kane and Nacer Chadli both netted in the final 10 minutes.


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We say: Villa 0-2 Spurs

Spurs' trip to Dortmund on Thursday would have taken a lot out of them, but Villa have been hopeless in recent weeks and it is very difficult to see the home side ending their poor run of form. Villa might make it difficult for Pochettino's side in the early stages, but the capital outfit have more than enough quality to secure all the points.


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Who will triumph at Villa Park this weekend?

Aston Villa
Draw
Tottenham
Aston Villa
12.9%
Draw
8.2%
Tottenham
78.9%
Jack Grealish of Aston Villa looks on during a warm- up prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Stoke City at Villa Park on October 3, 2015
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City35292489226789
2Liverpool35277179205988
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs352311165353070
4Chelsea35207859382167
5Arsenal35206969462366
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd35197963501364
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves35149124443151
8Watford35148135050050
9Everton35147145044649
10Leicester CityLeicester35146154847148
11West Ham UnitedWest Ham35127164454-1043
12Crystal Palace35126174348-542
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle35118163544-941
14Bournemouth35125184962-1341
15Burnley35117174462-1840
16Southampton35910164158-1737
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3597193254-2234
18Cardiff CityCardiff3594223065-3531
RFulham3565243376-4323
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3535272069-4914

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