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Preview: Aston Villa vs Tottenham Hotspur – stats, team news, line-ups

Sunday’s rich Premier League programme commences with a top-four six-pointer between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park.

Five points separate fourth-placed Villa and fifth-placed Spurs ahead of the kick-off, and this fixture could decide the fate of a fiercely-contested top-four race.

Unai Emery’s team can’t take their comfortable-looking lead for granted, considering they’ve played a game more and will have to grind their way to a first top-four finish in the Premier League since 1995/96.

Sharing the spoils with Ajax side in a tepid 0-0 draw in midweek Europa Conference League action was hardly a perfect warm-up ahead of this season-defining showdown.

Emery labelled this contest as a ‘key moment’ during his pre-match conference, highlighting the significance of taking three points against their closest challengers. 

Unlike Villa, Tottenham have had more time to rest and prepare for this fixture after last term’s underwhelming eighth-place finish left them out of this season’s European stage.

Ange Postecoglou’s side bounced back from a 2-1 home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in familiar fashion, coming from behind to dispatch Crystal Palace 3-1 last time out.

Despite Spurs’ well-documented ability to turn things around under the Australian tactician, their propensity for slow starts is hardly a long-term recipe for success.

But it’s all good for Tottenham fans, who celebrated Timo Werner’s first goal for the club since arriving from RB Leipzig in January against Palace. 

Match Preview

Villa’s sharpness in Birmingham has subsided after a scintillating start to the season, as evidenced by back-to-back home league losses to Manchester United and Newcastle United in early 2024.

They broke a rotten three-game losing patch at Villa Park with a thumping 4-2 win against bottom-half Nottingham Forest, though the Tricky Trees’ quality is hardly comparable to Spurs.

However, Villa have recently had Tottenham’s number, beating them in their last three league encounters, including a dramatic 2-1 victory in November’s reverse fixture.

More inspiration stems from Villa’s free-scoring form in 2024. Emery’s troops have mustered 16 goals in seven Premier League matches this calendar year despite a scoreless draw at Everton in mid-January.

Tottenham entered the reverse fixture amid a woeful five-game winless run (D1, L4), but the situation looks far better this time as they have won three of their last five top-flight assignments (D1, L1).

It’s still well below the consistency level required for Spurs’ lofty ambitions, especially considering those five games fluctuated between different outcomes.

Conceding first in five of their last six league outings is another ominous pattern, even though they’ve emerged victorious from five out of nine league games after going down 1-0 (D2, L2).

But they can ill-afford another slow start if they’re to build on an impressive run of winning seven of their last eight Premier League visits to Villa Park (L1).

Team News

Boubacar Kamara has recently joined long-term absentees Emiliano Buendia and Tyrone Mings on the sidelines. But Villa picked up a fresh injury concern last weekend.

Jacob Ramsey suffered an ankle problem in a 3-2 win at Luton Town and had to sit out a midweek trip to Amsterdam.

Tottenham’s hellish injury crisis has subsided, leaving Ryan Sessegnon, Manor Solomon and Fraser Forster as the only players in the treatment room.

Per the club’s official website, Pedro Porro is available for Sunday’s fixture after recovering from a short-term injury.

Aston Villa potential starting line-up:

(4-4-1-1): Emiliano Martinez; Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa, Diego Carlos, Alex Moreno; Moussa Diaby, Douglas Luiz, John McGinn, Eric Bailey; Youri Tielemans; Ollie Watkins.

Tottenham Hotspur potential starting line-up:

(4-2-3-1): Guglielmo Vicario; Pedro Porro, Cristian Romero, Micky van de Ven, Destiny Udogie; Rodrigo Bentancur, Yves Bissouma; Dejan Kulusevski, James Maddison, Timo Werner; Son Heung-min.

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