5. Pochettino will not bow to supporter pressure
With both Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado seeming unable to hit Kim Kardashian’s arse from point blank range, the Tottenham faithful were desperate for the in-form forward Harry Kane to play.
Instead of taking an easy path to ingratiating himself with the fans, Pochettino defied both expectation and logic by starting Adebayor and Soldado upfront. It’s fair to say that this caused something of an online commotion. Why, even Frank Bruno was enquiring as to why the youngster had not been picked, way back in 1987…
The Tottenham manager also resisted the temptation to drop the disappointing Younes Kaboul and Etienne Capoue, yet benched Erik Lamela, despite the fact that he’s scores goals that have to be watched half a dozen times before you can come close to understanding them. It’s fair to say that Pochettino’s decisions backfired, with Aston Villa taking initial control of the game, as Spurs produced a terrible performance. 4. If you’re having a bad run… play Tottenham Paul Lambert’s side came into this encounter off the back of a run of five straight defeats in which they failed to score a single goal. Such cannon-fodder would be welcomed with open arms by most teams, but in this case it caused all that have an emotional attachment to Spurs, to squirm uncomfortably in their seats. That’s because no side is as welcome a sight on the fixture list than Tottenham for a struggling club. Football’s great reversers of fortune made Villa look like Real Madrid and practically gift-wrapped their first-half goal. Spurs had already shown their disinterest in the concept of marking a couple of times, before Danny Rose was shrugged off by Charles N’Zogbia, who crossed for the completely free Andreas Weimann to convert.
Tottenham’s defence is not good enough. Kaboul is completely shot, Jan Vertonghen looks like he’d rather be anywhere else and the reputed holding midfielder Capoue, is incapable of tracking runners. If that wasn’t enough, Pochettino’s selection pushed Christian Eriksen out wide, where his lack of defensive nous allowed Villa’s full-backs an incredible amount of space.
3. Benteke can make the difference for Villa
While Villa were dominating the first 45 minutes, it was Christian Benteke that looked their most dangerous asset. The Belgian striker utterly dominated his marker Kaboul and looked sharp despite his lengthy absence.
Benteke was out for several months after suffering an Achilles tendon injury last season but nonetheless demonstrated that his ability to leap like a Dirty Dancing-era Jennifer Grey remains untainted, as he won header after header.
It looks as if Villa might have to suffer another season of difficulty and when you’re at the wrong half of the table, it’s good strikers that very often make the difference. In Benteke, Aston Villa have one of the best in the Premier League.
2. Eriksen is out of sorts
If Benteke is beginning to deliver for Villa, Eriksen continues to be an enigma for Spurs. Tottenham’s best outfield player last season, the Dane has not been at his most effective under Pochettino.
In the recent defeat against Manchester City, Eriksen scored and looked a constant threat, but he was anonymous against Newcastle and was substituted at half-time yesterday. Eriksen proved last season that he can thrive from an attacking viewpoint when played out wide, but his tendency to drift inside exposes the full-back behind him and it was no surprise that Rose had his worst game of the season.
1. Bad decisions change games
This was arguably Spurs’ worst performance of the season - a hotly contested title. Villa looked to be cruising to victory until Benteke was sent off in controversial circumstances.
Benteke did indeed give Ryan Mason something of a dry slap but this reaction came after plenty of provocation from the Tottenham newcomer. He was then victim to some handbags from Roberto Soldado. All in all, the referee Neil Swarbick should have been waving his yellow around with more frequency than a Simpsons animator, rather than picking on one man with a red.
The sending off changed everything. Spurs equalised through Nacer Chadli, before another bad decision made an impact on the match, as Pochettino eventually succumbed to the obvious and brought on Kane for Adebayor.
Inevitably it was ‘The Harry-Kane’ that scored the winner, as his deflected free-kick bamboozled Brad Guzan. No one ever said that football was fair.