Tottenham moved to fifth place on the Premier League table with a relatively comfortable 2-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
Andre Villas-Boas made a couple of changes to the side that was unexpectedly beaten 3-0 by West Ham in their last outing, and goals from Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado resulted in three points for the away side.
Here are five things that were evident in Spurs’ victory.
Paulinho the midfield maestro
Brazilian midfielder Paulinho played a significant role in his side’s victory and is starting to really prove himself as a top-notch player. Determined, tireless and hard-working in his own half, the former Corinthians man was also a driving force going forward.
A deft touch allowed Soldado to slot home the decisive second, while Paulinho also could have had goals himself as he attacked crosses and corners. An excellent performance from a player that has already become critical to Tottenham’s chances of top-four football.
Vertonghen the solution at left-back?
Jan Vertonghen is undoubtedly Spurs’ best defender and has been playing as a centre-half for the bulk of the season, but started at left-back here. The Belgian applied himself well at full-back, with Vlad Chiriches taking his place alongside Michael Dawson.
It makes sense to have Vertonghen play centrally due to his attributes, but using him at left-back ends a dilemma and nullifies a potential trouble area.
If the Romanian, who looked relatively assured despite some questionable decisions, can slot into centre-half and be solid, Spurs may well look to play Vertonghen at left-back from now on.
Soldado looking sharper
Roberto Soldado was dropped for the clash with West Ham, but returned to the team here and looked much sharper. Certainly his best performance for the White Hart Lane side, he took his goal well and his all-round game was improved.
With the Spaniard showing some excellent touches when on the ball, the Spurs faithful will hope that the ex-Valencia man can string together a run of good games and hit the net consistently over the next month.
AVB making good selection decisions
Andre Villas-Boas showed that he is not scared to make decisions regarding personnel, leaving both Mousa Dembele and Christian Eriksen out of his starting XI.
With Spurs’ added strength in depth, AVB can afford to rotate good players and have able deputies. Both Sandro and Lewis Holtby performed well when given their chance.
Townsend scores with a cross – the irony
Andros Townsend has been craving his first goal this season in Tottenham colours since breaking into the side, and before the game had 26 shots on goal without scoring – the most in the Premier League.
His goal here was slightly lucky, but will mean that he does not have a goalless start to the campaign holding him back. Townsend still needs to work on his final ball, but looked enterprising and a threat here once more.
image: © alanstanton