Why Federico Fazio has to start for Spurs against Aston Villa

The Tottenham Hotspur defender is the perfect man to deal with Aston Villa's Christian Benteke.

The reason behind Mauricio Pochettino's dropping of Federico Fazio is easy to see.

The Argentine was, quite simply, woeful before finally being booted out of the Tottenham side. Against Fiorentina in the Europa League, in particular, Fazio gave a comical impersonation of a centre-back.

But, against Aston Villa on Saturday afternoon, the forgotten 28-year-old is the perfect man to start at the heart of Spurs' defence.

The reason: a certain Christian Benteke. And, with Kyle Walker potentially out injured, Fazio's assistance may be required even more.

  TeamHeaders WonAppearancesMinutes Played
Christian Benteke Aston Villa 142 23 1,840
Federico Fazio Tottenham 69 13 1,147
Jan Vertonghen Tottenham 68 26 2,270
Eric Dier Tottenham 53 21 1,660
Harry Kane Tottenham 42 27 1,957

As Opta stats show, Benteke - Aston Villa's biggest threat in the air - is not matched by any Spurs star in terms of aerial duels. Boss Tim Sherwood, meanwhile, has made no secret of his desire to channel everything through the Belgian striker. Away from home, the aerial ball will be a big asset.

No Tottenham player, though, has won more headers than Fazio this season - despite the Argentine playing far less minutes than most of his team-mates.

Indeed, it's the one thing Fazio's good at.

Pochettino's biggest criticism of late, meanwhile, has been his lack of adaptability. You simply cannot play the same system and stick to the same principles every week in the Premier League. That's how a number of managers have been found out in the past.

Against Aston Villa, Pochettino will need to adapt or risk playing right into Sherwood's hands. And wouldn't that be embarrassing for the Tottenham boss?

After all, if Fazio isn't used on occasions like these, why did Spurs even bother signing him?

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