In the end, the result is all that matters in football, but Tottenham Hotspur fans will have left Villa Park dismayed at the performance their side turned in.
Against an Aston Villa team that had failed to score in losing five consecutive games, Spurs were very lucky to scrape a win largely due to Christian Benteke being sent off for the hosts.
The Lilywhites scored twice late on to overturn a 1-0 deficit after the Belgian was dismissed, Nacer Chadli and Harry Kane finding the net to save Mauricio Pochettino’s blushes.
However, the result will not hide the dismal display Spurs produced, and if they are to make good on their 8/13 to beat Stoke in their next Premier League match, changes to their side are desperately needed.
Kane will surely be granted an extended run in the team after coming off the bench to score the winner – his ninth of the season in 13 games in all competitions.
However, it is two defensive changes that Pochettino must make to ensure Spurs don’t lose a fourth home league games of the campaign to the Potters, with two new faces deserving a chance in the first team.
Younes Kaboul’s possession of the captain’s armband should not stop him being dropped for Federico Fazio due to his awful performances, while Benjamin Stambouli should come in for Etienne Capoue.
The French centre-back’s only redeeming quality is his physical presence, but the casual way Benteke dominated him at Villa Park demonstrates that even that has deserted him.
Kaboul is also disastrously error-prone and has shown nothing to suggest the decision to make him captain was justified. Fazio, formerly Sevilla’s skipper, would be an improvement on both counts.
Meanwhile Capoue has been increasingly poor of late after a decent start to the campaign, while Stambouli has shown plenty of tenacity and quality in his midweek outings.
The Frenchman averages 5.5 tackles-per-game in the Europa League, the third-best tally in the competition, and notched a ridiculous five in just 20 minutes against Sunderland in his one Premier League appearance.
Given Capoue and Kaboul’s horrible recent form, both Fazio and Stambouli would be instant improvement to Spurs’ side, and they would add some much-needed character to boot.
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