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Europe beckons

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Aston Villa vs Tottenham preview

The race for Europe in the Premier League is getting intense. After Brighton’s surprise 1-5 loss to Everton, only three points separate Spurs in 6th place and Aston Villa in 8th.

Therefore, when Tottenham travel to Aston Villa on the 36th matchday of the season, there will be all to play for. A win or loss in the game could be the difference between playing in the Europa League next season, or the Conference League, or being out of Europe altogether.

Both teams’ campaigns have stuttered recently. Spurs have won one of their last five and Villa have won two, losing the last two as well. Still, Unai Emery has made Villa a force to be reckoned with, especially at home. Ryan Mason’s charges won’t have it easy and in the context of the strength of playing XIs, an upset could be on the cards.

Here are the lineups, predictions, and more for this pivotal clash-

Aston Villa vs Spurs lineups

Aston Villa predicted lineup

Unai Emery has taken full advantage of having a full quota of players available for most of his spell. Playing together every week has enabled the players to understand working patterns on the pitch. Near-full strength team is about to get stronger as Poland international Matty Cash could return against Spurs from his leg injury. However, it is unlikely that Emery throws him straight into the deep end.

Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa are no-brainer selections in the middle of the defence. The pair has flourished under Emery and calls for international inclusion have grown stronger.

Lucas Digne could be selected ahead of Alex Moreno for his set-piece threat and better defensive game. Ashley Young should continue at right-back, making way for Matty Cash in second-half as the latter starts building up match fitness.

There’s even less doubt in midfield as John McGinn and Douglas Luiz have forged a formidable partnership. Leon Bailey could be recalled after settling for a place on the bench in the previous game, a 1-0 loss to Wolves. Jacob Ramsey rounds up the flanks.

In-form forward Ollie Watkins is a definite selection in attack where he will hope to be assisted by creative force Emiliano Buendia. Watkins has 20 goals contributions in 34 games this season and is in a purple patch of form right now.

Predicted Aston Villa lineup: Martinez, Young, Konsa, Mings, Digne, Luiz, McGinn, Bailey, Ramsey, Watkins, Buendia

Spurs predicted lineup

Ryan Mason has sought to give the team a settled look since taking charge. Cristian Stellini’s move to a back four preceded Tottenham’s biggest loss in Premier League history and Mason hasn’t done that since.

Fraser Forster will continue in goal as Hugo Lloris’ injury might have led to the Spusr legend playing his last game for the club.

A back three of Eric Dier, Cristian Romero and Clement Lenglet should be the most secure and well-rounded trio to deal with the threat of Watkins. Pedro Porro should continue is his preferred role of an attacking wingback on the right with Ben Davies selected over Ivan Perisic on the left.

The midfield pairing of Oliver Skipp and Pierre-Emile Hojberg has been preferred by Ryan Mason and with no fatigue threat at this point of the season, they should continue.

Harry Kane and Heung-min Son have confirmed places in attack. It remains to be seen if Richarlison or Dejan Kulusevski round up the attack. Richarlison’s pace and trickery on the counter-attack against an advancing Villa side could give him the edge.

Predicted Spurs lineup: Forster, Lenglet, Dier, Romero, Porro, Davies, Skipp, Hojberg, Richarlison, Son, Kane

Aston Villa vs Spurs prediction

Both teams have stumbled recently, but on the whole, since Unai Emery took over at Aston Villa, he has undoubtedly been one of the best managers of the season.

Ryan Mason has steadied the ship somewhat at Spurs in terms of unrest among the fans and performances have been encouraging, but there is a lingering feeling that this squad is limping to the end of the season, waiting for a hard reset under a new manager. In fact, being out of Europe altogether might be a better scenario for them next season.

It would allow Spurs to spend more time on the training ground under the new regime and launch a well-prepared PL campaign. Considering all these things, Aston Villa might actually be the favourites for this one.

FootTheBall predicts Aston Villa 2-1 Spurs.

Vatsal Gupta
A die-hard Red Devil, who has straight up not had a good time since 2012. Lives on Korean dramas and books and can often be heard talking about armchair psychological stuff.

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