October 31, 2014

A visit to Birmingham might be exactly what Tottenham Hotspur need to get back on track after three consecutive frustrating results.

Spurs can do just that at Villa Park on Sunday with a fifth consecutive overall victory over lowly Aston Villa.

Tottenham's season-high six-game Premier League winning streak ended with a 1-0 loss at West Ham United on March 2 and was followed by last Saturday's devastating 2-all draw to 10-man Arsenal at White Hart Lane.

Adding to the recent misery, Spurs (15-10-4) were trounced 3-0 by Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 match Thursday, their heaviest defeat of the season.

They enter the weekend second in the table, but five points back of upstart Leicester City.

"Everyone is disappointed," defender Toby Alderweireld told the club's official website. "It will take a couple of days, but then the focus is on Sunday. ... It's good to have a game so quickly."

And one Spurs have no business losing.

They've won 10 of the last 12 meetings over all competitions with Aston Villa (3-7-19), most recently 3-1 at home Nov. 2, and outscored them 12-1 in the last four overall matches at Villa Park.

"We will need to concentrate and play at a high level otherwise it will be difficult," Alderweireld said. "We have to be focused and as I said, we have to be at the top of our game because if we lack a little, it will end up being a very difficult game for us."

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino rested many of his first-choice players Thursday ahead of this match, making seven changes from the starting XI at Arsenal. Erik Lamela didn't enter until the 65th minute, and Harry Kane came on 14 minutes from time.

Kane has scored once in six matches over all competitions but has two goals in the last three against Villa.

At the bottom of the league table with a mere 16 points and nine from safety, Villa revealed this week they lost £57.3 million pounds in 2014-15. That total could rise with relegation on the horizon and American owner Randy Lerner's continued quest to sell the Midlands club.

The Villans have been outscored 15-2 and blanked twice while dropping four consecutive league contests since a 2-0 victory over Norwich City on Feb. 6.

"Yes we have just shown poor football at times in previous games. But in football you never know how things can go," manager Remi Garde told Villa's official website. "I still strongly believe we can win many games before the end of the season."

That sounds like wishful thinking by the Frenchman after Villa were overrun 4-0 at Manchester City last weekend, yielding all the goals in an 18-minute span of the second half. They managed just one shot on target for the third time in four matches.

Yet somehow, or at least publicly, the Villans, like their coach, are trying to remain as optimistic as possible.

"All we can do is work very hard on the training ground day after day and keep going," midfielder Idrissa Gueye said. "The confidence is low, of course, because we are not winning football matches. That happens.

"We have to look forward and focus on what's ahead of us not what's happened before. It will be a very difficult challenge to get out of this situation but we do believe. Until the end, we will continue to believe and try to win the games to get out of this position."

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