A challenging week for Aston Villa only gets tougher Monday when they close Match Day 11 at White Hart Lane against Tottenham Hotspur.
The Villans (1-1-8) fired Tim Sherwood on Monday after their sixth straight league loss, a 2-1 home setback to Swansea City that left them at the bottom of the table on four points. Aston Villa's woes continued Wednesday with their League Cup exit following a 2-1 loss at Southampton on Wednesday.
Scott Sinclair's late penalty wasn't enough for Aston Villa to advance, and they have just one point from their last nine league matches after opening the season with a 1-0 victory at promoted Bournemouth. Caretaker manager Kevin MacDonald, who is expected to remain in charge for three matches as they target a permanent boss, realises he has a tall order on his hands in getting the Midlands club to avoid the drop.
"It's hard for the players too because players never want to see managers lose their job," MacDonald told Villa's official website. "Players are playing professional sport because they want to be the best they can be. They have inner pride. At the moment they are a little bit low. But I truly believe that these players will get the club out of it because I don't think they're one of the worst three teams in the league."
Offence continues to be an issue for Aston Villa, who have totaled just nine goals in their league matches - one better than the league-low of West Bromwich Albion and Watford. France international Rudy Gestede has gone four matches across all competitions without a goal since bagging a brace in their Sept. 26 loss to Liverpool, and Scott Sinclair - the only other Villan with more than one goal in league play - has not found the back of the net in the top flight since his two goals in an Aug. 29 draw against Sunderland.
Tottenham are familiar with firing Sherwood - he lasted barely a third of an 18-month contract he signed in December 2013 - but successor Mauricio Pochettino has Spurs (4-5-1) sixth in the table and five points behind co-leaders Manchester City and Arsenal. Having already exited from the League Cup a round prior following a loss to the Gunners, Tottenham finally saw Harry Kane rediscover his goal-scoring touch in Sunday's 5-1 thumping at Bournemouth.
Kane, last year's Premier League Young Player of the Year, had three goals, and Mousa Dembele and Erik Lamela each netted first-half goals for Spurs, who are unbeaten in their last nine league matches since opening the season with a 1-0 defeat at Manchester United. The 22-year-old Kane has four goals this season after netting 21 in league play in 2014-15 and 31 across all competitions.
"You have to be patient, especially in the Premier League and as a striker, it doesn't always happen for you," Kane said. "It's all good when you are playing well and scoring goals, but sometimes you see the true person when it's not going well and when you hit a low, you have to be ready to stand up and fight."
One area where Spurs have shown plenty of fight is on defence - they are joint-leaders with Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United for fewest goals allowed (8) and had shipped 14 after 10 matches last season. The Lilywhites have conceded just one goal in their last four league matches at White Hart Lane.
Aston Villa snapped a six-match losing streak to Spurs across all competitions and 13-match winless run with a 1-0 victory in last season's corresponding fixture during their successful escape from the drop. Spurs had outscored the Villans 17-1 during that win streak and have not dropped consecutive matches to them since 2-1 defeats on Jan. 1 and Sept. 15, 2008.