Post-mortem: Points shared but Spurs look ready, Aston Villa don't

Martin O'Neill knows. He accepts we were lucky to get a point and while he'll gloss it over, with words like effort and determination and closing down, he is starting to look a little like a man who has run out of ideas, or to put it another way, only has one. I don't want it to be the case, but we are getting nothing new from him at the moment.

But we will get to the details later, for now, it is time to look at what people are saying and see if we haven't got something for Mr O'Neill to get his teeth into, not that he will take any notice or that any of us, not having played 15 years professional football at the top flight, know anything at all about football.

But before we get to the papers, a quick mention that we will be doing a match preview of the Pompey game later and does anyone know if there is free coach travel for this one?

What the Papers Say

James Corrigan, Independent
In this much-vaunted audition for one of the leading roles in the Premier League it is fair to say Tottenham most impressed the judges. The honours might have been even as the wannabes left the stage, but in terms of potential there had only been one outfit with the star quality. Top four, here they come.
Anna Kessel, Guardian
The goal came as the result of sustained pressure throughout the second half as one-way traffic pelted Brad Friedel's end and embarrassing stats flashed up on the scoreboard to underline the point. "You've only had two shots," sang the gleeful away fans, although in truth, with Tottenham firing 14 attempts at the home goal, they should have converted more and sealed the victory.

There are other papers but they all say the same. The Times also say 'there is a a pleasing simplicity to their football, their set-pieces are the best in the country'. Well, that is nice.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill, Club Site
I thought we played very well in the first half. We tried to close them down as quickly as we could, showed great energy and determination and got the goal. We deserved that at the break. As that half-time whistle blew I thought we were the better side.

The Players and Some Stats

Aston Villa (4-4-2): Friedel, Cuellar, Beye, Dunne, L Young, Milner, Petrov, Reo-Coker (Sidwell 71), A Young, Agbonlahor, Carew (Heskey 75). Subs not used: Guzan, Downing, Delph, Gardner, Clark.

We had 13 shots in 90 minutes. One of those was a goal, nine were off target and three were blocked. Apart from the goal, their keeper didn't have a shot to save. Spurs had 25 shots and one of those was a goal. Seven were off target, eleven were blocked and six were saved.

Passing was also a little one sides. Spurs made 399 successful passes to our 173 but for all their passing they could only get one goal.

Man of the Match

Clear as day, this is Carlos Cueller. He picked up 64.8% of the vote and well, it was a true man of the match performance. If he plays like that every week, which I fancy he can if given a proper little run, then I believe he should start. He'll be going to South Africa with Spain next year, or he should be.

Final Analysis

I'm going to keep this blunt and to the point as we all know what happened on Saturday. Yes, we took a point and for that we have to be grateful and we are 6th, only one place behind where we were at this time last season, but the match was very much a match between two teams that are pretending to be serious contenders to the top four and while points were shared, I think most will see that we are not ready.

Spurs look ready and the true test will be if they manage to keep up this standard of football for the rest of the season. I fancy they might be able too and I fancy they'll take advantage of Liverpool slipping up.

We however are not ready. The standard of football we are playing isn't top four football and if we were to finish their this season, it is still more than possible, the rewards will be short lived as whatever fourth brings won't last very long, unless things change and that can also still happen. I hope it does.

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