Spurs vs Villa: A different perspective

For a fleeting moment, I was drawn in to the "big club" banter yesterday. But it strikes me that those exchanges served mainly to mask a refreshing truth. This is going to be one hell of a game.

It isn't going to be a hell of a game because of the bragging rights associated with it. Those rights have a part to play - that's football - and they'll be exercised with gusto come Saturday night.

It's going to be a hell of a game because it will be played between two teams who believe they can win against even the toughest opponents, and have also proved it. Two teams who both have a genuine chance of Champions League football. And two teams packed with skill, pace and attacking menace.

The game, to me, takes on an even greater allure because of the way each side is likely to play.


Spurs will back their midfield skill and striking prowess to break down Villa's now miserly defence - and with their mercurial Croatians both on form, who would deny they have what it takes to break Villa down. Their fire power in front of goal is not in question. They will start on the front foot and they will go forward from the first whistle.

But O'Neill, equally, will be confident that his re-engineered defence will cope with Spurs' movement and their slick passing - and that his midfielders will work back to frustrate the home team's forwards. Without a doubt, he will be confident that Villa will be able to use devastating pace and fluidity on the break to threaten Harry's men.

What a prospect. I can hardly wait.

What concerns me slightly, as a Villain, is that I feel both teams will have chances. On current form, you'd have to fancy Spurs' strikers to take theirs more clinically than ours. That's why - for all this will be a battle between two contrasting midfield philosophies - the result may come down to striking quality. Gabby Agbonlahor may well be the key player for Villa, and which Gabby turns up may ultimately determine the outcome.

But I leave you with one more thought. A few seasons ago, this would be a game the neutrals would have glossed over. A dull encounter for a bit of mid table breathing space.

It's not now. It's got the neutrals and the pundits buzzing - because this is a game between two very, very fine English Premier League teams who are both going places. Whoever wins takes a battle, but not the war.

Like I say, it's going to be one hell of game. And may the best team win. Up the Villa.

Live match blog with team news, banter and a few links will be arriving at midday.