Tottenham look to dust themselves off after crashing out of Europe as they take on Aston Villa


Fresh from a shock 3-0 defeat in Zagreb on Thursday night which saw them exit the Europa League, Tottenham now have to put all of their eggs in the Premier League basket with ten games remaining to secure a place in Europe next season, with a trip to Aston Villa their next task.

José Mourinho’s men looked comfortable going into the second leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie with Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday, having won the first leg comfortably.

A 2-0 home win, which saw Harry Kane score a brace with goals either side of half-time, gave the Lilywhites breathing space ahead of their trip to Zagreb.

However, a lacklustre, cowardly display in the Croatian capital saw the North London outfit crash out of Europe as Mislav Oršić punished Mourinho’s side with a hattrick of mouth-watering goals.

Moreover, what will have provided added frustration for the under-pressure Portuguese manager is that his side had to compete for an extra half-an-hour on Thursday night as Oršić’s second goal equalised the aggregate scoreline and forced the tie into extra-time.

Also, to the anger of Tottenham fans, will be the fact that star-striker Harry Kane played the entire 120 minutes, with Spurs’ most vital asset already suffering from the odd layoff due to injury this season.

Out of the FA Cup and now out of the Europa League, April’s League Cup final against Manchester City proves to be the final opportunity for Tottenham to terminate a gruesome run of 13 years without a major trophy that seems to forever haunt the North London club, with the Premier League title way out of sight.

Ironically, Tottenham have spent some time this season sat at the dizzying height of the Premier League summit. Well, eight other sides have too so the accolade’s value is somewhat lesser than in previous campaigns.

Between now and the end of May, Tottenham have 11 games to contest, ten in the league and the delayed League Cup final next month. By the end of that period, Spurs could have put an end to their trophy drought as well as sneaking a return to the Champions League with a top four finish.

On the contrary, Mourinho’s men could find themselves enduring another trophyless season as well as failing to obtain a league finish high-enough for European qualification of any sorts; this run-in is crucial.

The run-in begins on Sunday evening with, strangely, Spurs’ first meeting of the season with Aston Villa as we approach the latter end of March. It’s also a particularly important meeting with both sides in contention to finish in a European place.

Dean Smith’s Aston Villa have been a delight at times this campaign, with the likes of Englishmen Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins, Matt Targett, Ezri Konsa and Matty Cash a handful of many who have impressed in claret and blue this term.

After narrowly avoiding an instant return to the second-tier last season, the turnaround at Villa Park has been vastly impressive, with the Villans enjoying the luxuries of the Premier League’s top-half as opposed to the wretched gloom of the bottom three.

Going into the clash at Villa Park, the hosts are one place and four points below their visitors in ninth place, although, Dean Smith’s side do boast a game in hand and will have just a one-point deficit with an extra game to play should they win on Sunday.

However, Villa have found wins slightly hard to come by of late, with two victories in the last eight which included a frustrating 1-0 defeat to bottom-side Sheffield United.

Goals also haven’t been at a surplus with 11 scored in the 13 Premier League games played since the turn of the year. Although, playing an inconsistent Tottenham outfit may prove as a decent opportunity to return to winning ways.

Fresh from a North London derby defeat as well as their embarrassing European exit, Spurs are certainly wounded, yet, with another difficult Premier League test awaiting them before the international break, there’s little time for those wounds to be licked and to heal.

A victory in the West Midlands would certainly prove to be a much-needed boost as there is currently a six-point gap between the North London side and their city rivals Chelsea, who occupy the final Champions League place.

Spurs also have a game in hand on the fourth-placed side and a win would definitely see the deficit halved with Thomas Tuchel’s side in FA Cup action this weekend against Sheffield United.

Both outfits will see the contest as a decent opportunity not only to return to winning ways, but to re-establish their presence in the hunt for European qualification.

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