Postecoglou says 'outstanding' Tottenham are on the right path despite defeat to Villa
Julian Taylor at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Ange Postecoglou was disappointed after watching his "outstanding" Tottenham side's efforts fall to nothing with Aston Villa seizing their opportunities to grab a 2-1 win in a ferocious clash in north London. A poignant day when all at Spurs remembered their former manager, Terry Venables, who has passed away.
Tottenham went ahead in the 22nd minute with a fine, left footed strike by returning midfielder Giovani Lo Celso before Villa hit back when Pau Torres levelled with a header deep into first-half added time. Following the restart, Ollie Watkins - who had an earlier goal chalked off by VAR - slotted in his 12th goal of the season to seal Villa's turnaround and repel Tottenham. A terrific incision which ultimately earned maximum points for the midlands outfit.
With this third successive defeat, Postecoglou's injury hit unit drop to fifth in the Premier League table. Both sides had plenty of scoring opportunities, and Tottenham in particular, came up against Emi Martinez - the Villa keeper had an outstanding afternoon.
It was an ultra physical affair with both teams aiming to break into the top four. Villa, in effect, have leapfrogged Spurs, much to the frustration of Postecoglou.
To add to the hosts' woes, Rodrigo Bentancur joined the lengthy Tottenham casualty list, the Uruguayan hobbling off in the first half with an ankle injury following a feisty challenge by Villa enforcer Matty Cash. But it was to be Villa's day.
"The outcome is disappointing for our fans and our players," said Postecoglou. "They did a fantastic job in playing the football we want to play. On another day we would have won that game comfortably. We played at the tempo we wanted to be.
"It as a very good and settled Villa side, but some of the football was the best we've played all year but you have to take the pain of the defeat and carry on the road we want to go to."
If there is any consolation for Postecoglou, the former Celtic boss saw Lo Celso put in a superb individual display on a rare league start.
"He was creative and worked hard," noted Postecoglou. "And everyone who is here is going to have to play their part. We are looking for some balance. It was disappointing to lose the second goal especially as we set up to be dominant in the game.
"We have eight to nine players out from a squad of 25. It's the situation we are in at the moment but we'll get through it. I have no doubt we'll come out the other side and be a very good football team. When we get everyone back we'll make sure the players are focused to what we want to do right now. But we're still building a side and today was about trying to play the football we want to play.
"It was disappointing to lose the goals but some of our football was outstanding today"
Unai Emery, meanwhile, was delighted with Aston Villa's performance.
"Tottenham started the season amazingly and to win here is very difficult and it is very important for us," the Villa chief admitted. "After this victory we can get more confidence but we have to be consistent over 38 matches in the season.
"I really enjoy each moment. Today we won and I am very happy, but I ty to keep balance for myself, the players and supporters."