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Tottenham vs Aston Villa key battles

Seeking to avoid a third successive defeat in the Premier League, Tottenham return from the international break with a home clash against Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.

Spurs entered the final international hiatus of the calendar year on the back of consecutive losses to Chelsea and Wolves, respectively, dropping from first to fourth spot in the process. On the contrary, Villa are flying in the Premier League and are on an eight-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, since being thrashed by Brighton 6-1.

With both teams entering Sunday’s contest in contrasting form, here are the key battles that could define the outcome of this Premier League fixture at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

#Ollie Watkins vs Eric Dier

Ollie Watkins is in red-hot form and Aston Villa’s top scorer with six goals in 12 league appearances. The Englishman will be the visitors’ biggest threat going forward. With his pace, movement and trickery, he will look to cause all kinds of problems for the Spurs backline, which has been hit by injuries and suspension.

A long-term injury to Micky van de Ven and Cristian Romero’s three-match ban means Eric Dier and Ben Davies have to deputise well in central defence on Sunday. Dier, being a natural centre-half, must take the onus of marshalling the troops from the back and keeping Watkins quiet. Looking at Spurs’ defensive concerns, Watkins will be licking his lips and doing everything to make life difficult for Dier and Davies.

#Son Heung-min vs Pau Torres

Coming off the back of a solid international break that yielded three goals in two World Cup Qualifying games for South Korea, Son Heung-min will head into the clash against Villa with high spirits. He has been in good form for Tottenham, netting eight goals in 12 games since becoming the main man in attack after Harry Kane’s departure.

With his burst of pace and movement, Son could be a real handful for the Villa defence. Pau Torres should relish the challenge of keeping Son quiet at the weekend. The Spaniard is good with the ball at his feet and a good reader of the game, which helps him in snuffing danger before it grows. However, any lapse of concentration from him could end up being punished by the Spurs skipper.

With Spurs suffering back-to-back defeats, Son will be raring to put things right and lead by example against Emery’s side. So, Torres and co. will have to be at the top of their game against the South Korean centre-forward to get a positive result at the weekend.

#Douglas Luiz vs Pape Sarr

Douglas Luiz has been one of Villa’s best players so far this campaign. With Boubacar Kamara holding the fort in midfield, Luiz has thrived in a box-to-box role. The Brazilian is well known for his positioning between the midfield and defensive line where he receives the ball and orchestrates the play in the final third.

However, it will be a tough job for Luiz on Sunday against Pape Sarr, who might use his energy and pressing to mark him well and avoid giving any kind of time and space to play those incisive through balls.

With James Maddison injured and Yves Bissouma suspended, Sarr must take the onus of doing the dirty job for Spurs and allow the likes of Rodrigo Bentancur and Giovani Lo Celso to play freely. However, the Senegalese will also rely on his midfield partners—Bentancur and Lo Celso—to help him out defensively as Spurs have had their defensive woes, especially in midfield in the last two games.

Rohan Sengupta

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