Aston Villa 2-3 Spurs
- Goals: Bjorn Engels (£4.4m) | Toby Alderweireld (£5.3m), Son Heung-min x2 (£10.0m)
- Own Goals: Alderweireld
- Assists: Anwar El Ghazi (£5.5m), Jack Grealish (£6.7m) | Eric Dier (£4.8m), Davinson Sánchez (£5.3m)
- Penalty saves: Pepe Reina (£4.5m)
- Penalty misses: Son
- Bonus Points: Son x3, Reina x2, Grealish x1
Son Heung-min (£10.0m) stepped up the case for his inclusion in Fantasy Premier League squads on Sunday afternoon as he scored 13 points in a 3-2 win at Aston Villa.
The South Korean has been a much-discussed alternative to Kevin De Bruyne (£10.8m) when Manchester City’s fixture schedule turns for the worse and, on current form, he could be a great option to turn to.
Between Gameweeks 27 and 32, Pep Guardiola’s men have at least one Blank Gameweek and face Leicester (away), Manchester United (away), Burnley (home), Chelsea (away) and Liverpool (home). Meanwhile, Son, who now has four attacking returns in as many matches, averaging 7.8 points per game in that time, has a slightly kinder run of Wolves (home), Burnley (away), Manchester United (home), West Ham (home) and Sheffield United (away).
Crucially, Son’s performance against Aston Villa showed his serious potential as a centre-forward since Steven Bergwijn (£7.5m) joined Spurs in the January transfer window. As expected, the South Korean was handed the centre-forward role again, with Bergwijn and Lucas Moura (£7.1m) supporting him either side. Helped also by Dele Alli (£8.4m) in the number 10 role, Son racked up a handful of chances at Villa Park and arguably should have scored more points than he did.
Pepe Reina (£4.5m) denied several fierce efforts on goal from Son, especially in the second 45 minutes, when Spurs were pushing on to find a winner. The Aston Villa goalkeeper, who made seven saves on Sunday afternoon, also reduced Son’s score by saving his poor penalty on the stroke of half-time, that was bundled in by the Spurs man nonetheless.
Son was also let down by some profligate finishing from Alli in the opening period. He played the England international through on goal in the 34th minute, who hooked it wide when he really should have scored.
However, we may have to temper the enthusiasm surrounding Son in light of Aston Villa’s ongoing defensive problems. Dean Smith’s men came into Gameweek 26 still bottom of the league for shots conceded in the box and, despite besting Spurs for possession on Sunday (53.7% to 46.3%), they still allowed the visitors to dominate the shot count (23 to 18).
Villa were, of course, not helped in their efforts by the untimely absence of Tyrone Mings (£4.5m), the former Bournemouth man missing Gameweek 26 after falling ill with tonsillitis on Saturday. It is not known when he will return but, if he is not back for the trip to Southampton in Gameweek 27, Danny Ings (£7.0m) owners will surely be licking their lips.
“It’s a blow because (Mings) is a big player for us and he has been all season. He’s adapted really well to the Premier League. But he was ill yesterday so we knew he’d be missing. I’ve got Bjorn Engels who’s recently been called up to the Belgium squad so we’ve got strength in depth in that area.” – Dean Smith
Mings replacement on the day in Bjorn Engels (£4.4m) had a mixed afternoon but was ultimately to blame for both of Son’s goals, Danny Drinkwater (£4.4m) also turning in a poor performance. While Villa, and Engels himself, did a good job of throwing bodies in the way to block Spurs’ efforts in the first half, it was Engels’ poorly timed challenge on Bergwijn that led to the penalty, awarded after a rare controversy-free Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.
Then, after scoring his first-ever Villa goal to make up for the first-half error and draw his side level, Engels handed the game to Spurs on a plate in second-half stoppage time. Davinson Sánchez (£5.3m) played a speculative ball over the top to Son, which should have been easy to clear, but Engels swung a tired boot at the pass, not getting enough purchase on it. That allowed the ball to run underneath the centre-back, straight to Son, who bore down on Reina and tucked the winner away.
“Listen, (Engels) is okay. He’s very disappointed because of the mistake of trying to bring the ball down as opposed to getting rid of it. If he puts it straight back it finishes 2-2. A big error, but they happen in games. He’ll get over it, that’s for sure.” – Dean Smith
Another defeat for Aston Villa should not put Fantasy managers off their attacking assets though, especially Jack Grealish (£6.7m). Smith’s men arguably deserved more from the game than they got as, for large spells, they dominated possession and asked questions of Spurs’ defence.
They found particular joy in the wide areas as Grealish asked questions of Serge Aurier (£5.0m), especially early on, picking up three fouls during the opening exchanges. In the 18th minute, Grealish stormed down the left flank and squared to Douglas Luiz (£4.4m), who should have scored and earned his captain an assist, but Ben Davies (£5.3m) flew in with an impressive block on his first outing since November.
Grealish, who pulled the strings all afternoon for Villa, eventually got a deserved assist in the 52nd minute when Engels headed home his corner. A six-point haul will certainly be enough to satisfy his 25.1% ownership and etch some regret onto the hearts of the 121,572 managers who sold him for Gameweek 26. However, those still in possession of Villa’s talismanic skipper still have to decide his role in their team over the next few weeks as, after the Southampton game, Grealish has a Blank Gameweek and faces Leicester (away) and Chelsea (home).
Also showing some consistency at home recently is Anwar El Ghazi (£5.5m), who now has two attacking returns in his last three at Villa Park. The Dutchman enjoyed plenty of space behind the returning Davies on the right flank of Villa’s attack and got the assist for Toby Alderweireld‘s (£5.3m) own goal, as Spurs’ left-back did not significantly alter the destination of the cross with his deflection. El Ghazi also went close to scoring himself, unleashing a piledriving effort in the first-half, stinging the palms of Hugo Lloris (£5.3m) in the process.
“We looked on the front foot today. Certainly, we didn’t deserve to lose.” – Dean Smith
Aston Villa XI: Reina; Hause, Engels, Konsa; Targett, D Luiz, Drinkwater (Nakamba 59′), Guilbert; Grealish, Samatta (Baston 82′), El Ghazi (Trézéguet 69′).
Tottenham Hotspur XI: Lloris; B Davies, D Sánchez, Alderweireld, Aurier; Dier (Lo Celso 59′), Winks; Bergwijn (Vertonghen 90+5′), Alli (G Fernandes 82′), Moura; Son.
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