Villas-Boas factor has Tottenham flying high
Tottenham 2 Aston Villa 0
In assessing the career of Andre Villas-Boas, it is sometimes tempting to wonder if there was a lookalike working under his name last season at Chelsea.
Virtually flawless in establishing himself as one of Europe's best young coaches at Academica and then Porto, he then resembled a 34-year-old managerial novice in so poorly handling the ambitious transition he tried to oversee at Stamford Bridge.
It has taken courage, though, to so quickly thrust himself back into the spotlight of another Premier League club and, while it is dangerously early to draw firm conclusions, he continues to implement change at Tottenham with rather more subtlety and skill. Goals from Steven Caulker and Aaron Lennon secured Spurs' victory over Aston Villa -- their fourth in consecutive Premier League games, which elevates them to fifth in the table.
Particularly striking is how Villas-Boas' work on the training ground is evolving the club's playing style and improving individuals even after a squad overhaul this summer.
Moussa Dembele is doing a passable impersonation of Luka Modric in a much deeper-lying midfield role than he played at Fulham, Jermain Defoe continues to develop as a lone striker while Caulker at centre-back and Jan Vertonghen at left-back have brought a youthful solidity.
It has all helped Tottenham move to within one point of both Manchester United and Manchester City although it is Chelsea who await next and Villas-Boas' eyes lit up at the thought.
With both teams struggling in front of goal, the game ultimately turned on a considerable slice of fortune. Gareth Bale's deep in-swinging corner had located Defoe at the far post and his misdirected shot was to cannon off the leg of Caulker and past Brad Guzan.
Tottenham dominated the final third of the match, sealing a deserved victory when Lennon cut inside Joe Bennett and arrowed his finish past Guzan.
A miserable performance from Villa was compounded when Bennett was then stretchered off and taken to hospital with a deep gash to his right leg. (© Daily Telegraph, London)