Spurs beat Villa to underline task facing new manager Garde
LONDON (AP) — Within hours of being hired as Aston Villa manager, Remi Garde witnessed the magnitude of his task on Monday when Tottenham handed his new team a ninth loss in 11 Premier League games to leave it stranded at the bottom.
Tottenham’s 3-1 victory kept the London club on the right path to a return to the Champions League and left Villa seemingly headed for the League Championship unless Garde can transform the team in the next two-thirds of the season.
“It’s not very easy but he must have confidence in his own ability and in the players to want to take the job,” said Kevin MacDonald, who remained in temporary charge as Garde watched from the directors’ box at White Hart Lane. “We caused ourselves a lot of problem by giving the ball away in silly areas.”
Only after Villa pulled one back in the 79th minute — with Jordan Ayew’s strike beating goalkeeper Hugo Lloris thanks to a deflection off Jan Vertonghen — did the team show any of the fighting spirit required for a relegation scrap.
But Villa’s defense had taken only three minutes to be unpicked by a Tottenham team which is now five points behind leader Manchester City in fifth place after going a 10th league match unbeaten. Mousa Dembele cut in from the left, outmuscled Ciaran Clark and slotted the ball under Brad Guzan at the goalkeeper’s near post.
Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood was forced off in the 38th with a concussion after being caught by Mousa Dembele’s arm. Play continued for around a minute before referee Mike Dean ushered on a doctor to treat the midfielder, who was left with blurred vision and a headache, MacDonald said.
“I’m glad it wasn’t more serious,” MacDonald said. “It’s a bit of disappointment the referee played on.”
Perhaps the only accomplishment for Villa in the first half was preventing Tottenham from scoring again until stoppage time. That time it was Joleon Lescott’s failure to fully clear Danny Rose’s cross with a header that proved costly as 19-year-old Dele Alli netted his first home goal.
The hosts looked complacent in the second half, failing to convert domination into a more commanding lead. But Tottenham responded to Ayew’s goal, with Kane sweeping the ball high into the net in stoppage time to complete a counterattack after being set up by Erik Lamela.
“Maybe it’s because we are young, maybe our mentality is always to go forward,” Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said of Ayew’s goal. “We played well but we can do better. We are always ambitious ... perfection is difficult.”
But Tottenham hasn’t lost since the opening day of the season in the league. Villa hasn’t won since then — and doesn’t look like doing so any time soon. Premier League leader Manchester City is up next on Sunday when Garde, the former Lyon coach, will be in the dugout as Villa’s fifth manager in five years.