SPURS 2 ASTON VILLA 0
Mauricio Pochettino's plan to beat Aston Villa worked with a 2-0 hard fought victory. Aston Villa didn't come to White Hart Lane to have a go, they came to park the bus and hope.
All night the commentators were remarking that Aston Villa were playing with a back six. That told you all you needed to know about their tactics. With six at the back there was never going to be any space so Tottenham had to keep working the ball making their players run and run.
So many games go the same way. You make a team run and wear them out until the final third of the game. Then, when they are starting to flag, you put on pace or quality to exploit their tiredness and win the game. It is a script that has been seen many time and we saw it again.
Of course we would like to have unlocked them sooner, but patience is a virtue as is sticking to your principles. We took Alderweireld off, changed the formation and bang, we scored almost immediately, followed by another and then almost another.
Long gone are the days when you could simply put your best team out each week, the game has moved on since the 70's and 80's, it isn't possible with the intensity now. The art is having a squad and the bottom line is our squad got the job done.
We regularly struggle against WBA, our next game, and the last thing we need is players showing tiredness at the end of the season, something that would surely happen if we played the best team every game. The likes of Harry Winks wouldn't have developed as he has if that were the case, we wouldn't develop Cameron Carter-Vickers, who had a very dependable game and made a brilliant goal-saving tackle.
Ben Davies wouldn't have scored our opening goal and how often have we seen Christian Eriksen struggle against a packed defence. It wasn't so much selection being the problem as approach. The first eleven had the same approach earlier this season, it was too passive and had to be more aggressive in the final third. The backup players merely showed the same thing. They have to learn to get the balance between managing retention of the ball and creating chances.
The draw for the next round (4th Round) takes place tonight ahead of Cambridge United v Leeds United tie. It will be shown live on BT Sport 2 from around 7.10pm. Ties take place over the weekend of January 28th.
The FA Cup Draw Ball Numbers