Tottenham face a rejuvenated Aston Villa side this weekend as Harry Redknapp's men attempt to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at Upton Park last week.
Spurs recovered from their weekend slip by storming to their first victory in the Champions League proper on Wednesday night after demolishing Dutch champions FC Twente 4-1 at White Hart Lane.
That result has assisted the club in attaining a healthy position after two games, in what was always viewed as one of the more difficult groups in the competition, with Rafael Benitez’s Inter one of their opponents, along with Twente and Werder Bremen.
However, it is on home soil where Tottenham must now refocus their efforts, as a season which had been filled with genuine optimism and littered with expectations of seriously competing with the Premier League’s elite, threatens to collapse before the season has truly kicked off.
Spurs have flattered to deceive somewhat during this campaign; Redknapp’s men tore Manchester City apart in the opening game of the season, but were well below par when they crushed to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to struggling Wigan Athletic at home earlier this month.
Their opponents this weekend, Aston Villa, have suddenly found a new lease of life under new manager Gerard Houllier, hence, the club’s two straight victories under their new manager, in the League Cup against Blackburn Rovers and away to Wolves last Sunday.
Despite the chaotic beginning to the season, which saw Martin O’Neil depart the club just two days before their opening fixture, Villa find themselves in 5th position with a respectable tally of 10 points from 6 games.
Last weekend’s derby triumph halted a worrying run of away defeats, which had seen them emphatically trounced at Newcastle United before they lost late on against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
With the club now returning to a more stabilised managerial set-up, rather than the awkward uncertainty in which had surrounded the team prior to the Houllier appointment, some of the confidence which saw the club maintain a top six finish in each of the last three seasons, seems to have made a swift return to the Villa team.
As both clubs yet to recapture their form of last season, you get the feeling that the victor of Saturday's match will gain the upper hand and most importantly off all, the momentum for a sustained push up the league table.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp still has defensive problems with both William Gallas and Michael Dawson sidelined with knee and groin injuries respectively.
Ledley King returned to the side for the midweek win over Twente, but is unlikely to play due to his consistent groin problems, and with Saturday's game coming so soon after his appearance on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be rested.
Younes Kaboul is also out after he tweaked his hamstring in training prior to Wednesday's game, whilst striker Jermain Defoe is still unavailable.
With so many injuries at the heart of the Spurs backline it is expected that Vedran Corluka will continue to deputise in central defence.
Heurelho Gomes replaced stand in goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini in midweek and will continue in between the sticks for Spurs.
Possible starting XI: Gomes; Hutton, Corluka, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone, Modric, Bale; Van der Vaart; Crouch.
New Villa manager Gerard Houllier is set to welcome both Richard Dunne and John Carew back into his squad after the pair recovered from niggling injuries which saw them miss last week's win at Wolves.
The former Liverpool boss also sprung a surprise when he revealed that striker Gabby Agbonlahor has shaken off a groin strain and is in contention to face Spurs, just days after Houllier seemed to rule the striker out of the game.
Possible starting XI: Friedel; L Young, Collins, Dunne, Warnock; Reo-Coker, Petrov; Albrighton, A Young, Downing; Heskey.
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