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Spurs v Villa: Media view with Matt Law of The Telegraph

Posted on 7 January 2017  - 10:00

Matt Law is perfectly placed to run the rule over our FA Cup third round tie against Aston Villa on Sunday - a regular at the Lane as Football News Correspondent for The Telegraph, Matt is also a Villa fan...

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Matt Law
Football News Correspondent
The Telegraph

matt_law_150First of all Matt, how would you describe Villa's season so far?
Matt: "They started very badly and struggled to get to grips with the Championship. Everyone was hoping for a fast start to give hope of a promotion push but it didn’t work out like that, they lost the first game against Sheffield Wednesday, beat Rotherham but didn’t do a lot after that and Di Matteo got sacked. However, since Steve Bruce came in it’s been a lot more positive, results have been better and the club looks in better shape now they have Steve around. It maybe looks a bit late for this season but it looks more positive at least."

What has Steve Bruce brought to the club?
Matt: "It looks like know-how as much as anything else. They haven’t been playing brilliantly every week and Bruce has said as much himself, it’s not been great football all of a sudden but they look like a tough team to beat, a team that can grind out a result. Earlier in the season they were letting in loads of late goals, since Bruce has come in, they’ve scored a lot of late goals. It’s know-how, Bruce knows the league and the opposition."

Below: Steve Bruce

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Which players should we look out for?
Matt: "The main one would have been Jonathan Kodjia, who is our top scorer and has done really well since signing from Bristol City, but he’s gone off to the African Nations Cup (with Ivory Coast), so goalscoring-wise, we’ve a bit of a problem. It’s interesting, because Gabriel Agbonlahor may get a chance. Ross McCormack has been playing up front, he did well at Fulham but has taken a while to settle at Villa. If you are looking at one player, it’s hard to get away from Jack Grealish, he’s done well in the Championship and it looks like Steve Bruce will be good for him. An unsung hero at the back is Nathan Baker, a big, tall, strong defender, he’s really come on. You can see Bruce’s influence on him as well."

Below: Jack Grealish

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You cover a lot of Spurs matches in your work for The Telegraph - what to you make of us at the moment?
Matt: "Unfortunately for Villa we’re playing Tottenham at the worst possible time! You’ve come on so strong in the last few weeks. I know Spurs will make changes but I’ll be pretty surprised if Villa can get anything. As we always say ‘you never know’ but of all the teams, Spurs are probably the hardest to play against. It’s difficult to pick a fault at the moment."

Below: Ross McCormack

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How do you think Villa will approach the tie?
Matt: "I would have thought they will play it quite cagey and try to nick a goal on the break. I’ll be surprised if Steve Bruce plays more than one up front, I think he’ll look to keep it tight and then use either Grealish or maybe the pace of McCormack to nick a goal on the break. It’s difficult to say how many changes Bruce might make. I don’t think he's quite settled on what his best team is yet, he’s rotated quite a lot - he certainly won’t bring a load of kids in to play at White Hart Lane. I don’t think he will rest players too much and he’s forced into a few changes because of the African Nations Cup." 

Finally, how do you think it will go at the Lane?
Matt: "I think Tottenham will win. I’d like to see Villa give a decent account of themselves and give it a go, not just get turned over. Thinking of this game as a Villa fan it’s a little sad - as a kid, this was always a big game. The cup traditions of both clubs are amazing, it’s just a little sad as Villa fan that we’re here hoping we won’t get turned over. Hopefully we’ll get something positive out of it, a goal would be great and let’s see if we can hang onto something."