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Sat 15 February 2020, 11:35|Tottenham Hotspur

A return to action means a return for our pre-match feature 'voices on the game' and with a trip to Villa on Sunday (2pm), we've the views of Ashley Preece, who watches Villa every step of the way for the Birmingham Mail, plus the thoughts of Jose Mourinho, Dean Smith and Ben Davies...

Ashley Preece

Aston Villa writer, Birmingham Mail

“Villa have had some great results of late, crucially picking up points against the teams around them – beating Watford at Villa Park (2-1, 21 January), a good point at Brighton (1-1, 18 January) - and since the turn of the year, things have improved. Villa also beat Burnley on New Year’s Day, got humbled at home by Manchester City (1-6, 12 January), one to forget, but things have picked up, the only disappointment was a defeat down at Bournemouth (1-2, 1 February) a direct rival. That means Bournemouth have taken six points off Villa, and that’s a blow.

“Dean Smith always talks about his teams coming good at the end of the season and that was the case last season with a 10-game winning run (February to April) to get into the play-offs and it was the same at his previous clubs Brentford and Walsall. His teams have always got better as the season has progressed. Villa have left a lot of points out there, which is disappointing, and they are where they are for a reason, they’ve given away too many goals and away form hasn’t been great. However, Villa Park has been a bit of a fortress (five of Villa’s seven wins have been at home), and the League Cup semi-final against Leicester is the latest example. They are third and were expected to win, but Villa beat them on the night. Watford were also in good form before the game at Villa Park. I don’t expect Villa to sit back on Sunday. I think they will go after Spurs with all guns blazing, especially at home. Jack Grealish is on fire at the moment, he’s looking electric with goals, assists and I’m sure Spurs will be well aware of him, he’s in devastating form at the moment.”

Jose Mourinho

Head Coach, Tottenham Hotspur

“Look, they’ve come to the Premier League through Wembley, the play-offs, and a few months later they are going back to Wembley for a cup final. I think that’s obviously remarkable. Are they fighting to stay in the Premier League? Yes, they are, but how many are? I think probably 10 clubs are – the table is a little bit like that. They are a good team, they are a difficult team, it’s always difficult at Villa and I’m expecting a Premier League match - and every Premier League match is very difficult, as you know.”

Dean Smith

Manager, Aston Villa

“It’s going to be a different team to the one we played against on the first day of the season because they’ve got a new Head Coach. Obviously, Jose’s in there now and he’ll have different ideas to Mauricio Pochettino. They’re without Harry Kane, which is a big loss, but they’ve got an awful lot of quality within that team - Bergwijn, Son, Moura and Dele Alli, who’s scoring goals now. They’ve got enough of a threat. They were Champions League finalists last season and they’ve been regular top four finishers, but we’ve got to concentrate on ourselves and that’s the most important thing.”

Ben Davies

Defender, Tottenham Hotspur

“Villa are fighting for everything and for them, every point is vital. We know they are going to come out fully at it and that’s where it starts. They are a good side, Dean Smith’s got them well organised but as far as we’re concerned, it’s all about us and getting those three points. We have to be aware of what they are going to do, and we have to win this game.”