"It's a big game, a very exciting game with two sides wanting to win. Villa are an attacking, open exciting team … They'll come with two wingers and attack us, they'll come to take us on."
Harry Redknapp's pre-match prediction could hardly have been further off the mark. With the Spurs fans providing the soundtrack of "boring, boring Villa", the visitors - who were two points behind Spurs with a game in hand - came to White Hart Lane clearly looking for a draw. The fact that the award for man of the match was a toss-up between Richard Dunne and Brad Friedel tells its own story, with Martin O'Neill describing Dunne's performance as "absolutely sensational". Although the Villa manager is no stranger to hyperbole, this was, for once, a reasonable assessment. How Man. City, beaten by Hull at the weekend, must rue the decision to sell the big Irish centre-half.
Villa travelled to the Lane unbeaten in their last eight games and with consecutive clean sheets, so breaking them down was never going to be an easy task. Spurs created plenty of chances and had a very decent penalty shout turned down, when Petrov appeared to trip Defoe in the box. Even Dunne was moved to admit that "it looked like a penalty". Surprising as the referee's decision was, an even bigger surprise was that, with the game deadlocked, Harry did not look to a bench that featured Niko Kranjcar and Eidur Gudjohnsen. Were he not in Glasgow, Robbie Keane would no doubt have made an appearance at some point, but thankfully the manager is no longer able to exercise that option. What was very clear once again is how badly Spurs are missing Aaron Lennon. No matter how much David Bentley has improved, he is only a stopgap solution until Lennon recovers from injury.
Aston Villa are a well-organized side, with a solid back four and one of the best goalkeepers in the Premiership. Yet, while a single point was by no means a disaster and Spurs kept another clean sheet at home, the recent spate of draws has seen the team drop to fifth. If Liverpool continue their good run of results and Villa and Man. City win their games in hand, Spurs may well find themselves fighting for a place in the top six rather than the top four.
Spurs now face Wolves on Wednesday, with the hosts only just kept off the bottom of the table by hapless Portsmouth. On the same night, Liverpool are away to Arsenal while Villa entertain Man. Utd. Depending on how these other games pan out, Spurs could lift themselves - at least temporarily - back into a Champions League spot. Three points from the visit to Molineux must be the minimum requirement.