Dean Smith backed Nuno Espirito Santo to turn Tottenham’s poor form around, though will be hoping that does not start against his Aston Villa team on Sunday.
Tottenham were top of the Premier League heading into September, but lost all three games last month, conceding nine goals and scoring just once in return.
Next up for Spurs are Villa, who visit north London on the back of two successive wins over Everton and Manchester United respectively.
Villa would move four points clear of Spurs with a win, but Smith insists there will be no underestimation of Nuno’s team.
“It always makes me smile that a manager can be nominated for Manager of the Month one month and then a month later everyone’s talking about how they’re in crisis. They’re certainly far from that,” he said.
“Yes, they’ve had an indifferent month but that can happen. This league is a tough league to play in. They won their first three games without conceding a goal and now all of a sudden they’re struggling defensively.
“I don’t buy into that, personally. They’ve got a very, very good squad of players. I’ve got an awful lot of respect for Nuno and believe he’ll do a good job. We’re certainly very respectful of the Tottenham team and we’ll prepare accordingly.”
For his part, Nuno is anticipating a hugely difficult contest.
“Villa have a talented squad, a very good manager in Dean, so it’s a tough, tough task we have ahead of us on Sunday, but we will be ready,” Nuno said.
“Villa are a team that plays good football, but also very solid, so a tough opponent.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tottenham – Son Heung-min
Son Heung-min has been involved in 10 goals in his last 11 Premier League games at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (6 goals, 4 assists). The forward has also netted three of Spurs’ four league goals so far this season, including both at home.
Aston Villa – Danny Ings
Danny Ings has scored six goals in his last six appearances against Tottenham in all competitions, including four in his last three against them. However, he’s been on the losing in four of the five games in which he’s scored against Spurs, including the last three in a row.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Villa are looking for three consecutive Premier League victories for the first time since winning their first four games in the competition last season. Meanwhile, the last time the Villans won three consecutive top-flight games without conceding was in December 2009 (a run of four, of which the second was a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford).
– Douglas Luiz has provided an assist in his last two Premier League appearances, already matching his total from both 2020-21 (two in 33 games) and 2019-20 (two in 36 games) this term.
– Harry Kane has not scored in any of his last five Premier League appearances, with the striker last having a longer drought in the competition in his first six games of the 2015-16 campaign.
– Tottenham have had fewer shots than any other Premier League side this season (56), and have the second lowest xG total in the competition this term (5.4).
– Since the start of last season, Villa have won three of their seven Premier League away games in London (D1 L3), including a 2-1 victory at Spurs. The Villans had won just three of their previous 29 top-flight visits to the capital before this (D4 L22).