Tottenham Hotspur-Aston Villa Preview

Nov 26, 2009 - 3:20 PM NEIL RICHARDS STATS European Football Writer=

LONDON (SE) - Harry Redknapp has warned Aston Villa to watch out for striker Jermain Defoe as free-scoring Spurs travel to Villa Park on Saturday for what promises to be a thriller between the sides currently fourth and fifth in the Premier League.

Tottenham thumped Wigan 9-1 last weekend with the England forward becoming only the third player to bag five goals in a single EPL match.

That nap hand gave Defoe 11 for the season and catapulted him to the top of the scoring charts, one clear of Liverpool's Fernando Torres. And Redknapp expects him to stay there.

"I don't see why he can't be the top scorer in the Premier League this season," the Spurs boss said. "He's been so sharp in training. You could see this coming."

Redknapp believes the broken foot that sidelined Defoe for three months last season has turned out to be a blessing for the player because he has profited from the time he spent in the gym regaining his fitness.

"He's got stronger," Redknapp told the official Spurs website. "He's using his strength a bit more, holding people off.

"He did some fitness work with the coaches here and he uses his upper body strength more. He's certainly not lightweight any more.

"Jermain is an amazing finisher. He's so sharp around the box, you give him half-a-chance and he makes a yard and bangs it in the back of the net."

Villa have been below their best in recent weeks but striker John Carew believes his side have nothing to fear from Spurs despite their demolition of the Latics.

He told the Birmingham Post: "We know we have a team good enough to compete for fourth place and there is no reason why we should be scared of Tottenham or the likes of teams like Manchester City.

"I think we have proved we can compete with them. We have finished in sixth place for three seasons in a row now and I think the squad and the team has been the best it has been since I came here."

Many Villa fans will have been disappointed with only taking a point from last weekend's trip to Premier League new boys Burnley.

But manager Martin O'Neill was impressed with the way his side kept battling to the end to snatch a draw through a late Emile Heskey goal. The Irishman is desperate for his side to embrace the never-say-die attitude that successful clubs seem to have and holds up the 2005 and 2006 champions Chelsea as a shining example of what can be achieved.

O'Neill told Villa's website: "Those sort of things are so, so important. Clinching a point when it looks like you're beaten, eking out a win when a draw looked on the cards.

"Eventually if you do that for, say, two consecutive months, you will see a totally different tally to what it could have been.

"People go on about luck and fortune but I think it's important to stress a quality to go out there and get a result when you haven't had things all your own way."

Defender James Collins could return from a groin injury leaving Curtis Davies (shoulder) and Wilfred Bouma (ankle) as Villa's only injury absentees.

Winger Stewart Downing should figure again after making his debut as a substitute in last week's draw at Burnley following seven months out with a broken foot.

Luka Modric's slow recovery from the broken leg he suffered in August continues to frustrate Spurs, but the influential Croatia midfielder is still some way off a return. Ledley King is doubtful after missing the Wigan match with a hamstring strain.

The away team won both matches between these sides last season, Villa winning 2-1 at White Hart Lane on Sep. 15 and Spurs coming out on top by the same scoreline in the reverse fixture exactly six months later.






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