Tottenham Hotspur can begin the new Premier League soccer season by taking all three points when they host newly-promoted Aston Villa at the eponymous Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday (12.30pm ET).
Spurs secured their fourth consecutive top-four finish by coming home fourth last season. They were just a point clear of Arsenal in fifth, following a poor run of results down the closing stretch that saw them lose seven, and win just three, of their final 12 matches of the campaign.
Last season was a strange one for Spurs. They spent most of it at Wembley, only finally moving into their new stadium in April. With no incoming players, coach Mauricio Pochettino had to craft a number of solutions to get the necessary results to stay in the top four. They also reached the Champions League final, where they lost to Liverpool.
When they dipped into the transfer market for the first time in 18 months to sign the highly rated Lyon midfielder Tanguy Ndombele for upwards for £50 million it seemed to signal the beginning of a summer of strengthening. That hasn’t yet come to pass. It seems two or three last-minute deals may be done just before Thursday’s transfer deadline.
Even without further reinforcements, there is enough quality in the Spurs starting XI, at least, to think that they should again be fancied to finish in the top four. Perhaps primarily because Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all look to have issues coming into the new campaign, and it is difficult to see two of them finishing ahead of Pochettino’s team.
Spurs have won on the opening day in each of the last two and four of the last six seasons and will be pretty confident of doing so again on Saturday, despite the fact that Dele Alli looks likely to miss out with a hamstring injury and defender Juan Foyth has been ruled out. Aston Villa will have other ideas as they make their return to the Premier League following a three-season absence.
Villa went up as the playoff winners after finishing 5th in the Championship last season, and they certainly haven’t been shy in throwing money around in an attempt to improve their squad for the top flight. At the time of writing, on both an absolute and net-spend basis, only Manchester United have spent more than this summer. Villa have laid out nearly £134 million on 12 signings and have received just one undisclosed fee in return for their outgoings.
There was definitely a need to strengthen for the challenge of the Premier League, but spending big is no guarantee of survival. Fulham provided a clear example of that last season, finishing 10 points shy of safety despite a summer outlay of over £100 million.
There are a few known quantities within Villa’s set of signings (including last season’s loanees Anwar El Ghazi and Tyrone Mings) but they will also need at least three or four of their more esoteric new arrivals to hit the ground running if they are to make a good fist of staying in the Premier League.
Villa have looked good in pre-season and most US bookmakers rank at least five teams as being more likely to go down. There are just so many unknowns around them at this stage that it is difficult to make a solid prediction as to what their season is likely to yield. Not only are many of their players untested at this level but so is their coach Dean Smith.
Aside from Saturday’s match, the fixture list has been quite kind to Villa, providing them with a decent set of opponents over the first couple of months of the season. If they can settle down and put some early points on the board, their ambitions for the campaign may change.
They are, though, unlikely to pick up anything from their trip to London on the opening weekend. Tottenham remain a very good team, and while a certain degree of rustiness may allow Villa to get themselves on the scoresheet, it is the home side who should be fancied to eventually emerge victorious.
Our Betting Preview’s Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa Picks & Predictions Verdict
- We expect Tottenham to win but Villa to get on the scoresheet. On the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market, bet ‘Tottenham and Yes’ @ +210 (2.1/1) with Bovada.