Hugo Lloris was a spectator for most of his Barclays Premier League debut as goals from Steven Caulker and Aaron Lennon gave Tottenham their fourth straight Barclays Premier League win over a poor Aston Villa.
Tottenham - Caulker (58), Lennon (67)
Tottenham occasionally looked vulnerable at the back, but were in control for the vast majority of the game and played some of their best football of the season. Birthday boy Jermain Defoe, Jan Vertonghen and the mightily impressive Gareth Bale all came close to putting Spurs ahead in the first half, but the Londoners only broke the deadlock after the break through Caulker’s lucky first goal for the club.
Manager Andre Villas-Boas made the surprise decision to end Brad Friedel’s run of 310 consecutive Premier League starts by giving Lloris his English top-flight debut. The Frenchman, signed for £8 million on deadline day, looked solid for the majority of the first half and barely had a thing to do after the break.
He did not hesitate to come off his line – a criticism often aimed at Friedel – and he will be glad to have been in goal for Spurs’ first clean sheet of the season.
His only hiccup came just after the break when he threw a wayward ball to Vertonghen, but Villa failed to take advantage and Spurs ended the game full of joy knowing they had moved back up to fifth in the table with the win.
Lloris’ first piece of action came after 20 minutes when he saved awkwardly from Christian Benteke, but the Frenchman showed confidence by racing out to clear before Brett Holman could shoot.
Spurs were on top, but still could not find a way through. Defoe gained a yard on his marker after picking up a Lennon pass, but he could only shoot a yard wide.
The crowd, fully aware of the cost of Spurs’ profligacy against Panathinaikos on Thursday, became tense, but their nerves eased when Defoe’s deflected shot went in just before the hour. The England striker got on the end of Bale’s cross and took a touch before firing a low shot that was going wide until it clipped Caulker’s heel and flew past Brad Guzan.
Nine minutes later, it was 2-0 thanks to Lennon’s first of the season. Joe Bennett failed to close down Dempsey, who squared for Lennon and he swept a precise shot past Guzan into the far corner.
Villas-Boas brought on Emmanuel Adebayor for his first appearance in over a month, but it was Dempsey who should have put the game beyond doubt 15 minutes from the end, somehow missing a free header from eight yards.
Worryingly for Villa, Bennett was carried off on a stretcher with 12 minutes left after clattering into the advertising boards.
Bale lashed a powerful drive inches wide of a sprawling Guzan and the American did well to push Moussa Dembele’s shot on to the bar near the end.