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All the passion, energy and desire that a North London derby should evoke from Arsenal and Tottenham was only evident on the red side of the Emirates for the first 45 minutes of last week’s encounter, as Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the Gunners three goals to the good in the opening 45 minutes.
Spurs did strike through Son Heung-min in the second 45, but by that point it was too little too late to inspire a dramatic comeback, as Santo’s poor fortunes continued with a third consecutive Premier League defeat and third successive top-flight game with three goals conceded.
After rising to the top of the rankings after three games of the 2021-22 season, Spurs have now slipped below their North London rivals into 11th in the table, although they did claim a confidence-boosting 5-1 win over NS Mura in the Europa Conference League on Thursday.
However, Spurs are now under pressure to translate that four-goal thrashing into performances on the domestic stage, as the pressure is already weighing heavily on Santo’s shoulders as Spurs seek to avoid losing four league games in a row for the first time since 2004.
With nine goals conceded and only one scored in that worrying streak, Spurs will be desperate to see wantaway striker Harry Kane kick on after his second-half hat-trick against Mura, but their opponents are a team in inspired form.
Keeping the momentum going from a 3-0 drubbing of another in-form side in Everton, Villa’s record of seven points taken from the last 12 on offer has seen them rise to eighth in the table, and victory at Old Trafford was the perfect way to respond to three previous defeats away from home in all competitions this season.
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Not since December 2009 have Villa marched to three consecutive Premier League wins with three clean sheets, but the second game of that sequence was a 1-0 win away at Man United – a spooky but potentially positive omen before the trip to an underperforming Spurs side.
Smith’s side will also have fond memories of their recent visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as they registered a 2-1 win back in May, although they have only won one of their other 11 most recent clashes with Spurs, losing 10 of them