Villas-Boas eyes Chelsea as bright start continues

TOTTENHAM 2 vs ASTON VILLA 0

TOTTENHAM manager Andre Villas-Boas yesterday revealed his pleasure at the continuation of his side’s fine form but insisted he is yet to make a decision on who to make his first-choice goalkeeper.

France international Hugo Lloris started his first Premier League match for Spurs on an afternoon when goals from Steven Caulker and Aaron Lennon secured a fifth straight domestic victory to take them to fifth in the table and level with Everton and West Brom who are respectively one place in front and below. After the underwhelming start of a defeat and two draws in Villas-Boas’s first three fixtures, Spurs remain unbeaten in nine in a run the Portuguese plans to prolong.

“I’m extremely pleased,” Villas-Boas said. “After the effort in Greece [Thursday’s draw at Panathinaikos], we came back at 4am in the morning, and I think the players are responding to the midweek physical activity tremendously. We managed to play the first-half and the second-half with the same level of intensity which is extremely good to see.

“The ambition that we have to be in with the top teams is immense, and it gives us the opportunity to play the league leaders [Chelsea] at home, where we are undefeated.

“The [Lloris] change was not based on performance because Brad [Friedel] has been immense,” Villas-Boas added of his decision to end the goakeeper’s run of 310 consecutive Premier League games. “It was based on giving [Lloris] a run of games, including the national team.

“Towards the future we will have to decide [who is the first-choice], but because Brad has been immense we will respect that and look into that for the game against Chelsea.”

Tottenham typically began with the same high tempo that Villas-Boas attempts to nurture in his teams but after Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe both went equally close to scoring, their play rarely failed to go beyond the movement and angles that in the first-half was regularly seen.

The fixture’s perhaps pivotal moment came in the second before Caulker’s opener when Villa striker Christian Benteke, again preferred to Darren Bent, headed wide with the game’s greatest chance and when Spurs then went ahead it appeared the away side’s chance had gone.

A 58th-minute Tottenham corner fell to Defoe and though the striker’s reactionary shot was heading wide, the ball struck Caulker and deflected to just inside the post to give Spurs a one-goal lead that already looked beyond their visitors.

When the impressive Lennon scored nine minutes later with a low, placed shot the result became secure as Villas-Boas’s fine start continued.

■ STOKE City manager Tony Pulis last night implored the Football Association to give Liverpool’s Luis Suarez a three-match ban after the striker’s theatrical dive in the Potters’ 0-0 draw at Anfield.

Despite a lack of contact with Stoke defender Marc Wilson, Suarez obviously and cynically went to ground in an attempt to win his side a penalty in an action the manager wants to see punished.

“In one incident in the second half it’s an embarrassment,” Pulis said. “The FA should be looking at this. Give him three games [banned] and he will stop falling over.”