Calm Ange Postecoglou enjoys ‘positive step’ as Tottenham rout Aston Villa

Ange Postecoglou remained grounded despite his delight with Tottenham’s all-round display away to 10-man Aston Villa and a potentially key victory in the race for Champions League qualification.

Sunday’s clash pitted fourth against fifth, with the hosts knowing victory would move them eight points clear in the last Premier League spot guaranteed a place at Europe’s top table.

But Villa collapsed in the second half against Spurs, who celebrated James Maddison and Brennan Johnson goals before home captain John McGinn saw red for a reckless challenge on Destiny Udogie.

Son Heung-min and substitute Timo Werner wrapped up a 4-0 rout in stoppage time, meaning Spurs are now just two points behind fourth-placed Villa with a game in hand.

James Maddison, centre, celebrates his goal at Villa Park with Pape Matar Sarr, left, and Radu Dragusin
James Maddison, centre, celebrates his goal at Villa Park (Nick Potts/PA)

“The whole game I was really pleased with,” boss Postecoglou said. “The way we handled the whole day, to be honest.

“Obviously we knew it was a significant game and a tough venue, good opponent, the atmosphere here behind their team.

“The first half we did well to make them work hard more than anything else. They had to try and contain us and the threats they had we snuffed out.

“I got a sense towards the back end of the first half that they were beginning to already tire a little bit. That was the message at half-time – just persevere, stay calm, play our football, maintain our intensity, which was going to be important.

“And we did, we got off to a flier and then the quality of our football was excellent to see out the game.”

Ange Postecoglou applauds the fans after Tottenham's win at Aston Villa
Ange Postecoglou applauds the fans after the game (Nick Potts/PA)

Put to Postecoglou that it was quite the swing avoiding an eight-point gap and instead cutting Villa’s advantage to two, he said: “I guess so.

“I said before the game that I still think there’s a significant part of the season to go. There’s still 11 games for us anyway.

“There’s so many challenging games and every game will have meaning between now and the end of the year. Not just for us, for every team.

“There’s a fight at the top, there’s a fight down the bottom, there’s a fight in the middle somewhere, so we’re all fighting for something.

Aston Villa v Tottenham Hotspur – Premier League – Villa Park
Son Heung-Min scores Spurs’ third goal at Villa Park (Nick Potts/PA)

“If we had lost today, I don’t think that would have discounted us from whatever other people put on as targets for us.

“I’ve been consistent saying what’s important for me is our growth as a team and I thought we saw that today. It was another positive step forward.”

Postecoglou did not seem overly concerned about the injury that forced off Micky van de Ven just before Spurs’ opener as the impressive centre-back “does not think it is too significant”.

Villa have a Europa Conference League last-16 second leg at home to Ajax to contend with before returning to Premier League action at Fulham next weekend.

John McGinn, centre right, is ushered away by his manager Unai Emery after being sent off
John McGinn, centre right, is ushered away by his manager Unai Emery after being sent off (Nick Potts/PA)

Unai Emery wants to refocus on Thursday’s match and move on from a second half he called a “very bad day in the office”.

On McGinn’s red card, the Villa boss said: “John McGinn has played here and been strong, comfortable, very passionate and he’s a not a player doing things with bad intentions.

“I think the red card maybe could be a red card but not bad intentions.

“I didn’t speak a lot with the players, only I told them ‘keep going, move on, think of Thursday and West Ham on Sunday’ – and with John the same.”