Aston Villa-Tottenham Hotspur Preview
By RYAN WILLOX
STATS Football Writer
(AP) -- LONDON (SE) - It is not often in football that the goalkeeper is the focus of attention prior to a game. Usually they need a world-class save or commit some kind of heinous error during the match to draw much attention.
For Tottenham 'keeper Brad Friedel, however, the spotlight already on him since the deadline day signing of France international Hugo Lloris will only glow brighter Sunday when he faces Aston Villa, with whom Friedel spent three seasons before his move to London.
Friedel, who has not missed a league game since the 2003 season and holds an ongoing record for consecutive Premier League appearances, is almost certain to reclaim his place in the starting lineup against Villa, even though Lloris played in Thursday's 1-1 Europa League draw at Panathinaikos.
The veteran American shot-stopper has yet to keep a clean sheet in the league this season but has put in some outstanding performances as Spurs have gone unbeaten in eight games since an opening day reverse at Newcastle.
Spurs (3-2-1) nearly fielded a top-strength side in Greece as part of manager Andre Villas-Boas' philosophy that the club is in every tournament to win. Friedel's current Spurs and former national teammate Clint Dempsey was quick to echo the manager's philosophy as his side put on a united front.
"We want to do well in every competition we're in, whether that's the Premier League, Europa League or Capital One Cup," he told the club website prior to featuring in the hard-fought draw in Athens. "We have a lot of depth and there are lots players we can use to try and do well in these competitions. Everyone is hungry and everyone wants to make this year a special one."
Emmanuel Adebayor has returned to training after a hamstring injury which has limited his minutes this season and may be fit in time to face Villa. Jake Livermore is nearing a return but won't feature until after the international break, while Scott Parker, Younes Kaboul, Kyle Naughton and Beniot Assou-Ekotto are all out with long-term injuries.
Aston Villa (1-2-3) will not relish the prospect of facing Adebayor, who was a scourge versus the Villains last season, scoring both goals in the 2-0 win at White Hart Lane in November and converting a penalty in the 1-1 draw at Villa Park in May. However Villa defender Matthew Lowton is looking forward to renewing hostilities with Kyle Walker, who came to prominence in a loan spell at Villa, and, along with the injured Naughton, also came through the ranks with him at Sheffield United.
"The two Kyles are both doing fantastic and both came through the same academy as I did," he told the Aston Villa club website. "They played in the same teams as me when I was younger too so it is nice to think I can follow in their footsteps."
The main intrigue for Villa is whether manager Paul Lambert will start striker Darren Bent. Bent came off the bench to equalize in their 1-1 draw against West Brom last Sunday after being dropped from the starting XI in a league match for the first time this season. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Marc Albrighton returned to the side after injury for the West Brom match and both are likely to play against Spurs.
Villa have not beaten Spurs for four years but have drawn three of the seven matches since their last victory. They are looking to break an 11-game without a road win in the Premier League dating back to a 3-2 triumph over Wolverhampton in January.
The defence will have to be on its toes, however, as Spurs have scored a goal at White Hart Lane in 27 straight Premier League matches dating back to a goalless draw with West Ham in March last year.
Updated October 5, 2012