Tottenham Hotspur take on Aston Villa this weekend in a game that they can ill-afford to lose.
Jose Mourinho’s men are just four points behind Chelsea and will cut that gap to a solitary point if they beat Dean Smith’s men because the Blues don’t play until Monday evening when they take on Manchester United.
One has to ask the question as to how Spurs can get the better of this weekend’s opposition, then.
Villa, of course, are scrapping for their lives at the bottom end of the Premier League table and sit 17th ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
Per WhoScored, they are not the best when it comes to stopping their opponents from entering their penalty area.
Indeed, they concede 57% of their shots from inside the 18-yard box, with a further 10% from inside the six-yard box. A total of 32% come from outside the box.
Interestingly, 69% of the shots they face come through the middle of the pitch, with 17% on the right and 15% on the left.
Villa do concede the fourth-most fouls in the league, with 11.4 per game, and are actually fouled more than any other team, with 13.2 per game.
That, of course, may come from boasting Jack Grealish in their ranks, their inspirational captain who has scored seven goals this season, and who could well have joined Spurs in 2018.
Spurs need to muzzle Grealish, of course, while they also need to ensure they are clinical.
While Villa are vulnerable to shots from inside their box, Spurs average just 6.3 shots inside the opposition’s penalty area per game; only Southampton, AFC Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Burnley have a lower number.
It is perhaps unfair to expect Spurs to completely rip up their gameplan, then, but one would expect them to find their way into Villa’s danger zones.
When they get there, they need to ensure they’re clinical.
As previously mentioned, this is not a game that Spurs can afford to lose; victory is the only option.