Bruce: We couldn’t have more testing tie
THE beauty of the FA Cup is the chance to challenge yourself against the best teams in the country – but Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce believes his side are actually facing one of the best in Europe.
Tottenham have won each of their last five games by an aggregate score of 15-3 and deservedly ended Chelsea’s recordequalling run of 13 consecutive Premier League victories by triumphing 2-0 in midweek.
Throw in Villa’s abysmal away record that has seen them win just two of 14 away matches this term and today’s thirdround trip to White Hart Lane starts to look like mission impossible.
And Bruce is certainly under no illusions about the magnitude of the task.
“We couldn’t have asked for anything more difficult,” admitted the 56-year-old. “They are one of the best teams in this country – and probably in Europe.
“I am a big admirer of (Spurs boss) Mauricio Pochettino, how he’s done it and how he has gone about his work. But also they have four or five English lads, which is great to see.
“We have to hope we can play to our best and catch Spurs on an off day.”
Villa’s task could be made slightly less daunting with Spurs set to ring the changes from the Chelsea win – the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli (the two-goal hero against Chelsea) and Christian Eriksen all in line to be rested.
But the north Londoners possess a strong squad so it will still be a searching examination for Villa. The Villans’ road to the FA Cup final may be an uphill one but having managed Hull City there in 2014 and lifted the trophy three times as a Manchester United player, Bruce is dreaming of a return.
“I was fortunate to win it as a player and fortunate to get to a cup final with Hull,” he added. “It’s one of the great sporting events of our country. From the build-up to the game itself, it’s a fantastic occasion.”
FA CUP WINNER: Steve Bruce
KEY MAN JACK GREALISH Aston Villa