Bruce: We couldn’t have more test­ing tie

The Football League Paper - - FA CUP THIRD ROUND - By Christo­pher Hughes

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


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