Danny Rose, Kyle Walker anchor Spurs defence, Harry Kane provides the goals
A statement was needed and a statement was made. After all the controversy of manager Mauricio Pochettino's midweek team selection against Dortmund, nothing less than a win was expected against bottom of the table Aston Villa. Thanks to goals on either side of the break from Harry Kane, Spurs duly delivered to put themselves six points clear in second place ahead of Arsenal.
Spurs had begun the game as if they wanted to get it over and done with quickly. Harry Kane chipped Brad Guzan in the second minute -- only to hit the bar -- and created several other clear chances in the first 10 minutes. After that frenetic opening, Spurs slowed down and the game took on a more measured feel, though Villa never looked like a team who believed they could win. Erik Lamela hit the post from close range midway through the first half and a few nerves began to creep in.
It looked as though Spurs would go into the break goalless yet again, but a quick Delle Alli free kick put Kane through in the last minute of the half and Spurs went in deservedly ahead. The relief was obvious. Within minutes of the restart, Tottenham had doubled their lead with another neat Kane finish from an Alli assist. That effectively was that and the last hour was played at little more than training-ground tempo. Villa did manage to hit the bar late on but never looked like mounting a serious threat. Their fans deserve better.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Hugo Lloris, 6 -- A strangely unconfident display, given he had so little to do. His distribution was dreadful and his communication with his back four non-existent.
DF Kyle Walker, 8 -- Clearly re-emerging as the first choice right-back, his first-half performance was super-charged, especially going forward. Like everyone else, he eased off in the second half.
DF Toby Alderweireld, 7 -- Yet another solid game from the Premier League's best central defender. No fuss, no frills.
DF Kevin Wimmer, 7 -- Rarely looked troubled and again put any anxieties about Jan Vertonghen's injury to rest.
DF Danny Rose, 8 -- If his calf injury was troubling him, it didn't show. Must surely come into the England reckoning soon.
MF Eric Dier, 7 -- Showed once again why Spurs look so much more comfortable with him in the holding midfielder role. His anonymity is the measure of his performance.
MF Mousa Dembele, 7 -- Ran the midfield with his usual authority. His strength on the ball and the willingness to win it back have been a large part of Spurs' success. Needs to be braver in taking more shots.
MF Erik Lamela, 7 -- Was unlucky to hit the post from Walker's cross in the first half and sometimes his decision-making is questionable. But his commitment is total and he's much tougher than people give him credit for.
MF Christian Eriksen, 7 -- Not quite the creative force he has been in recent games, but a tidy and assured performance.
MF Dele Alli, 7 -- Two wonderful assists to set up both Kane's goals. He still has a tendency to showboat when the easy ball might be more appropriate.
FW Harry Kane, 8 -- Two well-taken goals and a shot against the bar were just what he and the team needed. Any doubts about the mask affecting his performance have been put to bed.
MF Tom Carroll, N/R -- Pochettino continues to show faith in the young midfielder, though he had little chance to make a mark on the game.
MF Ryan Mason, N/R -- A solid physical presence to see out the game. Job done.
MF Nacer Chadli , N/R -- Brought on in injury time to wind down the clock.
John Crace is a columnist and feature writer for The Guardian. He is also a THFC season-ticket holder. Follow him on Twitter @JohnJCrace.