What a signing he has proved to be. A proven international, scoring plenty of goals for his country and appearing in the World Cup in South Africa. He’s scored in the Champions League, played for one of the most successful teams in Europe and is fast becoming the focal point of our attack. And his missus is stunning. But enough about Peter Crouch, Rafael Van der Vaart is fast becoming a White Hart Lane legend. Showing drive and ambition to get into goal scoring positions, coupled with sublime technique, an unexpected work rate and desire to succeed, the Dutch man is the signing of the season. No doubt pleased to be playing regularly again, and receiving the top billing that he never enjoyed at Real Madrid, the only question is where do you play him? Answer – wherever he wants. Pre-match, I had concerns about this game. Villa had found a bit of form. They are set up to be very effective on the break, with pace and direct running on the wings, and even Emile Heskey had found his goal scoring boots. Our line up was full of quality but another new centre back partnership belied the fact we have the third best defensive record in the league. The media loves to blow the ‘continental hangover’ out of all proportion. I do not believe playing two games a week at this early stage of the season is too taxing for our large squad. Lacklustre performances have been the problem, undoubtedly hindered by differing systems and personnel. Having seen our starting eleven my concerns did not ease, and the opening twenty minutes indicated it would be a tough afternoon. Our tendency to switch off at times this season was again exploited when Seb Bassong was robbed by Heskey, who crossed for Albrighton to tap in at the far post. I felt Hutton could have done more to stop the youngster from getting to the ball. Villa continued to cause us troubles with the pace of their breaks, but Gomes never had a real save to make all game. Going forward we always look a threat and we were reaping particular benefits from the flanks. Pavlyuchenko should have hit the target form a Modric cross, and then went close from a Bale ball in. Hutton was bombing forward with aplomb, afforded space by Van der Vaart floating inside. Our goal came from another ball into the box, this time Pavlyuchenko delivering a peach of a ball for Crouch to knock back across goal, and Van der Vaart getting forward to nod in at the far post. The timing, just before the half time whistle, could not have been more perfect. For so long we have cried out for a goal scoring midfielder and it now appears that in the ex-Ajax man we have someone who can contribute plenty, which is particularly fortunate because our strikers are not proving so prolific. Pavlyuchenko came off at half time for Lennon and we enjoyed even more success on the flanks. The diminutive England winger saw a goal bound effort blocked, while Crouch should have done better with a header from a corner as our aerial superiority in attack was reaffirmed. Van der Vaart again ran on to a Crouch knock down but could not connect properly, but after a Villa cross had agonisingly missed everyone for the visitors Van der Vaart made a carbon copy move into the box as Crouch out jumped the Villa defence again. Time seemed to slow as the Dutchman feinted past a diving Dunne before volleying into the back of the net. Fifteen minutes remained but a clumsy challenge by Collins on a rejuvenated Lennon could have resulted in a red card that would surely have killed off the game. As it was, despite plenty of effort Villa never conjured a real chance as our back line look more assured. Van der Vaart was the headline maker in the paper. He has quickly become a darling of not just the Tottenham fans but the fourth estate as well. Hopefully he can continue his excellent form while a few others find theirs. Despite a slightly disappointing start to the season, we find ourselves joint fourth and only three points behind big spending City in second. Of course, you could argue we have had some relatively easy fixtures and could be in an even better position, but there is a long way to go and hopefully the team will continue to improve as the season progresses.