Tottenham click into gear as forwards flex muscle but Micky van de Ven blow a big concern

Ange Postecoglou insisted on the eve of Tottenham's visit to Aston Villa that Champions League qualification would not be a "golden ticket" to accelerate his side's development, but a statement 4-0 win was a massive boost to their hopes of playing in the competition next season.

Spurs moved to within two points of fourth-placed Villa with a game in hand and Postecoglou's side have the kinder run-in, on paper at least.

Goals from James Maddison and Brennan Johnson at the start of the second half set Spurs on their way to a crucial victory and Villa's job was made harder when John McGinn was sent off for a rash challenge on Destiny Udogie.

Spurs ruthlessly exploited their man advantage and added further late goals through Heung-min Son and substitute Timo Werner to give them the momentum in the race for fourth, and leave a depleted Villa appearing ragged and jaded.

Statement performance led by in-form forwards

For Spurs, this was a statement result, which suggested Postecoglou's side are returning to their early-season form after a series of mixed displays over winter.

The manager will surely have been pleased with his side's ruthlessness in the second half, particularly after McGinn's dismissal and, just as Postecoglou demands, Spurs never stopped looking to add to their tally, even as Villa Park emptied and the ten minutes of stoppage-time ticked away.

Postecoglou will also have been encouraged by Spurs' patience and maturity in the first half when Villa were happy to defend in numbers and reluctant to press. The visitors were patient, waiting for the moment Villa opened up -- which came shortly after the interval.

A number of Spurs players are now coming to the boil in time for the run in, including the four scorers and Dejan Kulusevski who was outstanding in the second half.

After spending most of the season admitting Spurs were still to click in attack, the manager now has encouraging options up front.

Firepower: Tottenham’s forward impressed at Villa Park (REUTERS)
Firepower: Tottenham’s forward impressed at Villa Park (REUTERS)

Johnson and Werner have both made contributions in consecutive games and are justifying the club's decision to sign them, while Son continues to be outstanding as a finisher and leader. The South Korean made the second and fourth goals, and scored the third with an emphatic finish.

With Richarlison still to return from a knee injury, Spurs appear to clicking nicely in the final third -- although admittedly they played against ten men for 25 minutes plus stoppages after McGinna's cynical hack rightly earned him a straight red card.

Postecoglou has options in midfield, where the returning Pape Sarr was outstanding and created the first goal for Maddison.

But van de Ven injury a concern

Really, an injury to Micky van de Ven at the start of the second half was the turning point for Spurs.

Within seconds of the Dutch centre-half being forced off, Maddison had opened the scoring and three minutes after that, Johnson made it 2-0.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

But Van de Ven's injury will be a huge concern to Spurs, even if his replacement Radu Dragusin acquitted himself well in his most significant appearance since joining from Genoa in January.

Up until he went off, the Dutchman was comfortably Spurs' best player, starting the game by racing back to make a vital challenge on Ollie Watkins and finishing his run-out with two smart blocks after the restart.

He appeared to get injured racing back to deny Leon Bailey and Spurs will hope he has not suffered a recurring of the hamstring injury which sidelined him for more than two months from November.

With one more game before the international break, it is not a bad time to get a knock but Van de Ven is one of Spurs' most important players and a significant injury would be a major blow to their top-four hopes.