Ange Postecoglou's men suffered back-to-back defeats to Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers before the international break, while the Lions got back on track with a 3-1 beating of Fulham.
Losing both their pride and several key personnel during their 4-1 humbling at the hands of Chelsea - which marked the end of their unbeaten start to life under Postecoglou in the Premier League - Tottenham were far from undisputed favourites for their trip to Molineux a fortnight ago.
The ravaged Lilywhites backline - comprising the out-of-favour Eric Dier and emergency centre-half Ben Davies - admirably held out after Brennan Johnson had given Spurs a third-minute lead, but Wolves substitute Pablo Sarabia inspired a phenomenal injury-time fightback, beating Guglielmo Vicario at his near post before slipping through Mario Lemina in the seventh minute of added time.
A penny for Postecoglou's thoughts as Gary O'Neil wheeled away in celebration down the touchline, but the composed Australian was nevertheless able to reflect on "plenty of positives" from his side's second successive Premier League defeat, which could have been heavier had Wolves been able to convert their earlier opportunities.
One of those positives is that Tottenham still occupy a Champions League qualification berth with nearly a third of the season played - sitting fourth with 26 points on the board - and only two points separate them from table-toppers Manchester City ahead of the champions' showdown with Liverpool on Saturday lunchtime.
Johnson's early strike at Molineux at least ensured that Tottenham would extend their Premier League scoring streak to a whopping 24 matches since a 1-0 loss to recent foes Wolves in March, and not since January's derby loss to Arsenal have they failed to score in a home game in the top flight, although ex-Gunners head coach Unai Emery thwarted the Lilywhites in the capital just two weeks before that.
While Emery's ill-fated Arsenal tenure is best consigned to the back of his mind, the Spaniard can be sure to expect a frosty reception at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, although he will have the last laugh if his Villa crop can leapfrog the North London giants into the top four with a positive result on Sunday.
Few expected the free-scoring Lions to fall to a 2-0 loss to Nottingham Forest in their first fixture of the month, but Villa reverted to type by prolonging their magnificent home sequence, as they followed up a 2-1 Europa Conference League success over AZ Alkmaar by cruising past Fulham a fortnight ago.
Antonee Robinson's own goal, John McGinn's effort and Ollie Watkins's sixth league strike of the season put the Cottagers to the sword before Raul Jimenez ended his personal goal drought, albeit in inconsequential circumstances as a reinvigorated Villa maintained their Champions League charge in style.
Boasting an unassailable four-point lead over Manchester United in fifth place, Emery's team are also within touching distance of leaders Man City at the time of writing, but their results on the road starkly contrast with their well-documented Villa Park domination.
Indeed, only two of Villa's last 10 Premier League games on the road have ended in victory - although their most recent one was a 1-0 beating of Spurs' London rivals Chelsea - and the Lions spoiled Tottenham's New Year's party with a 2-0 success in the capital on the first day of 2023.
After withdrawing from the England squad for the final round of Euro 2024 qualifiers, it was confirmed that tricky playmaker James Maddison would miss the remainder of the calendar year with the ankle issue he picked up against Chelsea, while Micky van de Ven's severe hamstring problem will not clear up until January either.
Tottenham's injury crisis was exacerbated when Richarlison revealed that he was going under the knife to treat a chronic pelvic problem, joining Ryan Sessegnon (thigh), Alfie Whiteman (ankle), Ivan Perisic (knee) and Manor Solomon (knee) on the hosts' surgical victims list, while Cristian Romero and Yves Bissouma both have suspensions to serve.
On a much-needed positive note, Destiny Udogie is expected to be given the green light to play after missing Italy duty through a muscular problem, while Bissouma's ban opens the door for Rodrigo Bentancur to start a Premier League game for the first time in over nine months.
As for Villa, the international break was not kind to Emery in terms of injuries either, as McGinn limped off in Scotland's recent Euro 2024 qualifier against Norway, but there is optimism that the Lions skipper will shake off his knock in time to play on Sunday.
Right-back Matty Cash could not represent Poland either due to a shoulder problem, although his absence was thought to have been more precautionary than anything else, while Diego Carlos will need assessing after a minor injury kept him out of the win over Fulham.
Tyrone Mings and Emiliano Buendia remain on the long road to recovery from knee injuries, but Emery stated earlier this month that Jacob Ramsey (ankle) should begin training with the team after the international break, although the England youth international will take up a spot on the bench at best here.
Tottenham Hotspur possible starting lineup:
Vicario; Porro, Dier, Davies, Udogie; Hojbjerg, Bentancur, Sarr; Kulusevski, Son, Johnson
Aston Villa possible starting lineup:
Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne; McGinn, Kamara, Luiz, Bailey; Diaby, Watkins
We say: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Aston Villa
A fascinating battle of the high lines is in store at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where the onus is on the likes of Johnson and Dejan Kulusevski to provide Postecoglou's side with a creative spark in the absence of Maddison and Perisic.
While Spurs should experience plenty of joy against a Villa side who often fall short on the road, it is difficult to back the hosts to quell their goal-happy visitors given their unenviable defensive concerns, and a high-scoring stalemate could be on the menu on Sunday.
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