Well what a Saturday night that was for our tenacious young lions. It was certainly one of the best team performances from the Villa under the reins of Lambert. Snapping at the heels of Chelsea players for 90 minutes straight and never letting the intensity drop. It got under the skin of Mourinho’s moaners and they were clueless as how to counter it. To my mind, I cannot remember one clear-cut opening for the title front-runners.
I for one have felt offended by the lack of praise the team has got following this huge victory. As always the focus has been on the ‘the special one’ and the apparent poor performance of the referee and not the great performances on the pitch. God forbid a team outside Manchester or London could actually play well to beat a top 4 team!
As for Chris Foy, I (without bias) actually thought he got every big decision right. The handball was definitely handball he basically caught it. Ramires’ challenge was disgraceful and could have broken KEA’s leg. And Willian’s sending off was a second yellow. He bought Delph down clinically, as he was breaking forward and you can’t start loosening the rules just because he has already been booked. But that’s enough about the United and Liverpool old boys club pretending to be non-bias pundits and Mardy Bum Mourinho.
Proper Man of the Week
I could have given the award this week to a number of Villains this week. Benteke roughed up the Chelsea back four so much that I actually think John Terry had to resort to threatening to sleep with his Mrs. Delph was back to his terrier self and scored an absolutely sumptuous goal. Next to him, Westwood pulled the strings beautifully in the middle. Ron Vlaar was again faultless and actually outpaced Hazard at one point.
A shout out to last week’s ‘man to pick himself up’ Karim el Ahmadi who tidied up beautifully and hassled down the right side all game (I like to think I have helped his career now). Another big improvement was seen in Joe Bennett. Indeed, one of the best things to come out of the game was Bennett’s performance, he was solid and composed throughout, apart from the challenge that nearly got him dismissed when he took one for the team.
However, the winner of this week’s award is the man defending the other Villa flank, Villa’s number 7, Leandro Bacuna.
It seemed obvious from the start of the game, that Mourinho had identified Bacuna as a potential weak spot (rather than focusing on Bennett). While Bacuna has shown great composure on the ball and is brilliant from dead balls and clinical in front of goal with five goals, he is a frustrating player defensively at times.
In this week’s game though, he had Eden Hazard in his back pocket (with help from KEA) and there was only one time when the Belgium flyer got free of Bacuna’s chokehold. Throughout the game he, like most the team, hounded at the ankles of Hazard and the rest of the Chlesea team. What was even more impressive was Bacuna still had enough in the tank to provide an attacking impetus down the right flank.
The arrogance he shows at times is almost French-like. It can work against him, but it gives him an aura of confidence on the field which can only rub off on the rest of the team. This coupled with his versatility, perhaps even topping James Milner’s, makes him a very valuable member of the squad. What’s extra encouraging for us fans is when the season started, you could see the technical ability of the Dutchman, but not so much the work rate or defensive knowhow. Lambert deserves huge credit for improving the defensive side of his game and installing a bigger work effort.
With all this in mind, it is no wonder that he is keeping one of last year’s favourites in Lowton warming the bench, next to Lambert’s original ‘proper man’ Grant Holt. So well done Leandro Bacuna, you are MOMS’ proper man of the week. Now let see a few more wonder free kicks please! And, one more thing…why don’t you take the corners?
Stat of the WEEK – Ashley Westwood has created more chances from open play (31) than likes of Yaya Toure, Nasri, Aguero & Gerrard this season
The Villa Player That Has to Pick Themselves Up and Go Again
This week, after such a quality well-rounded performance I thought it would be seriously harsh to give this to one player so I thought it would be best to highlight a team problem.
As shown in a previous MOMS articles we have picked up the most points this season against the current top 4 than any other team in the league with an impressive 10 points from 6 games against them. Yet as a team, we are clueless against teams in the bottom half of the league, especially at home.
Now watching the game on Saturday the players were playing with no fear, going at the opponent like a pack of wild dogs, not giving them time to breathe. And you see this mentality away from home too. However, when there is more pressure on us to attack the opposition, Villa seem more timid in their approach and don’t show the same desire to get at the opposition.
Never mind lion’s den, Villa Park is now more of a child’s den for the lesser clubs. Maybe it’s Lambert’s tactics that don’t suit us at home. The Villa boss has certainly nailed our big boy tactics, but definitely needs to sort it out against the minnows.
With Stoke, Fulham, Palace and, well, you might as well include United as a minnow these days, in the next four games, let’s see some quality attacking football. Especially with Benteke back to being more of his beast-like self.
Who was your Aston Villa player of the week? Comment below.
*The column picture features former Villa skipper John ‘Jack’ Devey pictured here in 1895. As well as captaining Villa and being capped for England, he was also a top cricketer for Warwickshire, a decent baseball player, cyclist and runner. An all round proper man!
‘Proper man’ – copyright, Paul Lambert.
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