Tim Sherwood’s win ratio was improved again after last weekend’s minor blip at the Etihad, Christian Benteke continued his remarkable revival, and most importantly Villa continued their march towards survival with a superb 3-2 win over Everton on Saturday. Here’s a look at the Good, Bad and Ugly of the victory.
First of all, what an important three points. Given Hull’s win against Liverpool in midweek and the fact that Leicester and Sunderland also won at the weekend, three points was an absolute must against perhaps the form side in the Premier League. Everton were unbeaten in six in the league prior to Saturday but were never really allowed into the game at Villa Park, and arguably the hardest remaining league game has been successfully negotiated, while the window for other teams to catch us has shrunk from four games to three.
What made the win even more pleasing was the fact that it was possibly the most composed and assured performance on the ball we’ve seen from Villa in some time, although there have been a few contenders over the last few weeks (and if that isn’t testament to the turnaround Sherwood has instigated at the club then I don’t know what is).
Some of the best passing football we’ve seen from Villa in years was on display, and the third goal was a thing of beauty from Tom Cleverley’s movement to Leandro Bacuna’s perfectly-weighted pass to Cleverley’s superb finish. Cleverley himself improves with every passing game – his transformation in midfield really has been incredible – and his goal showed exactly what we want to see from him in the attacking third.
There’s not much left to say about Benteke in all honesty, but I’ll say it anyway. I’m not sure there’s a striker in the country I’d rather have at the moment than the Belgian, and his two goals on Saturday showcased two very different but equally valuable attributes. His first – from an astonishingly good Fabian Delph cross, it must be said – showed his unbelievable ability in the air, and his second was pure instinct and opportunism.
Delph was superb again in dictating Villa’s play from midfield, Ashley Westwood was quietly very impressive in the centre of midfield just as he was at Wembley two weeks ago, while Grealish was his usual confident self.
Grealish’s corner deliveries were much improved and he continued to show the swagger that has become commonplace over the last few weeks. At one point in the second half he cut inside and feinted to shoot, dumping James McCarthy (who, it must be said, is one of the slyest and understated dirty players I’ve seen at Villa in a while) on the ground, and the grin on his face was clearly visible from the Holte End. What a man.
Villa have three wins from four games with Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City and Everton and should have had more to show for a superb performance at the Etihad last week. On current form we should be nowhere near the situation we’re in now, and a home win over a West Ham side with nothing to play for next weekend should just about secure our safety.
Click ‘next’ for the Bad & Ugly of Villa’s week