By Chad Wrenn

Remi Garde’s second home game against Watford was deemed as a winnable one by many supporters and there was hope that a win in this type of fixture would be a turning point in our season, much like the 2-1 win against West Brom last year. The team were looking to bounce back after a heavy defeat to Everton, with Garde outlining that defence was the main focus in training.

Prematch Fan Thoughts 

The feeling before the game was one of anxiety and expectation, as most fans including myself thought that surely Villa would be taking three points from a newly promoted Premier League team in Watford, a team that we’ve never lost to before in top flight history.

The line-up was announced and as many people expected after the manager witnessed the youngster bag two goals in a behind closed doors friendly, Adama Traore was selected on the bench. The reintroduction of Scott Sinclair and more notably Carlos Sanchez, was also refreshing as the Columbian played so well against Manchester City and previously missed out on a starting place against Everton due to tiredness after his International duties. On top of that, Jores Okore made a comeback from a long-term injury and was also on the bench, which is good to see when thinking about our defensive problems of late. Maybe he could be the player we need in order to reshuffle the back four.

All in all, the team selection was a fairly strong one and filled fans with even more optimism about gathering a conclusive result, even if the boss was forced to use Kieran Richardson in the left-back position.

The Match 

The game was almost an emotional blur for many as even though Villa pressed well, we were again unable to pick up a victory from the game that was defined as make or break for a lot of the Villa faithful. Bad luck combined with more poor defending resulted in three cheap goals for Watford; Deeney’s being the worst when placing the defence at fault, as Ciaran Clark waited for the ball in a school-boy like fashion whilst clearly not being given a ‘man-on call’ from his team mates as the Watford Captain towered over him in front of the Holte End to complete a fairy tale scenario for any Blues fan.

Micah Richards and Jordan Ayew completed the scoring for Villa, but they failed to grab a result after a whole 90 minutes of play, plus a rare 10 minute stoppage time. The players looked dejected after the game and rightly so, a 13 game stretch without a win equalled the all-time record and it’s difficult to see an escape route at the moment, even with my greatly optimistic outlook.

 

However, even after such a poor result, there are always positives and as most managers and coaches say “you learn more from losing than winning” and we can at least take some comfort from the fact that Garde will almost definitely reshuffle the defence and ideas like Micah Richards starting at right-back may enter his head.

The whole squad was at fault for the result of the game but if Adama Traore wins a starting place in the side and as Garde mentioned pregame, increasingly focuses on teamwork, then we may see him terrorising defences and having full-backs on toast as we all know he’s capable of.

The Atmosphere 

The atmosphere probably peaked when Micah Richards passionately threw himself around in a battle cry fashion after his equaliser flew into the top right hand corner from a missile of a header. Unlike the last home game, the fans were more concerned about the football than the away support and the classics were sung in the North Stand as an attempt to raise the tempo was more important.

When Heurelho Gomes was receiving intense treatment, Troy Deeney received abuse with the best song out of the bunch being: “We all hate Blues scum, we all hate Blues scum…”. However, as Deeney pointed out after the game on Twitter, the Villa fans also showed their class and concern for the Watford keeper by applauding whilst he was being stretchered off, proving that sometimes certain circumstances call for compassion and respect for the opponents as well.

The excitement and aesthetic appreciation for Adama Traore must be noted though as every single time we gained possession, most fans behind me called for the midfielders to find him, showing how promising he looks.

Supporters were sent home unhappy again, as a few left when we went 3-1 down, unable to see how we could possibly turn it around.

Post-Match Fan Thoughts 

Anger and frustration were the two courses on the menu for fans when the whistle finally went, as a bit more light faded on Villa’s odds to claw themselves out of the relegation zone.

The next two fixtures away at Southampton and at home to Arsenal were being looked at as another two losses for the team already and many supporters were discussing how we should just go for it in an attacking sense, as we’ve shown that we aren’t resilient enough to hold back these types of teams.

 

Overall, we’ll have to wait and see how Garde will approach those two and believe it or not there is still a chance we can survive as I spoke to a Leicester fan after the game, who boosted my optimism by reassuring me that anything is possible, we just need a win to turn a corner and we can hopefully kick-start our survival campaign. Where that win is going to come from is a whole different story.

Away Fans Score – 7.5/10

The Watford away fans filled both tiers and they deserve respect for that. They sang when they were winning and doing well, but were silent at stages when Villa dominated the game much like the Manchester City game, but notable aspects to their support were things like the two fans with emoji masks, the blue flare (even though it was blue) and their favourite Eastern European style chant where they bounced up and down, which at the time I wasn’t impressed by, but looking at it in retrospect it was good support from them and that’s why they earned a ‘7.5’.

UTV

Follow Chad on Twitter – @ChadBillyWrenn

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid

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