Derby day proved to be dull and disappointing and while Villa are improving it’s not at a rate that will keep them in the Premiership… unless. Here’s a few things Aston Villa fans can take from a week which still hasn’t seen a new signing:
WEST BROM ARE RUBBISH
Villa might still be bottom of the league, and some teams are refusing to cooperate and lose, but Albion are clearly rubbish. WBA looked like a Villa team at the pinnacle of the Lambert era with so little offensive power and no shots on goal. Their superstar Berahino has clearly got a strop on and was being booed by the Albion fans for his lack of hustle after coming off the bench. And BCFC fan Craig Gardner got substituted after an ineffective performance.
Pulis can say all he wants about how much better off his team is than Villa, but if they put in a performance like that against teams that can score goals they are going to freefall down the table. Which would be a win-win for Villa.
Defensively, Villa are looking better than they have looked since Lambert had everyone tracking back to help out at the back (and then still lost).
Aly Cissokho might not have the offensive talent to be anymore than a back-up, but he’s strong and pacy and still running full-gun at the end of the game. Not sure than can be said of the non-left backs that have been tried in that position since Amavi went down injured. Okore has been key in steadying the ship and perhaps it’s the influence of the safer hands behind him, but Lescott has been playing well since Bunn took over in goal.
Bunn has certainly contributed to the tightening up at the back. He’s let in just one goal in the last three games and kept two clean sheets. Guzan only has two clean sheets in the league all season (against Bournemouth and the 0-0 against Man City) and hardly inspired confidence in the Wycombe replay, even though he kept the ball out of the net. This is all encouraging.
Still no new arrivals, which means Villa are now looking at players like their first choices, but not the first choices (or likely their second or third choices at this point). Not that Austin ever fancied coming to Villa, but what price a player that can calmly score at Old Trafford on his debut and win the game for his new club? It won’t be Austin’s last goal in a Southampton shirt for sure.
With the defence looking like it’s in a groove – even without their first choice full back on either side – all that’s lacking, in the absence of the midfielders would have worked a winner against Albion instead of firing the ball into the fans when a little patience could have taken the points, is someone to make the most of half-chances and stick the ball in the net.
With Gestede out with an obvious hamstring pull, Kozac only showing flashes of what he can do and even Agbonlahor still banged up, it’s up the club to bring in one or two strikers who aren’t daunted by the club’s position and are ready for the challenge. Time is running out. Remember when Villa pillaged Tommy Johnson and Gary Charles from Derby? A modern day equivalent of that deal would be very welcome.
After the dull, but victorious replay against Wycombe Villa’s reward is one of the big guns in the Fourth Round. With Man City in the title race, it’s possible they rest a few players for next Saturday’s FA Cup game at Villa Park.
Bench-warming snake Fabian Delph has been getting more playing time of late, so he’ll be earning a warm welcome from the fans he lied to, then failed to apologise to after going for glory and cash rather than playing for the club that nurtured him back from his many injuries and appointed him the captain – and then making jokes to them about it on his snake-infested Instagram account.
Villa fans will learn a lot from the team Garde puts out against City – if he’s resting players, he’s (probably rightly) focused solely on the slim chances of survival the club is clinging to. If he goes more or less full-strength, he’s realised the value of a cup run to not only lift an otherwise terrible season (so far) out of the depths, but also appreciates a win over City would boost everyone. And of course, it would be the perfect stage for a newly-signed striker to make his debut and score the winner. That kind of stuff can still happen, you know…
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