A rather subdued and uninspiring goalless draw against Pardew’s Newcastle hardly caught the imagination of football fans across the country on Saturday. However, for Villa fans it was a second straight solid performance and second straight clean sheet – something that we only achieved once last season.
Apart from a dodgy performance by ref Mike Dean, who seemed to lose control of the game on countless occasions, especially when the players decided to take a drinks break in the middle of the game while he just shrugged his shoulders, the most notable moment was the first appearance of one, Carlos Sanchez in a Villa shirt.
In his 30 minute cameo Sanchez and that beautiful 70’s afro, energised the fans in a dull game. His first touch in a Villa shirt was a beautifully cultured ball out to the right flank demonstrating his class. Patrolling the front of Villa’s back four with energy and gusto (he picked up the first of what will not doubt bea collection of yellow cards this season). All in, he looked very promising.
The Aston Villa Star Players of the Week
3Rd Place – Fabian Delph (1pt)
In a game which generally lacked penetration and forward drive, Delph gave the Villa a change of tempo when on the ball. Working down the left-side with Cissokho they looked our most likely way of breaking through the Newcastle defence.
In the second half he made two or three marauding runs through the middle, igniting the ground each time. With the introduction of Sanchez into the midfield you would think that Delph will be given the license to drive forward a lot more in games and hopefully give us that attacking impetus we have been lacking.
2nd Place – Alan Hutton (3pts)
Alan Hutton is certainly a name I never thought would be written in this column. The man from out the wilderness put in another good performance at right-back and was unlucky not to win the award this week.
Hutton showed desire to get forward as always but also looked better defensively as well and never gave an inch. Hutton demonstrated hunger and fight throughout the game as he flew into challenges against the Newcastle winger/ aquatic diver. The Scotsman still has a lot to prove and it will be interesting to see how he will fare against tougher opposition but so far so good from the former exile.
1st Place – Aly Cissokho (5pts)
For two weeks on the bounce the winner of the star man of the week goes to our already beloved left-back. I think you don’t know how good a player is till you play without him. As soon as Cissokho went off injured in the second half we looked vulnerable down the left and lost a great outlet, thus showing his worth to the team.
Like his fellow full-back Hutton, Cissokho never gave an inch all game. Linking up with Delph down the left and powering forward before whipping in a dangerous ball. Every time he put in an enticing ball into the box I turned to my Dad and shouted Benteke!
If Benteke had been playing, or Kozak or that matter, Villa would have won the game comfortably and one of our target men would be the league top scorer. A credit to Cissokho’s performance was that Newcastle had to put their own beast Sissoko on the right to attempt to stop the onslaught down that side. Thankfully the injury that forced him off in the second half isn’t as serious as thought and should be back for the weekend. Hull Beware!
The Villa Man that has to be Pick Themselves up and Go Again:
The Villa Board
An attendance of just over 30,000 where Newcastle sold out their allocation is low for the first home game of the season even with it being on television and with the cricket on at Edgbaston. I was at the ground and have to say it was also the quietest I have heard Villa Park in my life. I am not for one minute blaming the fans for this. While no shots on target doesn’t exactly help, I blame the Randy Lerner and the Villa board.
While Villa Park is comparably cheap compared to other grounds, £42 to sit in the Trinity or Doug Ellis Stand against Newcastle is too much. Maybe a discount should be incorporated for TV games?
Something needs to be done about prices across the board. Bigger attendances can only help the team on the pitch too. Villa Park needs to be a fortress again that makes visiting teams weary of playing there. The board should also see that the fans have an important role to play in improving home form. Hopefully the lack of attendance will be the wake-up call the board needs. Couple this with the recent march on the Premier League offices where Villa fans were present and it gives new Villa CEO Tom Fox some food for thought.
Stat of the Week: Ashley Westwood finished the game with a pass completion rate of 93%. Only Arteta averaged more than this last season from midfield.
Follow Ashley on Twitter – @bannyboy95