After four points from two games, the Villa suddenly find themselves in 12th place and only nine points off a Champions League slot. Not too bad for a team that’s won one game in their last ten. It was for once quite enjoyable to watch the team on Tuesday, as they seemed to hold on and keep Palace at bay to close out the game, without too much desperation.
An uninspiring draw at Burnley over the weekend saw the emergence of Joe Cole in an Aston Villa shirt. He pulled the strings in-between the banks of four of Burnley throughout the first-half. and his effort was rewarded with a well-taken goal. Shame about his hamstring at Palace. It’s typical Cole though.
It felt like we let the promoted side off the hook a little in the first half, as after the goal, as per usual under Lambert, we took our foot off the gas. By the second half the true claret and blue were hanging on and were lucky to make it out of the game with a point. That point however, led to the unbeaten run reaching a mighty three games.
Tuesday night against Palace was a more impressive result than the team were given credit for. A game under the lights in the most atmospheric ground in the league (including cheerleaders!) against a hard working, tenacious team was always going to be tough. In the first half, Villa kept the ball brilliant and actually had over 60% of the possession. It was refreshing to see more than one person offering an option for the man with the ball. This led to a lot more space being created for the creative players in the final third. Who’d a thought it!
It was the return of the Big Belgian on Tuesday night and he was back to his dominating self as he terrorised the Palace centre halves, especially Scott Dann. The bullying of the former Blue Nose (which is always fun to watch) eventually led to Benteke returning to goal scoring form. After nicking the ball, Big Ben showed the touch of class and composure in front of goal that has been lacking this season in his absence.
The tactics of Paul Lambert have to be bought under scrutiny again during the game. As per usual, after half time Lambert seemed to instruct the team to sit back and play on the counter even though we were in control of the game. This meant Palace built up confidence and looked more and more dangerous as the game went on.
Luckily, the team dug in and finally found the resolve to hold on and take all three points. Therefore, the top three players of the week was a lot easier to write this time around…
Stat of the Week – Villa are unbeaten since the departure of Roy Keane.
[Click ‘Next‘ below for the Aston Villa star players of the week]