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First, the Good Stuff…
There’s been some debate already this season to what Aston Villa’s most complete performance was. Despite the incredible nature of the 7-2 win against the champions Liverpool, the 3-0 away win at Arsenal, has admirers due to the controlled execution of the win – from front to back.
From the point of view of choosing which game you’d want most to have witnessed in a packed stadium of the two games? The Liverpool game will be remembered and talked about for decades, so that gets MOMS’ vote.
While the season has started brightly for Villa, the usual prang of disappointment in recent years of being a Villa supporter has began to tarnish the mood slightly with four consecutive home defeats in all competitions.
Without supporters there, the impact isn’t felt so much and lesser stigma is attached to the run of poor home form. After all, Villa have an 100% winning away record, so in the new normal of behind-closed-door games, away is the new home.
“I feel we’ve been pretty consistent all season,” reasoned Dean Smith, before Villa’s trip to East London to play West Ham.
“You look at results, and with the exception of the Leeds game, I thought Leeds were better than us on the day, we played a typical Leeds game and went toe-to-toe with them and they were better than us at that.”
A similiar open fire-fight type of game happened against Southampton, which saw Villa go 4-0 down, before clawing back three late goals to rally that at least saved their blushes. Villa’s Head Coach though wasn’t overly concerned with the performance, although maybe the final scoreline soften his feelings?
“I found the Southampton game a bit of a freak result with three set-pieces and a 25-yarder into the top corner, which very rarely happens,” reflected Smith, before highlighting his biggest disappointment of the season so far.
“And then we’ve had the Brighton game, which is the one which has probably disappointed me the most without the ball,” said Smith, of Brighton’s first ever win at Villa Park.
“I thought we were dull and I said to the players I was disappointed. But there are mitigating factors, we couldn’t work with the team until the day before because people had been away on international duty but it’s the same for other teams.
“But, saying that, on the ball I was quite pleased with us. Ross went off early, we put Bertrand (Traore) on, we created some great opportunities that, on another day, if we’d had taken we’d have won the game comfortably.”
Ultimately, Smith saw Brighton as a missed opportunity. While it was another home loss, the fact Villa had 15 shots after Barkley went off injured, is encouraging for the games ahead that the midfielder is sidelined for. Trezeguet had seven of those shots and judging by his shooting at the end of last season, he surely won’t continue to fire blanks.
Win or lose at the moment, Villa are at least entertaining in their unpredictability. A win against the Hammers on Monday though, will suddenly get us believing at least we can rely on away days being good for three points.