After resisting an opening onslaught at St Mary’s, Joleon Lescott’s first goal for the club he supported as a kid, got some Villa fans dreaming of a huge three points. While it was disappointing to concede an equaliser from a corner, a point was a seemingly satisfactory result.
An away point at St. Mary’s is normally a decent result under normal circumstances, but when you see fellow relegation strugglers Bournemouth and Newcastle beat Chelsea and Liverpool respectively, it gives you the context of what Villa are going to have to do to survive. Next week’s home game against Arsenal is as ‘must win’ as any other game.
While we wait for that, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
Make sure you’re following MOMS on Twitter – oldmansaid
5 OKORE KEY
Jores Okore getting 90 minutes was a big plus. A fit Okore, after a run of games, could be vital in strengthening the Villa back-line. Either alongside Richards, or providing the option to play Richards at right-back and having the two shore up the right-hand side of the Villa backline.
Certainly having Richards, Okore and even Lescott all start at the back would provide Villa with a big threat on Villa’s corners too. Changes have to be made in defence, because at the moment Villa are just repeating the same mistakes week-in and week-out.
4 VERETOUT RISE IN MIDFIELD TRIO
Man of the match acknowledgement in some newspapers for Jordan Vertout is a clear indication that the French midfield, who we held high hopes for, is making progress.
Veretout seems to be a bit of a slow burner, but he’s getting better with every game and with him gaining more confidence going forward, his cautious default setting should be flicked off to now give Villa more dimension going forward.
Veretout, Gana and Sanchez are probably as good as it gets for a Villa midfield trio at the moment, so Garde might as well give them a run of games to really gel and understand each other. It’s something that will benefit Sanchez, who is still prone to mistakes through indecision, although he does at least give Villa some physical presence in the middle of the park.
A quick shout out to Gana too, whose drive and energy in midfield could be the foundation for improved performances (I hope) in the vital period running up to the New Year.
3 DEFENSIVE GOALS
Following Micah Richards goal against Watford, Joleon Lescott threatened to make Villa centre-back goals a trend, with the opener against the Saints.
It was Lescott’s first goal for the club he supported as a kid, so no doubt a special moment for him. With Villa’s strikers not exactly setting the world on fire, it would be great if Lescott reached his 1-in-8 goal-scoring ratio he had while at Everton.
Lescott has scored the odd goal against Villa, so it was good to see him doing the reverse at the weekend. While he may have lost his pace at the back, it shouldn’t be forgotten he’s always been a goal threat as a centre-back throughout his career.
Before visiting Villa Park on Sunday, Arsenal have to make a trip to Greece for their Champion’s League game vs Olympiakos. It’s a game they have to go all out to win to have any chance of qualifying, so Wenger will play his full-strength team.
If there was a good time to play Arsenal, it has to be now, considering the pile of injuries they have in the squad – including Santi Cazorla, Alexis Sánchez, Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck.
(Actually, trotting that list of injuries out is quite scary when you consider any one of those would probably be Villa’s best player, if they played for us.)
With the lack of options to freshen up his team, Wenger also wouldn’t consider the early kick-off on Sunday as ideal either.
Having said that, Villa must turn up this time, since they failed to do at Wembley. As Bournemouth and Newcastle have shown this weekend, games against the big teams can serve up three points, if the attitude is there to have a go and there’s a belief it’s possible to win.
The Villa Park crowd have to really go for it too and try to unsettle the visitors. There should be none of this, ‘Well, there’s winnable games after Arsenal’ mentality. At the moment, there’s no such thing as a winnable game, so in trying to get our first win for 14 games, the next game is always the best one to do it in, no matter the opponent.
1 FOX HOPE
When I saw that Leicester City had two of the league’s top scorers, both of which in double figures, I started to think about Villa’s 1980-81 striker partnership of Withe and Shaw, and the fact that a well-drilled team can defy the odds and beat teams of expensive individuals.
If Villa were a club operating with any ambition and belief, then Villa too could have done what the Foxes are doing. There is no excuse, as where there is a will, there is a way; it’s not 100% down to money. Likewise, if Garde can some how get his team together swiftly (he’s playing consistent line-ups, for starters), results may improve.
It’s amazing to think ex-Villa academy product Marc Albrighton is now a top of the table player. File him next to Gary Cahill in terms of Villa players that were underrated at the club they grew up with, only to go onto better things. Who’s next? Jack Grealish?
Follow MOMS on Facebook – myoldmansaid