After a sluggish start to the game Aston Villa showed the kind of heart and hustle later on against Leeds at Elland Road, that will be needed if they want to finish in the automatic promotion spots.
In the first half, the game looked like it was going the same way as last year’s trip to Elland Road, that ended 2-0 to the home team.
Much, much has improved since then though and a double substitution by Steve Bruce on the 65th mark, helped wrestled back the game and allow Villa to pick up a valuable point.
Only Hutton, Chester and Adomah started that game against Leeds a year ago today.
Not only have Villa changed their personnel though, but thankfully they’ve also changed their mentality too.
Leeds vs Villa Highlights:
As pointed above, much has changed from a year ago and Villa are a different beast of a team. If this game was last season, there’s no doubt the team would have returned from Elland Road empty handed.
The recent away win against QPR after being behind, was another example of this new-found grit.
Never give up.
2. Broken Duck
The most surprising stat from the Leeds game was the fact it was Henri Lansbury’s first league goal for Aston Villa.
The midfielder had scored a few in preseason, but nada last season, despite scoring six from midfield for Forest earlier that season.
Lansbury has always had goals in his game, but this is the season to demonstrate it for Villa to help a) gain promotion and b) prove himself good enough for the Premier League.
With Josh Onomah blowing hot and cold, so far, there is definitely an opportunity for any midfielder to proof themselves in this Villa team.
3. Grealish Sub Fortune Change
Interestingly, Grealish came on at the 67 minute mark in last year’s encounter and Villa conceded within a minute. A year later, six minutes after Grealish came on at a similiar time (65th minute), Villa equalised.
Hopefully, along with Lansbury, he’ll start to step up.
It’s MOMS mantra that Villa should only be looking up to the automatic promotion spots in the table. That’s got to be the aim, right?
Still, if they were to cast a glance over their shoulder, there are four points separating them from Ipswich, the team in 7th place, just outside the play-offs.
Leeds were another team with ambitions of breaking into the play-offs, but Villa thwarted them from gaining any ground, like they have done to Ipswich and Preston in recent weeks.
Four of Villa’s five remaining December games are against teams harbouring realistic play-off ambitions, from Sheffield United to Brentford (impressive recent form), so positive results in all of those games will go along way in restoring the status quo and cementing Villa at least a play-off berth.
5. Stat Prediction
Next up is Millwall at Villa Park. Villa’s home form from the last six games at Villa Park is second to only Wolves (who have won their last six). Millwall haven’t won an away game all season.
What could go wrong?
Seriously though, it’ll be disappointing not to pick up the three points.
What this article completely ignores is the fact that the last 30 minutes or so was is the first time that I can remember that our erstwhile manager has managed to play a properly balanced 4-2-3-1, with a 4, 8 and a 10!!
Jack has been getting stick but when you play him where his talents are best suited – at 10 – he will run the show. He has so much time and quality that he will really hurt teams when he is in there. He is not quick enough to be a winger.
Likewise Lansbury is a proper 8 – a box to box midfielder who wants to break forward – and when used properly can be a real asset.
I feel very sorry for Hourihane and Onomah as they are both being used in positions that don’t suit their game. Hourihane is a 4 who likes to play with the game in front of him and is not a box to box midfielder. Playing him alongside Whelan makes our CM look very undynamic/low on energy. Onomah is an 8 who looks uncomfortable receiving the ball high and with his back to goal and is much more suited starting deeper and driving forward.
We have good options in CM: at 4 – Hourihane (my preference because he is more creative), Whelan or Jedi (suited to the more physical games) (Lyden coming through); at 8 – Lansbury or Onomah (with Doyle Hayes coming through); at 10 – Jack as first choice with O’Hare as cover. If only Bruce could recognise his player’s strengths and play them in that way.
Don’t know about Hourihane being a ‘4’. Played further forward for Barnsley.
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