First off, we’ll save the team and player analysis until the upcoming Aston Villa Player Ratings and Observations for the game.
Despite a vibrant start to the game by all four sides of Villa Park, the crowd’s enthusiasm soon was dampened as an even game was flipped by a quick Albion one-two before half-time.
For the second half, the Baggies sat deep and were content to minimise the risk of giving Villa any space in their half, and Smith and Villa failed to come up with a solution to make a fight of it.
John McGinn‘s yellow card means the player will miss the next two fixtures, which isn’t exactly the kind of news Villa need right now.
So with Villa struggling with a very poor two wins from their last 13 Championship fixtures, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villans, including some surprisingly positive stats, that don’t seem to relate to Villa’s form and league position.
First things first, lets glance over our shoulders…
After a run of just two wins in 13 matches, the thought of how close Villa are to the relegation zone does enter your mind. The good news is we’re 15 points clear of the drop zone.
Joking aside…it’s looking like mid-table now for Villa, considering that both Derby and Bristol City have a three-game results advantage and two games in hand.
Despite a recent run of games where Villa have rarely troubled the opposition goalkeeper, Villa currently are the fourth highest shots per game tally in the Championship this season.
Their average tally of 14.1 shots is only topped by Leeds, Norwich and Brentford.
After witnessing the game against Brentford where Villa struggled to string a couple of passes together, it’s a bit of a surprise to see Villa place third in the highest pass accuracy with 79.5% only Leeds (79.6%) and the league’s top passers Swansea (82.2%) rating higher.
When you have a team that plays with such a pass completion rate and average tally of shots on goal, it’s odd to see them stuck in mid-table.
And then we even have a couple of players at the top end of the individual charts…
Individual Stats Men
Conor Hourihane has the fourth highest number of assists by any player in the whole division. Despite his nine assists though, Hourihane has been copping a lot of flack from supporters in recent matches.
His corner deliveries have been questionable at times in recent games, but the main issue has been his game off the ball. Whether it’s not watching opposition midfielder runs when he’s defending, or remaining static once he’s released a pass, further up the field, he needs to improve that side of his game.
Still, he has proven cutting edge when it comes to key stats, proving he can impact games consistently, which is a rare commodity amongst players.
It’s a question of when and where to use him best. It might also help, if fans cut him a bit of slack.
In terms of goal scoring, Tammy Abraham is third in the Championship with his 20-goal haul, which represents 36% of all Villa’s goals.
Only Norwich’s Teemu Pukki (23) and Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp (22) have scored more Championship goals than Villa’s main striker.
With all these positive stats, it’s a shame they have all been undone by the defensive frailties of Villa’s game.
Most Villa supporters showed a touch of class to give ex-player Gareth Barry an ovation as he was substituted off, despite WBA being 2-0 up at the time.
Barry holds the Premier League appearance record and having played over a decade at Villa, most of those appearances were in the claret and blue shirt, as he chalked up approaching 450 appearances for Villa in all competitions.
“It was a great feeling to get an ovation at the end,” said Barry, who applauded the Villa fans in return, as he left the field on the 86th minute.
“I won’t forget the 12 years I spent here and may never play at Villa Park again, in front of the fans, so I was happy I went off in that way.”
It was a good football moment. MOMS clearly remembers watching Barry’s early appearances back in 1998, when even as a teenager, it was quickly apparent he’d be class player.
If Martin O’Neill hadn’t hit a glass ceiling and failed in winning Villa Champions’ League football, Barry probably would have stayed on even longer at Villa Park. He potentially could have returned to Villa in the twilight of his career, if the club had remained in the Premier League.
To the small-minded Villa fans who felt ‘disgusted’ by such an ovation in tribute to his time at Villa – get a life.