Jekyll and Hyde Performance
The Aston Villa circus rolls on. After finally finding some semblance of form in the first half against Preston and taking a 2-0 lead, the team still managed to throw away two points.
Before the game came an amusing picture of Steve Bruce in full training gear in a kebab shop and after the game came the reasons for Ross McCormack’s absence. He’d missed training, was out of shape and apparently had a dodgy gate on the front of his house.
How a player who was a Championship record signing and its top goal scorer is recent seasons is allowed to fall from grace in such a way is another story (which we’ll address elsewhere), but there’s only one story I’m concerned about here and that’s the promotion picture.
Will Villa make the play-off’s this season? It’s looking unlikely if they carry on like this.
In the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
(Game highlights below)
— My Old Man Said (@oldmansaid) January 21, 2017
1.And So it Goes On
The unbeaten home run continues. It’s all we’ve got to cling onto at the moment, but it gives us some warmth in these winter months and keeps the season flickering alive. The problem is too many draws at Villa Park are slowly killing us. Despite being unbeaten, Villa only have the 8th best home record in terms of actual points.
With Preston’s decent recent away form there were expectations of a closer run game, but ultimately Villa threw this one away.
No home game until February 11th against Ipswich now.
2. Screw AFCON
If you’re not going to be picked for your country, you might as well contribute to your club while you stay at home and Adomah certainly stepped up against Preston to make sure Villa didn’t suffer totally from a lack of strikers to call upon.
Should he have left Gabby’s effort to roll over the line? Maybe, but Agbonlahor’s effort only happened due to a poor first touch, so it wasn’t a clean effort.
It was good to see Adomah imposing himself on the game, as he needed to be one of Villa’s main men when you saw the lightweight starting line-up.
In other AFCON-related news, as MOMS detailed earlier Jonathan Kodjia maybe on his way back from Gabon earlier than expected, after the Ivory Coast haven’t made the greatest start to the African Cup of Nations tournament. If they fail to beat Morocco early next week, then Kodjia’s on a flight back. It’ll be good news for Ross McCormack, as it’ll give him more time to fix his gate.
3. Green Light
If Adomah was being a menace on the right-hand side, then Andre Green certainly made a decent contribution on the left with testing crosses, as he brought a better balance to the side. Giving the team a legitimate outlet on the left-hand side was pleasing to see, although he’ll kick himself for his missed headed attempt.
Villa’s policy of paying good wages to lesser Premier League talents/better Championship talent has failed to create a proper team ethic at the club, but fusing into the first XI some academy talent will certainly help add some spark and desire to the proceedings.
It’ll be interesting to see if Green still has a role to play after the AFCON and the January transfer window wind up.
4. Lansbury Factor
While the player’s attributes have been discussed before on these pages, before he was subbed off, it was clear to see against Preston what Henri Lansbury can bring to the team. While not at his sharpish – it was his first game in about six weeks – the former Forest captain certainly added a dynamism to the midfield with more purposeful passing and running, then we’ve seen for a while.
5. 10 Days Off
With the Bristol City game originally on the 28th January being put back due to the Robin’s FA Cup run, Steve Bruce now has 10 days to steady the ship and prepare for a last ditch stab at the play-offs.
This bonus period will give the likes of Lansbury and Sam Johnstone a chance to get settled in and more importantly allow the Villa board to finalise the extra additions needed.
As we all know from the constant transfer talk last week, Barnsley’s Conor Hourihane seems to be on his way to Villa Park next week. The player himself admitted as much in his post-match interview after he inspired Barnsley to beat Leeds United, bigging up Steve Bruce and saying, “we’ll see what happens next week”.
Get him at the start of the week and he’ll get a full week’s training in before the next game. Hopefully by the time of the away trip at Brentford, they might be another new face or two as well.
For no nonsense in the transfer window, make sure you follow @oldmansaid on Twitter