What the hell was happening in the first hour or so at Villa Park against Newcastle? Bizarre tactical decisions – Adomah at right wing-back with Bacuna playing in front of him? The old 3-5-2 (or a variation of that) and a midfield that just couldn’t string a pass together, not to mention a mistake riddled defence (special mention to Tommy Elphick).
On another day, the Toon Army would have been out of sight, but credit where it’s due, the Villa players rallied and in the closing stages laid siege to the Geordies’ goal and were perhaps unlucky not to snatch it.
Still, it’s only one win in ten competitive games at the moment for Roberto Di Matteo and while he sorts his act out, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
1. Tshibola Rallying Team
Only two Villa players have properly impressed me this season so far and that’s Jonathan Kodjia and Aaron Tshibola – when he’s actually on the pitch. When you’ve been used to watching midfield players in the claret and blue shirt that are shockingly limited, it’s actually quite exciting to see one do things out of the ordinary.
When Villa first bought the 21-year-old midfielder, I didn’t see how the injury-plagued ex-Reading youngster could be considered part of the new spine of the team, but he looks a class act. Tshibola has good awareness (see his step over vs Newcastle), smart passing, is strong on the ball and drives Villa forward unlike any other midfielder in the Villa squad.
If he stays fit, then he could be pivotal to getting Villa into the promotion hunt.
Everything else about the league table sucks, especially the one win in nine games stat, but we can seek some comfort from still being unbeaten at home this season.
One of the main teams that were capable of beating us have been sent packing, so here’s a challenge for the Villa boys…lets go the season unbeaten at Villa Park.
He who dares, wins.
After 60+ minutes of almost total shi*e from Villa, it was both surprising and pleasing to see a Villa team make a fight of a game. Why the new players were trying to do impressions of last season’s Villa players in the first half is beyond me – although 10 out 10 for Tommy Elphick’s Ciaran Clark impression, it was very life-like. Once the likes of Ayew, Kodjia, Tshibola and Gestede clicked into gear though, you could see signs of hope for turning this season around.
4. Goalie Gollini
He may have had a rocky start – part rashness, part bad luck – but things are picking up for Villa’s Italian keeper Pierluigi Gollini. He certainly played a big part in preventing a defeat against Newcastle with a handful of smart saves.
Only Elphick’s OG got the better of him, after a clean sheet in his previous game. It will be interesting to see if he can add further away clean sheets to his name from the double away day this week against Barnsley and Preston.
While the jury may ultimately still be out on him, there are solid signs of promise at least.
Well since I’ve spent hours and hours editing it (an all-night effort), I’m plugging the goodness of the new post-Newcastle episode of the My Old Man Said podcast here. Solid analysis, good and fun discussion, satirical sketches (some funny, some silly, some surreal) with the addition of music weaved in so it doesn’t feel like one of those drab podcast shows. It’s a MOMS gift to you, so if you haven’t had a listen yet, GET ON IT.
Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid