It was a bitter pill to take at the weekend, as Aston Villa managed to lose a game they were 1-0 up in, with only three minutes to play. Still, Liverpool were relentless and the European Champions have managed to crawl out of even bigger holes (see Barcelona last season) in the past.
While Villa prepare for a trip to Molineux, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villans…
Regardless of the end result and slackness at the death, that perhaps opened the door for Liverpool, for 87 minutes Villa’s rearguard discipline once again was demonstrated.
It proves Villa have a solid defensive base to build on. Normally, in building a successful team, you sort out your backline first, and Smith and his coaching staff have certainly made huge strides. Mings obviously has been a mountain at the back, but in terms of defending as a unit, the team has shown impressive resolve at times this season. You have to remember, this was only their 11 game together, too.
Once the team begins to make the ball stick in possession more and gains the confidence (from additions in personnel from upcoming transfer windows), the defensive organisation already inherent in the team should provide a perfect foundation for success.
If there was one thing about the performance against Liverpool, it was how quick you forgot about the absence of Jack Grealish during the game. With Mings appointed as captain, the leadership was there, but perhaps most impressive was how both Nakamba and Douglas Luiz handled themselves at times during the game.
Both demonstrated tidy technical ability and a willingness to the fight, and kept Villa competitive throughout, allowing John McGinn and Trezeguet to give Liverpool something to think about at the other end of the pitch.
Villa are in a good spot, in terms of their midfield, and the quartet of McGinn, Grealish, Nakamba and Luiz could potentially evolve into something quite interesting, as they have more games together.
Speaking of Jack
Villa’s captain is fully expected to be fit to face Wolves at the weekend, after missing out against Liverpool.
Grealish ruled himself out on the morning of the Liverpool clash, after not being 100%, after a recent knock, but is now back in training.
While he potentially wasn’t missed against Liverpool, considering the pressure Villa were under at times, he’ll be a welcome return for the dog heads game.
The midweek win over Wolves may have felt like a pre-season game due to Wolves making 11 changes and Villa making nine, but it now means the club is 90 minutes away from a cup semi-final. It’s all part of re-establishing the club as a force again in English football, so it’s a welcome run.
The date with Liverpool has been set for Tuesday 17th December, a date which will see Liverpool in Qatar seeking to be World Club Champions.
Why did Liverpool sanction such a double date? Well, they were pretty much willing to throw the tie, considering there was no real convenient alternative date. You have to remember, Villa also didn’t want to have their own fixture list messed around.
Liverpool will no doubt field a youthful and inexperienced team at Villa Park providing Villa with an excellent chance of progress into the final four.
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Calm Before the Storm
While many football fans moan about the international break, the upcoming November break is well timed for Villa, going into what will be a season-defining busy winter fixture list.
Villa will face eight fixtures in the month of December alone, and they’ll need to start getting results. The performances and promise has been there, but it’s time to get more points.
The likes of Jota and Keinan Davis will benefit from the period, in terms of their fitness, as will Jack Grealish, if he’s not called up for England duty.