A great deal has happened at Aston Villa since the four points and two clean sheets from the opening week’s fixtures, both on and off the pitch. With big issues to assess in all three categories, here is the good, the bad and the ugly of all things Villa since the stalemate with Newcastle and also the highlight of the international break, a certain Fabian Delph England debut.
The Hull City match was the kind of game which should have been a Villa win – the type of match which at Villa Park in recent years has all too often resulted in a demoralising defeat and many fans tearing half their hair out. However, that scenario was thankfully avoided with a win which was crucially important ahead of the nasty run of fixtures that await Villa after the international break.
Not only were the three points satisfying but the way in which Villa won the game before half time was excellent to see, taking the game to Hull and dominating the first half.
Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann, slated by many (including myself in this column) for their poor standard of performance and lack of cutting edge after the first two fixtures of the season, both took their goals well, and had Ashley Westwood’s excellent free-kick been an inch or two lower the half-time scoreline would have fully displayed Villa’s dominance in the first 45.
Villa’s defence impressed once again, with only a huge deflection off Aly Cissokho breaching the previously unbeaten backline. The defensive line of Hutton, Vlaar, Senderos and Cissokho looks a much stronger one than Villa have had for years. The fact that it has remained unchanged for the first three league games of the season reflects how well the four players have performed both individually and in combination with one another, and it should also continue to strengthen the defence as the players develop a deeper understanding as a unit. It should be interested to see where the now fit Jores Okore fits in.
Villa’s current league position won’t be focused on, as standings at this stage mean next to nothing, but seven points from the three fixtures prior to the early-season international break is undoubtedly a good return. Yes, it could have been nine had Villa had a proper go at a Newcastle side who were there for the taking, but Villa have achieved their initial aims for the season.
As soon as the fixture list came out it had me thinking two things: firstly that the Premier League fixture computer wanted us bottom of the league by the end of October, and secondly that Villa would desperately need a decent points tally by this stage of this season. Thankfully the team have obliged, coming through three winnable but potentially tricky games with almost full success.
Fabian Delph gave Villa fans a source of pride on this week with a good 25-minute England debut from the bench at Wembley in the win over Norway and an impressive full 90 minutes in the win in Switzerland on Monday.
After charging around like a man possessed in the first quarter of an hour of the latter game, looking like he was genuinely attempting to get himself two yellow cards in as short a period of time as possible, he settled in to his stride and contributed heavily to an excellent England win.
[Click ‘Next‘ for – The Bad and Ugly]