The Good, Bad and Ugly of Aston Villa’s Opening Day Delight



Jordan Ayew has been panned in the media for his lacklustre showing before being replaced on the hour by Gestede, although in fairness the forward has fallen victim to being simply the least impressive of Villa’s new signings in their first real test of Premier League life.

Just as one swallow does not make a summer for Gestede, one anonymous display does not mean that Ayew is not cut out for life in England. What it does perhaps mean, as suggested above, is that Sherwood may be better advised using Gestede as a focal point to trouble United’s defence and either move Ayew back to play off the target man or consider introducing him as a second-half substitute.

Regardless of Ayew’s disappointing display, the way Villa closed out victory was hugely encouraging given how apparent it was in the first half that Sherwood’s new-look side are still getting to know one another. The starting XI looked disjointed before the interval, and had Bournemouth taken one of their chances it’s likely that the home side would have seized the initiative.

However, the nature of the game and the opposition meant that Villa (and Sherwood) could afford to be reactive. Although Bournemouth had a team full of familiarity, including just a single new signing in their line-up, this also meant that they were relying on their Championship players to step up. Better teams probably would have made more of the openings Villa offered them in the first half, but as the home side continued to be frustrated the carnival atmosphere died down and Villa were allowed to exert control.

One thing is for sure: Villa will have to be more proactive on Friday night against Manchester United at Villa Park. United, although far from impressive against Tottenham, are packed full of players with the capabilities to take advantage of defensive hesitancies or a less than watertight midfield, and Sherwood must use his extended training sessions wisely to ensure that his side step up their game.


After an away victory on the opening day it’s unfair to suggest that there was anything particularly ugly about Villa’s display. The worst you can say is that, tricky opening-day atmosphere aside, Bournemouth away is unlikely to be one of the more difficult fixtures this season, and that a revolutionised Villa side winning their first competitive match has only served to heighten the expectations of the fan base.

This season has always been likely to be one of highs and lows; the almost complete change that the club has undergone in terms of first-choice playing staff will lead to some unexpected results, both positively and negatively. For the past few years I don’t think any fan can have been kidding themselves about the fact that Villa have been facing a relegation battle at the start of every season. This year is potentially different, and therein lies the danger.

The overwhelming, optimistic feeling after Saturday’s game is that this is a season in which we should see improvement from Villa, both in performances and results. You would hope this to be the case after the club’s work so far in the transfer window, but in reality it could go either way.

Having said that, if Sherwood and the players learn the lessons of last weekend’s first half then they should be going into the United game in a confident mood, despite the opposition. Kicking off the weekend under the Villa Park lights in the first home game of the season, with a host of new signings on show to the Holte End for the first time and the potential for an upset against a club that Villa hardly ever beat: Friday night’s match has all the ingredients to be one of Tim’s defining days to date as a manager.


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