The news before the match that Ashley Westwood, Nathan Baker and Darren Bent had all had to be sent home with a virus was disappointing. I hate to come over all Football Manager, but if a player turns up to training with a stomach bug he absolutely has to be sent home immediately.
Andi Weimann apparently vomited as he walked down the tunnel for half-time, and considering how much the virus already seems to have spread through the squad it will be interesting to see how many more players fall foul of illness in the next few days.
It is not to say that had there been no stomach bug Villa would have got a result from this game. However having Westwood and Baker in the side rather than Carlos Sanchez and Clark would, based on the performances of the former two players thus far this season, have given Villa a much more solid core.
Sanchez still looks like he has got a long way to go before he reaches anywhere near the required pace and sharpness for the English top-flight game. He could develop into an important player in our side, but it’s not going to be for a while. He could alternatively end up doing a full Jean Makoun/Yacouba Sylla.
Paul Lambert’s new contract came as surprising news earlier in the week. Several Villa fans took issue with other fans over Twitter on Saturday arguing that his contract should not have been extended, suggesting that it was merely a knee-jerk reaction to the defeat. Be that as it may, but what was a bigger knee-jerk reaction was the Villa board giving Lambert a new contract based purely on an impressive four-game start to the new season.
His summer transfer activity has undoubtedly improved the side, and Villa’s start up until the defeat to the Gunners had been excellent. However, I would argue that these things did not so much merit a new contract as merely justify him being allowed to remain in a job in which he has failed to impress for the last two years.
‘How To Lose A Game In A Matter Of Minutes’ returned to Villa Park on Saturday after a while away. We did it at home to Arsenal last year, as well as against Manchester United and West Ham, but it was with an unprecedented flourish that we managed it against Arsenal this time.
To concede three goals in the space of three minutes and 12 seconds takes a very special ability to collapse, one which, although we had not seen in a surprisingly long time, Villa have cultivated slowly over the years.
It had taken Villa 466 minutes to concede their previous three Premier League goals. The Vlaar-Senderos partnership was looking as solid as we have had in years, and Baker pulled a huge performance out of the bag when called upon last week.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Clark this week. Yes he made a few clearances, but you could not help but feel that these were mainly due to him finding himself in the right place at the right time, rather than him displaying any particular positional sense. This feeling was reinforced by the way in which his ‘defending’ allowed Danny Welbeck a tap-in.
Villa fans must not lose sight of the fact that is still an excellent start to the season from Villa. The players’ confidence will have undoubtedly taken a huge hit, but they should take heart from the opening third of the game and the performances and results that preceded the first league defeat of the season. As long as the players do not lose their belief that they can hurt the big teams, there could still be results there for the taking from the rest of Villa’s difficult run of games, which continues at Stamford Bridge next weekend.
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