Every game is a learning curve for Villa fans this season,Villa move to a four-game unbeaten run, yet with three of those games ending in draws. Three tough games ahead, but the young lions now have shown they have a resolve that suggests they can pick up a point at least against any team.
1 – Stoke are a truly horrible team
Not that we’ve ‘learnt’ this just now, we’ve known for a few years now, but it’s always a shock to the system when you see them up close. For the majority of the second half they parked the bus in our area and rarely ventured forward. When they did try to attack they offered so little that I genuinely began to feel bad for their fans. They do what they do well, but it’s not football, and it’s certainly not entertaining.
Watching them puts what we’re trying to do into perspective, and though it’s taking some time to get things right, we at least have a manager who wants to play exciting football.
2 – Exploit weaknesses
The first half of yesterday’s game was possibly one of the best displays we’ve given so far this season. A goal looked a certainty and we had a lot of joy exploiting the space on the right. Much like QPR did against Eric Lichaj last week, we put pressure on Geoff Cameron, who usually plays as a centre-back, and turned him inside out. It’s probably why they flooded their area during the second half, as Gabby and Matt Lowton were feeling bullish. Sadly the goal never came, but January is just three weeks away.
3 – AVFC be on the swarm
If we’d had played this fixture in August or September we most likely would have crumbled under the sheer physical presence of Stoke. Not this time – the youngsters were up for a fight and broke forward in packs. Everybody wanted the ball, and if Stoke hadn’t been doing their best impression of the great wall of China then we’d be feeling a lot happier about the result right now.
4 – We ran out of ideas
As the game wore on, and it became clear that our original game plan wasn’t going to work we reverted back to old ways and stopped trying to pass it around, hitting it long on the bounce instead. This never works, especially against a team like Stoke.
5 – Ineffective substitutions
At the time, the changes seemed to make sense. Holman had run himself into the ground again, so Stephen Ireland, a more natural linkman, would surely be able to unlock that stubborn backline. And the day looked tailor-made for Darren Bent to pounce on a knock down from six yards.
Ireland looked rusty and exhausted, like not playing for a few weeks had set him back to pre-season levels of readiness, and Bent just couldn’t get into the game with the supply line cut. Hopefully with players returning to full fitness we can create a wider range of options to deal with situations like that and go onto win games.
What else did we learn? Let us know in the comments below – you can also sign in with facebook and twitter accounts. UTV
Steven Green, one of the hosts of the AVFC Review podcast and writer for Shoot Magazine and a fellow Real Oviedo shareholder.
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