Bent leaves, McLeish returns and Villa land Emirates glory
Finally, after weeks of fervent anticipation, the glitz and glamour of the Premier League has exploded into all of our lives again. Aston Villa kicked off the 2013 / 2014 season with a surprising 1 – 3 away win at the Emirates Stadium against Arsenal in an exciting and energetic match that had the pundits ripping up their betting slips. The result was not totally unexpected considering how Paul Lambert’s men finished the 2012 / 2013 season, but there is a difference between being cautiously optimistic of a result and coming away with all three points, so kudos to Lambert and his boys for getting the job done. Here’s what we learnt this week….
Darren Bent believes in a dignified exit
Aston Villa’s prolific marksman and Premier League hot-shot Darren Bent left the club this week on a season long loan move to Fulham. I for one, am bored of hearing about the ‘feelings’ of Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale and I am glad that while they were letting all their emotions hang out, Darren Bent was giving nothing away. I guess you could call that being professional. Darren tweeted his thanks as he left the club on Friday,
Thank you Darren, for your goals and also, yes, your professionalism. Appreciated.
Gabby can win a match on his own
There’s a feeling amongst some of Gabby’s most loyal fans that other Villa fans give him a hard time and get on his back. I don’t go along with this view. Most Villa fans I speak to believe that Gabby that can be a world beater on his day, and they only chivvy him along because they know what the kid can do. Gabby’s run for Villa’s first goal against Arsenal was astonishing. It was almost as if Gabby thought, “Right, we’re going to score now” as he picked up the ball and belted off towards Arsenal’s goal, slaloming past Arsenal defenders along the way. Just as pleasing to see was Gabby firing up the away fans as he pumped his first and yelled, “C’mon!” I’m not really a fan of his ear-cuffing or ‘shhhhh’ celebration, so it was good to see the player with a smile on his face and enjoying his game again. Great for Villa….and England.
Alex McLeish has big Cojones
Crowds of eager Villa fans traveled to London by train on Saturday for the trip to Arsenal with enthusiastic hopes for the new season. Many of these fans were bursting with excitement, probably hadn’t slept the night before and had stomachs churning with nerves. As Villa fans settled down in their train seats deciding whether to get a coffee, or whether it would be too early or impolite to open a can of lager, a visage they vaguely remembered came walking towards the train door with a grin on his face. It can’t be???? Yes, it really was former Villa manager Alex McLeish hopping onto a train full of Villans on their way to Arsenal. I certainly hope that on the return trip fans reminded McLeish of this pearl of wisdom he gave when his Villa side lost 3 – 0 away to Arsenal, “You can’t expect to go to elite clubs and win….” OK Alex…..
Villa have two attacking full backs
Gone are the days when Martin O’Neill played four centre-backs along the back four. Paul Lambert, being the hipster that he is, has fielded two full-backs whose attacking abilities far out-weigh their defensive abilities. Matthew Lowton had an unusually quiet game against Arsenal, but Antonio Luna showed what he could do in the final third of the pitch, as he raced clear on the counter attack and finished smartly for his debut goal. One shot. One shot on target. One goal. Luna has landed in the Premier League in spectacular style. Vamos Villa!
Villa can play better
It was a great result against Arsenal. Just the start the team needed. Grit, determination, courage to come back into the game once Arsenal had taken the lead, but the fact is this group of players are capable of better.
Whilst there were outstanding individual performances for Villa against Arsenal, such as Gabby, Delph, Clark and El Ahmadi, it wasn’t Villa’s most fluent performance so far under Paul Lambert. Villa were excellent at closing down Arsenal, pressing the ball, making clearances and counter attacking with pace, but the boys missed the opportunity to score more goals when Villa’s final pass went astray too often. The front three of Benteke (57 % pass accuracy), Gabby (70% pass accuracy) and Weimann (75% pass accuracy) can all do better, and have done better, at keeping the ball.
I’m sure that Paul Lambert will be working hard on counter attacking drills in training to make sure that Villa sharpen the effectiveness of these attacks, as Lambert’s squad has a richness of talent in this area. Villa have the pace, strength and finishing ability to really kill teams on the counter attack but against teams like Chelsea, Villa will have less opportunity to hit Chelsea on the break, and the boys must therefore take a great deal of care with the ball.
Lets hope the positivity from the game at Arsenal carries the boys through in what will be a difficult away game against Jose’s mega bucks stars. UTV
My Old Man Said (MOMS) is an award-winning football blog, podcast and fan community. MOMS is sits on the Aston Villa Fan Consultation Group and is an active member of the Football Supporters Association (FSA). UTV
PhillipFranklin CraigWright MyOldManSaid What’s the use in having £100m in the bank if you have a manger/board that won’t spend it?And your ‘core’ of exciting British players won’t be the backbone of England because they won’t get first team opportunities unless you get shot of Wenger.
Will you still get 6000 every week if the ticket prices stay ludicrously high and the team’s not delivering?
LeeMerrett PhillipFranklin CraigWright MyOldManSaid Agreed. That much we have in common with ….. Villa and everyone else apart from the 3 big three spenders. At least we have been competing in them.
PhillipFranklin CraigWright MyOldManSaid ……… and won nothing lol
CraigWright PhillipFranklin MyOldManSaid Almost right. Except we’ve paid for our new stadium, get 60,000 people in every week, have £100m sitting in the bank ready to spend, are about to sign a load of new lucrative commercial deals as we are a regular champions league team, are about to compete again in the Champions League tournament, and have a core of young exciting british players that are going to form the backbone of Arsenal and England for the next 10 years. We play great football, and have one of the world’s great managers. Yes you are almost right. Yes I can see the similarities between Arsenal and Villa.
Actually, you are just like all the other non-achievers. The only difference being that you charge extortionate ticket prices, get into the champions league and make shit loads of cash.
MyOldManSaid PhillipFranklin I agree you are no push-overs, but you didn’t really deserve to win either game. Two penalties, both unnecessarily given away, one wouldn’t be give 8 out of 10 times. And then, with 30 minutes to go, I would have bet we would get at least 1 goal, probable 2. Until our ‘captain’ stupidly get himself sent off. You must admit that was pure luck for your team. The third goal happens when we were pushing for a win with 10 men. We could/should have had a draw even with 10 men. But it happens. The reaction by the Arsenal fans is quite understandable if you’re expectations are so high. We’re jealous of Chelsea and Man City. Actually we should just be grateful we’re not Villa, Newcastle or any of the other non-achievers.
PhillipFranklin I thought we were worth the win, but don’t understand the drama of the Arsenal fans after the game. Villa are not push-overs this season, as Chelsea found out days later, even though everything went against Villa that evening. Arsenal’s main problem is their injuries, although I agree with the Arsenal fans in that they should have done their transfer business a lot earlier in the window.
As an Arsenal supporter, I want to congratulate Villa on a good performance against us last week. I think you got lucky, as just about everything went your way on the day, but you have to play well to take advantage of those situations, and you did well.
Based on the performances of both teams that day, plus all the other matches I saw over the weekend, Arsenal will be fine and will finish 4th again, and Villa will be safe and will finish 10th. Which must be treated as success for each team.
LeeMerrett rogermalvern I very much agree with what you want from our team Lee but it was ungentlemanly conduct and Gabby could even have gone with Koscielny.
rogermalvernKoscielny is a nasty piece of work and cheated and moaned all through so I think Gabby was glad to see him get his rewards, I agree it isn’t nice to see but sometimes it’s allowed to show how how feel and get rid. They couldn’t compete physically with us and the ref wasn’t going to offer the ‘special treatment’ that Arsene Wenger expects for his lightweight primadonna’s, this is a mans game. I don’t want us to be nice anymore, I want us to be hated everywhere we go because we bully teams and are strong on the ball and in challenges. I want Benteke, Gabby and Delph to wind teams up and get stuck in, I want snarls and roars from the Claret and Blue Lion, it’s been quiet for far too long now. UTV
Agreed, no need for it. He didn’t need to do that.
MyOldManSaid SonLyme Personally the question I would ask is – Okore or Clark or Vlaar. Concrete Ron looks about as solid as Spaghetti Junction to me.
Yes, great performance by Gabby but one blip marred it – the unprofessional applauding of the referee for sending off Koscielny. Unworthy of you Gabby.
SonLyme It’ll probably be a case of Weimann & Gabby coming back to help out in a 4-5-1. Okore or Clark though?
The real test comes now. Chelsea away with the special one. Much is said about Jose – but in reality he is a continental Tony Pulis with a bigger budget. Flimsy and lightweight are not part of his vocabulary. His last Chelsea team were built on solid defensive control and quick, often direct, counter attacks.
This time however he doesn’t have Drogba – we do. If we can muzzle their midfield I have high hopes. If Lampard, Oscar, Hazard and co get the upper hand – we lose. A far harder test than Arsenal. I wonder if Lambert will stick with 433 as midfield is where this game will be won or lost.
LeeMerrett Arsenal played into our hands a bit by play at high tempo. I think Chelsea will be a lot more patient. Plus, they have a much stronger team than Arsenal. Potentially the toughest game of the season.
Bit more composure needed at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea are a very different animal. This win should breed confidence and the first day nerves should well and truly be gone …. plus there is the added incentive to put in a performance after the drubbing we got when last there .. we did well at VP against them in May so no fear this time I hope.
Pretty much agree with all of that…great win without playing well. That’s a good sign, usually. I thought we gave the ball away too cheaply in midfield and regularly made the wrong decisions, but always looked a threat on the break. The first 20 mins were worrying though, especially Vlaar’s slackness.
Isn’t life soooooooo much better under Lambert than McLeish. That season under him was the direst in many a year. Great to see Gabby on fire, full of confidence and enjoying the game. The front three are scary
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