Two unlikely back-to-back wins would have been the ideal boost to fill the Villa fans with a new found hope. After beating a 7th place Crystal Palace, joint top of the table Leicester were up next and with the Villa players gaining a heap load of confidence, a win actually seemed possible. Remi got his respite and now had to focus on cherishing the shoots of recovery shown in the last game.
‘Many fans deserve a mention for clapping Mark Albrighton when he went over to take corners’
Prematch Fan Thoughts
Back-to-back home games in the dark and cold winter nights where so many dramatic games have taken place before such as the late 2-1 win against Albion, set up a good stage for the players to give the fans some real hope. The win against Palace really gave the club an injection of positivity for once and before this game I was feeling a lot more positive than usual.
The team news arrived and a completely unchanged side was named, which I felt good about, creating a solid base is vital and Gareth Ainsworth (the Wycombe Manager) actually commented on how Villa had chopped and changed their team around more than anyone else in the league this season.
Overall, positivity was flowing around the ground, but fear was present too due to the fact that Leicester have been outstanding all season and it looked like the BBC were writing some sort of prophecy for Mark Albrighton to score. Something similar to what they did with Steven Gerrard when Villa got to the FA Cup Semi-finals last year.
The first half was a horror show for Villa in many ways, although Mark Bunn did brilliantly to save Riyad Mahrez’s penalty, we could barely string together many passes and I felt like we were too inept to use the wings, even though every time we did we found some joy through them. Ashley Westwood’s acrobatic attempt comes to mind when Leandro Bacuna actually beat the first man for once, which shows a right-back that can cross the ball well is definitely needed in January and Mathieu Debuchy would be an excellent acquisition if Garde can persuade him.
Leicester’s goal was unlucky in many ways for Bunn but frustrating that one long ball cut through our defence so easily, even further frustration comes from the fact that Lescott failed to react quick enough to clear the danger and Shinji Okazaki got there first to slide the ball in.
A stark contrast to the first half, the second 45 minutes held a lot of promise for our attacking and defensive work. Jores Okore is someone who I’d single out as a solid performer, with him starting we’ve only lost one game and that can be forgiven as it was against Arsenal.
I have to comment on how poor the referee was. Roger East could lose his job after a performance like that. Robert Huth clearly elbowed and wrestled Libor Kozak to the ground but neither he, nor his assisting officials showed any interest. It was a decision which cost us another three points in my opinion.
Lucky enough for us Rudy Gestede was there to save the day, giving Garde plenty to think about in terms of tactics going into the West Brom game. Playing two target men and Jordan Ayew in behind might not be such a bad idea considering Albion play five at the back.
In conclusion, we could have gone on to win the game, but the scrapping between both teams, which don’t get me wrong shows fight, ultimately slowed the game down and we lost impetus. It was good solid point in my opinion against a top side that we made look average on the day.
The atmosphere was much improved in the first half in comparison to Tuesday and if you thought that this would have helped the players give it a good go in the first 45, then you were very wrong. I think 32,000 attended this game and that’s still creditable when acknowledging our league position, with many other teams not being able to boast such a good fan base it’s a shame that the supporters can’t earn points, because I think we’d be in a title race.
Anyhow, the second half was again electric as both the Villa fans and players smelt blood when we equalised and Leicester began to give the ball away cheaply. Playing to our strengths helped that and it shows fans enjoy route one too if it works well for us.
When the final whistle came, it was nice to see the players applauded off for their efforts even though everyone knows that we need big points from everywhere. Many fans deserve a mention for clapping Mark Albrighton when he went over to take corners as it was special to see and shows how much class and respect the supporters have.
Post-Match Fan Thoughts
Overall, it was well-earned point which could or should have been all three if Roger East didn’t get in the way with his outrageous decisions. With Albion next in the league, our form is fairly positive going into that one and you can see the confidence of the players is growing.
The game gave Garde a lot to think about and it’d be nice to see us playing to our strengths with a more direct approach as we simply don’t have the quality to play a possession based game. When Gestede was up top with Kozak, they caused all sorts of havoc and if a man mountain like Robert Huth struggled, then I think we’d profit off throwing it in the mixer against weaker defences.
Away Fans Score – 8/10
Although many Villa supporters probably dislike Leicester fans, it can’t be denied that they were brilliant for the first half. They filled both tiers and annoyingly enough had a catalogue of songs to fire out. They did quiet down when we started to get on top, but they were a decent loud set of fans overall. I also liked the ‘Chat Sh*t, Get Banged’ flag that they whipped out after their goal.
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