Spirit, Muhammad Ali and Squad Power
An unexpected win and a reminder of what Villa Park should be like on a Saturday afternoon. The positives from such a dynamic result should hold Villa in good stead for the rest of the season, more than any other result so far. Here’s five reasons why…
1. The team’s belief in themselves was incredible. Most supporters expected nothing, several were bemoaning Lambert’s line-up before a ball was even kicked, but check out the Villa player’s celebration for the first equaliser. The way they celebrated with such gusto with their teammates on the bench suggested this wasn’t just going to be a consolation goal. The desire was there to do better. In fact, the players never-say-die attitude thankfully is the opposite of some Villa supporters!
2. There was a lot of fan internet hoo-ha about the 5-3-2 formation when it was announced, with Lambert being dismissed as clueless by the usual suspects. I said at the time, it seemed a logical formation to play. Did Villa fans really expect Villa without three or four of their better players to set-up to play Manchester City off the park?
The formation was set up to absorb City pressure and it worked as spectacularly as when Muhammad Ali used the boxing version – the rope-a-dope – to beat the heavy-hitting favourite George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974. Manchester City’s heavy hitters were kept at bay, as Villa’s formation absorbed their attacks with the five man defence making it hard for City to play through them or get around them. Villa’s only downfall was slack defending at two corner kicks. Then with the Villa’s young players team spirit and energy they picked off their opponents with some killer finishes.
3. I’ve mentioned before that man-for-man Villa might not have the best starting XI in comparison to a few Premier League teams, but they have a decent 15 or 16 players that can all play without weakening the team. Again, in the summer transfer window, while the first XI wasn’t necessarily strengthened, this pool of players that Lambert could rely on was. Decent performances from Kozák and Bacuna means we can now include them in this group.
4. If City had won it would have been Villa’s worst start at Villa Park since 1946, but back then, they could have blamed it on the after effects of the war! This result could go a long way to shaking off the recent Villa Park hoodoo and instilling confidence in the players to get to a double-figures amount of home wins in a season, that a team like Villa should command.
5. Who needs a clean sheet when you get a goal from midfield. Between them Sylla, Westwood, Delph and El Ahmadi have made well over hundred appearances for Villa, but El Ahmadi’s goal against Everton last season was the only league goal they’ve scored. KEA doubled the tally yesterday. Hopefully there’s a lot more to come. UTV
PS- I just wanted to mention another reason to be cheerful from midweek, that Mike Lines on MOMS Facebook pointed out. Thank god Nicklas Helenius wasn’t flying commando against Spurs!
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