By Lou King
With Aston Villa back in the Premier League, MOMS resurrects ‘The Good, Bad & Ugly’ an old favourite column that started six years ago on the site, but has been in exile for almost three years…
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
After the disappointment of the opening away loss, the prospect of a home tie against Bournemouth had most Villans expecting a point or three to get the season up and running. Home soil, a spruced up stadium, a sell-out Villa Park rocking with noise, and the fans’ giddy enthusiasm for a fresh season, what could possibly go wrong?
Lets start with Trezeguet’s performance. He looked sharp in the Tottenham game, and seemed to continue on Saturday where he had left off. He’s spoken of his strong bond with Elmohamady for obvious Egyptian reasons, and they do seem to have a good understanding with some excellent link-up play.
Where others may have looked static he looked alert and energetic and mostly accurate – a healthy 87% passing completion rate. He looked like a player happy to run and work hard for the team. This should be a given at this level, but we have seen a remarkable number of lazy and selfish players over the years. It would have topped off his performance to see him score, but his best effort was cleared off the line in the first half.
The goal. Douglas Luiz took some stick for his “mistake”, when his step over outside Villa’s penalty box allowed Harry Wilson to run on and score Bournemouth’s second goal. But, apparently, he scored an invisible goal that many journalists and broadcasters have failed to spot.
For those that missed it, a Grealish assist saw him curl in a beautiful flighted ball. His goal rallied a then unusually quiet home crowd. He looked genuinely elated to have marked his home debut and tried to whoop up the crowd. His second half performance looked slicker with positive wide distribution. Hopefully, these are glimpses of what is to come and the reason Guardiola rated him.
Individual errors cost us three points, plain and simple. Tom Heaton’s very early rush-of-blood-to-the-head mistake was worrying but hopefully out of character with what we have previously seen from him. Athletic fingertip saves and lightning reactions in the preseason friendlies and the opening game have instilled a good level of confidence in him.
Momentary hesitancy saw him connect unnecessarily with Callum Wilson with barely a minute on the clock. The referee, Martin Atkinson had little option here, but I’m not sure what happened to his rational decision-making after that point. It’s lazy to blame the ref for a game not going our way. Guilty as charged. How Billing survived the first half without a red card was beyond most of us. Successive fouls on McGinn, Grealish and Luiz went unnoticed and unpunished. Apart from Eddie Howe who replaced him for the second half.
While it was nice to see Villa Park had received a new lick of paint, where was the half-time entertainment? Have we become too sophisticated now that we’re back in the Premier League to not have such high points as “Prize Where it Lies”?
We need that 15 minutes filled with something other than arguing with each other about the first half performance, who should get subbed and if there is any other option apart from McGinn for Man of the Match.
However dreadfully we have played in the first half, it was always reassuring to see that there are actually people who couldn’t kick a ball in a straight line.
I’ve been saving my Pride Points specially to nominate a family member to humiliate, so please let this be a one-off oversight.