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…
By Lou King
Friday night saw Villa’s first evening Premier League match of the season, at a scorching Villa Park against Everton. While the sight of Gary Neville extracting score predictions from fans outside the ground was a painful watch, the action inside Villa Park was much easier on the eye.
So much to be positive about but lets start with the amazing atmosphere. The noise levels had been disappointingly low at the Bournemouth game – but against Everton, it sounded like every fan was in fine voice and behind each player for the entire match.
The best home atmosphere for a league game in a good while.
Overall, it was a solid team performance. From the 20th minute onwards it was exactly the style of football that I want to see at Villa. The commitment, the effort, and the creativity were amazing.
It was good to see Jota and Frederic Guilbert start – with no disrespect to El Ghazi, we had seen interesting flashes of ingenuity from Jota in the pre-season games and were keen to see more.
They were thankfully in abundance on Friday, most noticeably receiving a pass from a quickly taken Grealish free kick, and then sliding the ball through intelligently to find Wesley on a surging run. The Brazilian forward finished the move beautifully; guiding the ball past Everton’s Pickford for his first goal for Villa. Cue scenes of jubilation from the player, the team and the Villa faithful.
Guilbert put in a passionate and intelligent performance. His reference from Caen, where he had stayed on loan last season, came with a clear indication that he is a committed and touch tackler; receiving nine yellow and one red card during 34 matches.
Wesley looks like a great buy – shame on those moaning that he had been a waste of money after just two games. He’s physical, pacey and not afraid to step up for his team mates – as seen after a shocking foul on Trezeguet by Everton’s Coleman.
The match was sealed with a very late goal by substitute El Ghazi – adding another to the mass tally goals the ‘Beat the Traffic’ early leavers missed last season. Not for the first time in the match, Wesley held up the play to square the ball to McGinn. A nice forward pass found El Ghazi who slotted home at close range.
It was pleasing to see such a comprehensive team performance which harvested our first points of the season. For those who just scanned the results and stats (0 corners won, 35% of possession etc) it wasn’t a fluke, it wasn’t an awful performance by Everton, Villa simply played really well, hopefully boosted by an incredibly supportive and happy crowd.
Unusually, there were few elements for me to moan about. The low evening sun was in my eyes a bit and the Villa bar staff are still incredibly slow, but I can live with such inconveniences.
For me, the disappointment came in the first 20 minutes when I worried that we were going to have another sluggish start to a match. Everton are an undisputed good side with three successive top 8 finishes in the Premier League. Villa weren’t really expected to get much out of the game.
For those opening minutes Villa seemed static and likely to concede. Everton broke quickly and effectively on the counter attack and I through we rode our luck a little, I’d like to see us start a home match in a more incisive and composed manner.
Ugly and yet it strangely transfixed me. I am, of course, talking about the McGinn video (see below).
If the three points wasn’t enough to put a massive smile on my face; this beauty of a clip certainly was. For those of you who were maybe trapped down a well this weekend and not able to access social media, our John seemingly knows all the words (and moves) to Steps’ 5-6-7-8.
I’m still grinning three days later and have a dreadful earworm.