After a dismal run of form, Villa put together two wins in four days – with no goals conceded – to give fans something to cheer about. What did we learn from the home wins over Derby County and Bristol City?
The win over Derby was nervy but it sent a message that Villa could actually the “better” teams in the division and not just those in the bottom third. But it wasn’t pretty.
After Chester’s bundled finish from a corner, the last minutes of the game left fans fearing the worst as Villa couldn’t get the ball out of their own final third. The final whistle was met with a sigh of relief that Villa hadn’t blown it as much as anything else.
But an unconvincing win is still a win and that winning feeling would have been carried over to Tuesday night. Success will breed success and clean sheets are the backbone of that aspiration.
Jonathan Kodjia missed another penalty – as he did against QPR. But like in that game at Loftus Road, he made amends with a goal anyway.
Clearly Kodjia is one of the most important players in this squad – especially given that of all the new arrivals, so many have failed to impress and been farmed out on loan.
Whether he is thriving now Hogan is out of his way still remains to be seen, but any chance of salvaging this season depends on Kodjia doing what he does best – taking his chances and silencing his critics (the Bristol City fans in this case).
GREEN FOR GO
The loss of Andre Green to injury for a month is typical of Villa’s fortune this season (not that it’s been down to bad luck).
Finally a youth product is given a chance and impressing consistently (not counting Grealish who suffers – in this column’s opinion – from pressure, partly of his own making, from his reputation and expectation).
Striking the woodwork twice proves his inches away from netting his first Villa goal and with the defense tightened up on the back of two clean sheets, it’s just a matter of time – when he gets back from his hamstring pull – before he becomes a goal threat in every game.
Speaking of clean sheets, Johnstone hasn’t been worked too hard in his last two games but he’s made big saves and won games which a few weeks ago might have ended in ties (the Derby game for sure).
The fickle nature of fans means he’s branded the scapegoat – with some good reason for his mishaps – but he should be recognised after playing his part in allowing no goals in the last two games. All Villa fans want is for players to do well and all can be forgiven with a few good performances.