Wow, another game another goaless result. We truly are in the middle of something special here at the Villa…
In recent years Aston Villa have found this ability to only do one thing at a time and during this stage in the season our chosen ability is possession. Now of course, possession is a great thing for any team, but as we have proven on more than one occasion earlier on in the season, you can have less than 40% and still win the game.
We started the game with Gabby, Benteke and Wiemann up front in what I can only assume was the hope that given consistent back to back games (as if they haven’t had all season last season and the season prior), the trio would finally start to form some kind of bond and score some goals between them against a team that is struggling just a bit more than us and in previous years would have been considered an easy 3 points. This was not the case.
From the get go, we held the majority of possession (74% in the first half) and passed the ball mostly through the midfield and defence. I actually thought our defence and midfield looked as strong as they have ever been. A lot of people may argue, but Bacuna looked good on the pitch, fancied his chances in front of goal (those that rarely appeared) and liked to try more creative passes. This was proven on the 9th minute when he broke forward with a refreshing attacking purpose only to rush the shot and miss. There was a perfectly good opportunity to pass to Gabby on the right hand side of the box as he had made a good run and was in plenty of space, but at the time, I remember thinking that i’m glad he shot because a lot of our players would have been too shy to attempt anything. In hindsight, I wish he had passed the ball.
The first 10 minutes of the game was a shaky one for Crystal Palace as they sat all men behind the ball until they figured out our game plan. It was also a bit depressing for us as the inevitable happened and Vlaar took a knock to the knee which minutes later ended his day.
Different matter entirely but I believe that Ron Vlaar should leave the club during this transfer window and we should attempt to maximise the selling price whilst he is still considered world class through his world cup appearance. He is old, very injury prone and with fresher legs on the bench who are proving themselves to be more than capable, it is time to let go.
Clarke was brought on to replace him and he did a more than good enough job as he put his body on the line later in the game to prevent a tap in goal.
Crystal Palace, although achieving less chances, they always seemed to be the ones that would score if given the opportunity and it almost happened when Bolasie burst through the line completely tearing the just on Clarke and Okore apart and hitting the cross bar in th e process. We was lucky and credit to Clarke for not taking the foul and red card for the team because it would have been a easier decision to make.
The only major intake from the pair came from Okore in the 11th minute when he scuffed he ball allowing Delaney to force Guzan into a save. He did save and it was offside anyway.
The game was pretty lack lusting, Sanchez seemed to play both defensive mid and at times he actually looked like the 3rd CB and the rest of the time he was a play maker. His work rate was incredible, it’s just a shame the front 3 did not match this notion.
Between the 3 forwards, the style can only be described as static and appalling. Benteke’s presence may be a nice pressure for the opposition, but what is the point if it isn’t utilised? The same happened with Bent. He didn’t help either as he expected the ball to be passed, at least he was there to receive it when it was passed.
Before the review gets too long winded, lets take a look at Grealish who replaced Cleverly with 25 minutes to go. He did make some mistakes this game, but in the big picture, the mistakes was results from him trying to break the defence and make the space for the rest of the team. His first touch of the ball got us a corner and it is getting to the point now where he must start a game and I honestly believe that Blackpool is the best opportunity to start and test the youngster. I’d also like to see Robinson get some play time and I mean why not? Why not test these players who want to play for us and score for us?
I’ve honestly got to stop writing now because I’m becoming wound up with the thoughts of if and why.
I think overall, Villa may not be scoring but the possession is a positive and the way our defence and midfield are starting to work together is a very good sign. We now lack the effort from the forward 3 who in my opinion should all have their wage packets docked for inconsistently failing to do the job they are being paid to do.
This transfer window needs a heavy enthuses on attacking ability with a glancing look at bringing in another CB to replace Vlaar. If we sell both delph and vlaar, we should have a good bit of pocket especially if Lerner adds more to the pot (and I believe he will).
This club still has the potential to be something great, we are keeping clean sheets, we are keeping possession, we now need to keep goals coming.
Mr cheese out hahahaha!