Before the game started, I was in the middle of writing a preview for the site which talked about how our best hope to take anything from this game was to keep a clean sheet and aim for the draw. This was followed by the more realistic approach that Southampton would score against us and we would not be able to outscore them. I topped it off by predicting that we would lose 0:1 and be relegated this season, but I was cowardly and couldn’t bring myself to post such negativity because it hurt me and i’m glad I never.
Last night, mainly in the first half of the game, Villa showed spirit. Maybe it was because of the record low attendance? Maybe it was because we were being broadcast live on MNF? Maybe it was the idea that we were playing a top team and in true Villa tradition, these are the games we tend to show up for? (Not the ones that should be won on paper). Whatever the reason, it gave me hope.
We were playing an inform Southampton, who I personally really admire and hope that they go on to get Champions League. They are the team that we thought we had become a few seasons back. They have done it right on every level. Stripped and pilgrimed of their best players over one summer, they stepped up, spent well and employed their youth system which vastly out strips ours. They have set a standard for English football and I admire that. With that said, we were facing a very strong and confident side and had nothing to offer in comparison. Our defence was injured, untried, untested. Our attack was non existent and our midfield could easily be described as unchallenging. Yet it was us who came out and took the game to them.
Gabriel Agbonlahor became the player of old and it was exciting. No player wanted to be caught with the ball whilst this bull charged at them and it paid off when he scored a cracking goal. It was well deserved and this is why I love Gabby. He has a dying passion for the club and each game he plays with every ounce he can offer.
The defence was on form, there was an instant connection and it has been mentioned already on this site but Clark should get praise for stepping up. Call me fickle because I’ve hated on him for a long time, but credit where credit is due. He is playing real football and it looks like he is actually thinking about what he is doing. If anything, Okore was the worse of the two, but I’m stretching there as they both had a good game.
Hutton was a star and pressing force. Where has this player come from? He deserves every bit of credit because he has turned his career around. In many games, he has been the player taking shots and pressing forward and he is a right back!
We had chances and we countered a lot but we lacked real creativity.
- Cissokho once again demonstrated his inability to go forward and make a decent cross.
- N’zogbia attempted to take players on and failed the majority of the time. He also wasted a decent freekick.
- The entire midfield seems to not want to get on the score sheet, or even forward.
- Second half performance dropped considerably and substitutes where awful.
Wiemann’s shot towards the end was an absolute disgrace. We are a team that needs every opportunity and should be scoring in these positions. Take a look at Clyne’s strike and he is a defender! To top things off, Wiemann should have tracked back to mark Clyne. I now think it is time that he gets benched and we, come Christmas, utilise the likes of Callum Robinson. I think he is ready for the step up and let’s be honest here, we could do no worse than not scoring already right? The youngster is having a cracking season out on loan, full of confidence and I’d like to see that converted into the senior squad.
Lambert deserves his own section here. This was not his worst game, in fact, I actually agreed with his starting formation and was excited from the get go. My issue with Lambert was his choice of substitutes because putting Bent on does not exactly scream “GO FOR THE WIN”. This again cements my thoughts behind bringing Robinson through in the winter (but also looking to purchase another striker…or two). We do not have the team for a Bent set up because we can barely get the ball in the box as it is, let alone directly to his feet.
Richardson was another poor choice for me, maybe because I do not like him as a footballer. I think he lacks creativity, effort and isn’t the greatest at passing. I would have much rather seen Grealish get a run out.
Before this game started, I was in it for the draw at best but then I got greedy because I saw the lion inside of our squad and genuinely believed that we could take all 3 points from a shaken Southampton. As much as we really needed those points to distance us from our recent annual squatting position, the point is a very good result and I’m going to say something which is a bit out there now….
We will beat Burnley.
We will draw to Crystal Palace.
We will beat Leicester
We will beat the Albion and the lose to Man U.
This is not confidence in Lambert, I hope he still gets sacked. This is confidence in a team who showed something last night. I believe.