So there were only two of us who had to work this evening and things were going really well, so I decided we were going to sneak in and watch the game in the office.
Unfortunately, the other chap is a Bluenose.
We all have our failings I guess, but in fairness, he’s pretty level-headed and actually doesn’t want the Villa to be relegated, as he wants all the Midland clubs in the Prem.
Anyway, it turned out to be really interesting, analysing the game with the enemy and I want to first concentrate on what he thought, even though I know your immediate reaction will be that you don’t care what a Bluenose thinks.
Bear with me.
In short, he thought we played really well, particularly in the second half, where he said we bossed the game and deserved the win.
Ultimately he went on to say that he couldn’t see what the problem was; a point at Newcastle was a very good one, considering who they’ve beaten in their last two games and if we keep playing like that (and the second half against Arsenal, which he also watched) we won’t have a problem, as bleak as it might seem just now.
I of course replied, that while I’d normally be pretty happy with that point, we need wins and anything less won’t do.
To which, he offered what I think on reflection was some sage advice in “Take the point. It wasn’t a loss and your lads will take something away from that”.
And you know, I suspect he just might be right.
We talked about Sanchez throughout the game and I explained that I thought he broke play up really well and gets his foot in, but gets slated for giving the ball away.
Hence a few minutes were spent watching him closely and indeed, my workmate agreed with me as we watched him do just what I said. Only to give the ball away easily.
That said, it was noticeable that we generally gave the ball away a lot less today, something that has to improve our chances.
I also thought we were getting more of the awkward bounce, or second balls, or dare I say it, a bit more luck overall.
For once I got the feeling that things just weren’t going against us all of the time, like it’s seemed for a long while.
This has to be down to improved workrate, something else I noticed about us.
The lads were actually showing they have something about them.
There were of course still the sideways and backwards passes, but I got the feeling that we were trying to get it up there more quickly.
Remi Garde says we need to up the intensity and it’s something I strongly agree with. We came out of the traps really well in the second half and had Newcastle on the back foot, big time in my opinion.
But that’s where we failed today.
For much of that second half, my workmate was saying “you’ll win this”, although that was balanced by him saying we needed to watch the counter.
I mentioned in the last article that it was a fine line between going for it and getting caught out, or being a bit more careful.
I’m 50-50, as I believe if we’d got Traore on, he might have scared the proverbial out of the Newcastle defenders, but was that water-soaked pitch really the right sort of surface for him to come on to?
I personally think that sort of surface was more likely to cause an injury to Traore himself, so Garde was right not to play him.
But we perhaps could have put one of the flair players on in an attempt to take it to them more than we did.
Then again though, Newcastle had some great chances, so perhaps Garde was again correct to not change things?
Our defence is still shocking, another reason we had to be careful.
Where was the man at the back post for Newcastle’s goal?
While I’m beginning to think Garde’s thoughts are starting to be taken onboard by the team overall, it seems little has changed at the back and it’s still schoolboy type mistakes.
As for Ayew’s goal, well it was just stunning wasn’t it?
I didn’t think for a minute he had a chance of scoring from where he was and the pair of us were simply open-mouthed for a second.
Well done and a deserved MOTM award, I reckon.
As for the rest of the team, well I’m not sure I can single out too much.
Okore looked pretty solid.
Yes, Sanchez gave it away a few times. I like him, I know many of you don’t, so I won’t comment further.
Sinclair was again fairly anonymous, but I didn’t particularly notice him tracking back so much this time.
Gestede? Well, I’m not convinced, but don’t think he was particularly bad.
Indeed, it’s hard to slate anybody when we’ve got an away point combined with an improved overall performance, even though we think three points is the only acceptable result.
But it’s hard to get away from my workmates opinion, where we only need to go on a two or three game run, while other teams suffer and things might look very different.
After all, we all know the Prem has many twists and turns to come.
The point is, I still have a few straws to clutch at and it ain’t over until the fat lady sings “It’s (mathmatically) impossible”, that old Perry Como classic.
As for my “gutless bunch of wimps” comment, I happily take it back.