Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Saturday, 29 December 2018

2018 Ends and Another Year Begins

Well, it's pretty clear that without Jack the Villa have lost a fair amount of rhythm these past few matches, and today's showing against Preston appears to have been mostly ragged.

But I think we ought to take encouragement from today’s Championship results. Norwich looked as though they were going to shade it 3-2 after leading 2-0 early on, and then Derby scored two late goals for them to win 4-3! As for leaders Leeds they significantly lost at home, 0-2.

With Albion dropping 2 points at home (as did Small Heath) we’re not in a bad position.

It’s clear that the top-6 teams are no great shakes – any of them – while Villa stand to improve over the next two months once we get a new couple of players in during January (we already have Elphick back) and Jack returns (in another 3 matches I understand) and gets back into a rhythm.

If those other clubs are going to continue to drop points as they did today we will undoubtedly take full use of that as I see it, and come back far more strongly than I thought we could after our Leeds defeat.

There's hope, even in the jaws of defeat. We cannot - and should not - take it for granted that other clubs will falter, but for some reason I see this point in the season as being the bottom of the valley, with a not-too-steep climb in front of us.


Later news is that Chester is carrying an injury and is one of the reasons why Elphick has been recalled.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Against The Albion

The Albion match - in my view - should have ended-up as a neatly packaged 4-2 win with the footballers earning their rewards for a calm display against some rough play … even Barry, from whom we should have gained a penalty.

Albion are a useful side, but the potential Premiership side in that match was clearly the Villa i.m.o. Yep, I’m biased.

But who would have thought that Abe would miss all 4 such chances he had? That absolute sitter in front of goal was actually quite amusing to me because you could see he was getting excited about receiving just the right ball for an easy goal. Unfortunately the ball was ever so slightly behind him, but clearly controllable for him to tuck away.

Well, next match he might score 6.

Nevertheless, it was those missed chances and the non-gained penalty that caused us to drop 2 points. Their last-fling equaliser – hugely flawed that it was – can’t be blamed for a non-win.

Perhaps this is equivalent to a ball-over-the-line situation and video evidence called for?

In this case I don’t blame the officials too much. They were not situated in a good enough position to decide and therefore video evidence is key.

Otherwise I believe in the old adage that you gain some, lose some. Constant analysis does tend to distract from the enjoyment of the game for me and we frankly should have been 2 or 3 goals ahead by then and not be worrying about what would have been a consolation freak to Albion.

Never mind. On paper it is a good result.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

It's Looking Bright! Isn't it?

It's looking as though there's good reason for optimism, doesn't it?

Against Boro, Villa’s play (particularly in the first 20 minutes, and in other periods) was compulsive viewing, without doubt. The play was forceful and during that first 20 minutes the home side looked mesmerised.

But Boro’s strength has been their defensive ‘quality’: they have only scored 22 in 20 games and yet are ‘up there’ in the table. And when the defence backstop (the keeper) demolishes the best of Pulis’s plans then Boro didn’t have a lot left to worry Villa – except on two notable occasions.

The first (when Villa were 1-0 up) was when Downing hit a piledriver that sadly for him hit his own player, who was given offside. That shot would at least have tested Nyland as it was very much on target. The second time was when a smart shot was tipped onto the bar by Nyland at a fairly critical juncture, even though we were 2-0 up. 2-1 at that point and anything might have happened – such is the way in which Pulis works.

But to feel happy with Villa’s general play is wholly justified. We just know that the defence can buckle from time to time (viz 5 against us vs Forest – but that may have been because of Chester not being 100% fit).

While we have forwards of the ilk of Abraham, Kodjia, Bolasie, El Ghazi and Albert, ably supported by the midfield, anything appears (now) to be ‘on’. And I do give credit to Smith’s work in such a short space of time.

But … let’s just see how the upcoming matches vs the likes of Albyun and Leeds pan out before we start believing we are going to win the division! If we do manage to get into the top 2 it will be a tremendous achievement after such a stuttering start to the season.