This Is Villa Park

This Is Villa Park

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not The Dream Start We All Wanted

I suppose after two games we were expecting to be top of the league, turns out if we turn the table upside down we are. Not the story I wanted to be telling my boyfriend; who may I add supports Manchester United *cough* glory hunter *cough*; after his week away in Egypt. I would have preferred to have bragged about Villa's amazing start to the season, and United's loss to Everton. Unfortunately he'll probably enjoy tormenting me on the recent poor results of my beloved Aston Villa.

I say poor results, they have only been poor results. We've had decent displays, in patches in both matches. More so in the first game of the season, rather than the latter against a high flying Everton side who could be a force once again in the Premier League - maybe even this season's Newcastle. If that makes sense.

West Ham 1-0 Aston Villa
"We didn't have the cutting edge"

The start of the new Paul Lambert era and certainly a wave goodbye to Alex McLeish's saw the beginning of the 2012/13 Premier League season for Aston Villa. They begun at Upton Park, where facing them was Sam Alladyce's claret and blue men; the returning West Ham United that had just battled their way back into the top flight.

Memories of Gabby Agbonlahor's winner two seasons ago still lingered in the air, as well as a new found optimism from the travelling Villa faithful.

Getty Images
The game started in the visitors favour, summer signing Brett Holman spurned the first chance of the afternoon to test Jussi Jaskelainen after he found a pocket of space outside West Ham's area however the Australian blazed his right-footed effort wide of the goal.
Villa continued their dominance in possession and looked transformed from the languid unit which limped to an uninspiring 16th-placed finish in the league last year under McLeish. The approach work was well-intentioned as they passed the ball, just as if it was a new born, for long periods, enjoying the majority of possession.

Karim El Ahmadi was tidy in possession in central midfield alongside Fabian Delph, who mirrored the Morocco international superbly, while Stephen Ireland showed a neatness and vision on the ball which has seemed to desert him since his days at Manchester City.

The only problem was that despite the whole pretty possessional play business, we got no where with it. There was a lack of service for the big man Darren Bent, who was making his first league appearance since being injured in February. To be quite honest, he might as well have remained on the treatment table. It's not all his fault seeing as with no service, he won't score. He's that type of striker, let's face it, and the sooner we can get a forward that isn't afraid to get involved with play in the better. The memories of the ammunition Bent used to get from Ashley Young and Stewart Downing seemed as remote as ever.

West Ham did score in the 40th minute through a Kevin Nolan tap in, after a neatly taken free kick floated over the top of former Villa man James Collin's head, to the feet of Vaz Te who, oblivious to the linesman's flag slotted it to Nolan who passed it into the net. The offside flag had been raised however the referee over ruled the decision, leading to a questionable goal which was later resolved after seeing Match of the Day.


Aston Villa 1-3 Everton
"The early goal really knocked Villa"

It took exactly two minutes and thirty-five seconds to rock the home side on their heels, as Steven Pienaar’s beautiful early strike took the sting out of anything Villa might have had to offer.

With the roll of thunder rumbling before kick off, the added electrical change did nothing to ease the nerves of the fans, players or manager.

The Scot made three changes from the team that started the season off. Stephen Ireland, Fabian Delph and Brett Holman were replaced by Chris Herd, Barry Bannan and Nathan Delfouneso. Yet the changes seemed to make no difference as Steven Pienaar found plenty of space in a mix-matched midfield, where he let fire. His swirling shot flung into the back of the net, leaving Shay Given and the rest of Aston Villa Football Club stunned, gobsmacked in fact.

However, Everton weren't done yet. They came in waves. Wave after wave, attack after attack. One led to a second. Fellani's thumping (over exaggeration, just makes Given's mistake sound a little more comforting) header fumbled past the Irishman. Then two became three when Jelavic slotted neatly into the bottom left hand corner of the host's net after smart interplay between David Moyes' men.

Let me add this was all before half time. And once half time arrived the players were 'serenaned' to a chorus of boos from the crowd.

Some habits never die hard.

The introduction of Brett Holman after half time seemed ineffective for the first part of the second half as Everton carried on their vibrant display at Villa Park.

Matters turned even more sour when Jelavic strode free, with Ciaran Clark not far behind. With a clip of the heels, the big man fell to the ground. A red card was shown, and that was that. Villa were down to ten men, three nil down.

Comeback was quite surely off.

However, Karim El Ahmadi perhaps ignited a little fire that burned inside when he found a small bit of space in a compacted Everton setup. Encouraged by the fans to let rip, he well and truly did. His shot, taking a slight deflection on the way, dipped and twisted before spiralling past the fingertips of Tim Howard.
Despite getting a goal back, and showing character in the closing twenty minutes. Not even the clever work of Holman, who released a ball straight into the path of substitute Andreas Weimann whose shot came back of the post, could get just one more goal back in a match that had been dead and buried in the first half.


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