This report is coming a day late, simply because I wouldn’t want to rant at the readers, and with how I was feeling after that game, I would have certainly ranted.
Yesterday, Aston Villa suffered their first defeat of the 2017/18 campaign at the hands of Cardiff City, away from Villa Park. A normal defeat would have been acceptable, but being on the receiving end of a 3-0 drubbing which could have quite easily been 6-0 is nothing short of embarrassing.
The Villa defence could not keep up with the pace of Mendez-Liang, Zohore and co and looked like Sunday League footballers against Championship opposition for much of the game. This is something that needs to be addressed. Are we going to stick with a similar back four throughout the season and not change our line-up to the needs of the game? Is Bruce that tactically inept? Take one look at a highlight reel from Cardiff’s opening game and you will see that their side is filled with pace – so why would you pick a back four that can’t keep up with them? John Terry might be physically fit, but he’s not a mover anymore. Even James Chester looked off the cuff.
Early on in the game, we looked to be on the ball and Scott Hogan came relatively close to opening the scoring. Then there was a mistake by Sam Johnstone which nearly saw him palm the ball into his own net. That should have been a warning sign to the Villa faithful about how the day was going to pan out. Just 10 or so minutes later, Cardiff were 1-0 up. It remained this way until half-time.
During the first half, Henri Lansbury played like he had just returned from a hamstring injury. His passing was woeful, his tracking back terrible, and his movement around the pitch even worse. And don’t get us started on the free-kicks. Has he managed to get one on target yet? We’re wasting chances and opportunities from his poor free-kicks ending up halfway up the Holte.
Alan Hutton wasn’t much better. He’s a work horse, but sometimes I can’t see where his footballing brain is. He can run for a day and a half, but how often does something come from his running? He failed to track the runner behind him for the second Cardiff goal, and was caught out of position and required two other players to try and save his skin, (which evidently didn’t work) for the third goal.
Hopefully Elmohamady will be fit for the next weekend. Adomah looks a different man from the player we had last year, and almost looks bereft of confidence.
Callum O’Hare received his Championship debut, albeit of the bench, after Lansbury was taken off. He provided a spark in such a dreary game for the Villa fans, and showed the same tenacity that he did in Colchester mid-week. He’d have probably scored through the wonderful passing chain he started with Gabby, if it wasn’t for the former Villa captain being greedy and sending the ball into Row Z.
Fingers everywhere are crossed for Scott Hogan. Poor bloke. He might have scored in the cup on Tuesday, but he still looks bereft of confidence in front of goal. You can’t fault him though, he was one of the only players visibly trying to recover the ball when one of his team-mates had lost it.
For the Reading game on Tuesday, there needs to be changes in the first eleven. Johnstone can stay in goal, but I’d rather see Bree or De Laet taking the right side of defence from Hutton. Faith still lies in the duo of Chester and Terry, if the latter’s legs still work from the weekend defeat. Neil Taylor gets a place in the squad as long as he takes free-kicks over Lansbury.
In midfield, I’d like to see Gabby, Whelan, O’Hare or Hourihane and Bjarnason making up the four.
And up front, why don’t we try and get the big Scot scoring?! McCormack is no closer to leaving. Play him up front with Hogan as a partner.