Aston Villa came from behind to rescue a point against Hull City yesterday evening.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
Goals from James Chester and Tammy Abraham wrestled back a point for Villa against the high-flying Tigers. Here’s five talking points from the game;
James Chester has struggled to hit the heights of last season in terms of form, and by no means was the Welshman faultless today. However, Chester did prove to be a key man in securing Villa the point. With just over five minutes gone, Kamil Grosicki’s shot deflected off Tommy Elphick and would’ve gone in had Chester not been in the right position to hook the ball away. It’s not the first time he’s done it this campaign either, with a goal-saving clearance against Bolton back in November. It was Chester’s goal that started Villa’s comeback too, getting in front of his man to head in Conor Hourihane’s free-kick.
A mixed bag from Lovre Kalinic
Lovre Kalinic is having a ropey start to life at Villa. In the first-half, the Croatian came for a cross but completely missed it, luckily it was headed onto the roof of the net. Soon after the Croatian let Jarrod Bowen’s shot squirm under him for Hull’s opener. Kalinic redeemed himself somewhat at the end though, making a crucial one-handed save to deny Chris Martin from close range..
Smith goes 4-4-2
Villa fans have been calling out for Dean Smith to play the more traditional 4-4-2 system, and when Birkir Bjarnason came off for Johnathan Kodjia with quarter of an hour to go, the former Brentford boss did just that. It worked too, with the Pride moving the ball around faster and the wingers more interested in getting the ball into the box. Smith might not start with this system all to often in upcoming games, but today’s draw has shown it’s certainly a viable formation to change to with Villa needing a goal late on.
Birkir Bjarnason struggling
Birkir Bjarnason has looked off the boil since he’s come back into the fold at Villa. The Icelander’s attacking contribution was poor today despite seemingly playing in a more advanced midfield role. Bjarnason missed two scorable headers in the second half and took too long to control a cross field ball in the box at one point before seeing it cleared. His 55% pass accuracy summed up his performance, as did his yellow card – stretching to make amends for his miss control of Neil Taylor’s pass.
We shouldn’t expect play-offs?
It may sound extremely pessimistic but hear me out. We’ve conceded two goals or more in each of the last six home games, and the gap between us and sixth has now grown to seven points, so on current form play-offs is unlikely. By no means is it mission impossible, but Smith hasn’t built his own squad yet and good performances should be cheered as well as good results going forward. Sometimes you’ve got to take one step back to take two forward.