Aston Villa salvaged a point after coming from three goals behind against Sheffield United last night.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)
Aston Villa somehow managed to salvage a point at home to high-flying Sheffield United last night, here’s five talking points from the game;
Lack of creativity through the centre
Villa have had this problem ever since Jack Grealish got injured, but the absence of a creative midfielder was particularly telling against the Blades. Nearly every time we went forward we had to go wide. A lack of runners in the centre meant we were excessively passing backwards which in turn slowed the play down. Sure, Villa pulled it back to 3-3, but Thomas Frank and Brentford will be prepared for this predictable style of attacking on Wednesday.
Full backs struggling again
Position-wise, Neil Taylor and Alan Hutton had a stinker. Gary Madine’s run dragged Taylor inside allowing George Baldock more time on the ball than he should’ve had for United’s second. Both Taylor and Jedinak were at fault for a lack of communication for the third; Chris Basham’s lobbed pass found an unmarked Kieran Dowell down the right, the latter then made headway into the box prior to crossing to Billy Sharp for his hat-trick. As for captain Hutton, his narrow style of defending meant the likes of Enda Stevens had time to weigh up crosses on multiple occasions.
Poor refereeing costing Villa again
It seems this season has been worse than any other for Championship referees. Two months ago, Jay Rodriguez rescued the Baggies a point against us after steering the ball over the line with his arm, but official Tony Harrington arguably made a worse mistake for Sheffield United’s second. Lovre Kalinic clearly had to two hands on the ball after gathering Madine’s shot off the post, but Sharp kicked the ball out of the Croatian’s palms to score. Villa should’ve had at least one penalty too, with Blades’ defenders pulling the shirts of Tyrone Mings and John McGinn during set-pieces.
Johnathan Kodjia and Mile Jedinak were our two worst performers on the night, so it was only logical to take them off for Andre Green and Glenn Whelan respectively. Green’s last-minute equaliser from John McGinn’s cross was a lot trickier finish than it looked. It’s something the winger has been working on too, as revealed in his post-match interview. Whelan was just as impressive after coming on just past the hour mark and proved to be a massive upgrade on Jedinak. The Irishman distributed some important passes and is surely in contention to start on Wednesday.
Never leave early, especially at Villa Park
3-0 down, eight minutes left, the temptation to beat the traffic is there, but if you’ve been watching Villa this season you’ll know we love a late goal. So far this campaign you’ve got Bolasie’s 91st minute leveller in the 3-3 at home to Preston, Kodjia’s 95th minute header against Brentford and Birkir Bjarnson’s sliding winner against Wigan. Until the fat lady sings.