Aston Villa’s latest match against Crystal Palace has been clouded by a decision by referee Kevin Friend. But there’s another cloud that needs to be addressed.

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The latest Aston Villa game ended in an uproar that has not been seen within a Villa game for some time, with fans at the stadium and on social media expressing their vitriol towards the game’s referee, Kevin Friend, amidst his decision to disallow Henri Lansbury’s equaliser on the brink of full time.

It was a mistake – we all make them – but a referee’s mistake can often prove costly in the grand scheme of things and they’re one of the focal points of a football game, making them targets for abuse. Friend blew his whistle pre-emptively for a ‘dive’ from Aston Villa Captain Jack Grealish, which on further reflection was an incorrect decision. VAR could not intervene with the decision to disallow Henri Lansbury’s goal, as the whistle had already gone.

Whilst this decision has clouded matchday for Aston Villa fans, there’s a danother cloud looming despite the evident injustice against the side.

It’s not time to panic by any means, there’s an entire season left to play. There’s no need to get on players backs, or anything of the sort. But things need to change going forward from the international break.

Aston Villa were expected to perform well against Crystal Palace, another side that are tipped for relegation this season – or at least match them in the game – but that just didn’t happen.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

There was no venom within any Aston Villa attack and it showed throughout as the visitors just did not test Roy Hodgson’s side.

Things need to improve in this regard. It has been a tough start to the season, and the boys did well against Everton last weekend and came away with three points despite being under the cosh for much of the game. But against other sides like Crystal Palace, there needs to be more intent from Dean Smith’s side.

Regardless of Aston Villa’s historical standing, we are underdogs in this league and likely to struggle against the vast majority of opposition, especially those who are expected to be propping up the top of the table this season.

Villa looked limp against Palace, and once again the players were the master’s of their own downfall after a miscommunication between Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings let Jordan Ayew in to score the only (official) goal of the game. Things weren’t helped by the sending off of Trézéguet by any means, but Aston Villa didn’t really look up to scratch before that.

There are things to take into account in regards to the performance. But everyone will have expected better, especially Dean Smith. A poor showing against Palace now can come back to bite you. It’s too early to judge, yes, but it’s early enough to make changes.

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