After much anticipation the season began. Villa had the worst possible opponent to begin its season with a bunch of new faces on show. There is the excitement of seeing the new players and the nervousness of them not gelling.
To start, Villa had given debuts to Veretout, Richards, Amavi, Gueye (now known as Gana) and Ayew. Bournemouth used just one new boy, King.
The first half, both sides looked to keep possession with chances a premium. Bournemouth seemed to adapt better to the hard, fast and small pitch and lined the wingers up hugging the touchline and spraying passes out wide to them and causing Bacuna and especially Amavi all kinds of problems. Amavi got himself into all sorts of trouble, but recovered well and you could see why he led his league in interceptions last season. Villa tried to use the stronger left wing, but mis-judging the pitch often meant passes ran out of play ending counter attacks.
Neither keeper was troubled too much in the first half an hour, Boruc not at all. Ayew showed some nice touches, but faded as the half wore on to the point where I wondered if he had just left the ground. But, there was no service from Gana or Veretout, who were too busy being over-run in midfield to think about attacking.
Bournemouth will take a few scalps this season and Villa should have been its first. The Cherries will have to learn to be more clinical in the box in this division. On 36 minutes Richards’ poor clearance presented a goal on a platter, but the forward took too much time and Clark got a foot in, but it set up Gosling with an easier chance, however he skied the ball over the goal.
Guzan made a smart leg save from Wilson, again the forward should have been sharper.
Bournemouth had a couple of players carded for professional fouls, one after a decent Gabby run that he had seemed to over-run the ball. Bacuna’s free kick wasn’t great, hitting a head and going for a corner. Gana also had a shot that didn’t trouble the goalie.
Guzan had to make a reflex stop on the stroke of half time, however despite his decent command of the box and two saves his distribution continues to be appalling, despite a well shared video over the summer showing him making a perfect pass and this cannot continue or Sherwood will bring out the axe again.
First minute of the second half looked much like the first, as Villa went immediately on the back foot as Ritchie again tormented on his wing. But, Villa’s passing was sharper and quicker and suddenly there were signs of life. Gabby went through on goal and should have shot, but pulled the ball back to Gana, who had to rush his shot which was smartly saved.
But, it was better from the visitors. Veretout showed his promise with a great pass to Gabby down the wing, while Gana looks like a feisty box to box player.
Ayew again showed nice skills with 3 players on him, but lost the ball as he seemed to be wearing down. Sherwood began to ready Gestede and the Villa faithful roared their approval.
Amavi caught Gosling late as the left back was trying to get down the wing, but the Bournemouth midfielder won the race. There was a stoppage of play as the player received treatment and it turned out to be the perfect time for a substitution. Gestede ran on to shouts of ‘Rudy!’ and waved to the crowd who got louder causing the new signing to wave again.
Bournemouth had Kermorgant also come on a few minutes earlier and he looked to get into the game within seconds and looking busy, but Villa fans had to wait a few agonizing moments of defending before he got involved. His first touches were way back in Villa’s own half and it was a pass every bit as good as Veretout’s earlier pass to Gabby.
A poor cross in was mis-hit by a defender straight to Gabby who shot, but the ball deflected to Gestede who tried to volley, but it went inches wide.
Villa won a third corner after a decent cross was headed clear. Westwood’s ball in was great and Gestede thundered in the powerfully head home the game’s first goal. Harsh on Bournemouth, but a lesson they’ll soon learn. “Rudy” was the chant around Dean Ct.
Villa got pegged back as the home team pushed back. Gradel came on as a sub on the left wing and immediately looked like the best player on the pitch, twisting Bacuna this way and that before crossing. The header had no power and Clark cleared from under his bar.
Gestede was winning most of his battles with a centre forward display reminiscent of Andy Gray’s debut in 1976. Gabby ran at Bournemouth but finished with a weak shot.
Villa was getting a little panicky and tackles good and bad were flying in and Westwood was guilty of time wasting getting a card and Bacuna plus Guzan both were fortunate not to get carded also.
It’s a good start for Villa, but only matches where we were last season. Bournemouth may lose their next 2, but cannot let heads drop and the fans need to stick with them.
Guzan 6 Fine, but his footwork was appalling
Bacuna 6 Shown up a bit by Gradel
Richards 7 Got better as the game went on. Need cover, he will get injured.
Clark 7 Composed
Amavi 6.5 Sloppy at times, made up for it with good speed
Gana 6.5 Promising player
Veretout 6 Will be a good signing
Westwood 6.5 Same as always, steady
Sinclair 6.5 Industrious tries to do too much at times
Ayew 5.5 The missing link between attack and midfield at times
Agbonlahor 6.5 Quiet game, but showed some flashes
Gestede 7.5 Great start.
Sanchez 5.5 Came on a started well, nice first pass, then faltered
Richardson N/A not really enough time to do much.