Villa could not get back to winning ways on the opening day of the season. The game was decided 4 minutes from time following an error from new boy Pierluigi Gollini, reminiscent of last season’s problems from Brad Guzan.
It was a little tough on Villa who had overcome a disappointing first half and were looking the better side in the second in a game where chances were of the premium.
It seemed the Villans had a heavy case of new season nerves and nobody wanted the ball. DiMatteo has carried on the work from the back mantra and his only choices were ever Elphick or, well it seemed to be just Elphick. His options were Baker or back to Gollini. Then, Westwood would pop up and his pass would go back to Elphick and it would all start over. There was no width to choose from and Gardner and Ayew or McCormack weren’t interested in coming back to help either.
In the end the ball would be lumped to Gestede and Sheffield scooped up the loose ball pass back to their Westwood in goal and he would zip the ball out and Wednesday would soon be back on the attack again.
The second half was better, with Cissokho a little more available, but I’m not sure Villa’s improvements in the second half were due to this or Wednesday running a little out of steam. But, it was a pass out to Cissokho that caused the goal. The defender had nobody to pass to and no clue of what to do, but his back pass to Gollini was a little slow and the Italian mis-fired his kick, Elphick’s header pinged off FORESTIERI and another player bouncing perfectly for the former Watford striker to run in and beat Gollini.
The players: Gollini: Made some nice saves, took two crosses, but dropped one of them but fell on it, before the ref gave him a phantom free kick. Think the Villa mad consensus is correct. We need a veteran back there.
Hutton: Instead of tearing this league up, he looks out of his depth. Everyone got by him easily, and when he gets forward he is just bumped off the ball, which at least draws a foul. His crossing is still poor.
Elphick: Very commanding. Talks nonstop to his defenders. Bravely went into a header leaving both players with blood gushing out. Not great on the ball when there are no options to pass to.
Baker: Not, sure if he ended up in the book, but was 20 minutes late on a tackle. He should have had a penalty by the law of the game when Hutchinson pulled his shirt back and didn’t let go in the area. May have been harsh though considering where it all went down with no real goal threat, but the law is the law.
Cissokho: No surprises. Looked better in the second and his crosses were improved.
Gardner: Terribly disappointing. If Baker was 20 minutes late on a tackle he was an hour late and was lucky to get away with two bookable offences before his third one before half time. Need Jedinik type player here.
Westwood: Also made a nasty tackle a split second before Gardner’s first. Did not help the defence much or do much of anything as far as passing. He did his two nice shots that both went a yard or two wide. Hey, closer than any of Gana’s shots last season.
Bacuna: He finds the Championship as hard as the Premiership. Maybe the Irish division can give his route to Champions League football? Was it him who actually gave up trying to get to a ball because two defenders were coming in at the same time? After seeing Elphick and Fletcher going through brick walls, that should have been enough to inspire anyone.
Ayew: PASS MAN!!! We love seeing your silky skills Jordan, but one touch can be just as easy on the eye. You have the number 10 on your back. Make yourself available and take the pass and lay it back off or pass it elsewhere. Taking on three players on the left wing line is usually not going to get you far.
McCormack: Not very impressive in the first half; looking sharper in the second. Should have got his shot away when one on one with the keeper. Not really fast enough to have taken that closer.
Gestede: Some nice flick-ons. He never really got much service.
Tshibola: Not much to see. Broke up a couple of plays, so I guess that’s what he’s there for and that is an improvement on Gardner and Westwood.
Grealish: Looked electric at first. Once Wednesday grabbed the lead it seems his languid style isn’t built for coming from a goal down.
Green: He’s a lively kid. Caused a couple of problems and was not far off latching on to a poor back pass within seconds of coming on.
Overall, it was not a game I expected us to win and last season we would have been done by half-time. But, we need signings. A midfield leader, a tricky winger would give us options, a right back and Amavi to heal.