The victory against Hull on Sunday ensured that the Villans will stay in the lofty heights of third in the Premier League for at least the next two weeks.
The 2-1 win meant that Lambert’s men picked up seven points out of a possible nine from the opening games against Stoke City, Newcastle United and Hull City. It wasn’t all positive though, as last Wednesday the Villans lost to Leyton Orient by a single goal to nil, which meant we were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by lower league opposition yet again. It was a frustrating evening: even though we didn’t have the strongest squad out, we still had enough quality on the pitch to win. We wasted numerous chances and, inevitably, the League One side converted an opportunity very late on, giving the home side no chance of coming back into the game.
Before the our first game of the season against Stoke, I think most fans had predicted Villa to gain a minimum of four points from our first three games, which would have been reasonable, but it was nevertheless imperative that we got as many points on the board, especially with the next five games we’ve got coming up:
(H) Man City
Those will be very tough fixtures, and that is why having a good start to the season was very important.
Although last season was poor, some of the highlights did include victories against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City, while a draw with Liverpool at Anfield was also a decent result.
It seems that Paul Lambert doesn’t have a problem getting his team fired up and ready for the games against the big boys but seems to struggle against the teams in and around us in the table. However, with the new players he has brought in, including the return of the ‘bomb squad’ players, we now have strength and quality in depth – something we haven’t had in a very long time.
Ironically, before the match against Hull on Sunday, Villa was the only team in the Premier League yet to concede a goal. It’s extremely pleasing to see that Lambert bought defenders he believed will improve our defence, despite some reservations the fans (myself included) had about certain players. We now look solid at the back, which means we can focus on going forward and giving some our of players, who were previously told to sit back to protect the defence, more freedom to go up the pitch and create chances. Fabian Delph is finally expressing himself more and more every game, which is brilliant to see. Often being labelled as clumsy, fans initially thought that he had an extremely poor first touch and little control on the ball. But, as he has shown in the last two years, he actually has exceptional close control on the ball and his dribbling ability is also causing problems for other teams. It is not just the Villa fans who see this now – more and more people are seeing this, including Roy Hodgson, as Delph was called up to the England squad for their upcoming fixtures.
The game on Sunday was very good from our perspective. In the first half we were great – and it’s always pleasing to see Gabby Agbonlahor score. Andi Weimann was industrious as ever; he assisted Agbonlahor’s goal and also scored one with a great finish. We created various chances and looked solid at the back again, despite conceding a rather unlucky goal.
Although I shouldn’t laugh, the fouls that Grealish won for the team were brilliant to see. His reputation is growing and more and more teams are becoming aware of his abilities, hence the need to foul him before he can cause some damage. I might be a bit too optimistic here but I think he will be to us what Ross Barkley is to Everton, if we can tie him down to a contract soon that is!
We have a two week break now for the international fixtures but I’m sure most Villa fans would have preferred not to have the season interrupted at this early stage. We have some momentum and it’s not ideal that we have to hope that each one of our international players comes back in one piece, free from injuries. Hopefully, with the return of Libor Kozak and our talisman, Christian Benteke, not too far away, the whole situation has changed from last season and we now have a squad that features quality players who are good enough to finish comfortably mid-table.