The Arsenal game on Sunday was not one that I expected anything from. Without even taking into account a combined score of 12-0 to the Arsenal over three games last campaign and having not beaten them at Villa Park for exactly seventeen years, I had written it off before a ball was kicked. The simple reason was because we are rank. There were fleeting moments of good play but we lack the clinical edge up front whilst also having that really annoying habit of being our own worst enemy at the back.
I do not like writing a blog every week that picks apart our players. Nothing would give me more pleasure than being able to write something positive about our club but I’ve got nothing. There is nothing to be positive about regarding Aston Villa Football Club, nothing at all. I used to try to be positive: I wasn’t one for criticising players or being negative about those who wore our shirt. At present, it is unavoidable. You’ve killed my spirit, Aston Villa Football Club.
Within eight minutes of kick-off, I had remembered why I was so frustrated with Alan Hutton a few weeks earlier when he made two errors that cost us against Watford. He is quite simply a defensive liability. He is not alone but his performances sum up why we are in this mess. When playing against a player like Theo Walcott, who I am sure was put on the left wing to isolate the Scotsman, you have to give yourself a chance. His positioning in general defensively has been less than stellar for weeks, tucking in when he doesn’t need to and, like many Villa players, he has been more reactive than pro-active. Getting out-muscled by Theo Walcott is not acceptable and led to him having to give away the penalty. Teams are not having to work hard to score against us. I would say it has to stop but the time for that was months ago. It seems harsh to pick on Hutton, as I acknowledge that he at least puts a shift in and it is also frighting how reliant we are on him as a creative force. Alan Hutton created two of our better chances on Sunday.
Then we move on to those who don’t work particularly hard and who definitely aren’t good enough. Up front we have a statue. Rudy Gestede offers nothing, bar the occasional headed clearance from set pieces. I was pleased to see him being criticised by Alan Shearer on ‘Match of the Day 2’. Whilst service is obviously not top drawer and we do not particularly play to his one strength, he has to offer some basic off the ball movement as a lone centre forward. It may seem like hyperbole but he is the worst striker I have seen play for our club; it’s like having a lamp-post up front. Come back, Bosko Balaban! I’m sick of watching Gestede posing as a Premier League striker and sickened to think that he was our replacement for Christian Benteke.
Ayew and Sinclair on the flanks at least offered some movement and they have a go; they just lack the support around them. The midfielders behind them at this current time don’t seem to be doing a great job of protecting the defence and they are not offering much support to the attack. What are they doing? Gueye looks frustrated and as if he can’t understand what is happening around him whilst the lack of awareness and failure to track back from Sanchez and Veretout for Arsenal’s second goal tells me everything I need to know about the desire amongst some of our players. When they are paid handsomely and supporters are paying through the nose to watch us get beaten most weeks, the least we deserve is some hard work from every player.
I feel sorry for Garde, who has inherited a mess. There’s only so much he can do.
This time next week, I may feel differently. We may well beat Newcastle United on Saturday. At the moment, I just cannot see us ever winning again. I have never felt as low as I do now about the club I love. If we conjure up a few wins over the Christmas period, things would look a little more hopeful but being on six points with nine days until Christmas tells me that we simply won’t do it, even if we do gain some momentum at some point.