The past seven days have been relatively quiet in comparison to recent weeks where Aston Villa is concerned though there’s still been plenty going on with the transfer window open and Championship action.
One of the key areas that the Villans have been screaming out to have improved in recent times is that of the right back. With the options we had going into the start of the season not looking like they’d offer much, it was time for Di Matteo to find a man for the job. Step up Ritchie De Laet.
De Laet comes into the Villa side as the eighth summer signing. Hopefully, he’ll be able to recreate some of his good fortune from last season that saw him impressively gain promotion from the Championship with Middlesbrough and pick up a Premier League winners medal for his efforts with Leicester City.
Although the Belgian will be looking to make the right back position his own, he’ll have to see off Leandro Bacuna, who has started the 2016-17 campaign well. With healthy competition for places, it would be good to see both players step up in order to win the manager over. The signing of the twenty-seven-year-old De Laet does seem to signal the end of Alan Hutton’s Aston Villa career.
Last weekend saw the Villans make the trip to Derby to take on the Rams at the iPro Stadium. The game finished as a goalless draw that I feel we’ll look back on come the end of the season as a good result against a tough Derby County side.
Although we were unlucky not to break the deadlock ourselves, with two first half attempts coming off the woodwork and a second half corner cleared off the line, we did have to ride some pressure in the second half. It was great to see the defenders really digging their heels in and doing whatever they could to avoid conceding a goal. It’s been a long time since an Aston Villa bac kline has been able to hold off any sustained pressure from the opposition.
I’m not a huge Rudy Gestede fan but I’ve recently had to eat some humble pie because Gestede’s performances of late have been brilliant. Unfortunately, Gestede had to go off injured during the Derby County game just as the visitors Villa were finding their rhythm in the game and beginning to look threatening.
Once the big striker went off we seemed to create very little in the final third; it was almost reminiscent of the Villa of last year. Di Matteo’s men looked very static when pushing the Rams back and seemed to have almost no creativity when it came to carving Derby County’s defence open. Having the play go through Gestede was clearly the plan and the Villa boys lacked any sort of plan B.
I could argue that perhaps there was a plan B in place in the shape of Libor Kozák. The Czech forward hadn’t featured for Villa competitively for some time – and it really did show as Kozák struggled to get a foothold in the game. It was a like for like substitutiom as the team tried to play through Kozák, although it just wasn’t working. Kozák was off the pace and his touches were often poor, resulting in him being taken off in the second half.
Where is Hepburn-Murphy? If the only attacking option other than the three in the starting XI isn’t fit then the youngster should be in the match squad. Hepburn-Murphy may be inexperienced but what better way to gain precious experience then to be called upon when needed and play competitive football?
This weekend sees the boys in claret and blue on the road for the second successive game. This time, they head to Ashton Gate, home to Bristol City, where they’ll no doubt be looking to build on their three-game unbeaten streak. I for one am hopeful of coming home with three vital points this evening.
This week sees the transfer window close. Villa fans are set to be in for yet more excitement with Dr Tony hinting on Twitter (once again) that Di Matteo and his team are trying to get deals done to bring in a mystery midfielder and a “world class” number nine. You’re guess is as good as mine as to who either will be but you could have a look at Free Super Tips to see if they can help! Brace yourselves!