What a fantastic start to the season! Not many pundits (or fans) gave us much hope of getting any points at the Britannia on Saturday but the Villa team put in a pretty solid away day performance and took home all three points.
Of course, we won our first game of last season away from home at the Emirates and this was followed by defeats away to Chelsea and at home to Liverpool. After that nasty little run of games, the Magpies turned up at Villa Park at a low ebb. Unfortunately, as was so often the case last season, Villa Park was the place to be for teams that wanted to reverse a bad run of form.
The Magpies are visitors to Villa Park early in the 2014-15 season too and, for me, it is absolutely vital that we build on the good feeling created by the opening day win at Stoke. Grabbing an unexpected three points at the Britannia means nothing if we take anything less than four points from our next two Premier League games, both of which are at Villa Park. For four seasons now Villa Park has been a miserable place. There has been the odd game to enjoy – a 6-1 win against Sunderland, the 4-3 win against West Brom and the memorable 1-0 victory against Chelsea – but, all in all, home games have resulted in more disappointing than success.
I pointed out last week that expectations were quite low ahead of the trip to Stoke. Well, as is the case after any win, expectations will be a bit higher now. Hopefully, a little bit of expectation won’t do the players any harm and will instead prove to be a positive. There is no reason why we can’t take six points from our games against Newcastle and Hull: we are at home, we have just beaten a good side and we seem to be making good progress in terms of developing out squad. Can you imagine having nine points from the first three games? I can, especially with a tricky run of games coming up afterwards.
The Magpies looked no mugs on Sunday in their 2-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City. In my opinion, they deserved a point. Cabella looked very handy and the side has a good recent record at Villa Park, winning 2-1 on the last two visits.
It is very early days but Lambert appears to have addressed some criticisms that have been levelled at him over the last few years. Time will tell but he has been fairly astute in the transfer market so far without breaking the bank and the squad overall has a lot more experience and looks a lot stronger. We’ve already doubled our 2014 away win tally! I really think Roy Keane will be a massive influence and Lambert even seemed a bit more flexible with his substitutions on day one; it was great to see Grealish getting some game time at a vital stage of the game. That showed a lot of trust in the young winger.
After a summer of no expectancy and not a lot of excitement, I now find myself looking forward to Saturday and being genuinely excited about seeing the boys in claret and blue back at Villa Park. I’m no doubt setting myself up for crushing disappointment but it’s great to have Premier League football back again.
Here’s to three points on Saturday. Up the Villa!