Yesterday, finally, we were able to enjoy a good afternoon at Villa Park. The FA Cup has lifted some of the gloom around the club and presents us with a base to build on going into two very tough Premier League games.
In the second half, the Villans were very positive on the attack and the tactical switch from Lambert, moving Gil out wide, proved to be just the tweak needed to open up Bournemouth and seal progression to the fifth round – in which we will play Leicester City at Villa Park. The incisive football was refreshing to see and we have to go at every team like that from the first whistle now.
The defence seems to be sorted now, with Okore looking better with each game that passes. He is great in the air, quick, reads the game well and doesn’t mind putting a boot in when needed. Given a few seasons, we could have a Laursen-style centre half on our hands. He seems to genuinely care about the direction the club is going in too.
Speaking of direction, getting Delph to commit to a new deal is a “massive coup”, as Lambert quite rightly already said. Delph is integral to this Villa side and we can now build a team around him. Delph anchors the team and has the ability to operate in various roles up and down the field. We just need to supplement this with a few more creative additions, although further signings are looking unlikely.
However, the one signing we have made is already having a big impact. Gil is such a breath of fresh air in the Villa team. His directness is so encouraging and the complete lack of fear means he takes anyone on and makes beating his man look almost effortless. Before he arrived, some people were saying he lacked a final product. Well, his stunning strike against Bournemouth certainly showed what he is able to do. If he can produce a handful of goals like that and a few assists this season then he will be an absolute bargain.
I have a strangely positive feeling about the rest of the season and wouldn’t be surprised if we were to get a day out at Wembley too. People will say it is impossible but no-one predicted Bradford putting four past Chelsea. Leicester at home is a good draw and we owe them after what happened a few weeks ago. If we beat them there would only be one more game before the first big day out…