On Saturday evening, Aston Villa, bottom of the league, faced Leicester City, a team that oozes confidence, vying to be at the top of the table. The Leicester players have worked hard for each other, something that we could not say about our own players – until very recently.
The first fixture against Leicester City this season was arguably the catalyst for Aston Villa Football Club’s demise. Goals from Jack Grealish and Carles Gil put the Villans two-nil up and the visitors looked very good value for the lead, outplaying Leicester City. As soon as Tim Sherwood changed things tactically, the game was flipped on its head. The Foxes attacked the Lions and ended up winning the game. Now look at the two teams.
It seems that there has been a surge in confidence in the Villa dressing room, which has coincided with Mark Bunn being between the sticks. The players seem more confident with the former Norwich goalkeeper in the starting XI and fans are happy to see Bunn in goal as Brad Guzan often left fans with their hearts in their mouths. It seemed as if every time the ball was played back to the American, it led to another attack on our goal.
Against Crystal Palace last Tuesday, we saw vibrant, attacking, free-flowing football from the Villans. Fans are now appreciating Jordan Ayew’s skills even more. Earlier in the season, some supporters remarked that we got ‘the wrong Ayew’, which is not the case. Jordan Ayew is a very technical player: he has quick feet and can also strike a ball very well, as we saw against Tottenham Hotspur, Watford and also Newcastle United. He has a very good work ethic and quality to complement it.
The re-emergence of Libor Kozák has also benefitted the team. The Czech international gives the team another option. Rudy Gestede is better in the air but he isn’t a technical player and he can’t use his feet to full effect. Kozák can hold the ball up and brings players like Jordan Ayew into the game.
Supporters just want to see the players trying their best. Villa supporters bleed claret and blue and feel that the players have not performed well enough for the vast majority of the season to date. However, we can all agree that in the last two league games we have seen a massive improvement.
Is it a little too late?
There are still sixteen games left – and anything is still possible. Remaining in the Premier League will be difficult but, until it is mathematically impossible to defy the odds on relegation, fans will still believe that the Villans can pull off a great escape. The players must also believe in themselves. Despite what the club’s new chairman, Steve Hollis, has said about not living in fear of relegation, nobody wants to see the club in the Championship.