Anyone who doubted that Villa Park would lack a Premier League atmosphere this season was proved wrong on Saturday, after our comfortable 3-0 win over Rotherham Unite. The place was rocking. From start to finish, the Villans were able to dominate in the game, something that I hadn’t seen for a long while, creating a feeling that this could be the start of a better time to be a Villa fan.
I don’t like to get carried away after one win, of course, but it was hard to leave the ground feeling anything but optimistic; I certainly had a huge grin on my face.
After watching our mid-week League Cup exit away to Luton Town and Okore’s contender for the worst own goal ever scored, we could be forgiven for celebrating our first victory for about six months. Grealish’s first goal at Villa Park, in front of the Holte End, and Gestede’s acrobatics gave me a feel-good factor I had not experienced for a very, very long time.
Dr Tony Xia’s introduction to the Villa faithful was bizarre and brilliant in equal measure and even Leandro Bacuna put in a great performance for the fans. Realistically, we can’t look ahead to automatic promotion just yet.
A home game against Rotherham United, a team that finished twenty-first in the division last campaign, is a game that most will mark as a ‘should-win’ one. Even for us, in our torrid form, this match was one from which we could easily get three points. We duly got the job done, with ease, and it was individual performances that pleased me nearly as much as the victory. Aaron Tshibola, a man who had not yet convinced the fans of his price tag, had a superb game. He bossed the middle of the park, seemingly everywhere, winning loose balls and dictating the flow of the game. Our centre back pairing of Chester and Elphick looks solid and reliable, unlike last season’s messy duo of Richards and Lescott. These are promising signs early in the season.
Tuesday’s game against Huddersfield Town, however, is just as important. Tuesday’s opponents have won both of their games thus far this season and have just beaten the Geordies in their own back yard. They are no push-overs and will want to prove everyone wrong once more. For us, another win would be a statement to the rest of the league that we are not the side of last season. Teams need to beat us, not the other way around.
Two home games and two wins would have been the objective before a ball was kicked – and we are halfway there. We have that first, all important win; now we need to push on and create a winning mentality to start off this season. If that happens, our optimism can turn into confidence and show all concerned that we are definitely contenders in this division.