Defeat to Bournemouth leaves Villa with more questions than answers

A pre-season campaign in Australia followed by a victory over Rennes had many Villa supporters thinking that Steven Gerrard had cracked it. Excitement was high as the game against Bournemouth approached but the final result left the faithful with more questions than answers.

Gerrard spoke about needing new signings in early and a good pre-season. Christian Purslow and Johan Lange delivered to an extent on the first bit while the rest was on Gerrard and his coaching staff. So what could go wrong when we took on a newly promoted Bournemouth side, which manager Scott Parker admitted was not remotely ready for the season opener.

Gerrard names his first starting XI of the season with Emi Martinez as his goalkeeper. A back four of Matty Cash, Lucas Digne, Diego Carlos and Ezri Konsa as Tyrone Mings had to watch on from the bench. A midfield three of Jacob Ramsey, Bouba Kamara and John McGinn. Phillipe Coutinho and Leon Bailey sat just off Danny Ings who was preferred as Ollie Watkins had to settle for a place on the bench following a poor pre-season.

From bad to worse

The Vitality Stadium was bouncing and it wasn’t long before the home fans were celebrating. Just as Villa struggled from a set-piece in the 1-2 win over Rennes last weekend, they struggled one again here when they failed to clear a corner kick after 2 minutes and Jefferson Lerma gave the Cherries the perfect start as he smashed home from hard yards out.

Villa responded well as they looked to get themselves back in the game. Firstly, Ings fired straight at the Bournemouth goalkeeper and then McGinn’s effort went wide of the post. Gerrard’s men dominated the ball but it became very clear that it was going to be one of those days as they struggled to create anything clear and cut.

Gerrard introduced Emi Buendia at half-time as he replaced Ramsey and Villa reverted to a 4-2-3-1 system.

The visitors continue to control the game but failed to really threaten Mark Travers in the Bournemouth goal.

Despite the introduction of Ollie Watkins and Cameron Archer, it was the home side who would have the last laugh when they doubled their lead. A cross from Lloyd Kelly was headed back across goal and Keiffer Moore was on hand to make it 2-0.

Under Pressure

It was visually clear that the manager felt the pressure after a below-par performance and that’s what bothered the Villa faithful more than the actual defeat. We all know that sides who have just been promoted are high in confidence and playing them on the opening game of the season is a potential banana skin.

But this was more than that. Gerrard made a statement by leaving Mings and Watkins on the bench but it didn’t pay off. I am not saying that had Mings played, the result would have been different but when you make these statements, it’s the first thing the fans will look at.

Gerrard has been Villa’s boss since November and despite more investment in the squad, we are no further along to a Gerrard-esk style. We have creativity in abundance but create very little. Based on the display yesterday, nothing had improved on the back-end of last season following the much-craved pre-season that the manager wanted.

That’s now 2 wins in 12 Premier League games, ironically our old manager was sacked for similar form over the course of two seasons. Gerrard will need a much-improved performance against Everton at Villa Park next weekend or he could see the faithful turn on him.


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