Unai Emery felt that Villa were the victim of a soft penalty decision as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw against relegation battlers West Ham United at the London Stadium.
The Spaniard said: “I watched it and I respect the referee 100 per cent but my opinion today is it was a very soft penalty.”
On the balance of things, a draw was probably a fair result but once again we are left wondering what the point of VAR is.
Aston Villa was without Boubacar Kamara whose injury doesn’t appear to be as bad as some first feared and he could return as early as next week against Bournemouth. John McGinn moved more centrally as Leon Bailey replaced the French man and played out wide.
The day’s highlight was probably seeing the teamsheet as Diego Carlos was named as a substitution following his long-term injury layoff.
Report: West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa
Villa’s away form has been impressive under Emery but they could have gone behind early on when Declan Rice’s free-kick found defender Nayef Aguerd at the back post but he didn’t expect the ball and it just bounced off his leg and went wide.
Then it was the turn of Said Benrahma when he met a Jarrod Bowen cross but sent his volley horribly wide.
Villa were dominating the possession but was struggling to have any real impact on the West Ham goal. In fact, the first time they broke into the Hammer area, they took the lead.
Alex Moreno picked up the ball on the left and his cross confused the home defenders allowing Ollie Watkins to get in behind Aguerd and direct a header into the corner of the net.
David Moyes’ side were in shock and it was the visitors who looked more likely to score next until the penalty was awarded.
Lucas Paquetá came close but saw his effort cleared off the line by Watkins. The clearance fell back to the Brazillian who then fell to the floor under pressure from Bailey. Referee Chris Kavanagh immediately pointed to the spot but replays confirmed that the contact was minimal and had it been anywhere else on the pitch, Paquetá would have most likely stayed on his feet.
Benrahmma stepped up and blasted the ball high down the middle of the goal leaving Emi Martinez with no chance.
The home side was causing a nuisance of themselves at every set piece and was soon calling for another penalty when Danny Ings and Emi Buendia tussled with each other in the penalty area. Although I agree it wasn’t a penalty, it was probably more of a penalty than the actual penalty that was awarded. Consistency as always in the Premier League.
The game was far from a classic with chances limited. Villa came close just before the break from Jacob Ramsey whose first-time cross found Watkins’ but his effort went straight into the gloves of the Hammers goalkeeper, Alphonse Areola.
Martinez was then forced into action 30 seconds into the second half denying Benrahma’s volley after he was picked out by Paquetá.
Villa then had their own penalty shout when Buendia went down from a Rice challenge. The officials were having none of it as the game continued.
Benrahma and substitute Jhon Durán both had late chances from both sides but in the end, it was a result that either side wanted as it finished all square.
Although McGinn covered Kamara well and had a shout for Man of the Match, ultimately Kamara’s absence shone because McGinn not being able to play out wide. The French men are also crucial in a lot of Villa’s attacking movements and we really lacked that today.
It was a disappointing result but ultimately a fair one on the balance of play. Either side could have probably nicked it at the end but it just wasn’t to be.
Up next for Villa, Bournemouth at Villa Park before the international break.