What a difference a game makes!
Sherwood’s first two games showed slight improvements but nothing to suggest what we would see on Tuesday night. The score line of 2-1 doesn’t tell all of the story, the last minute penalty suggesting that Villa where “lucky” to get their first win in 8 games – but only the most bias of Baggie fan wouldn’t accept that it was a fully deserved result.
16 shots, 8 on target, 58% possession, 80% pass accuracy and 70% pass accuracy in the opposing half. All decent stats, but made even better considering the way Villa played, the ball was moving quickly, we where more direct than in recent matches but without looking like one dimensional long ball merchants.
Villa could have easily gone in at half time 3-0 up such was the dominance for the Villa side.
Question marks over selection where answered, substitutions where bold and went on to affect the game.
There where many positives to take out of the game, though there are still clearly some things to work on. Dead ball delivery being one of them. In Brunt West Brom have someone who consistently delivers dangerous balls from anywhere around the box, and this was the only time West Bom really looked a threat. Guzan has been blamed for the goal but the ball that Brunt put in would leave most keepers with question marks. The marking on Lescott could have been better but without a great delivery no one gets a chance. Something that, in stark contrast to West Brom, Villa struggle with. Our free kicks and corners on the night where terrible, with Westwood being the main culprit.
The test comes on Saturday when the team needs to show this was no flash in the pan.
I think Sherwood will change a few key personnel, Grealish and Gil will surely be in contention to play ahead of N’Zogbia. Sanchez could well be in contention to start his first game for Sherwood ahead of Westwood or Cleverly.
In defence it’ll be interesting to see what we do with limited options. Vlaar could be back, but we’ve seen what happens when he comes back to soon, he breaks down on goes off within the first half hour. Cissoko, Richardson, Baker and Senderos all out injured and Hutton now suspended after confusing which balls to kick. Kinsella could come in for his debut or Sherwood could ask Delph or N’Zogbia to deputise in a role they’ve both performed before.
It’ll also be interesting to see if Given continues in his role as cup keeper.
Gabby will surely continue up front with Benteke, fingers crossed we can get some consistent good form Villa’s current longest serving player. He showed on Tuesday, even with all his faults, when Gabby is on form he is a handful. I was surprised at the criticism Benteke received on Tuesday, many calling him the worst performing player. Personally I thought he was selfless for the team, worked hard, did a lot of dirty work, won most of his aerial duels, set up Gabby’s goal and then became the iceman to slot home a massive penalty. I thing he’s getting there, only a matter of time until the beast is reborn IMO.
The most important thing, who ever is picked in the team, is the same intensity and work rate is applied to the game.
First time for a long time I’m going in to this game with an expectancy, not necessarily for Villa win, but an expectancy that this team will perform, entertain and score.
UTV long may this feeling continue.