Villa hosted Fulham Saturday, and came away with a hard-fought three points. It was a good win against a decent side, and an important one for confidence and league placement after the defeat at Molineaux.

The Good
Obviously, a positive response following the poor outing against Wolves. Conor Hourihane’s exquisite set-piece delivery was met perfectly by John Terry, who notched his first goal for the side to put Villa in front. Glenn Whelan played Josh Onomah through nicely, Albert Adomah racing into the box to slot home the delivery from the far side for the winner after Jonathan Kodjia whiffed at it first. Johnstone made a fantastic, point-blank save to preserve the victory. He moved well, anticipated the shot, and was right where he needed to be.

Villa were scrappy and worked to close down harder. It kept Fulham off their game just enough, and kept the initiative largely with the home side. Ritchie De Laet, a somewhat surprising late substitute, had a decent shout for a third.

The Bad
Not really going to say much here. In fact, nothing at all. Okay, maybe Kodjia whiffing on the ball Adomah put away, and then stroking it wide when he was in one-on-one. But maybe he knew he was offside and wasn’t as focused as he could’ve been. Those are shots he usually buries.

The Ugly
One each, for and against Villa. First was the very silly foul Whelan committed to concede the kick Fulham would score from. Second, I’m not really sure how the rugby bit on Kodjia in the box wasn’t a penalty. I only saw one angle, maybe there’s more to the story—I assume the ref thought Kodjia went down too easily. Didn’t see any mention in Bruce’s post-match comments. So, what do I know.

Final Verdict
Always good to win, always good to bounce back from a bad game. I have to confess, I don’t know what it would’ve looked like if Fulham had shown more cutting edge. Although a good side, the possession and passing led to not very much. On another day, it might’ve been enough.

But Villa showed the required resilience and doggedness. I’ve seen it said this is the kind of game we’d have drawn or lost last year, and I can’t disagree. What seems to be taking shape is that the league isn’t terribly strong this year, and that we’re settling down. If we take the points from teams below us, stay in touching distance with the top two, and come out ahead on points with the teams around us, it’s looking like we should be in fairly decent shape.

As always, I’d prefer to avoid a playoff scenario because you never know what can happen. And if we stay close, then the six-pointers left against anyone above us will be a big deal.

Now of course, that’s a ways down the road. And the Fulham match, while it didn’t necessarily make me feel great, certainly didn’t make me feel bad. A consistent line-up has certainly helped, and by and large it seems to be the right group. McCormack was certainly a bust, and Hogan, too, at least for the time being.

But Davis’ emergence and the Onomah loan have been key. Hourihane, too, has been instrumental, as has Adomah, who really has stepped up his game.

Maybe Lansbury will be able to make more impact when he returns, but apart from giving Davis and others the occasional rest, or subbing folks for fresh legs, it’s hard at the moment to see a ‘better’ side picked out of our current options on most days. For me, of course, Whelan remains the weakest link, and I think we’d be a much more well-rounded side with a younger version of that kind of player in there. I think I say that every time I post something. But credit due when he played in Onomah.

Kodjia is still rusty, and right now seems to be forcing it and trying to do too much. But we’ve been able to give him the playing time he needs without diminishing the side, and his presence does still pull defenses around. If regains his form, we’ll obviously be that much more threatening.

Big takeaway is that Villa need to show that kind fight week-in, week-out. Which we’ve been saying for years. If Villa can stop the more fluid teams from doing their thing at will, then we won’t end up getting undone like we have against the better sides up to Saturday. It seems rather obvious, but that’s largely been the issue, when you break it down…Looking like training cones and chasing shadows. Was it a one-off response, or has everyone finally come to grips with what’s needed? We’ll soon find out.

And of course, small heath is now on the horizon, and they will definitely be gunning for us. So there’s some fun to look forward to.

So, it’s glass half-full for me this week.

Over to you.

Comments 30

  1. Profile photo of Villalore

    Can’t disagree with anything you’ve said JC. Its a quarter of the games gone and if we start to see more composure while winning games going forward, then that’s progress made.

    Its funny that we seem to have gone from relying on one striker (Beneteke/Kodja) for our goals to have our midfield being our leading scorers. Would be nice to have both scoring, that should take us to an automatic places if it happens.

  2. Profile photo of John Clark

    Evening, Villalore…

    Yeah, it’s been huge having Adomah and Hourihane chip in…and I don’t disagree at all: Kodjia finding his feet and Davis/Onomah getting in regularly would really make us formidable. Different kinds of players, different kinds of goals. Makes a team hard to stop.

  3. Profile photo of Dave Blurton

    this was a good win against a decent side,,, and one we could have lost,,,
    bruce got his tactics right and to be fair we are still all learning what is our best
    side and how it needs to be tweaked for certain games and this will continue probably till the new year as players return to fitness
    although not perfect we are in good shape and have the players in all areas to affect a game

  4. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    It’s perhaps worth recording that apart from Hutton we seem to have no-one who has made more than 58 appearances in the current team.

    Chester has 58 apps, and Albert 50.

  5. Excellent summary JC, and agree with your summary, just would re-iterate the points I made in my previous post about Wolves finding it harder against PNE, and being somewhat lucky, coupled with SHA being brought down to earth by Milwall.
    Hopefully, this is more about us beginning to move on to our full potential, as more players become fully fit again, while some of the other sides may start to struggle as the season builds and gets harder.
    I am certainly feeling more positive about Sunday’s game. it will be interesting to see how Bruce prepares for the game, and his team selection.

  6. JL,

    Forgot to say when you mentioned the 6-2 victory at VP in Oct 1960, was one of the most enjoyable on the old Holte End terracing with a crowd of almost 45,000. In the days of our legendary centre forward Gerry Hitchens, ably assisted by Alan O’neill, Peter McParland and Bobby Thomson playing at right half.

  7. Profile photo of IanG

    JC/OV
    AVFC cancelled my subscription & gave me a full refund on the grounds of not being able to access a good quality stream, would you believe.
    I cried foul & accused them of bullying as I hadn’t requested a cancellation of my subscription when I complained about the quality of the service.
    Then they turned it back on for free for the rest of the season & still gave me a full refund???
    Left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing if you ask me, crazy…

  8. JC
    I have watched that penalty call multiple times and cannot see why it wasn’t given. It looked like a cynical foul in the penalty area from Sessegnon on Kodjia. It was a rugby tackle. If I were Bruce I would query it. It seemed so obvious.

  9. Plug,
    Could well be!

    They were great days with great comradery amongst the fans, and normally no segregation.

    I have memories of being on the Holte End with a bunch of Tottenham dustmen, on one occasion..!!

  10. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Trinity,

    Yes, that was a penalty if ever there was one. Sessegnon’s arms were all around Codger.

    The refs seem to let all these penalty area maulings go as though they’re just part of the game!

  11. Profile photo of OldVilla

    IanG – I picked up your email, thanks for that, it gave me good warning of what to expect. And I am now currently in battle mode as I ‘discuss’ with the cretins at VP exactly what they have to do and how they should do it. Yep, I also got the cut and paste response when things got difficult for them to which I have responded in the appropriate manner.
    I’ll let you know the outcome.

    And so onto the game with the knuckle draggers on Sunday. If normal games are difficult to forecast then this one will be nigh on impossible to predict. Hopefully we will be up for it because I’m sure they will be. This could be Whelans first sending off whilst with us.
    We have the players and we have the class. We have various of the team who can be match winners for us …………… be nice to see Hutton get the winner in front of the Villa fans!
    Certainly for this game, pretty football does not matter – the result is everything, however we get it. Or that is my view based on basic hatred of anything relating to those inbreds in Small Heath lol ………..
    I just hope for a decent live stream so that I can shout and scream at my PC to the amazement (again) of my wife ………….. the Swiss are very well mannered and don’t fully understand rivalry.

    Have a good week all,
    oldvilla

  12. Profile photo of IanG

    Watched the U23’s last night, & the ref was atrocious with yellow cards like confetti for very little, & stopped the play constantly to lecture the Villa players especially.
    He rather obviously favoured Reading with the big or 50/50 decisions, & was an authoritarian twat, who allowed Reading’s cynical fouling & blew for every little thing for Villa, until it became apparent that we were playing the referee as well.
    Grealish had 88 min & eventually got going, but was denied an obvious penalty when he was pushed from behind.
    It wasn’t a fall as he was unnaturally pushed sharply forward in a way you couldn’t simulate.
    The ref was acting on reputation all match, especially with Grealish, & the linesmen were invisible.
    No way should he start on Saturday, as O’Hare was much better & much more productive & far less theatrical & selfish.
    With the refs in the championship as they are, who seem to think it’s rugby, he’s at a disadvantage, as he’s a bit of a prima donna & doesn’t seem to know when to do the normal things instead.
    Also he’s not match fit.
    Suleman is class.

  13. Profile photo of IanG

    Thanks OV.
    Oh well a free cr*p underfunded service.
    Last season they changed the financial system so they didn’t automatically take the money as it was set up to do from the previous year, but didn’t tell us many of the implications & were very unclear.
    I was a member but couldn’t get the service until Ian Craig sussed in December what had happened, then he gave me half a season free as it was their fault as usual.
    Also to get through the knuckledraggers as you put it, is like death by a thousand cuts, which is why I go straight to him.
    But he gets a lot of emails, so if you don’t hear mail again with a subject line he can’t miss.

  14. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    An extraordinary sequence?

    1. Villa formed 1874, George Ramsay arrived 1876.
    2. Villa’s second “three score and 10 years” began in 1944. Villa’s first peacetime league season ended in 1946.
    3. Villa’s third “three score and 10 years” began in 2014. Dr. Xia arrived in 2016.

    Meaningful?!

  15. Profile photo of John Lerwill

    Also…

    Villa were relegated in 1936. (8 years before end of that 70 years period).
    Doug Ellis handed over to Lerner in 2006 (8 years before end of that 70 years period).

    Villa won the FA Cup for the first time in 1887, 13 years after their formation.
    Villa won the FA Cup in 1957, 13 years after the start of the second “three score and 10 years”.

  16. Profile photo of IanG

    Trinity
    Having just watched the rugby tackle on the extended highlights, it was cast iron obstruction, what on earth was the ref thinking.
    As has been said here before. the standard of officials in the championship is terrible.

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