Tactically, I understand the calls for 4-4-2. My guess is that Davis is starting in the 4-3-3 because Dean wants Villa to get established and settled. Get some confidence. A player like Ally is going to want quick through-balls, and players are going to try and feed him. While his upside is high, that kind of play always runs the risk of it coming right back at us, especially given the layoff and lack of sharpness. Going 4-4-2 with limited fitness means both are probably off late in the game, leaving Vassilev and Baston to chase a winner.
Football’s been just about the last thing on my mind, and it feels very strange to be coming back to the keyboard to write about a resumption of sporting hostilities when so much else has been going on. But here we are, and Villa will start fighting for their Premier League lives again in a week. God only knows what’ll we get. Regardless, it’s time to shake off the rust and get our game faces on.
I get the money. I get the legal issues. And at least some are finally copping to those being the primary considerations for finishing rather than “integrity.” There is no sporting integrity to the season if it’s played out in bizarre, forced circumstances that affect clubs disproportionately. It’s a very small fig leaf.
The world’s finally, belatedly going on lockdown. It’s the only sensible thing to do—slow the spread by isolating ourselves. The response has been badly bungled all over the place, but some recognition of reality has finally started to take hold. And while Villa’s fate hangs in the balance, the only thing I care about in regard to sport is the workaday people whose lives and livelihoods will be affected. People who don’t have guarantees. And of course, the clearest priority is doing anything and everything we can to minimize the number of deaths and follow-on consequences from overwhelmed health systems.
The focus for a while has been on Villa’s defending. Or lack thereof. Only Southampton and Norwich have conceded as many as us, and we’ve played two fewer. Likewise, goal difference leaves us pretty much in the same neighborhood as Bournemouth, Watford, and West Ham. So we score but we also ship 1.9 per match. Of course everyone wants to know why. What’s Terry doing? What’s Dean not getting right?