Villa’s Season: A Familiar End and a New Beginning

I won’t say I was thrilled by the season or even satisfied. Far from it. But. I do think Villa have a real chance to make some telling strides this summer, and that the side will ultimately be better and deeper. And as Gerrard has seemingly shown a little more tactical flexibility down the stretch, I’m hopeful that we can see that depth used effectively.

Welcome, Steven Gerrard: What Are We Going To Get?

We’ve all gone out and heard about a narrow 4-3-3. Forcing attacking play wide. Wide forwards tucked in and driving the channels, fullbacks overlapping for width. Wide midfielders tasked with pressing fullbacks, and a back line that supports attacking play. A ‘solid’ defense. Now, apart from the nominal distribution of players, I’m not seeing a huge difference in philosophy from the way Smith wanted Villa play. Perhaps the biggest difference will be that Gerrard can put a rocket up them and has no loyalties.

Chelsea 5–4 Villa (pens): Far From Ugly.

In the end, an excellent performance and Villa were perhaps unlucky not to win in regular time. For all the changes, absences, and youth, the team seemed to know what they were doing, and the mentality was really good. I expected more timidity and hesitation. It wasn’t there, or if it was, not for long. The set-up looks good.

Carabao Cup: Will Chelsea–Villa Get Ugly?

Short answer, it might. Given the differences in squad depth and fitness, Villa will inevitably field a weaker side than the one that lost to Chelsea 0-3 just over a week ago. Smith has said all the right things about the quality available to both sides, and how they both want to win and progress. But it’s clear that Villa will have one hand tied behind their back.