It’s hard to overstate what an important victory this was. No, we didn’t win anything, and no it won’t continue like this. But to come off the high of dismantling Liverpool, go away for two weeks, and return to grind out a win on the road against an undermanned but still highly capable and well-drilled Leicester squad shows a different mentality in the team. It’s not a game we’d have won last season. Neither was Liverpool, for that matter, but who’s counting?
Leicester this time, and there’s no reason for us not to be feeling good. I love the cheeky talk of a title run. It’s nice to see the supporters in good spirits, and regardless of the outcome this evening, we’ll still be in a far better place than this time last year.
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?
In recent years, I’ve dismissed cup competitions for Villa because we’ve been up against it, and the extra games don’t seem to help survival or promotion. They’re a distraction: fatigue, injury, possible demoralization. The only value has seemed to be in getting minutes in match conditions for players and combinations that don’t start regularly. But tonight’s game is a little different.
So I talked about draws, and how we weren’t getting enough. We got one last night. Wasn’t easy, but it was hard-earned and well-enough deserved. Finally getting a result from a winning position against a top team on the road is huge, and that’s the real takeaway for me. It should give the players belief, in both the system and themselves.