Having announced the team sheet for today’s encounter, Smith is sticking with the 3-4-3 that’s seen us beat Burnley and contain Leicester. Though results were generally favorable yesterday, Watford’s resurgence continued earlier today, and their 3-0 victory over Bournemouth sees Villa come into the match having dropped to 18th, one point behind. Which is to say, the draw that no pundit is predicting would be a very nice point to pick up.
The Foxes have torn us apart once already, and now we get two extra rounds with them. With points to play for at the weekend, I hate to see such a challenging cup-tie midweek. Be nice if it were Everton, for example. Or Bolton. But it is what it is.
Bottom line: I’m not a happy clapper. You’ve seen me criticize plenty. And I don’t want to exonerate Smith if he doesn’t deserve it. This week, like last, I’m pointing my finger straight at the players for shrinking and somewhat losing their heads. I like that they keep trying to attack. That’s what we wanted, attacking football, and that’s what we’ve got—a side built to attack. But you can be smarter about it. And you can’t sink back.
An entertaining and ultimately frustrating match saw Villa earn a much-needed point against in-form West Ham. However, the side will be disappointed they couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage down the closing stretch.
Villa are now 0-2 to start life back in the Premier League, and some are starting to worry a bit following the home defeat to Bournemouth. But to be fair, there are more who aren’t. Who’s right? Maybe everyone. Fact is, whatever the optimism everyone felt during the Summer of Spending, Villa were always facing a tough test.