Villa’s stretch of matches against fellow cellar dwellers didn’t get off to such a great start Saturday, but the side rebounded on Boxing Day, securing a crucial three points against visiting Norwich with a 1-0 victory.
Today is going to be all about mentality. If Villa believe, and play within themselves, they can come away with something. The side have to encouraged by outings against Liverpool and the like, and given yesterday’s results, it should be clear to them that with a little more composure, a little less naïveté, and 90 minutes of effort they’ll be in this one and could finally get over the hump when it comes to playing the top teams, and our own particular devil.
Steve Bruce was on the touchline at Villa Park for the first time since a fateful cabbage took flight, and his side delivered a suitably underwhelming performance. Fortunately, he’s in charge of Newcastle now, and it was Dean Smith’s Villa who walked away deserved 2-0 winners.
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.
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.