Aston Villa fans were understandably on a high following on from last weekend’s victory over Manchester United, so plenty in the fanbase were confident that we’d put in a similar performance against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday and come away with at least a point to keep our improvement going.
Sadly, we saw neither a decent showing, nor a point for our meague efforts on the day and Son Heung-Min proved to be the difference for them as they took a 2-1 victory on home soil.
Annoyingly, it was a deserved win for them, despite also being very poor on the day, but with our midfield going missing again, they had the run of White Hart Lane, and neither Danny Ings or Ollie Watkins could do much with our endless punts down pitch. It was just a poor performance full stop with too many players just not at the races again and Emi Martinez takes the praise for keeping the score so low.
The main frustration was when we did get the ball down and play, we caused good problems for them and it was back to our lack of composure in and around the box that let us down.
Whilst fans will agree with head coach Dean Smith’s comments that we should probably have a little more to show for our efforts in recent games, you cannot include Spurs in that and with us now into October, the more reactive in the fanbase will quickly tire of the ‘transition’ and ‘not firing on all cylinders’ talk – even though we all know the disrupted pre-season we had.
Speaking to the E&S following the game, Smith said.
“We’ve had an indifferent start. I’ve been really pleased with the last four games, winning two and losing two but our performances against Chelsea and Tottenham probably deserved more. There hasn’t been too much between ourselves, Chelsea and Tottenham. We all still feel there’s an awful lot to come from us. We’re not firing on all cylinders yet.”
We’ve seen the strengths of the 352 but we’ve also massively seen the drawbacks of that system. Ings and Watkins aren’t on the same wavelength. Midfield either dominates or is basically anonymous and none of us yet know where Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey, Anwar El Ghazi, Bertie Traore et al actually fit in with this formation.
Smith insists there wasn’t that much between the sides, and in a Son Heung-Min sense, yes it was basically one player on fire and he was the major difference. But, between two poor sides, there was still a gulf and that narrow 2-1 defeat could easily have been 4-1 or 5-1 and we couldn’t really have grumbled.
If we genuinely hold aspirations of being more than a midtable side this year, our coaching staff need to nail some big decisions this interruption break and hope our travellers slot in seamlessly on their return.