14/08/2021 3:00 pm
Referee: Mike Dean
|Dennis (10), Sarr (42), Hernandez Suarez (67)||McGinn (70), Ings (pen 90+7)|
Well, it’s the day all Aston Villa fans were waiting for – the 2021/22 Premier League kick off as we travelled to Vicarage Road to face off against Watford, as well as honouring the top man known as Graham Taylor.
A mixed pre-season, and mixed summer in fairness with good additions to strengthen our first team but the annoying departure of Jack Grealish.
This was the year head coach Dean Smith developed a philosophy not reliant on ‘get it to…’ and the only question was, how quickly would that click?
We started brightly and were easily on top, but Sarr had the pace on Targett and ten minutes in everyone went to sleep and Watford had the easy lead from a goal that just should not have been conceded.
We weren’t exactly in danger then, but you’d easily argue Watford were on top and they should’ve potentially been down to ten men following a double footed challenge by Kucka on Meatball as well.
For whatever reason we just hadn’t settled properly or grown into the first half and our better moments of play just weren’t coming off – much like what we saw in pre-season, flashes but little follow through.
Shortly before the break it was 2-0.
Would the second half be any better?
Ramsey came on for Targett at the break, so we’d soon find out.
We were a lot better, but sadly that’s not saying much. Back on the front foot we looked sharper and quicker, but the final ball was still our problem. We can’t argue the chances weren’t there as they were, but we didn’t take them even though we were still far from convincing.
We did get our first look at Leon Bailey in the second half though.
And then Watford got their third, so game over.
The usual Smith gripes will be out after that, but pre-season has cost us and even when better we were sluggish and lacked a sharpness.
Bailey’s assist for McGinn’s well taken consolation gives hope once the side clicks, and it has to click as even at our worst last season, we weren’t quite as bad as today and it’s not like Watford were actually that good either – they just didn’t waste their chances. Danny Ings’ late penalty (won by Bertie) put the right reflection on the game for me.
Maybe next time…at least we ended stronger than we started, that’s something.
Hugely disappointing and pre-season has cost us here, but maybe not surprising and not end of the world stuff, we just have to significantly and quickly build on our better moments of play now.