Date: 15th August 2021 at 8:00pm
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It wasn’t the start any Aston Villa fan wanted as we went down to Vicarage Road and suffered a pretty pathetic 3-2 defeat to Watford in the opening Premier League game of the 2021/22 campaign.

No player was at their best and Lady Luck was shining on Watford, but whilst most of us try and scrub the game from our memories, Vital Villa forum member Tom Cat tries to pick apart the 90 minutes.

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Trying to evaluate the game after taking a bit of a rest!

Targett especially, but our defence looked very porous today. We weren’t clicking at all. I don’t see a reason why they would have suddenly got so bad, so not too worried – might just need a couple games to get up to speed.

Surprised by Buendia. Thought Emi2 was going to hit the ground running, but he was one of our poorest players. Don’t think the tactics helped at all, he looked completely lost in the centre of the pitch. Got outmuscled a lot too, he could have been trying to do too much by himself. Tough start for him, but I have no fear.

Surprised by Bailey. Thought he was going to take a couple of months to get up to speed and I feared a flop, but easily our best player today. Only took a couple minutes to get involved with a goal and looked dangerous every time he had the ball. I just wanted all of our play to go through him. Kind of reminded me of someone…… but faster.

I think we missed Watkins a lot. Boy’s got a lot to his game and is a dominant force on the pitch. Thought Ings would be a great replacement, but he was really anonymous.

On Ings, we now have someone who can take a penalty and there is less of an excuse for playing El Ghazi. Just need to learn to play to his strengths.

We were woeful in the first half, but we have options now. Last year we had no such luck. El Ghazi and Buendia were pants today, but we were then able to get Bailey and Traore on – who changed the game completely. They can’t all have a bad day, so expect players to get pulled earlier for underperforming (I hope).

Our midfield needs something. Marvelous was good for me today, other than that mental pass. Meatball scored a great goal, but was really sluggish and sloppy the rest of the time. I think we are all in agreement that a solid, consistent player is needed here to take one of those two positions. I’d kill for a prime Milner in the team.

We miss he who shall not be named and it’s going to take time. Those wanting to axe Smith, I urge you to give it time. There’s a fair chance we’ll be in the danger zone in 6 or 7 games time, but I’m really confident that we have some very solid players and when on the same wavelength will be a real force. A strong finish after a slow start is my prediction.

I hope that the owners will be able to tell the difference between a team learning to overcome the grief of a loss and then a poor manager. Deano might not cut it in the end, jury is out for me, but there’s a good chance he won’t be to blame for some bad performances in the next few games is all I’m saying.

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