Another midweek fixture for Aston Villa and this time we welcomed West Ham United to Villa Park for what we all hoped would be another three points to keep what has been a good, albeit unexpected, season going.
It was a mixed start from head coach Dean Smith’s team, we looked largely to be in third gear and leggy but still had some very good chances to take the lead. The issue was mainly it was also a very open game and although we weren’t really troubled at the back, the visitors had some good chances of their own they just put most of them straight at Emi Martinez.
You got the feeling this wouldn’t be a comfortable one for fans to watch.
The first half turned against us, and it’s only fair to say by the break West Ham had been more on top and certainly had more to show for their efforts – but thankfully not a goal.
Which Villa would come back out of the tunnel? In some ways, we couldn’t be much worse!
(yes I did regret writing that line in hindsight!)
Smith made an unexpected but needed half time change, and Traore replaced El Ghazi and whilst we looked brighter to begin with, the visitors kept carving us open and advantage them…it was going to be a long half ahead.
We hadn’t really woken up but a brilliant bit of skill that had you screaming for a shot, turned into a pass, the ball wasn’t controlled and sent straight to their attack and 3 vs 2 – 2-0. It was laughable and then we couldn’t even pass the ball 5 yards to each other without sending it out of play.
It should’ve quickly been three as we were cut open once again but Tyrone Mings brilliantly cleared off the line.
I can’t even say there was really a reaction, we carried on as we were…pretty sloppy, very predictable but not creating anything of note. Everything seemed lethargic.
We did get to see a few minutes of January capture Morgan Sanson though as he came on as a substitute for his debut.
A minute later thoughts turned to an unexpected fightback as Jack sent Ollie through and he grabbed himself another goal. This was now going to be an even longer nine minutes and had it not been for a wonderful block, Ollie would’ve had a brace seconds later as well.
At least we were quickly put out of our misery, West Ham broke again and although it looked like Emi had got a strong hand to it, it wasn’t strong enough and it was 3-1.
Smith might not believe in exhaustion, but he needs to wake up to fatigue as only three odd players from the beginning didn’t look leggy, knackered and half a yard off the pace and the longer the game went on, it became more and more noticeable and not even the subs looked like they had anything to draw upon.
When you finish the game knowing you gifted them three almost from nothing (that should’ve been cut out or saved), could still have scored three ourselves had we been calmer and sharper and struggle to pick out a single player that was up to their usual standards – you know it’s been a bad day at the office.
Rest is now absolutely crucial after that, it’s the only thing that explains why everyone was missing a yard.
3/02/2021 8:15 pm
Referee: Andy Madley
|West Ham United
|Soucek (51), Lingard (56, 83)