With somewhat steady form for Aston Villa ahead of the September international break, real football finally returned on Monday evening and we welcomed West Ham United to Villa Park for our Premier League clash.
It was a mixed game with both positives and negatives really. We were unlucky not to win given the chances we did fashion across the 90 minutes, but equally, especially when they were down to ten men, we appeared clueless as to really break them down – despite the game continuing to be pretty open and end to end for me.
The big positive given their spending upfront is that they were limited to only one effort on target across the whole game, so whilst some fans naturally panicked that we’d be sucker-punched again, we weren’t really in any danger.
The biggest flashpoint in the game, however, was the coming together of Tyrone Mings and Anwar El Ghazi who, shall we say, shared a difference of opinion that actually led to the Video Assistant Referee technology looking at whether it was a red card incident.
— villareport (@villareport) September 16, 2019
Reaction to the fiery moment was mixed. Some liked the passion, some like Mings’ leadership and others liked El Ghazi not backing down, despite everyone seeming to agree it was a discussion he was never going to win.
Others understandably thought it was a significant low point for our spirit and few can’t have thought back to Gareth Barry getting in the way of Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer as Newcastle United clashed with themselves all those years ago.
Head coach Dean Smith was acting unconcerned, describing it as ‘a heat of the moment thing’ and Jack Grealish is also quoted by the BBC as saying it was quickly addressed at half time.
“As soon as we got in at half-time, it was put to bed and they shook hands. We said that can’t be happening on the pitch and said as soon as we left the dressing room, everyone had to be together. I did say to the ref ‘what are you even checking for?’ but he said he had to. Emotions were running high but it was nothing and it was squashed in the changing room.”
Let’s hope it was a one-off.