Aston Villa Have Bounced Back Well Since Red Devil Disappointment

The Good, Bad and Ugly of United and Double Redemption

Why oh why is it always Manchester United? Bogey team isn’t even a phrase you can use, it’s an old-fashioned curse that should have been exorcised. After throwing away a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford, after coming back from behind at Villa Park to level, Villa had the Red Devils where they wanted them, but failed to go in for the kill. After being doubled by United, suddenly Erik ten Hag’s men were only five points behind and Villa’s Champions League hopes looked like they were slipping.

What a difference a couple of weeks makes though, with Villa’s back-to-back wins regaining an advantage over both United and Spurs in the race to Europe’s top tier competition.

The Good

As much of a struggle as it is to find any positives directly after the latest defeat against the Red Devils, which was Villa’s third straight home loss in all competitions, time and a couple of wins has banished our concerns.

You could say, after several indifferent showings, at least the performance level lifted in the United game and it proved a sign of things to come.

Jacob Ramsey coming back into the starting line-up re-invigorated the left side of the team and on another day, it would have led to many more goals and a home win.

It was a far cry from the pathetic displays against Newcastle and Chelsea in the last home games, but unfortunately, the end result was the same defeat.

Unai Emery used the adversity to refocus Villa, and with the remains of the squad regalvanized, what came against Fulham and Nottingham Forest was very reinsuring.

Villan of the Week – Leon Bailey

New contract, new player. Bailey has been and continues to be a revelation this season. Every time he gets on the ball, the fans are out of their seats and things happen.

There are still some overplaying and complications in his play, but the flip side of the attacking threat he provides a level of magic that can bamboozle the best of defenders and leave them for dead.

The one-man aggregate continues to shine.

The Bad

Let’s start with injuries.

Mings and Buendia have been discussed and absorbed.

Ramsey and Moreno are just back and playing at about 80%.

Duran, Torres and Digne have been out during the recent dip in form.

Now Kamara, Carlos and Konsa have joined the ranks of the missing.

It’s a crippling injury crisis affecting the foundations of the team.

So is there anything Villa could’ve done differently to avoid this? The short answer is no. When you’re down to your fifth and sixth choice at centre-back, a loanee and utility player, you know it’s bad luck. Although, the fact Unai Emery has admitted he tried to farm out Calum Chambers in the last two transfer windows, but Chambers decided to stick around (maybe for his wages?), suggests at least Villa have had some luck to at least have cover. Most clubs are content to have four centre back.

Villa did perhaps have 7th and 8th choice ‘break glass in case of emergency’ centre-backs, but both are now gone for the season; with Kamara injured and Dendoncker loaned out to Napoli.

The Aston Villa first eleven is a match for anyone, if Torres can remain fit, but scratch beneath the surface and there is sticky tape over many positions for the rest of the season.

It has been proven that Villa do have a resolute squad, one of the best they’ve ever had, but it’s reaching breaking point and will need some good fortune from here to May.

The Ugly

As painful as any defeat is against Manchester United, the double this season has been up there.

In both games, Aston Villa were in a position to win the game and threw it away. If Villa had won both the games, top five would already be a formality and United would be toast.

At Old Trafford, they were two goals up before the half-hour mark before collapsing in the second half.

At Villa Park, they had United on the ropes at one each, then just sat back.

If the performances and tactics had been reversed, the results may have been also.

At Old Trafford there was naivety in not killing the game as a spectacle and just taking the win, exactly what Villa looked to do at Villa Park when United were there for the kill.

Taking off Leon Bailey and letting the game’s pace drop to a standstill from the 80-minute mark, was like the supervillain telling James Bond his plan before he escaped and fed him to his own shark.

Those two results have put an ugly stain on Aston Villa’s exceptional season to date and it’s one that they have to learn from.

We will never know if it’s a case of the players not following the instructions or rare errors of judgement from Unai Emery. Still, both will have to learn from these two games quickly to avoid being another Aston Villa footnote to go along with John Gregory and Martin O’Neill’s once promising teams.


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