Five Reasons to be Cheerful Post Leicester Loss
By Armen Mirzoian
These Five Reasons columns have been writing themselves during the first eight games of Emery’s reign, however with a disappointing home defeat against Leicester City, it’s important to remember why the glass is half full right now. Here are Five Reasons to be Cheerful as Villa fans:
Villa have had their share of hopeless performances in recent years but this was not one of them. Without doubt, in possession and in attack, they were the superior side. Instead, the loss was due to a familiar defensive capitulation, as Villa gifted goals having led twice in a game that resembled the League Cup exit to Manchester United.
But disappointment should not mask over the positives. Villa set a joint season record of 19 shots in a single game with Ollie Watkins scoring for a second consecutive game and Emi Buendia producing an excellent performance. Nine out of ten times, if the match played out in a similar fashion, the home side would comfortably win and although that makes the result more frustrating, it’s further evidence of Emery transforming Villa’s attacking play. The manager will now need time to find the balance between defensive shape and fluid attacking play. But compare this performance to the games against Nottingham Forest, Leeds, Crystal Palace and Southampton, at the start of the season, and the overall improvement is clear.
Signings, signings and more signings seems to be the solution to any footballing problem, just ask Chelsea. Villa added two players by the halfway point of the window before, unexpectedly, selling leading scorer Danny Ings. The reasons for the sale are clear and whether it was the right decision or not, only time will tell.
The Ings sale aside, it is refreshing to see our recruitment take on a patient approach targeting specific players that will add to the first XI rather than adding numbers for the sake of it and burdening the club with restrictively high wages (again!). A few peripheral players were released and Bertrand Traore brought back, resulting in a squad offering two players for every position, certainly not a reason to panic.
On paper the next two matches will be tough. However, the two most recent league games against Manchester City (Cheaty), suggest that Villa can get something from the game. Also, Arsenal having lost two on the bounce suddenly look a bit more vulnerable.
Beyond the City and Arsenal games, Villa face four teams that sit below them in the league table, two of which are in the relegation zone at present. Although the immediate future doesn’t look as rosy as it did before the Leicester game, the pivotal moment of the season will come during those four games where Villa will have another opportunity to distance themselves from the rabble and secure a top half position.
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Watkins Goal Rush
In Watkins’ last nine games he has produced four goals and two assists. This is the kind of form we saw in his first season in the Premier League and a clear sign that his new manager knows how best to deploy him. With Ings having moved on, it should give Ollie the platform he needs to feel like the main man again and to set up a successful second half of the season.
Win, lose or draw, Villa seem to be locked into that 11th position. But the truth of the matter is that even despite the Leicester defeat, Villa have maintained an, albeit small, gap between them and the sides fighting at the bottom. Luckily for Villa, neither Chelsea, Liverpool, Crystal Palace nor Fulham won their matches.
In fact it was an odd weekend with only four of the top half sides winning their games, so there is no need to lose too much hope just yet. There are key moments ahead and undoubtedly many more unexpected twists and turns for the season. One disappointing result will not define the season.