The Good, Bad and Ugly of Leeds United.
What’s that you say? An unbeaten three-game run? It must mean there’s nothing Ugly in the in-tray this week…
Unbeaten in three games. It’s a start, five points from Manchester City, Southampton and Leeds. Would anyone have been surprised if it had been two, or none?
Forgive me, if I’m happy enough with the points total over these three games, if not the performances.
The difference in the quality of defending has been stark. From Mings being back to his casual best, to McGinn and Konsa remembering what to do when an opponent is about to shoot in the box.
It’s a platform to build on, but that’s all it is at this stage. At the minute every game needs to yield points to not only improve Villa’s league position, but remove the negativity surrounding every aspect of the club.
One aspect that surely can’t be questioned is squad depth. In other seasons, a sudden spate of injuries to starting players would have precipitated Aston Villa spiralling to the bottom of the table.
The squad depth is so good now, that it’s the least of Villa fans’ concerns, despite the injuries to Carlos, Digne, Augustinsson, Kamara, Chambers and Cash.
It’s lucky Ashley Young was such a universally agreed excellent re-signing or else the fullback positions would really be up the creek without a paddle.
Villan of The Week – Ezri Konsa
Despite missing a presentable chance against Leeds, Konsa has turned a corner I didn’t expect him to. Ezri Konsa, like his previous manager Dean Smith, has always been streaky.
He’s gone through extended periods of good form as well as periods of poor form. When he’s good, he’s the perfect foil to Mings, when he’s bad, everything seems to be wrong.
In the Leeds game, he had to deputise at right back for the whole second half. While his attacking output wasn’t top-drawer, it didn’t stop him from persisting until the end, pushing forward and looking to set up the winner.
Like the rest of the team, consistency is key for Konsa.
Use Code BAG30 for 30% off Villa shirts below
Up until Leeds went down to ten men, you wouldn’t have found much criticism of Villa’s performance or approach to the match.
They nullified Leeds, they frustrated them, and after the first exchanges, they began to create better chances.
The red card, not for the first time, was bad for Aston Villa.
Villa were inches away from three points against Leeds on the following occasions:
Buendia’s late shot, Coutinho’s off the post, Watkins fluffing the rebound, Ramsey failing to make contact with a high ball, Konsa heading wide at the back post from two yards out, and Watkins two missed one-on-one duels with Meslier.
I feel it’s important to list these because the narrative is, Villa aren’t creating enough chances.
That’s not the truth, the issue is Villa aren’t taking their chances.
This week, Villa media was full of the anniversary of the 7-2 win over Liverpool. What I remember most about that match was how many Villa should have scored.
It’s not a new thing Aston Villa missing chances, what’s new is the complete lack of acceptance for any miss.
It’s almost as if people think it’s as easy to score in the Premier League as it is in some kind of popular videogame…
That time of year is here again when football fans, 45-years-old and younger, either buy the latest FIFA game for themselves or their children.
This has been a ritual since I was in my early teens, but things were very different then. There was a clear line between videogame and reality. As you can see in the tweet below, I’ve still got it.
As the years have gone on, the lines have blurred to the extent that commentary and attitudes to modern football are being corrupted.
I was at the magic age where you played football, then relaxed by playing the videogame. Something Andrea Pirlo did before winning the 2006 World Cup, before you call me a geek.
I knew the two were very different things and had their boundaries.
The advent of social media ruined quality journalism and the bleed over of Football games threatens to ruin footballing discourse for many fans.
People need to remember that physical football isn’t easy.
Take Erling Haaland and his incredible start to life in the Premier League. He’s a freak of nature almost scientifically created to score goals.
Couple him with the most expensive and creative squad in the world and there can be no other result than goals.
Younger fans are so used to their football-playing avatars in FIFA and Football Manager achieving feats like this, that they fail to appreciate how hard it is to do what Haaland is doing.
By contrast, they see Ollie Watkins missing a one vs one with Illan Meslier and they completely lose their collective minds.
Watkins should have buried the rebound from Coutinho hitting the angle, but as for the others, it isn’t as simple as holding the left shoulder button and shooting.
Put yourself in his actual mind, the first time he went low vs Meslier, what do you do the second time, do you double down or try the riskier chip?
You’ve got a tenth of a second to make your mind up, added to the fact that the longer the game goes on, the fatigue and desperation affect your judgement.
Watkins chose poorly, but Meslier did well, if it had been Emi Martinez, Villa fans would be constructing a tifo for him.
Before you put an ugly opinion out there, remember it’s not as easy as sitting and holding your controller.