The Good, Bad and Ugly of Villa’s Palace Disappointment

Is Sanchez now a starter? Is Agbonlahor looking at some bench time? How good is Traore? It may have been a poor result, but the Palace game raised plenty of questions...

The 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday, a second consecutive defeat for Villa, was far more frustrating than the 1-0 home reverse against Manchester United last weekend because of both the lower calibre of opponent (sorry Eagles fans) and the manner in which Villa threw away a point.

With numerous positives still to take from the disappointment, here’s a look at the Good, Bad and Ugly from Selhurst Park.

The Good

One of the more notable plus points from the match was the performance of Carlos Sanchez, making his first start of the season. After an inconsistent first season in England in which he took time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, the Colombian looks as though he could now be blossoming into the player he showed himself to be for his country in the Copa America this summer.

Sanchez impressed during second-half appearances as a substitute against Bournemouth and United, and the midfielder was superb on Saturday. His passing – one of his major weak points throughout last season – was much improved, he appeared composed and controlled on the ball, and his strength is tackling was greatly needed in the centre of the pitch.

Although on show throughout the match, all these attributes were displayed in one first-half move when he won the ball to prevent a Palace counter-attack, shimmied past a defender and fired a decent effort over the bar from range. Touch wood, of course, but he finally seems to be becoming a crucial cog in the spine of the team.


With Ashley Westwood having been quietly superb so far this campaign – Tim Sherwood recently tipped him for an England call-up, although as a quiet midfielder from Villa that’s about as likely as Gabriel Agbonlahor scoring 20 goals this season – and Idriss Gana hinting at the quality which his reputation in France suggested, Sherwood’s first choice central midfield is now staring him in the face.

The other obvious positive was the debut cameo of Adama Traore. The billing that he arrived with and the electrifying nature of his 20 minutes on the pitch suggest that the ex-Barcelona man is one of the most exciting new arrivals at the club in recent memory. Of course, it does not do to overhype a 19-year-old, but the winger must be given more game time in the upcoming weeks as he beds into life in England.

Seeing Jack Grealish back in the fold was also hugely encouraging. Last season’s Villa darling barely featured over the summer and, if you’ll excuse the cliché, he felt rather like a new signing at Selhurst Park. The highlight of his match was probably the superb defence-splitting pass through to Agbonlahor in the first half which should have led to a goal were it not for the fact that the player on the receiving end has all the cutting edge of a marshmallow

[See next page for Villa’s Bad & Ugly]


  1. Guzan should have composed himself, stuck it up his shirt for as long as possible, then booted it as far as he could into a convenient opposition corner. A throw in to Palace deep in their own half and a point secured would have been the result with a couple of minutes to go.
    Yes he may have been criticised for his poor kicking but he is now being rightly criticised for losing us the match. Amavi can’t really be held responsible for receiving a hospital pass.
    Unfortunately schoolboy/girl errors are costing us.
    Everyone knows Scott Dann is Palace’ main threat at corners. He’s taller than Clark who did the right thing in grappling with him, unfortunately what was required was for someone like Gestede to double up and win the header. This didn’t happen with the inevitable result.
    It really is basic stuff, stick a full back on each post, closely mark their danger men and get your best headers to win the ball. Forget zonal marking it doesn’t work.
    Villa have been rubbish at defending corners for some time with Vlaar and Benteke particularly poor so good riddance to them!
    I agree with most of the other stuff, Gabby as an impact player but just lob it over and let him chase it, don’t give it to him with his back to goal. I genuinely believe he is just having a bad patch of form in front of goal as all strikers do from time to time and is still capable of doing a job for us.
    Charlie Austin would be bloody good with Gestede. We could have had him for the combined price of Ayew and Crespo and we would have all agreed to his alleged wage demands to keep Benteke.
    Its a no brainer to me but I’m just a supporter, hopefully Mr Sherwood knows what he’s doing.

  2. Having read Tim Sherwoods recent comments in reference to the new season ,I feel he has lost
    some of his confidence that he had and has lowered his sites. I really hope he can change our fortunes
    and this is not the start of more excuses.
    Players have to do the work on the pitch as we all know, however, the manager selects the team and squad.
    Some of his selections and decisions concern me, such as playing Gabby who gives the team nothing and
    is terrible at the moment and still gets picked !! for the 90 mins. Playing Bacuna as a full back .
    Taking Sanchez off at Palace needs explaining to me, because I just do not grasp it. He was playing extremely well and the defence was coping ok. Why not take Gabby off and replace him with another forward. This would have kept the shape at the back and maybe palace would not have been gifted the winning goal .
    Can someone explain to me , why you would play a 6ft + striker who is a great header of a ball and not
    feed him with crosses from the WINGS !!. Play to his strength or we will not see anything like his Blackburn
    form .
    Come on Villa !! Lets have a reasonable season, with the new players signed we should .

  3. Spot the difference between these two phrases:

    “”If we can get ourselves out, we ain’t ever finding ourselves in this situation again”

    ‘If we can get through this season unscathed”

    Answer – about three months.

  4. villa have now lost 5 of the last 6 competitive games. Have to win tonight against Notts County. They are also losing goals late in the game again, if the friendlies against Wolves and Notts Forest are counted then the last twenty minutes become a real worry

    Why is Idriss Gana now a new name for Idriss Gueye?

    Trevor FIsher

  5. I don’t think its fair to blame Guzan for the second goal, if he’d aimlessly kicked it down the field we’d have been commenting on his poor distribution again. I think Amavi with a little more experience and maturity won’t be trying to skin people on his 18 yard line in the future.

    Agree with you on the Agbonlahor situation, he has been hopelessly ineffective so far this season. I want him to succeed, he is Villa through and through butt maybe sometime on the sidelines may help him regain his desire and fight.

    Its hard to judge the team so far, we should be winning at Bournemouth, we haven’t beaten United in decades at home and Palace are by all accounts a good side at home. Villa are still playing like a group of strangers, but when they finally click this will be a better team than we’ve had in the last few seasons.

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