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 Bad

So here we are, revisiting the old narrative of ‘Villa play reasonably well before shooting themselves in the foot to lose the game’. For me, things went downhill from the moment that Sanchez was hauled off the field on 69 minutes. Yes Adama Traore came on, as he should have done, but surely a more like-for-like swap with the completely ineffective Agbonlahor would have been a better bet?

Far be it for me to want to second-guess Sherwood, but Sanchez’s removal was detrimental to the team, as taking off your primary ball-winner in a match is always likely to be. The Colombian is now at a stage where he needs Tim to place faith in him to see out a match – it’s the only way Sanchez’s development in English football can continue.

Although Sanchez’s absence weakened Villa’s position, both of Palace’s goals were preventable to say the least, and Villa should have been walking away from London with a point at minimum to reward a decent performance. Scott Dann may have been fouling Ciaran Clark for the opener (well, Scott Dann was fouling Ciaran Clark for the opener) but Clark, who had had a pretty good game up until that point, cannot allow himself to be dominated like that in his own penalty area from a set-piece.

If the first goal was careless, the second was slapstick. Although we can’t be tempted to start thinking that Jordan Amavi isn’t to be blamed for anything just because he has impressed so far, Brad Guzan was more to blame in this instance. To roll it out from an opposition corner before Palace’s players have retreated may show ambition in catching them on the break, but it also puts the defender you give the ball too under unnecessary pressure late in the game.

Part of the cause of the goal, and a general issue that really needs addressing, is that it’s pretty obvious Guzan knows that his kicking is the worst part of his game and so he has a tendency to be wary of his own distribution downfield, instead looking to roll the ball out at every opportunity. It’s a tendency that can be useful from time to time, but can also go badly wrong as it did on Saturday.


It takes some doing to beat Palace’s winner in the ‘Ugly’ stakes, but one man has managed to do it. I’ve been thinking long and hard about it, and I really haven’t known many strikers more profligate than Gabby Agbonlahor has been for the last few years. Not only did he produce a shocking touch to waste Grealish’s marvellous through ball, he passed the ball to Palace ‘keeper Alex McCarthy when one-on-one instead of, I don’t know, testing him, and just generally continued to be a poor use of a starting place.



I’ve always had a soft spot for Agbonlahor, and I have to admit I do still like it when his name is on the scoresheet. However, Gabby may be fast as f*** but the honest truth is that pace isn’t really an asset if you don’t do anything with it.

He’s just not good enough, and it’s time for the 28-year-old’s role to shift to a pacey substitute brought on to stretch games in the final third of the match when it is needed.

Sherwood seems to have a great deal of faith in him – faith which is, unfortunately, pretty unwarranted at the moment – and there is a worry that Agbonlahor being club captain could prove problematic, as it could lead Tim into the mindset of the forward being undroppable. The reality is that Agbonlahor’s time as a regular starter in the Villa line-up needs to be drawn to a conclusion.

After years of struggling to find players to play in creative roles, the club now have better options in Grealish, Traore, Scott Sinclair, Carles Gil and Jordan Ayew, and it’s time to start using them.

Follow Tom on Twitter – @tdnightingale

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid


  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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