The Good, Bad and Ugly as Villa Show Resilience Under Rémi Garde


Sunday was a curious day for Brad Guzan in goal. He, along with the woodwork and Kevin de Bruyne’s profligacy, kept us level when he saved Raheem Sterling’s header with his face, but that stop was far more about the winger’s attempt being straight at him than it was about the American’s reflexes.

In truth, Guzan was again unconvincing. He was very lucky that the first shot of Aleksandar Kolarov’s that he spilled only went on to hit the post, and he was fortunate again that the loose ball wasn’t seized upon by a City attacker when he let another effort from the left-back slip from his grasp. In fairness, he did look more assured in coming to claim crosses, but he continues to provide worrying moments each weekend.


Also concerning is the continued lack of goalscoring threat. Villa had an impressive 10-minute spell against Spurs last time out in which Ayew scored a deflected strike and we came close on a couple of other occasions, but aside from that, a penalty at Southampton and Ayew’s strike against Swansea, there has been virtually no suggestion of a goal since September. Admittedly you have to adjust your expectations given that Villa were playing against a side that had only conceded nine times in their first 11 league matches of the season, but a solution needs to be found soon.


One of the livelier moments of the match came in the form of the controversy surrounding the incident between Rudy Gestede and Joe Hart in the second half. The striker hurled the ball at the City goalkeeper from a throw-in after the visitors had put the ball out of play with Charles N’Zogbia down, leading to Hart miscontrolling it and conceding a corner, to the fury of City and the superb haughtiness of some of the national press. How dare we upset the league leaders?

Let’s just clarify here: giving the ball back to the team who put it out is not in the rulebook, but merely a custom of sportsmanship. Ok, we wouldn’t be happy if the opposition didn’t return the ball to Villa if that roles were reversed, but Gestede did give it back, technically. It’s not like we took the throw and ran in on goal. Hart could have left it, he could have kicked it upfield first time, or his control could have been better. Either way, City’s whining was more infuriating than it was hilarious (although only just), and we can only rue the fact that Gestede’s effort from the resulting corner didn’t find the target.


Overall, then, Villa and Garde should be encouraged by what they saw on Sunday. The new manager has questions that he needs to find a solution to – does he stick with Ayew as a focal point, for example, or bring in Gestede as a genuine target man and throw crosses into the box at every opportunity?

In a way, it’s a good time for the international break to arrive, as counter-intuitive as that may seem after stopping the run of defeats. Garde now has a fortnight to assess his squad in training and focus on the areas that need improving, ahead of a testing trip to Goodison Park in two weeks’ time.

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  1. Gestede motioned for Hart to get back into his box so he could throw it out for a goal kick – evident by the fact that he didn’t throw it at hart. By doing this, he insured that he and N’Zog would be in position by the time the City attack would come. Essentially, he wanted to make sure that City would be attacking against 11 rather than against 9. Hart going towards the ball showed that he wanted to take advantage of there being 2 players unable to help, so Gestede pressured him so that this would not be possible. Nothing wrong with what Rudy did.

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