Has Aston Villa’s Sinister Seven Results Shaken Unai Emery’s Confidence?

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Tottenham Hotspur

Summing up how most Villa fans feel after the Spurs performance, or lack of performance is no easy task.

It’s like the first stages of a break-up, the big red flags are waving in your face and before long you will be sitting on the sofa with whiskey and ice cream, wondering when you last had a shower.

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The Good

Well, it comes down to what Unai Emery said after the match.

We are sad, we are disappointed, but we are fourth…

Some wise words.

But storm clouds are gathering.

Villan of the Week

Errr…let’s give it to Clément Lenglet for that nutmeg pass he did against Spurs. C’est énorme!

The Bad

It needs to be said, that the four-goal defeat against Spurs was only another serious injury away from being the worst possible result at the worst possible time.

Losing to your nearest rivals, losing your goal difference advantage over them, and due to an uncharacteristic rush of blood to the head, losing your captain for three games ticks nearly every box.

John McGinn, letting his intrusive thoughts take over and trying to kick Udogie into touch, was the culmination of everything that had gone wrong on the day.

Unai Emery is the best manager Aston Villa have had this millennium, but even he is not infallible and the gamble of trying to nullify Spurs rather than out-gunning them, wasn’t the correct choice.

It was a tactical setup, devoid of emotion, something which carried the team to the end of last season, ripping through teams at Villa Park, and scoring for fun right up until the draw against Sheffield United and the defeat against Newcastle, either side of Christmas and New Year.

So what changed?

Could it be that Emery has lost confidence in his depleted squad and went for a percentage play?

It’s not impossible, considering the performance levels when expectations have been high.

Beat Sheffield United and go top.
Hold onto a two-goal lead at Old Trafford.
Beat Everton, who can’t score goals.
Roll over Newcastle and take revenge for the reverse fixture.
Take care of Chelsea in the FA Cup.
Kill off Manchester United at Villa Park.
Put Spurs well behind you.

The sinister seven results that have sapped Villa’s belief.

The pressure of being a front-runner is different to being in the chasing pack, and it’s shown with the players becoming hesitant, making mistakes, losing their composure and most importantly, shipping goals in bursts.

The mentality that saw Leicester City win the league is the mentality that’s needed. Just keep going.

While Leicester’s league-winning manager Claudio Ranieri was called the tinker man, it’s now Emery who may be overthinking his tactics, because the team has shown fragility in the big moments.

Emery went for caution against Spurs, and he may regret it for the rest of the season.

With Ajax to come, it’s time to jump in at the deep end and swim for the rest of the season, there’s no time for dipping a toe with your armbands on.

The Ugly

The ugly is simple. Villa cannot afford to let this season flop. The FFP pressures that have been rumoured, the club’s record losses and losing ground on rivals, meant that this was a chance to stay on the upward trajectory.

This needs to continue with a win in the Europa Conference League against Ajax.

Momentum is everything, and Villa have been the authors of their own misfortune concerning keeping it alive so far.

By playing conservatively in Amsterdam, they missed the chance to capitalize on the last-minute winner against Luton.

Spirits were high, so naturally you go strong and keep the ball rolling.

Instead, Villa made changes and just went through the motions at Ajax.

They can’t keep dropping their levels and expect to be fully on their game for the next match. It catches up with you, sometimes even within the same game.

The no-show against Spurs in the second half was an ugly sign of a team that had no answers. They’d let the initiative go and Spurs were in no mood for stepping off.

Villa, by contrast, have let teams get back into games, by dropping their intensity. Burnley, Forest, Luton and Manchester United, were all on the ropes and somehow got back into games.

What’s desperately needed now to lift the clouds is a 90-minute performance, or else this season will be easily summed up as ‘One week in December.’


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