Yesterday was the first time I’d drove to Villa Park since I’d passed my test in November, and the ride there mirrored Chelsea’s performance – smooth, with very little scares along the way. Unfortunately for Villa, the game wasn’t as easy as my journey to watch them, as Chelsea condemned us to yet another crushing defeat.
A banner in the North Stand before kick-off read “No fight, no pride, no respect, no hope” and that pretty much summed up the 90 minutes that followed and encapsulated the season that we are all wishing had ended at the final whistle.
As the third goal hit the back of the net, the little hope that I clung on to seeped away. Even though I knew a long time ago that we were going down, the realisation kicked in and it hurt. And I realised why it hurt so much. It isn’t the fact that we are going to be relegated, it’s the fact that it’s been coming for so long, yet nothing has been done about it. From the moment we sat bottom of the table under Houllier, alarm bells should have been ringing. It shouldn’t have just been the panic buy of Darren Bent that followed; steps should have been made that ensured Villa, the team that had finished sixth for three consecutive seasons, would not be in this position again.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen the departures of Fox, Almstead and most recently manager Remi Garde. Yet, problems run much deeper and the summer can’t come quick enough. There is no point papering over the cracks anymore.
Starting XI Verdict:
There were two changes to the team that lost to Swansea City before the international break, with Clark and Veretout making way for Richards and Carlos Sanchez.
Following Ciaran Clark’s goal for the Republic of Ireland, I was surprised to see that he had been replaced by Micah Richards; the man who had spent his week off partying in Dubai. In all honesty, it wouldn’t have made much difference had Clark been in the team; however he may have put up a little fight compared to our captain.
Sanchez returned to the team, following his absence through injury and at first I was happy to see him back as he seemed to provide a slight improvement regarding shape, sitting just in front of our haphazard centre halves. Yet, normal service was resumed and the shape slowly but surely nosedived, just like the paper plane thrown from the Holte End.
Black’s Game Management:
Different manager, same tactics.
For me it doesn’t matter what manager is sat in the dugout this season, whether it be Black, Garde or Sherwood, nothing is going to change on the pitch.
From the moment the two sets of players walked out the tunnel, you knew which team wanted it most. As Chelsea bounced onto the pitch, Villa shrugged their shoulders, took a deep breath and braced themselves for another “long, hard” game, in the words of Micah Richards.
Black set the team up in a 4-5-1 formation, in the hope of shutting out Chelsea who fielded four players under the age of 20.
Jordan Ayew, the only player to show a glimpse of creativity and ability, was chucked out onto the left side. Despite this, Ayew did get himself amongst the action, and on another day (or with another team) would have bagged himself a couple of goals.
If he was trying to put himself in the shop window for next season, he succeeded in doing so. It’s just a shame that players like Lescott and Guzan didn’t follow his lead.
Neil Swarbrick didn’t have the best of games, but it was always going to be overshadowed by another calamitous performance by Aston Villa.
After booking Fabregas in the first half for a petty retaliatory kick on Idrissa Gana, he failed to even flinch when the Spaniard brought down Ayew, just as he was about the take a shot. Had Fabregas been sent off, it would have perhaps changed the game, with Chelsea only 1-0 down. Knowing Villa however, it wouldn’t have made that much difference.
For the second game running, Cissokho breathed a sigh of relief, when he escaped another red card. In added time of the first half, the left-back hauled down Pato, conceding a penalty to heap more misery onto a season of woe. Swarbrick brandished the yellow card, as Cissokho wiped the sweat off his brow.
In the 85th minute, Hutton saw red, as a result of two yellow cards. In my opinion, the Scotsman was wrongly sent off. From the North Stand, it looked as if substitute Jordan Lyden had gone in heavily on Loftus-Cheek. However, after reading every match report there is out there, they all say that it was Hutton that had fouled the Chelsea youngster.
The remaining fans rose to their feet to applaud Hutton off. Despite his lack of footballing ability at times, he is in the slim minority of players that actually try.
Can this section be avoided?
Fingers should be pointed at the players, who have failed to conjure up any fight. The only fight they have managed to produce is off the field.
I’m sure that if players like Agbonlahor and Richards put as much effort in keeping Villa up as they do on social media, we would be a much better position than we are now, albeit the fact that they are incompetent footballers.
The players should have a long, hard look at themselves. They call themselves Premier League footballers, but some of them wouldn’t even make it into the starting 11 of a League 2 side.
Not one player is worthy of the man of the match status. There are only about 31,000 fans that deserve that.
This was the right type of protest. I wasn’t a fan of the ‘Out the Door on 74’ protest, but this was the right way to go. For me, it made more of a statement to see all of those banners proudly held in the air, than supporters walking out.
The words “Proud History, What Future?” were in black and white for all to see.
This was a toss-up between Fabregas and Pedro. However, I think Pedro just edged it.
The two men that sit behind me each week have slowly swung their favour to the visiting teams, much to my annoyance. They sit and applaud a string of passes put together by the opposing team and often publicly admire the goals that are scored by the visitors at Villa Park. Once again, they didn’t fail to disappoint and were very vocal in their adulation for Pedro.
I understand why they praise the opposition, because I too sometimes sit in awe of players like Fabregas waltzing through our missing midfield. But don’t do it out loud, please.
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