As the dust settles around Villa Park, a lot of the Aston Villa faithful will be feeling a little down after not managing to grab a point against a very lacklustre Manchester United side.
But it is definitely not all gloom and doom in the midlands as this season starts to get going. Villa were United’s equal for large parts of the game, looking comfortable, and with a little more understanding and cohesion in the team would have scored a goal or two.
The Villa team as a whole were confident on the ball, trying to play short, simple football from the back and only hitting it longer when necessary. Ashley Westwood in particular showed off his range and accuracy of pass.
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They showed great attacking intent, especially through the wonderful Amavi down the left flank. Time and again we saw the Villa team taking the chance of putting the ball into the box, looking for the run of players out wide or hitting the channels.
The fact that United registered 40 clearances, with over half of those by the centre-back pairing of Chris Smalling and Daley Blind, paints a telling picture.
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Upsetting the odds
All this with five new signing in the first eleven, main striker and captain sold over the summer, Jack Grealish out injured and the replacement striker working his way back to full fitness.
Tim Sherwood has instilled a confidence and employed tactics that let his players take the opportunity to create chances, with the shape of the team compact enough to deal with a potential threat should the move break down.
Jordan Ayew in particular is not afraid to run with the ball, even if that means into dead-ends from time to time.
one week to the next
This was also a very different Villa performance from the previous match at Bournemouth. During the first match of the season, away to a newly-promoted team, getting the win was key. Villa knew the Cherries would have a lot of the ball and that they would have to soak up a lot pressure and look for a for a counter-attack or set-piece goal, but they adapted their game very well.
But against a United side that looked flat in their first game, the Villains visibly took the game to their opponents, harrying and closing down them down constantly. Ander Herrera, who was caught four times on the ball in his half hour on the pitch, found it particularly difficult to cope.
Some will say that United were well below their own standards and let Villa play better than they should, and there may be a case for that. But Villa more than played their part in a game determined by a deflected goal and good defending from both teams, rather than any real attacking class on show.
Villa have started the season with two very solid performances and only seem to be lacking a real goal scorer and a few more weeks playing together before the performances will lead to goals.
With Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Leicester City, West Brom and Liverpool their next five league fixtures, Grealish due back from injury before the end of the month, and news before the game that Villa have signed Adama Traore from Barcelona, there’s plenty of cause for optimism around Villa Park for the campaign ahead.
Villa fans, are you happy with the way the team has started this term? Let us know in the comments box below.