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QPR 2, Villa 0: That went about as horribly as it could have

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Paul Lambert's side lost 2-0 to former bottom-side Queens Park Rangers yesterday. And tactically, he got it all wrong.

Ian Walton

Most weeks, this is a comprehensive match recap, focused more on what happened the previous day than anything else.

And then Aston Villa went to bottom side QPR and lost 2-0.

The short version of a match recap:

Villa started out playing well! No, really! Ashley Westwood put a shot on target just four minutes in and Carlos Sánchez had a rocket from distance saved on 15. Villa controlled the game for the first quarter of an hour and then a stupid thing happened. Rangers cleared the ball deep, Bobby Zamora won a header at the edge of the box and played it perfectly to Charlie Austin, who fired a rocket past Guzan from the edge of the penalty area on 17 minutes.

Villa then spent the rest of the half fruitlessly trying to cross the ball in the box — more on that later — and despite controlling play for the entire first half, trailed 1-0 at the break. Villa had 61% of the possession in the first half and completed nearly twice as many passes as their opponent but trailed because they can neither score goals nor defend!

The second half was pretty dull and nothing much was happening and Villa were still trailing. So, naturally, you'd think Paul Lambert would make a change, right? Of course not! QPR brought on Junior Hoilett in the 60th minute and it changed the flow of the match — Rangers were then on the front foot and it paid off when Carlos Sánchez gave the ball away for no reason on 69 minutes, leading to Austin's second of the day.

Done and dusted, right? Not necessarily. Paul Lambert finally made changes (!!!) after the goal by bringing on Darren Bent — who I'm not sure touched the ball in 20 minutes of action — and Joe Cole who actually did something though it was the opposite of productive.

Matthew Lowton finally played in a good ball (!!!) on 77 minutes, destined for Benteke to head on target. Unfortunately, Joe Cole decided he'd do a better job with it apparently and screwed everything up, firing off-target. Three minutes later, Tom Cleverley had a rocket from 25 yards saved by Robert Green. Of course, in typical Rob Green fashion, there was a juicy rebound there for Ciaran Clark! All he had to do was not shoot it straight at the keeper! Unfortunately, Ciaran Clark is bad at football and couldn't perform this simple task.

I then promptly turned the game off and walked away.

Villa got beat by Villa:

Let's look at this statement twofold:

The first is that Villa beat itself which is very much true. Paul Lambert's side had 60% of the ball and outpassed Rangers 645 – 359 but still managed to, well, not score. That's a function of your own inability to generate quality chances than anything. Rob Green made six saves but none of them were overly spectacular — and the general plan for Villa offensively was "let's throw in a bunch of crosses!"

The issue with that? Let's start at left back. Aly Cissokho cannot cross to save his life — and for some reason, Lambert's tactics continue include Cissokho pumping in cross after cross after cross. Then the guy he played on the left wing? Tom Cleverley. You know, a central midfielder. And his right winger? Andi Weimann. A striker. Matt Lowton — at right back — was about the only semi-decent tactical choice Lambert made Monday as he's, well, capable of both playing the position he was deployed at and putting in a good cross.

Villa beat itself by failing to employ tactics that could legitimately take advantage of their control on the match.

The second way to look at it? QPR's tactics very closely mirror those that Villa used early in the season against Stoke, Newcastle, and Liverpool. Rangers sat back, absorbed pressure, packed the box, and made things difficult for Villa. They then got out quickly (via a long ball) to go ahead against the run of play and went 2-0 up on an error from their opponents.

The funny thing about all of it is that you still had Villa supporters complaining when the side was winning with those tactics — I'm fundamentally convinced that some Villa fans wouldn't be happy if they won the league while playing to 35% possession all year.

But that's another topic for another day.

Villa lost 2-0 to QPR yesterday. And Paul Lambert needs to try something, anything different.