Why am I even writing this? Why are you reading it? Why do any of us bother any more? Is there a more miserable team in sports than Aston Villa? These are all good questions after Villa's sixth-straight defeat, this one a gut-wrenching 2-1 decision to Spurs.
It didn't look good from the onset for Villa as Spurs had a shot wide of the goal inside of a minute. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the blowout — Paul Lambert's side looked competent going forward! Matt Lowton was whipping in balls and they were stringing passes together and everything. It was awesome and they were definitely the better side in what was a fairly open game. In a cruel joke, Christian Benteke had a laser strike hit the woodwork, denying Villa its first goal in 545 minutes.
And then Charles N'Zogbia played in a ground cross that Andi Weimann slid for and directed it past Hugo Lloris to do something... what's it called... oh yeah! Score a goal! Just 16 minutes in, Villa had the lead with a great finish from the much-maligned Austrian.
The game was pretty open from there and some poor finishing and a couple of saves from Brad Guzan kept Villa 1-0 up going into the interval.
There wasn't much going on coming out of halftime though you could sense Benteke was on his way to another goal. The match got a little chippy when Jan Vertonghen went studs-up on a challenge and unfortunately for Villa, the match turned when the Belgian striker had the nerve to touch Ryan Mason's face after getting chest bumped by the Spurs player.
Neil Swarbrick was an idiot and sent Benteke off for "violent contact" or something. Robert talked about why it was far from a necessary decision here.
Even then, Villa hung tough. Lambert brought Gabby Agbonlahor on who looked particularly brainless when the Claret and Blues got out on the counter and it looked like they could bring home the biggest three points of the year. Weimann lashed out at the referee out of frustration — should we say, passion? — after a pair of poor decisions immediately following the Benteke sending off and you got the feeling that they would pull out the win after all, giving the ultimate salute to Swarbrick.
But this is Aston Villa.
Of course said things don't happen. As the clock approaches 90, the probability that Villa will concede from a winning position approaches one.
Spurs won a corner on 84 minutes and thanks to some poor marking from that one guy that everybody loves because he's a Villan for life or something (*cough* Agbonlahor *cough*), Nacer Chadli scored at the back post — and then we knew what was coming next.
Or maybe not? Villa got out on the counter and that same guy made poor decisions (SERIOUSLY GABBY, YOU'RE FASTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE ON THE PITCH ESPECIALLY WITH FRESH LEGS. RUN PAST THEM. DON'T HOLD UP PLAY AND LET THE DEFENSE RESET.) but still got a good shot off when Aly Cissokho fired a rocket wide from the edge of the 18. It would've been a better chance if it wasn't, you know, Aly Cissokho.
And then Carlos Sánchez gave away a free kick 25 yards out from goal as stoppage time beckoned.
Harry Kane stepped up to take the free kick and he blessed the world with his immense skill. Or kicked the ball straight at Nathan Baker's head, however you want to put it.
Unfortunately for Villa, Nathan Baker got his head to that winner for Spurs.
For once, there was one lifeless team on the pitch at Villa Park and it wasn't Aston Villa. But then Benteke got sent off, Spurs got a spring in their step from scoring on a set piece, and it was all downhill from there.
A few musings.
- It was, all things considered, a really good performance through an hour. Last night shaped up to be one of those games you steal, one of those games that can turn a season.
- Instead, it didn't. The referee made a poor decision — one that almost certainly won't be overturned via appeal — and now an already-reeling Villa side will be without its two best players for the rest of the month. Go ahead and put your money on Burnley to beat Villa in a few weeks' time now, everyone. Before the rest of the world notices this.
- Andreas Weimann is still really, really good in front of goal and it absolutely kills me that he isn't deployed there more often. As we saw against Stoke on the opening day (God, that feels like forever ago... oh wait, it was) and last night, he finds a way to get the ball into the back of the net. With Benteke out for three games, Andi needs to be deployed up top as a striker. It's the only way of getting the goals.
- Charles N'Zogbia deserves a lot of credit for his assist. He did what is asked of a playmaker — created a goal — and I'd like to see him really take this opportunity to push on.
- How the hell, three years in now, can this team still not defend corners? It's a constant. Villa gets a corner? There's a better chance the other team scores on the counter. Villa concedes a corner late in the game? Feels like a 50/50 chance of a goal. At least.