Jules Verne wrote a novel in which a man and his valet traveled around the entire globe in 80 days. That's using 19th century traveling methods, mind you, and it was considered an impressive feat. For some things, 80 days is quite fast. For others, 80 days is an insanely long amount of time. Like winning a football match, for isntance.
It had been 80 days since Aston Villa beat Liverpool at Anfield on September 13. And now that streak is dead, thanks to Christian Benteke's beautiful goal, some terrible play by a dominant Crystal Palace, and what I can only assume was divine intervention.
I've not really collected my thoughts, so this will be more of a truly instant reaction than most of these, but here are some bullet points.
- This goal was amazing. It was vintage Benteke, too, where we see him make a run, muscle out a defender, and then create his own chance. It's why he's clearly the team's best attacking option.
- Andi Weimann works hard, but doesn't do much. He was sort of absent for a lot of this, and he'll be literally absent for the next match, as he picked up his fifth yellow of the year. Hey, maybe Callum Robinson can see the bench!
- Brad Guzan had one mistake at the beginning of the match, but it didn't cost Villa. After that, he was absolutely immense. He showed a lot of initiative and kept cutting off Palace's attack when the defense faltered. A really great match from him, I thought.
- Jores Okore and Ciaran Clark are... good together? Great together? You can tell that they're both young and will make a dumb mistake or two in a match, but by-and-large I've felt as if they've been excellent in their three matches. I'm making it really public everywhere: I was wrong about Ciaran Clark. He can still be a valuable piece at Villa.
- This results changes everything and it changes nothing. Villa looked like junk for a lot of this match, but they get to flip the narrative. It's no longer "winless since September 13" but rather "unbeaten in four matches." And somehow, thanks to the total lack of quality in the Premier League this season, Villa are in 12th. They face 20th-place Leicester City over the weekend, and a win could easily push them into the top half. This is a team who could still recover from this dreadful spell. It doesn't make them less maddening, but it can give us a bit of hope