For those of you that went to sleep and didn't stay up for this one, well, you probably made the right decision. Save for a pair of Villa goals either side of the interval—Andreas Weimann scored to close the first half while Charles N'Zogbia opened the second half with a cracker of a free kick—it was a drab affair, all too reminiscent of what we saw out of Villa last season. And if not for some poor finishing from the hosts, it could've been a 3-2 FC Dallas victory rather than a 2-0 Villa win.
Aston Villa XI: Shay Given, Alan Hutton, Jores Okore, Edna Stevens, Nathan Baker, Chris Herd, Leandro Bacuna, Gary Gardner, Andreas Weimann, Darren Bent, Jack Grealish
For the most part, the first half hour of the match was pretty drab and the most entertaining thing of the period was some guy wearing a horse head in the crowd. Neither team really had any clear-cut chances but the hosts definitely controlled possession—both in the pure and territorial sense. Jack Grealish ran all around the pitch and contributed to our issues trying to figure out Villa's formation in the half. (Hint: We still aren't quite sure. At one point it looked like a 5-4-1 which was horrible.)
Things started to pick up a little bit when Edna Stevens—yeah, that guy—had a go from the edge of the box that was saved well by Dallas keeper Raul Fernandez.
Then on 44 minutes, everyone's favorite Austrian put Villa in front from the top of the box at the end of a well-worked counter attack. When Villa cleared, Darren Bent found himself on the ball and running at a pair of Dallas defenders with Weimann. Bent took the ball down the pitch and laid the ball off to Weimann whose shot should've been saved. It might have been the first time in 15 minutes that Weimann touched the ball, which, well is probably a thing that should happen more often. Whatever. But more importantly DARREN BENT GOT AN ASSIST. SOUND ALL OF THE KLAXONS.
Aston Villa XI: Shay Given, Matthew Lowton, Philippe Senderos, Ciaran Clark, Joe Bennett, Ashley Westwood, Karim El Ahmadi, Fabian Delph, Charles N'Zogbia, Gabby Agbonlahor, Kieran Richardson
Villa got off on the right foot to start the second half and had a chance in the first couple of minutes when Agbonlahor was brought down just outside of the penalty area. Then this happened:
Welcome back, Charles N'Zogbia. In a free kick that was ever so reminiscent of his one against West Ham in arguably 2013's most crucial match, N'Zogbia put Villa comfortably ahead. Well, what should have been comfortably. Villa didn't do much going forward the rest of the second half and the defense was at times downright terrible. League One-level mistakes by Senderos and Clark were met with League Two-level finishing from Dallas and as a result, the visitors were able to hang on to the 2-0 decision fairly comfortably.
Things to Take Away
- Charles N'Zogbia is still good at free kicks. I still think he's a guy that needs to be in the XI against Stoke but we'll see about that.
- Jed Steer didn't play in the second half like he was supposed to for some reason.
- Joe Cole picked up a knock in training and missed out. That's something we should probably get used to hearing.
- Andreas Weimann should actually touch the ball every once in a while. The kid can score goals.
- Darren Bent is capable of passing the ball. We saw it some against Mansfield last Thursday and we saw it again tonight. If he can be a productive member of the squad in more ways than just standing in the penalty area, that's probably good.
- Who wears short shorts? Jack Grealish wears short shorts.