This Saturday means much more to Villa than the Lambert and Sherwood-era conceptions of an away match to a consistent top half team in which winning is but a slim possibility. Among other things, this Saturday is the first match from which we can begin to accurately judge Remi Garde's performance at Villa. While his first official game in charge, Villa's goalless draw with Manchester City, was an astounding result for which Garde should be exalted, he was only given two or three training sessions to whip his side into shape, and he obviously had only a preliminary grasp on the strengths and ability levels of his squad.
This Saturday, however, is much different. Garde has had almost 14 days since the City game, and has had a significant amount of time to accurately decipher just what Villa's winning formula will likely be. It cannot be denied that because he was in charge for less than a week before his first game, his first stab at how Villa should line up was but an initial estimation, regardless of how successful that estimation turned out to be. Garde's system won't be universally understood after just one international break, but the squad's cohesiveness and shared sense of commitment should have increased exponentially during these two weeks of hard work. The optimism and resilience we saw last Sunday can only mean good things for the claret and blue, and Garde should be able to couple that enthusiasm with an increased understanding of his squad to lead an even better performance on Saturday.
This truly symbols a new beginning for Villa players previously trapped under the tactical ineptitude of previous reigns. The French Revolution we all expected following Villa's flurry of French acquisitions this summer should finally come true, especially with a Frenchman at the helm. Everton have been consistent this term but have not been exceptional - sitting in 9th place, they are just 7 points clear of Newcastle in 17th. Villa should feel on top of the world after going toe-to-toe with the league leaders, and hopefully Garde will have his men up for the opportunity that Saturday presents - a chance to redefine a losing culture and set a tone of defiance against all the pundits and fans alike who have already assumed Villa to be down.
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