Huh. That's all I can think now that the final whistle has blown on Aston Villa's 0-1 loss to Swansea City. There is the urge to be wildly frustrated, but I can't dig up that emotion. Yes Villa missed countless opportunities and yes they were severely outplayed for long stretches. This feels like the perfectly fair result, but I think I could have said that had they won 2-0 or lost 0-3, too. Just a thoroughly perplexing match all around.
The first half was probably the worst half of football we've seen under Tim Sherwood. Swansea absolutely bossed played and it was only thanks to poor finishing that they didn't have a two- or three-goal lead. The biggest problem seemed to be Jores Okore constantly losing Bafetimbi Gomis. Nothing ended up coming of it in the first half, but it was a baffling mistake played out over and over again.
But that alone wouldn't have been too much of a problem. The issue was elsewhere, where with two wingers the Aston Villa midfield were essentially playing two against four. Fabian Delph and Tom Cleverley were doing as well as could be expected, but they weren't getting any help from Scott Sinclair (more on him in a bit) or Charles N'Zogbia. And when Tom Cleverley came off injured to be replaced by the less mobile Carlos Sanchez, the problem was magnified. And then behind the Villa line we had Brad Guzan. He made lots of saves, but he made none of them look clean or calm. It was probably his worst day this season, and I'm not sure how he let up only one goal.
The second half saw Villa play much better attacking football, and they finally started creating chances. Unfortunately, they couldn't finish them. The biggest culprit was Scott Sinclair, who would get himself into a good position time and time again and then make the absolute wrong decision. At one point he took a shot well wide when he had Christian Benteke a few yards directly in front of him with a clear shot on goal. And Sinclair's finishing was as bad as we've seen it.
The goal that did Villa in came in the 87th minute when Jefferson Montero exploited the poor defense of Leandro Bacuna and passed a perfect ball into the (not surprisingly) open Gomis. It was hard to be too upset because it felt like Swansea deserved it. Furthermore, it came as a direct result of some of the tactical issues we had seen all match. As soon as Montero came in, Garry Monk's side began exploiting Bacuna's poor defense. With Alan Hutton filling in at left back (I assume Matthew Lowton was injured?) it seemed like the perfect time to put Hutton back in his natural position, since he is a better defender. But that switch never happened and the inevitable goal did.
But again, I'm hard pressed to feel too much one way or another here. Leicester City lost as did Burnley. QPR, Hull, and Sunderland will probably do the same. A win here would have been huge, but given what is happening elsewhere, the loss doesn't feel too traumatic. We've got two weeks off to hopefully see some of the walking wounded (including Benteke, who took some sort of hip knock today) get healthy. Get the wins that we should against QPR and Burnley and pick up a point elsewhere and we're still probably fine. Don't, and we may regret today's poor showing.