Let the overreactions begin. Aston Villa began their preseason with a loss to Fulham in the Portugal sunshine, which means we're undoubtedly headed for relegation... No, wait, it actually means next to nothing. Honestly, as there were no injuries, this game should be considered a complete success. These first few weeks are all about fitness. Remember, this is Tim Sherwood's first ever preseason, so he'll take his time getting the lads fit and figuring out personnel and formations. There's much work to be done, but that's to be expected with only a few training sessions complete. With that said, let's get to the match.
Fulham opened up the scoring in the first half, as Matt Smith took advantage of a mix up between debutant Micah Richards and Jed Steer. Richards failed to clear a bouncing ball, expecting Steer to take charge. Not a great goal to give up, but one that can be easily fixed as the team begins to gel.
With a completely new side on for the second half, Villa fans were delighted as Libor Kozak levelled the score. Kozak's finish from a Joe Cole through-ball was clinical, and it was great to see him off the rehab table and back on the pitch.
More poor defending led to a second Fulham goal, as Philippe Senderos cleared the ball directly to a Fulham player, who laid it off for Alexander Kačaniklić, who then struck a lovely finish past the helpless young keeper Watkins. In the 87th minute, Fulham put the game out of reach, as Ross McCormack calmly slotted past Watkins for Fulham's third.
Quick Observations (which also mean nothing):
- Carles Gil was busy in the first half, on the ball more than any other player, stroking passes left and right and contributing a nice shot that went just over the bar. If he stays on the Villa books, he should get every chance to impress Sherwood.
- Apart from the miscommunication for Fulham's first goal, Micah Richards had a decent debut. He's an imposing figure at the back, and actually made a few strong runs forward. Additionally, if Villa can ever find someone who can take corners, Richards showed he's a dangerous attacking presence on set pieces.
- It was great to see Libor Kozak once again, and even better to see him score. Let's hope he can kick on this season and put his injury troubles behind him.
- Joe Cole's vision is superb. He sees the game so well, and in a slow tempo game like this one, he was able to pick great passes all over the pitch.
- Stop me if you've heard this before, but Alex Tonev skied a shot from 25 yards wayyyy over the bar.
- Some decent performances from a few youngsters, as well. Callum Robinson looked lively in the first half, Niall Mason was steady in the midfield, and Riccardo Calder put in a good shift when he entered the fray for the second half.