Aston Villa came into Selhurst Park making a few changes. The team that was to take on Crystal Palace had Carlos Sanchez, Jack Grealish, and Rudy Gestede starting, while Jordan Veretout, Scott Sinclair, and Jordan Ayew all got a break. The thought was that there would be a bit more attacking but in the first half it didn't really happen that way.
Both teams looked a bit unwilling to do too much outside of the first fifteen minutes. The play was largely sloppy and uninspiring. Gabby Agbonlahor had an absolutely perfect one-on-one chance with the keeper, but passed it right into his arms instead of into the goal. And there really wasn't much else of note.
In the second half, Crystal Palace took the usual Villa tack and came out looking much more strong. They looked to have scored in the 58th minute, but it was clearly offside. At first the goal was allowed to stand, but after a lengthy conference between the referee and his assistant, it was struck from the record. Hooray for refs doing something right!
But the change in fortune seemed to only enliven Palace. They came right back and began attacking again almost immediately. In the 68th minute, Adama Traore made his Villa debut, coming on for Sanchez. But just three minutes later Palace definitively made it 1-0 when Scott Dan bossed Ciaran Clark and headed home a corner with ease.
Villa weren't out of it, though. Six minutes later, in the 77th, Adama showed us why Tim Sherwood brought him in. Taking the ball from just past mid-pitch, he took on three defenders, cut inside, got to the end, and fired in a shot that caromed off of Pape Souaré for an equalizer. It will go into the books as an own goal, but it was all Traoré.
Villa will be Villa, however. A terrible sixty seconds from Leandro Bacuna set up Palace's second goal. First, he got a yellow for wasting time on a throw in, and then he conceded a corner. The corner, luckily, didn't result in a goal, but Brad Guzan collected it and demonstrated exactly why his distribution remains a problem. He rolled the ball out slowly to Jordan Amavi. That was mistake one, as Amavi had a Palace player charging up on him. Mistake two came when Amavi tried to be cute and lost the ball very easily. A couple of passes later and Bakary Sako buried the ball to give Palace the 2-1 lead.
From there, all Palace had to do was see it out. This wasn't a match where Villa can feel as if they were screwed. They didn't play well for most of the 90 minutes and Tim Sherwood was simply out-managed. Zero points is what the club deserve. Now onto a week with two matches in it.
- Gabby Agbonlahor is hot junk right now. I wouldn't trust him to do anything. Stop playing him, Tim.
- Carlos Sanchez is quietly putting together an absolutely fantastic season. He looks so much better than he did last year. The fact that he was pulled off today is really weird.
- The second half was not Tim Sherwood's best work. In fact, it may have been some of his worst. The fact that Gabby was given any time is pretty bad. But the fact that he was given the majority of the half was even worse. And Tim had no answers for the changes made by Alan Pardew.
- Luckily, Adama had an answer. When the club can't create, apparently Adama can do it all on his own. The run was absolutely stunning, and the selfishness that we heard about from Traore is precisely why Villa got their first.
- That second Palace goal, though. It's as sure of a sign as any that Villa need to cut down on being stupid. Bacuna's mistakes in the lead up were preventable (why waste time on a throw-in? That makes no sense). Guzan's roll was ill-advised. And Amavi just seemed to lose concentration to give it away. That's a dumb series and it resulted in losing a point.