The first match of the year. Bournemouth's first-ever Premier League match. Everything was set for an exciting day. And the first half gave us... the opposite of that. Bournemouth came out looking to attack a bit and Villa looked set to be really conservative. The midfield played decently well and the play from the wings going forward was good. But the attack was lacking. Gabby Agbonlahor, getting a surprise start, and Jordan Ayew were both nonexistent, and Gabby really only had one moment in which I can remember him even touching the ball.
On the defensive side of things, we got to see a few more of the lapses that marked play in preseason. Brad Guzan, who is still terrible with the ball at his feet, made a few great saves and reminded us that he's in goal because he can stop a shot really well. Micah Richards had moments where he looked good and a few instances of looking totally out of his depth.
But when the second half rolled around it was as if Villa were an entirely different team altogether. Jordan Amavi looked absolutely spectacular and was bossing the match around for quite awhile. Eventually Rudy Gestede came on for Jordan Ayew, who had a largely anonymous day. With Amavi playing so well and Gestede in, it seemed certain that the goal would be coming soon.
And it did, but not on an Amavi-Gestede connection, but instead when Gestede powerfully headed home an Ashley Westwood corner in the 72nd minute. From there, Villa began to play a bit more defensively and brought on Carlos Sanchez and Kieran Richardson to replace Jordan Veretout and Scott Sinclair, respectively. With those changes in place, Bournemouth had very few options but to try and go out wide, where they were consistently shut down.
After five inexplicable minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew and Villa had their first win of the 2015-16 season. It wasn't always pretty, but an away win on a day when Bournemouth had the power of narrative behind them is a great result. Three points, and on to Friday!
And now for the quick notes
- Idrissa Gueye is the real deal. He looks poised in the midfield and did a fantastic job of cutting off Bournemouth passing lanes
- Jordan Amavi is amazing. Whatever you were expecting, ratchet that up. The kid is incredible.
- With Gestede, Gueye, and Sanchez up the middle towards the end, that is a lot of big, tall, power Villa brought in. That sort of a set up will make it tough for any team in the center of the pitch.
- Bournemouth got away with a ton of junk fouls that could have easily been cards today.
- Brad Guzan is still so worrisome in distribution. But his shot stopping is MILES ahead of what we saw from Shay Given last year.