So, that was an enjoyable Saturday, wasn’t it? Once we figured out you can only listen to the AVTV audio commentary on Safari, that was…
The 3-0 win over Rotherham United ticked all the relevant boxes, right? You got…
- Rudy Gestede, who could be massive for Aston Villa this season, off the mark with a brace.
- Jack Grealish his confidence back by way of a brilliant individual effort to score.
- A clean sheet to settle the defence, especially with James Chester making his debut.
- Get Adama Traoré 15 minute to work on regaining match fitness.
- A big sign, by way of Villa’s second goal, that the Jordan Ayew, Ross McCormack and Rudy Gestede attacking trio could be something incredibly valuable for the club.
- A good game from Aaron Tshibola in midfield, especially after the relative disaster we saw at Luton.
- Evidence that suggests the second-half performance at Sheffield Wednesday may be more of the norm than the disappointing final hour at Luton Town midweek.
But perhaps more than anything, my biggest takeaway from yesterday’s match comes from the run of play, which was dominated all afternoon by Villa. If you would’ve played the audio from yesterday’s matched, replaced Villa with “Manchester City,” Rotherham with “Villa,” and swapped players as necessary, it would have felt right at home.
Far too often in the last few years, we’ve seen Villa start 11 players that wouldn’t get in their opponents’ staring XI. That may well have been Rotherham yesterday. It’s a refreshing place to be, but also confirmation of the idea that Villa are one of the more talented teams in the divisions. Elphick and Chester have the possibility to be one of the league’s best centre back pairs, while up front, Villa have firepower that goes unmatched in the division with Ayew, McCormack and Gestede.
There are, of course, holes that remain in this Villa squad. While it sounded like Tshibola looked good, he’s still extremely young — Villa still need to get a strong veteran in to bolster the midfield; the linked Mile Jedinak would be nice. Leandro Bacuna and Aly Cissokho both played pretty well! But they didn’t have too much defending to do, and most supporters wouldn’t feel great if those two are the fullbacks for the whole season; enter Ritchie de Laet, perhaps, and a revived Jordan Amavi.
Just adding Jedinak, de Laet and a healthy, fully-fit Amavi could do wonders to take Villa from “talented with holes” to “talented throughout the XI.”
But of course, talent alone doesn’t get the job done in this division. It takes composure and a “know-how” to get the results you deserve. Rather than going up 1-0 and sitting off a bit, Villa kept creating chances. It led to a two-goal lead at halftime, and let Villa cruise to the 3-0 win in the second half. That composure is something we really haven’t seen too often from Villa, and developing that against lesser sides, especially at home, will be of great benefit — both for the development of the season and the health of our heart rate.
Villa, though unfortunate, will not be able to win every match 3-0. We can dream though!
The other bit of composure, and one we might get to see Tuesday with Huddersfield Town coming in, is what happens when Villa have a 1-0 or 2-1 lead against a formidable opponent. The Terriers have gotten off to a perfect 2-for-2 start in the Championship, so while they might not be the most talented team in the league, they’re playing some good football.
How Villa respond to that situation, whenever it happens, will be telling as well. Can they grit out that win, with a combination of strong defending and enough attacking play to keep opponents honest?
For now though, there’s a good bit of reason for optimism. And even if it only lasts a couple days, that’s a nice feeling.