We changed things up this week! Instead of having a great first half with nothing to show for it, Aston Villa came out against Newcastle United and had a garbage first half with an own goal to show for it. So at least it’s a change?
The first half saw Villa use their new 5-3-2/3-5-2 formation. The biggest problem was that the center of the pitch was naught but a giant flaming pile of garbage. Ashley Westwood and Mile Jedinak provided nothing in midfield, and James Chester and Nathan Baker (save a few good plays from the latter) were similarly anonymous. But all four of them were better than Tommy Elphick, who easily gave the ball away numerous times, missed tackles, and was just miserable. But he did have a wonder strike in him! Unfortunately, it was slotted past Pierluigi Gollini for an own goal.
Oh, and Ciaran Clark looked pretty damn good for Newcastle. Because of course he did.
The second half saw Aaron Tshibola come on for a defender. Which was good! But the defender was Baker and not Elphick. Which was bad! And things looked pretty dire. Then, in about the 68th minute, Villa decided to play competently for a five-minute stretch. Jordan Ayew, his head bleeding from an earlier clash with (USMNT TOTTENHAM SOUNDERS INSERT OTHER KEYWORDS HERE) player DeAndre Yedlin, had a wonder-strike denied by the upright. Alas.
But then the bizarre happened. Newcastle had numerous chances and only had one goal. And in the 89th minute, Aston Villa...
conceded wait, no. Aston Villa... SCORED. Aaron Tshibola headed home a corner to give Villa the equalizer. It’s funny how getting into a draw late in the match feels better when it comes from a losing position rather than a winning one.
And that’s how it all ended. It’s not a win, and it really doesn’t help. But boy, punching Newcastle in the gut FEELS like a win. And that’s enough for me.