Whenever you think a poor Villa performance couldn’t possibly be any worse, time and time again the claret and blue outdo themselves. Tuesday night, as Villa played host to Barnsley, was no different.
Villa came out of the tunnel with an appetite for the match, creating multiple dangerous situations, corners, and attempts on goal. However, as it often feels when Villa are on the front foot, Steve Bruce’s men were unable to make a sustained pressure pay off. In a way that has become repetitive for Villa, Barnsley were presented with a golden opportunity out of nothing, as a suspicious penalty was called for a Jordan Amavi foul. Barnsley’s penalty was converted by Adam Armstrong. Tom Bradshaw doubled Barnsley’s lead in the 43rd minute and sent Villa fans across Twitter and Villa Park into chaos. Complete desperation only lasted a few seconds however, as Jonathan Kodjia pulled Villa back into the game only a minute later from an Alan Hutton cross.
Any glimmer of hope that was restored from Kodjia’s goal was soon made redundant in the second half after Kodjias’s misplayed clearance allowed Tom Bradshaw to score his second goal of the match as Barnsley went 3-1 up. Steve Bruce again remained inactive as the minutes of ineffectiveness ticked on, waiting until after the 70th minute to make a double substitution. One of the players who exited, Henri Lansbury, was one of Villa’s better performers Tuesday. Bruce’s decision to substitute him off was met by the Villa Park faithful with a resounding chorus of boos.
Villa are completely empty of confidence and fluidity currently. Steve Bruce’s bizarre substitutions continue to mystify even the most ardent and optimistic supporter. Next up is Newcastle at St. James’ Park. With the way Villa are playing now, that will likely shape up to be a long and painful afternoon.