Despite Aston Villa being pretty terrible the last couple of seasons, I was pretty optimistic coming into today’s game. Hull have lost some good players, whilst Villa have added some good players. Could it translate into an opening day victory for the claret and blue? We’re soon to find out.
Here is our instant recap of today’s game:
The First Half
What a start. Incredible. Even a little bizarre.
Gabby Agbonlahor of all people gave us a super early lead. From an Alan Hutton cross. In 2017. It was a well worked goal too, to be fair. Hutton played a dangerous low ball across, Scott Hogan made a run to the near post whilst the ball went far, and Gabby was free to sweep it high into the goal, and Villa fans around the world all went a bit mental.
Villa were the superior team for the vast majority of the half. Even before the goal, Villa created a couple of good chances, and Scott Hogan came close to doubling the lead after a tremendously direct run, with his shot being saved well by Alan McGregor.
If anything, the final ball let Villa down on occasion. Time and time again, they got into dangerous positions, but a second goal was just inches away. Gabby was probably player of the half, terrorising Hull’s young right back Aina.
To be fair to the visitors, they did grow into the game a little bit late on. Once linked with Villa, Abel Hernandez fired just wide, and Sam Johnstone was forced into a decent double save from Campbell and Grosicki. It was a warning sign. Villa will surely need at least a second goal in this one.
The Second Half
Oh hey I was right. Hull really kicked on in the second half, and Villa looked flat. On the back foot for the opening 15 minutes of the half, Villa were made to pay when Jarrod Bowen netted for Hull at the back post, in a goal that was fairly similar to our own.
Villa tried to get back the lead, and looking the most likely side to score again, but it just didn’t happen. The midfield lost its punch, though it was briefly sparked by the arrival of Andre Green and Josh Onomah. Unfortunately, they both missed great chances, which would have sealed the game for us.
Gabby was completely anonymous in the second half, and so it was baffling when Scott Hogan was the man to make way. Even more baffling, in fact, downright stupid, was Steve Bruce bringing Chris Samba on as a striker. Come on Steve mate.
On the balance of things, a point on opening day against a side that played in the Premier League last season is a good thing. But the contrast in performance between the first and second half was worrying. As was the inability to kill a game off. We’re a point better off than we were this time last season, but we still have clear improvements to make.