Villa’s pre-season preparations continued tonight against West Ham United. Shortly before the match, Aston Villa renewed their commitment to current manager Steve Bruce in a short statement.
Villa deployed their preferred 3-man defence to start the game, and looked patient and progressive - owning the pitch in the first five minutes, before things quickly turned against them.
Despite Villa’s best efforts - including a smart Alan Hutton volley, West Ham quickly took the lead. Michail Antonio won the ball on the right flank before driving forward, through Albert Adomah and Alan Hutton before lashing it home past Jed Steer.
Villa’s defensive woes seemed to leak onto the other side of the pitch, where James Bree was found wanting in possession as the Hammers slowly targeted him throughout the first half. West Ham were rewarded in the form of their goal through this, as Marko Arnautovic found too much time and space in the box - and buried home for West Ham’s second.
Villa sleepwalked into the half-time whistle two goals down and lacking inspiration. Far too often the ball was found pondering outside the West Ham box and far too often was a West Ham counter started by one of Villa’s own due to errors.
In the second-half, Villa met back up with Robert Snodgrass - with the former loanee playing on the opposite side of the pitch. While he was in a new-look shirt for a new(ish) team - Villa set out with the same intent as the first-half; waiting for West Ham to turn on the style and advance.
In typical pre-season nature, Villa retracted and allowed West Ham to own the park before introducing all of their returning World Cup stars - including Mile Jedinak, Birkir Bjarnason and Ahmed Elmohamady to the fold. Villa’s back-three suddenly included one senior-centre back, in a way - via the aforementioned Australian. James Bree and Alan Hutton made up the partnership on either side of him.
Truth be told, it’d be harsh to be, well, harsh on Villa for their performance in a pre-season friendly, but this was a walkabout of ‘I am going to walk to Mordor to destroy the One Ring’ proportions. VIlla’s only serious attack of intent ended in a thunderous strike from Andre Green to give Villa a way back into the match following West Ham’s goal in which Robert Snodgrass added an easy third for the Hammers.
Eh - it’s preseason. We’ll have to take the good with the bad and trust Villa to push forward when the ‘actual football’ starts, and use these opportunities to iron out some glaring errors in the set-up, which lacks solidity at the back and gusto going forward.
Result: Aston Villa 1 - 3 West Ham United
Context: Pre-season friendly
Man of the Match: What?