Aston Villa began their run of fixtures against teams at the bottom of the league — where wins are a must for any type of promotion run.
Wigan hadn’t won since November — but never fear Aston Villa are here!
Lovre Kalinić made his league debut in the match — and was forced into action in the first 5 minutes. A cross found a Wigan striker in the box and Kalinić was position perfectly to keep Villa from going down early.
Tammy Abraham let Wigan off the hook in the 9’. Wigan’s keeper passed it to a defender — the problem was the defender was not expecting it and it went behind him and directly to Albert Adomah. The winger took a few touches and squared to the Tammy Abraham near the penalty spot. Shockingly — at least given the form for the Chelsea loanee — the first time shot went high and wide.
As the first half ticked along — Villa grew into the game while Wigan looked to hit long passes over the Villa fullbacks. El Ghazi was more than happy with the ball at his feet trying to beat defenders down the wings. McGinn continued to be the physical force in the midfield — where he gave as good as he got from a physical Wigan side. Defensively — Villa were solid. Sometimes they pressed — other times they were fine letting Wigan pass the ball around the midfield but preventing any meaningful attacks. As competent as Villa were — there was zero end product. The attacks lacked any urgency and — once again — I miss Jack Grealish.
One of the talking points was a possible red card. See below. Personally — I think yellow was the right call because both players were going after each other. But it could have gone the other way.
Just after the half an hour mark — Wigan began pushing Villa backwards. The possession was patient but advancing. And Villa were retreating at the back. The fans — and the team — were just hoping to get into the locker room for a break. In the 40th minute, Kalinić was forced into a second big save — this time with his feet. The ball was not cleared — Taylor was beaten — and following a low cross Gary Roberts opened the scoring for Wigan.
It was a deserved lead at the half for Wigan — as Villa looked like a team with no ideas.
The second half so no changes to either side.
Yannick Bolasie got the Villa faithful to their feet when he took the ball off a Wigan defender and broke toward goal. Sadly the cross was defended well and the following corner didn’t beat the first man. John McGinn did the same with a long driving run with the ball — beating three defenders but in the end it came to nothing. There is a pattern here.
Bjarnason picked up a deserved yellow card ten minutes into the second half.
The first real chance of the half fell to Wigan. After a long ball was headed down Josh Windass took a shot from the top of the box in space. He pushed it wide — and it looked like Kalinić had the post covered.
One very minor — but infuriating note. John McGinn — who at the time was Villa’s most effective midfielder — was forced to change his boots. So he was on the sidelines doing so. So anyone with a reasonable understanding of football — would keep the ball in possession until the laces were tied. But not Neil Taylor. He proceeded to immediate try a flick pass and gave Wigan the ball back. It was dumb. In the end nothing negative came from it — but I felt it was dumb enough to include in this recap. Thank you for allowing me to express my frustration. Carry on.
Dean Smith seemed as frustrated as me — making a triple chance with 30 minutes left in the match. Adomah, Hause, and Whelan came on — El Ghazi, Elphick, and Bjarnason off.
Hause’s first few touches were ......... rough. And that is being kind. In fairness — he has not played alot of football.
The clock ticked. Frustration grew. And Wigan showed themselves to be the better team.
With 15’ to go Villa almost looked like a team with a pulse. The attack came down the left. Adomah crossed it beautifully — sadly Abraham came near post and McGinn was two steps away from it in the box. But it looked like an actual attack — which makes it a notable outlier on this day.
Then Wigan doubled their lead on a diving header.
Then Wigan got a penalty when Whelan gave away the ball and got called for a soft penalty. Kalinić got a touch but the kick was right in the corner and got through.
3-0. Against Wigan. And a deserved thrashing.
I’m done typing. I need a pint.