With the team barely recovered from a Boxing Day win — Aston Villa were back at it today in another match-up near the bottom of the table.
Nice to see Chester on the bench in the Premiere League. The rumors on the Twitter before the match was Davis was in contention but he was left out of the 18.
The match started pretty even with Heaton picking up where he left off as a steadying force in the back.
Watford successfully attacked through Gerard Deulofeu down Villa’s right as Elmohamdy struggled to handle the talented winger — and was left on a island by Jota not helping out. The two had a “discussion” in the 17’ after conceding a corner. Deulofeu responded by wandering around the pitch and creating problems. He was clearly the focal point of a Watford squad that controlled the opening twenty minutes. Konda and Hause were enough in the middle of defense to keep the pressure from resulting in a goal.
It was the Watford keeper who prevented a beautiful counter attack goal by Aston Villa. Lansbury and Grealish stormed forward and Hourihane ended up in a perfect position to cross. Wesley had a point black header — but it was a reflex save from Ben Foster. The Brazilian forward was left with a wry smile and a shake of the head.
Minutes later Wesley went down in the middle of the box as a cross came in. Wesley won the ball — there was some slight contact into the back of his knee — he went down easily. Mr. VAR decided that is not a penalty today.
Neither side could establish much momentum following the Wesley chance and no-call. Thankfully from the Villa perspective Deulofeu’s influence waned. But the midfield was unable to control possession — so the pressure continued to come at the Villa defense.
The next chance fell to Tory Deeney. After a corner a ball was sent back into the box and it fell right to Deeney in the six-yard box. But the striker was surprised and got very little on the shot. But minutes later the Blues supporter made no mistake. A mistake in the Villa defense gifted the chance — Konsa delayed on the ball and his clearance was deflected right to a Watford player. The initial shot was saved — the Deeney rebound somehow got under a diving Tom Heaton. Once again — a Villa mistake is punished by a goal.
The half-time whistle came to end with Watford the deserved leaders.
Both teams made a change at half — El Ghazi on for Jota & Chalobah on for an injured Will Hughes.
Villa mistakes were not changed at half. This time it was Hause who was lax with the ball in his own end. AGAIN Troy Deeney pressured and won the ball. It lead to two corners for the hosts — both cleared. But the point remains — giveaways in your own end turn into goals.
Mariappa picked up a yellow card for preventing Grealish from starting a counter attack.
Only a few minutes later Mariappa tried to stop a Lansbury counter attack. It was a dumb decision. He was rightfully show his second yellow card.
Man up. Down a goal. 30’ left.
Then Villa pulled a Villa. Targett went down grabbing his hamstring. Watford played on — which they have every right to do. Deeney goes on the attack right where Targett would have been. Luiz barges into his side in the box. Deeney goes down easily once he feels the contact. Penalty called. Mr. VAR did not overturned it.
Guilbert replaced Targett before the penalty.
Deeney put it right down the middle and Heaton moved out of the way. 2-0 to the hosts.
Watford with a two goal lead were happy to give Villa possession. Villa were happy to take it, move to the final third — and then give it back.
Grealish gave it away — was clattered afterward with no call — Watford broke and scored again on a 4-on-2 breakaway. Sarr finished it.
Kodjia came on after the goal to replace a poor Lansbury.
Capoue picked up a yellow for clattering Jack. Then should have picked up a second for another — then picking up the ball.
But if Villa are unable to keep the ball — a two-man advantage wouldn’t have helped.
Watford wasted enough time to see the match out — and picked up some more yellow cards along the way. Grealish picked up one to for rolling the ball into a Watford player. The Watford player embarrassingly acted like he’d been shot. It was a dumb and childish move from the Villa captain.
I hate the holiday period of matches. So quick one after the other. And always miserable for the Villa. I’m looking for bright spots to highlight. The away kits still look great. That might be the list. January 1 and Burnley will be here soon. Hope the new year brings a new Villa.