Villa Park hosted a Premier League match again — that is beautiful.
Dean Smith kept the same team with one exception — Douglas Luiz took the place of Conor Hourihane.
Supporters — and the manager — made it clear that Bournemouth should be a bit of a different type of match. The one thing everyone stressed is ball retention. Bournemouth is excellent on the counter and any cheap turnovers could be punished.
Before the match — Mings was given a rousing ovation when he was announced including from the away end. But it was no where near the noise level when the players entered the pitch.
On with the match recap.
It was a shit start. Just an awful way to open Villa park. Within the first minute — last week’s Man of the Match Tom Heaton made a really dumb mistake. The keeper stuck a leg out against Callum Wilson. Wilson had already kicked the ball away — clear contact made — Wilson goes down — penalty given. Can’t complain about the call. Just dumb. Josh King finished the penalty well and Villa were losing 0-1.
Mings went right to Heaton and put his arms around the new keeper and the fans were in good voice right after the goal.
Villa recovered well as a team. The front three pressed against Bournemouth’s defenders and keeper as they kicked the ball around. The press lead to the first chance of the match from a long distance shot from John McGinn. He hit it really well but the keeper palmed it over for a corner (which was Villa’s first of the season). It didn’t come to anything but good to actually get one within the first 10 minutes.
It was another new transfer with a mistake that made things worse for Villa. Douglas Luiz stepped over a ball right in front of his own box. The problem is no Villa player was behind him. No idea if he got a shout or anything. He just let the ball go. It went to Harry Wilson. He took a long distance shot which deflected off Mings, then off the post, then in the net. 0-2 to the visitors.
Remember the ball retention focus I mentioned? It didn’t stick. The first 20’ Villa must have had six giveaways. Elmo, Jack, Wesley, Luiz all contributed to gifting the ball to the other team.
Mings’ long pass led to another McGinn chance — but once again the keeper saved it. The following corner was played directly to a Bournemouth player.
Around the half an hour mark Villa appeared to finally have settled down. Wesley was given the opportunity to hold the ball up — which he did well. Trezeguet began to roam the pitch looking for was to contribute. And — more importantly — Villa stopped giving the ball right back to Bournemouth.
Billings picked up yellow card with ten minutes left in the first half for persistent fouling. Then — right after seeing yellow he proceed to slide in on Jack Grealish, miss the ball, take out Jack’s ankle. But the referee saw nothing wrong with the defender’s action.
The turnovers came back near the end of the half. Tom Heaton was forced into a nice save on 45’. Billings continued to foul Villa players.
Right before the halftime whistle Villa had their best chance. Wesley made a great run down the left. He attacked his defender and slipped the ball right to Trezeguet in the box. The Bournemouth defender was in good position though — and blocked the shot destined for the back of the net. McGinn fired from long distance after block and it was deflected out for a corner. A corner referee Martin Atkinson choose not to let Villa take — calling an end to a rough first half.
Villa came back out for the second half — Billings did not. Howe had to know his defender was lucky to be on the pitch at all.
Two minutes into the half Villa had a penalty shout. Wesley and Keeper Ramsdale got to the ball about the same time. Atkinson choose not to give the penalty and VAR didn’t overturn it.
Villa sent in cross after cross in the opening ten minutes. But the first real chance came to Jack Grealish after McGinn took a quick free kick to sent the captain on an attacking run. But the ball just didn’t curl enough to get on target. The match stalled after the attempted because Jack landed on Adam Smith causing a bloody nose. It was a shame because the momentum was all with Villa.
To Villa’s credit they picked right up. The attacks kept pushing — even Neil Taylor forced Bournemouth to block a shot. But Villa could not get through. El Ghazi was caught offside. Grealish mistimed an open header in the six yard box. Elmo’s miss hit a cross. Trezeguet turned smoothly at the top of the box — but the keeper was equal to the chance. And the frustration grew.
But then — Douglas Luiz made up for his mistake with a beautiful strike. The ball came to him well outside the box and the Brazilian hit it perfectly into the back of the net. It was deserved. It was coming. And it was a sign of what the kid is capable of.
Jota came on after the goal with 15’ left for El Ghazi. It was the correct sub because El Ghazi did not have a good match.
The next big chance fell to Neil Taylor — who was in the box again. This time he couldn’t direct a header toward goal. Probably because he has never tried to do that before.
Tom Heaton made a clutch save to keep it 1-2 after Engels was caught up the pitch and Bournemouth had a break away. Villa continued to press and live dangerously. A mix-up after a goal kick gifted Bournemouth another chance as everyone at Villa Park felt like there was another goal coming... but no one knew which side would score it.
Keinan Davis was brought on to try to make that goal — replacing Trezeguet with about 5 minutes left. Engels had a chance on the last touch of the match from a Mings cross. But he couldn’t put the header on target.
As open as the end of the match was — no one found a late goal. Villa’s effort was wasted by the two early mistakes.
This is the Premier League — mistakes are punished.