Aston Villa are quickly learning that mistakes are much more costly in the Premier League than they were in the Championship.
In roughly 20 minutes of play over the last two matches, Villa have made 3 mistakes, resulting in three goals. These are harsh lessons as Villa arguably deserved points in both matches. Last week, a Jack Grealish error resulted in an 86th minute winner from Harry Kane when he tried dribbling out from his own 18. This week was a slightly different story.
Inside the first 45 seconds on the new season, new boy Tom Heaton – who has been wonderful otherwise – conceded a needless penalty challenging Callum Wilson as he went away from goal. Josh King effortlessly nestled the penalty in the corner past Heaton, who guessed incorrectly.
Eleven minutes later, sloppy play from Douglas Luiz inside his defending third led to a Harry Wilson goal from 30 yards out. Luiz, who was in the middle of the park, dummied a simple pass from Ahmed Elmohamady. The pass fell right to Wilson who set himself up and fired away. A slight deflection off Tyrone Mings put the ball just out of reach of Heaton.
These three examples are the kind of mistakes teams get punished for in the Premier League. The quality is significantly higher than the Championship, and mistakes count against you. On the other side, John McGinn failed to capitalize on an error from Bournemouth centre back Steve Cook late in the first half. The Scott took a shot off the half volley, but only managed to put the effort right to keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
Villa took some time to regain their nerves after the first 12 minutes, but ultimately looked the better side today. It was a frustrating affair in the end, with Bournemouth ultimately taking all three points at Villa Park despite a stunning goal from Douglas Luiz in the 71st minute.
Villa dominated possession with 62% of the ball, and nearly doubled Bournemouth’s 206 successful passes with 400 of their own. There were positive signs to be sure, but Villa will have to be better about finishing chances if they are to stay up this season.
Over the course of two matches, we’ve seen Villa play outstanding at the back for 86 minutes against Tottenham; and seen them play a possession-based game leading to multiple chances, despite the frustration coming with a lack of finishing.
It’s worth mentioning Dean Smith’s personnel decisions. The Gaffer decided to once again play a full back pairing of Elmohamady and Neil Taylor. Both players are nothing more than adequate. Elmo gets up and down the pitch fairly well, but with Frederic Guilbert waiting in the wings, it’s worth asking why he hasn’t been called into the 18 man roster for either match after a phenomenal preseason. On the other side, Neil Taylor continues to have the Boss’s faith despite £12 million-man Matt Targett being brought in.
For me, Taylor simply isn’t good enough. He doesn’t get forward well, and takes no risks in the final third. He’s an adequate defender, but he won’t make a difference for Villa. With our lack of wingers and wide players, we need our full backs to contribute as much as possible.
I don’t take much issue with Jota being brought on for El Ghazi in the 75th minute as a set of fresh legs, but the 28 year old likely isn’t cut out for the Premier League. He simply isn’t strong or fast enough to keep up with the pace of this league. His technique is wonderful, but I’d be surprised to see him make any real impact.
Going forward, I’d rather see Grealish out wide and Hourihane on. Connor can do a job defensively and keep possession. Grealish may be more limited out wide, but he’s a better option than Jota for 15 minutes a game.
Smith is still trying to find the best way to play, and he should be given time as a first time Premier League manager. But he has to figure it out sooner rather than later.
We take on Everton next Friday. Keep the faith and let’s get our first points of the season.