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Talking Points: Is Aston Villa’s loss to Brentford just a bad day at the office or is it something more?

Steven Gerrard suffers his fourth loss in charge of the Villans as Thomas Frank’s Bees sting the claret and blue side at the Brentford Community Stadium.

Brentford v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Ben Peters/MB Media/Getty Images

Goals from Mads Roerslev Rasmussen and Yoane Wissa cancel out a well-taken Danny Ings opener. This result sees Villa lose consecutive games for the first time under Head Coach Steven Gerrard and slip to 13th in the league as a result. Meanwhile, Brentford win their first in four games and subsequently overtake their opponents into 12th.

Let’s take a look at the main talking points from a frustrating afternoon in the capital...

That’s what £60 million gets you...

Aston Villa have showcased their ability to play fluid football on a number of occasions since the arrival of Steven Gerrard, and this fixture’s goal came about as a result of another fine move from the West Midlands side.

Having seen plenty of the ball in the opening exchanges, Villa certainly looked the better team, and their early pressure would soon lead to the games’ first goal. Midfielder Douglas Luiz played an intricate one-two with the Argentine Emiliano Buendia (who already looked lively both on and off the ball) before excellently spinning past the onrushing Christian Norgaard.

The number 10 would proceed to play a well-measured ball through to fellow forward Danny Ings, and despite this pinpoint pass, the 29 year-old still had plenty to do, but proved his worth and £30 million price tag after executing a sublime first-time effort on his left foot. The strike was unstoppable and found the side-netting of stand-in goalkeeper Alvaro Fernandez’s goal.

The goal highlighted the technical capabilities of both Buendia and Ings who were brought in to replace the Jack Grealish shaped-hole in the side alongside winger Leon Bailey, as a part of the club’s £100 million attacking reshape in the summer.

Villa’s record signing, Buendia, displayed a magnificent piece of creativity and flair to outwit his opponent and play the perfect pass through to Ings. The number 20 also showed just how effective he can be with a classy finish that is typical of the striker, and one that has established the former Southampton man as one of the best finishers in the league.

Brentford v Aston Villa - Premier League
Pictured: Danny Ings putting away his side’s opener.
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

The goal stems from both the exquisite skillset of Villa’s front men and the coached routines and passages of play from Steven Gerrard and his backroom staff in training.

The Head Coach would have encouraged Buendia to drop into the holes of the opposition’s midfield and defence to receive the ball, and would have asked Ings to initiate line-breaking runs to find himself in positions he can make light of. Such tuition has paid off for this particular goal, and Gerrard will be hopeful this sort of occurrence will start becoming regular in Aston Villa’s progressive play for the remainder of the season.

Danny Ings and Emi Buendia have impacted a number of games this season, as has Leon Bailey, but not on a consistent basis over the course of a few games or over 90 minutes. This, after 20 matches played of the season, is incredibly disappointing and has caused a flutter of frustration among the Villa fan base, who often question the value and choice of the summer recruits.

However, each of the new trio have suffered various injuries at different points this campaign, and maybe with a series of games under Gerrard, we may see this inconsistency change?

Ollie Watkins was absent from this game, seemingly through COVID-related issues, and his partnership with fellow Englishmen Ings has not hit the heights that was initially expected and thought out by the Villa faithful. Ings did look at ease with Buendia by his side however, and the two linked-up well across the 90 minutes.

The duo were the away side’s standout individuals in this 2-1 defeat, and the interplay for the goal boasts plenty of potential for a harmonious and well-tuned partnership for games to come. The loss of both Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet to AFCON (African Cup of Nations) almost cements the two in the starting eleven for the next month or so (bar any injuries).

Gerrard has set out a variety of different attacking trios since his appointment and it seems that he has yet to establish his ‘best attack’. He will be pleased with the recent performances of his star forwards, but will aim to incorporate Ollie Watkins into the fold once he returns, to assemble a formidable free-scoring front-three.

Throwing it away...

Did we miss Mings? Is Hause good enough as a backup? Should Gerrard sign defensive reinforcements?

These were the questions on the minds of many Aston Villa fans on the back of the recent loss to Thomas Frank and his Brentford side, after the claret and blues conceded two sloppy goals that ultimately cost them the game.

Having dominated the majority of the first half and opened the scoring early, it looked like it would be another successful away trip for the travelling Villans, until a defensive mistake down the left side spelled trouble for Gerrard’s men, and would lead to the game’s leveler.

Jacob Ramsey failed to track the overlapping Mads Roerslev, and with Matt Targett miscalculating his press, Mathias Jensen was able to find the young Brentford full-back who would neatly play the ball inside to Yoane Wissa, and the Congolese forward, who found himself in plenty of space behind Villa’s midfield, curled one into the corner.

Brentford v Aston Villa - Premier League
Pictured: Yoane Wissa bending the ball past Ezri Konsa to level the game.
Photo by Jacques Feeney/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Villa would continue to dominate the majority of the second half too, but failed to create a clear-cut opportunity or produce any meaningful attempt at the Brentford goal. The home atmosphere at the Brentford Community Stadium began to rise as the Bees saw a chance to snatch all three points from the game.

And they would do so in the 83rd minute after some well-developed play down the left, with Saman Ghoddos and Vitaly Janelt. The German substitute (Janelt) played the ball onto the edge of the box into Frank Onyeka’s feet, but the Nigerian misjudged the flight of the ball and it found it’s way towards a nearby Kortney Hause.

The man who replaced Tyrone Mings in the starting line-up would not react quickly or appropriately enough though, and the ball ended back in Onyeka’s possession. Roerslev, who had pushed up high, was in masses of space down the right and had the ball played into his path before unleashing a first time effort at the goal. Martinez was able to keep out the initial shot, but the Aston Villa defence could not react swiftly enough to the loose ball and the Spaniard would convert the rebound.

Brentford v Aston Villa - Premier League
Pictured: Mads Roerslev fires in the match-winning goal.
Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

These defensive mishaps have been a rarity in the side as it was a component of the performances under Dean Smith that Steven Gerrard looked to address quickly upon arrival. In the last couple of games however, the concentration levels seemed to have dropped at times, and with that these errors have become more frequent.

In the last fixture at home to Chelsea for example, Tyrone Mings appeared to be at fault for the away side’s second goal when losing track of striker Romelu Lukaku, who had a free header at Emi Martinez’s goal. Gerrard will be the first to tell you that any failed judgement or lapse in focus in the Premier League, especially against sides such as Chelsea, will only end miserably.

Of course Tyrone Mings has been incredible, for the most part, since joining the club on loan back in the Championship, and it could be said that his presence in the heart of the team was missed in this recent affair. The whole back line seemed sloppy at times and this disorganization is typically something that captain Mings will address whilst on the pitch, ordering his teammates to correct their spatial untidiness.

Having been at fault for Brentford’s second goal, Kortney Hause will feel as if he hasn’t done enough to keep his place for the next fixture against Manchester United. Hause has never really been viewed as a starter and having struggled in his only appearance under Gerrard, and with the expected departure of loanee Axel Tuanzebe to S.S.C Napoli in the Serie A, could we see the Head Coach look at a possible incoming in the shape of a central defender?

Joe Gomez is a name that has been heavily linked to the club over the last week or two, and having only picked up around 15 minutes in the league for Liverpool this season, and with the connection between Gerrard and the Merseyside club, could Gomez be the man Villa opt for to bolster the ranks?

This defeat is the first during the new Manager’s reign that is bitterly disappointing, having faced expected defeats against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, and one that is seen as three points wasted. Of course it is too early and possibly too reactionary to feel concerned as many performances have been impressive, but this is certainly a game that Gerrard will look at bouncing back from, and the lackadaisical defending is something he will look at rectifying urgently.