A deserved victory though arguably (especially if you’re Paul Lambert) perhaps not a totally convincing one. It was a bitty, uneven match. Villa’s tactics were based on choking the life out of the game the same way their manager does the English language and it was only after the break, when the home side made changes as they needed to following Townsend’s fortunate opener that space began to appear for us to utilise, most of it in front of the irrepressible goalscorer.
Up to their tactical switch we’d been mostly stifled as their attack helped out a midfield which didn’t show much inclination to return the favour. I presume they either didn’t intend to try and score, or if they did, then only from a set piece. We looked quite a big side with Chiriches coming in to the back four in place of Naughton and we needed to be as we conceded a number of corners and free-kicks in inviting positions all of which were defended against more than adequately.
In the second half the play continued to be mostly scrappy but there was a bit more room as I say. The second goal came at the perfect time given that Benteke was on the field and muscling his way into half decent positions and in the end we could’ve scored a lot more which would’ve been harsh on Villa but good for our goal difference. We’re only averaging one a game which isn’t good enough.
Was this plan C or plan D maybe? Or E or F? No Eriksen, Chadli, Lamela or Capoue, the return of Vertonghen to left back and the (very welcome) reintroduction of Sandro smacked more than a little of a ‘what happens when I try this I wonder?’ approach from Villas-Boas though given the selection of Defoe against the Hamsters maybe he’s rotating on a horses for courses basis – a plan that would’ve worked if Jermain had stuck his chance away just after half time in that game. Had he done so though then we probably wouldn’t have seen Soldado given the opportunity to do what we always suspected he could do; finish comfortably from ten yards with just the keeper to beat. What we still haven’t seen from him is a turn of speed or jink or drop of a shoulder that will allow him the yard he needs to get more shots off. We need to create clearer cut chances for him (and Townsend for one is doing his best) or in my opinion he still needs to show he’s got more to his game than we’ve seen so far if he’s to prove the answer to our goal scoring problems we all hoped he would be.
Given that Chiriches was unfamiliar with most of those around him he did ok though a better team than Villa would’ve made more of his willingness to take a chance when in possession. We played ok but there’s no doubt we’re still in a gelling phase. With Everton and the two Manchester clubs coming up in the next few weeks we need to get through it as quick as we can. COYS.
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