We could do this the easy way or the hard way, inevitably being Aston Villa the easy way doesn’t exist. Off the back of a promising performance albeit a loss to Champions League Runners up Spurs, Premier League football finally returned to Villa Park for the first time since 2016 and Villa fans were looking for their first 3 points in the competition since February of that same year. Excitement levels were high, Villa Park had a few cosmetic upgrades, a chance for many fans to see our new look side live in action for the first time and within the first minute of the game we’ve conceded a penalty that was converted by Joshua King. Typical Villa, however, we’ve come back from higher goal deficits in the past and there was still 89 minutes to play. 10 minutes later a costly dummy from Douglas Luiz left a loose ball for Harry Wilson to pounce on and his deflected shot goes in off the post.
Two mistakes and we were 2-0 down, such is the unforgiving nature of the Premier League. However, this is a steep learning curve for a lot of the players and you could see they were improving with every minute played. Douglas Luiz who has spent most of his career playing in Brazil and La Liga is used to more time on the ball which he will not get in the Prem, but you could see him realise this and as he grew into the game, you could see his quality and why he is so highly rated. Jack Grealish and John McGinn last season were also offered a lot more time on the ball specifically in home matches but at this level there is no time to dwell on the ball, you need to make quick decisions and move quickly or you will be dispossessed, again though as the game went on they quickly learnt this and McGinn nearly scored 3 amazing goals and Grealish created the most chances in a game by a single player in the Premier League this season. It’s also worth noting although he is our talisman and ‘golden boy’ Grealish himself will need time to adapt his style of play to the pace and style of the Premier League, he didn’t set the Championship alight immediately but as he got used to the physicality he quickly became one of the best players in the league. Trezeguet looks promising and as his understanding with his teammates improves he will only get better, same with Mings and Engels who are already a quality centre back partnership after 2 matches.
What I am trying to say is Rome wasn’t built in a day and our team will not be the complete package immediately but we are showing very promising signs. We need to move up the field as a unit as it often felt our midfield was non-existent, although Wesley can drop deep we need players around him when he gets the ball so he can be more effective and often in possession we became static and the movement off the ball wasn’t good enough to stretch or open up Bournemouth. All of that is in a game where we dominated the opposition with 63% possession, twice as many shots on goal, twice as many corners and twice as many completed passes, against most other sides in the league we would’ve probably come away with all 3 points.
There is an alternate universe where if three things happened differently we would’ve had 6 points by now, and arguably we could’ve got something from both games regardless especially as Bournemouth weren’t really that impressive. As the season goes on we will only get better, team cohesion will improve, we will move the ball quicker and be more clinical with our chances. We need points on the board sooner rather than later but if Bournemouth are the benchmark for the 9th-14th positions and we outplayed them for 80 minutes of the match, then I’m really not worried.