Fulham for me just brings back those bad memories from the 2018 play off final. Previous to 2018 I had no ill feeling towards Fulham at all. In fact, it’s a great away day by the Thames, but I can’t now see them on TV without thinking about that horrible day.
It feels like to me a score needs settling. Important to remember though although it didn’t feel like it at the time, that loss in the long run has brought about new ownership and a complete change of culture within the club that hopefully will see us reap the rewards of for years to come.
Going into the game with three opening victories albeit two in the league cup wins certainly was a cause for optimism.
At 16:45 when the teams were announced, I wasn’t surprised that Deano didn’t change a winning line up. The bench certainly looks a lot stronger and balanced than the previous week which is a positive sign.
A great start by the men in claret and blue saw us taking a 4th minute lead. Great vision by John Mcginn seeing Jack’s clever run saw him through on goal. A sublime first time shot from Jack and Villa find themselves 1-0 in front.
The body language from Fulham tells me there is more here if Villa want it enough.
Sure enough on 15mins Fulham are carved open again. Grealish releases Watkins via a throw in who returns it to Jack who delivers the ball into the box for McGinn to lay off to Conor who finished with his right foot! A move that was lovely on the eye but Fulham carved open far too easy.
An even better move nearly saw us 3 nil up. Grealish weaving his magic on the touch line creates space and Fulham open up like the parting of the seas, the ball goes wide and I shout “Watkins back stick” the ball does go to the far post and evades Watkins by millimetres.
A replay shows it may not have counted anyway as Watkins was just offside when the ball was played. A joy to watch Villa play with this confidence and self-belief.
A great half from Villa. The only slight disappointment for me was Conor’s set pieces, normally so reliable from these situations. Two good opportunities wasted as the ball floats harmlessly into goal keeper’s arms.
Scott Parker walks off at half time looking a beaten man and with the world’s troubles on his shoulders. Fulham look a shambles.
Villa start the second half sensing blood. Villa win a free kick not surprisingly won by Jack and Conor makes up for his first half dead balls with a dangerous ball in to the corridor of uncertainty and Mings gets enough on it to divert it goalward. Villa 3-0 up on 48 minutes, surely the game is won.
What I liked about the second half performance was the intensity, it didn’t drop and every ball was contested with some meaty challenges flying about. You love to see it. This also brought about the obligatory yellow card for Mcginn. That’s two in two now for Mcginn which is a worry.
Fulham thought they had a goal back but a Villa game wouldn’t be normal without a bit of VAR controversy and it’s ruled out for a foul on Konsa in the build up. Clean sheet intact, can we get our first one away from home in the Premier League since our return?
The players certainly looked like they wanted it as bodies were put on the line with constant blocks and tackles. Martinez also plays his part with a good save.
Deano must have heard me say to my dad, “We’re never going to get a better opportunity to give Ramsay his Premier League debut” as soon after he brought the youngster on. A local lad, product of the youth academy, you love to see it. High hopes for this young man.
Interesting to me how the media have reported this match. As much as I agree Fulham were bad, when Arsenal carved them open to gain a 3-0 win on the opening day it was all about how Arsenal created the space and passed the ball to open them up. Villa win 3-0 and it’s all about how bad Fulham are.
Next up in the premier league a much sterner test against Liverpool where we will see our new defensive resolve really put to the test.
So Villa on six points after two games. It took eight matches to get to six points last season. Points on the board takes the pressure off and hopefully makes us a bit more attractive as Deano looks to strengthen his squad more as the deadline looms.
All positive stuff surrounding Aston Villa currently. Long may it continue!