After complaining all season about Aston Villa’s inability to keep a clean sheet, our wish was granted against Portsmouth with an impressively dull 0-0. In fact, the inevitability of a scoreless draw when two free scoring teams clash, seems to be one of those oddity’s that always crops up in the beautiful game, like Spurs’ inability to defend or Wayne Rooney’s face.
Anywho, the 0-0 taught us a few things, one: James Milner is still a long way from being a £12m player. Although that said, Ashley Young took 3 months to start looking anywhere near the £9m Villa paid for him. Two: Whether it’s due to skirting about the England squad or an uncanny knack of impregnating Broad St slappers, Gabby Agbonlahor’s ego seems to have developed some arrogant Cantona complex; as he leisurely struts around the pitch, throwing his arms up in disgust at his teammates inability to be as good as him, whenever things don’t go his way. Whether via the January transfer window or through hotly tipped youngster Nathan Delfouneso, the man needs desperately competition to bring him back down to earth.
Three (yes numbers are easier): as most Villa goals tend to come from quick counter-attacks or set-pieces, when the team encounter a strong, physical defence not afraid to throw men behind the ball and mark Carew out the game, the creative ideas seem to dry up, hence why the team only mustered one shot on goal against 10 men on Saturday. Perhaps, now that Stiliyan Petrov has hit form at last, we could see him in a more advanced playmaker role – similar to his role at Celtic, to play through, rather than over tight defences.
Yet to get these minor grumbles into perspective, the impressive start to the season by Villa has meant amongst some, an unrealistic rising of expectations, which were partly brought crashing down by the gulf in class against Chelsea a fortnight ago. The mass disappointment amongst fans in failing to beat a team who outclassed the Villa twice in the league last season is testament to how far the team has developed, and is continuing to develop. Martin O’Neill’s men are far from the finished item, but the nature of having a young side, means the team can only keep improving.