Positive signs as new signings look hugely impressive
Yes it’s only a friendly, yes it was against league two opposition but still after all the drama of last year, it’s nice to be back positive about the Villa, and to enjoy a victory.
To use a horrible preseason cliché this was an important runout, but there were some very encouraging signs.
Burton took the lead with a screamer, but after that rarely threatened. We looked to keep the ball and play from the back which was nice. It was notable to see how often Marshall threw the ball out to one of his full backs, rather than hoof the ball upfield. New boy Lowton played in the middle, and didn’t really have much to do but looked solid enough.
It took until near the end of the first half for us to get the equaliser and it came after some good play from Stevens (who impressed throughout for me). After getting down the left again, he played a good ball in and a Burton defender hit it into his own net after pressure from Weimann.
It was well deserved and meant we went into half time on level terms. The real star of the show in the first half was new boy El Ahmadi who looked hugely impressive on his first start. I wrote in our pre match piece how I was excited to see him in action, and he didn’t disappoint. He always looked like he wanted the ball and wanted to dictate play. He’d drop extremely deep to receive the ball, looked for a pass and that was it. Simple, effective and kept us ticking along. He also showed some nice little touches and was strong in the tackle. Early days yes, but he could be a gem of a signing.
Onto the second half and it was mostly all Villa. Bannan impressed from the off for me, spreading the ball well, tackling well and mixing his passes nicely. He also came close with a cheeky free kick. The boy has clearly got talent, and maybe Lambert is the man to really get him playing. He could do well with someone like El Ahmadi behind him, and it will be interesting to see if he can play like this against a better standard of opposition.
We kept the ball well which was pleasing, although our crosses and set pieces were still largely disappointing. The game was drawing to a close when new boy Brett Holman capped an impressive debut by scoring a good goal. I was really impressed with the midfielder, he has the work ethic we need in the middle, and showed he can be a threat by popping up with a goal.
Overall then a positive start to this new era, and a good first introduction to English football for El Ahmadi and Holman. Yes sterner tests will come, but it’s nice to enjoy today. The away fans were typically top, and I loved watching Lambert. He was prowling the touchline, barking orders and interacting with the fans who responded in kind. To top it off he insisted the players applaud the fans at the end, nice touch I thought.
Positive signs all around.