Villa 1-1 Reading: Defensive woes continue

An afternoon which promised to give Villa fans a jubilant journey home, ended in sheer frustration as a 93rd minute penalty rescued a point for he visitors.

Villa started the game where they left off in Wednesday night’s draw with Brentford and looked to capitalise early on Reading’s poor form.

In typical fashion, one positive half was followed by an overwhelmingly mediocre one, but it was Villa who edged ahead – new boy Anwar El Ghazi superbly picking out the run of Ahmed Elmohamady who nodded into the bottom corner.

Elmohamady set up to nod Villa into the lead (Getty Images)

The second half was a cagey one with Villa the more likely but struggling to retain a major foothold in the game.

The game didn’t look over and it was thanks to Ørjan Nyland’s shot stopping that kept the tie at 1-0.

Villa should have been well out of sight with opportunities falling for Kodjia, McGinn and Adomah – punishment for failed chances eventually came as a brash challenge from James Chester awarded a penalty to the Royals – Sam Baldock made sure the struggling visitors had something to smile about.

https://youtu.be/GwMQDHUSme0

3 things to take away:

  • Steve Bruce is clearly a creature of habit and will not surrender his ideals. His inability to recognise where our weak points are troubles me more every game and I believe if he persists, he may die by the sword (sacked).
  • People need to stop getting on Nyland’s back. The keeper didnt start off too great and I will admit I was a doubter but Norweigan has kept us in the last two games with some great stops. Hostility will only make the guy more nervous and that is the last thing he needs.
  • We lack a clear style of play – we are in tactical limbo as far as I am concerned and this needs to be addressed.

My Verdict

The Bruce In/Out debate seems to create more heated discussion than Brexit – Saturday’s game will add more fuel to both fires.

The persistence of an ad hoc Back-4 is deeply worrying, for me it shows that Steve Bruce is blind to his own frailties or is simply not willing to avert from a single footballibg philosophy. Which is worse? Someone that doesn’t know they’re doing soemthing wrong or someone that knows and doesn’t have any plans to change.

I have no problem with playing people out of position, but it has to be done with versatile players – Birkir Bjarnadon and Alan Hutton are pefect examples. We all know Mile Jedinak is not a centre-back and to top that, I think he is an awful defensive midfielder who’s only real positive trait is his aerial ability. Moving onto Axel Tuanzebe, I can’t fault his performance in all honesty, I don’t think he is a natural full-back and centre-back alongside Chester would be a massiveboost for us. That being said he is growing in confidence in each game and he isn’t the Ann Robinson of our back line.

Bjarnason puts in a challenge (Getty Images)

Talking of out of positions – Bjarnadon was my stand out performer of the game. After a disappointing performance against Wigan, coupled with a good showing from Glenn Whelan midweek, a start for the Islander was quite the shock. Bjarnadon was back to his best and battled for every ball within his radius. He looked energetic and tracked on running midfielders well. The thing I like the most about Birkir is that he wants to play football properly and looks to play on the deck.

To say we were massively the stronger team, looking out for outstanding individual performances is hard but the signing of Anwar El Ghazi looks to be a great move. Trickery, pace and a good eye for a ball – I am looking forward to seeing more.

Team celebrate going 1-0 ahead (Getty Images)

Bruceball

Bruce needs to go into Saturday’s game with Sheffield United with the mindset of the Brentford game. We looked like we had purpose and used our pace well.

It is disappointing to see that after such a good performance and a good first half we get complacent and let teams back into games – with Sheffield United coming into form after a rough start, they may have come at the wrong time for us.

Bruce needs to wake up – so far we have played teams placed 8th, 12th, 18th, 23rd and 24th. During that span we have arguably, only had one great performance. The defensive frailties of our team are there for everybody to see and aticking by a backline that has conceded 7 goals in 5 games is going to end badly at some stage when we play a serious contender such as Leeds or Middlesbrough.

Our next game: Sheffield United (A) – September 1st @ 3pm.

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