Perhaps we should know better after countless years following football?
Plummeting temperatures, uncompromising opposition and Aston Villa haven’t always combined to ‘produce’ in recent memory.
And so it was that we observed a very disjointed showing from Bruce’s side, which could have very easily been a comfortable away victory for the visitors had it not been for Sam Johnstone.
The reasons for this seemed to be a combination of problems. Some out of our control. Others, very much self inflicted.
Injuries are part and parcel of any season for any club.
At the moment it’s our turn for a lack of fully fit personnel to bite. The game was crying out for the organisation and barked orders of a player like John Terry for instance.
The former Chelsea captain looks to be nearing match fitness – a blessing – for it’s unthinkable that he would have allowed Millwall to have repeatedly in behind him as the Villa midfield and defence permitted.
Kodjia, Hogan, Jedinak, Hepburn-Murphy [untested at senior level in reality] remain either injured or lacking match fitness.
Fatigue is also beginning to hurt us. Davis’ qualities are at times overshadowed by the need to play him every minute, all of the time. He’s a very promising striker, but we find ourselves in the position of having to rely upon his style and stamina lasting. It’s failing.
Josh Onomah, technically excellent at times, is another who has been over-played and looked leggy from early in the second half. Whilst the 20 year old Spurs youngster has shown plenty of class, it was a puzzle to see Bruce opt for benching Hourihane for Henri Lansbury at Villa Park.
Further, the hamstring injury to Chris Samba, who has barely played competitively for 2 years, see’s Villa now looking to Tommy Elphick. You’ll need no reminding that the next in line is former professional footballer Micah Richards.
These factors, and others, culminated in what was a fortunate point barely being secured.
Villa’s lack of adventure, paltry single shot on target [courtesy of a speculative Grealish effort] and Sam Johnstone’s denial of Millwall saw to this.
It was a recurring theme across the 90 minutes, with the visitors as baffled at the three Villa corners of the ground at their freedom to exploit space behind the Villa defence.
Countless times our fullbacks were too advanced or we were caught napping on the break from set plays.
Johnstone earned his keep, that’s for sure. A fierce but manageable save straight at him was the warning. Then came a superb stop with his feet to deny a low drive at Millwall burst into the area. The second half saw a repeat with a good display of handling from the United loanee.
It was a reminder of how Villa can get bogged down in games and how individual players going off the boil really impacts us.
Adomah, in ferocious form until recently had nothing go for him all afternoon. He was luckless.
Lansbury, the hero with a fine equaliser at Leeds, once again evidenced to us that long passages of anonymity in games isn’t the standard required. If his goal last week was his route into the starting eleven, the former Forest and Arsenal midfielder did little against Millwall to cement it.
Another, Glenn Whelan, who has worked hard in recent weeks to win around dissenters with bullish performances, made 2 poor choices for every good one for 90 minutes.
It was as frustrating a team performance as it was for most individuals on the pitch. A disjointed, lacklustre showing.
So, given all this, we must look at the point as a positive. A year ago, who knows, but this could well have been a home defeat [a deserved one at that] and we would be pondering things quite differently.
As it stands, it’s a point taken when we least deserved it, we sit 5th, with a 4 point cushion to 7th [Leeds].
It’s certainly not all bad, nor are we in bad shape, however, we must improve and get players fit ahead of tougher games on the horizon to sustain and hopefully build upon where we find ourselves.
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