It was only in the aftermath of the debacle of Villa’s defeat that this blog reflected on the difference that a week makes. Indeed prior to the dismal defeat at Southampton, Villa put in a promising performance to beat Swansea. Contrast this with the worrying opening home defeat to Everton and a gritty draw at Newcastle. Add Aston Villa to your betting accumulator at your peril!
So what a difference three days makes.
Villa’s performance against Manchester City, to dump the current Premier League Champions out of the League Cup, was excellent. To win at all is a triumph. To do so after 120 minutes and by two clear goals has left most stunned.
It however has the hallmarks of two reassuring factors.
Firstly, that the team had responded to the dire second half showing at Southampton. Regardless of whether it was whatever Paul Lambert has said/done, or even simple professional pride, Villa turned up and put in a 120 minute hard grafted shift. They earned the 4-2 victory. This is refreshing as any hardened supporter will attest.
Secondly, a number of fringe players and younger faces went out to impress. I use the word fringe loosely. N’Zogbia has been largely anonymous in his Villa career to date but covered the grass and grabbed a vital goal. Agbonlahor looked threatening and as though he may have woken up to the fact that competition for places is fierce. A hungry and competitive squad is valuable.
Recently acquired fullback Bennett got a valuable 90 minutes under his belt against quality opposition and Fabian Delph may yet come good for the club. Chris Herd, now blooded following last season, came on and looked steady and Albrighton also gained some much needed match fitness. Dare one suggest a little strength in depth emerging?
Aside from the result, the manner of the victory is the part most worth reflecting upon.
Villa were away from home, twice behind to a strong Manchester City team and in the end came home comprehensive victors. Obviously the League Cup and the League are two entirely different beasts, but the character and belief is something certainly transferable. This approach, effort and determination will see us win more matches than we will lose. We must now harness this consistently.
The fast approaching weekend derby fixture against West Bromwich Albion now feels a little more bearable. Let us hope Southampton was merely a blip and that performances such as that at Manchester City become our mainstay. Just don’t put any money on it.