QPR 1-2 VILLA
Albert Adomah will [rightly] receive plaudits for another excellent display, but recognition must also go in the direction of what was a solid team performance.
Whilst the early goal conceded was sloppy, it risked creating a false narrative on proceedings in which Villa ultimately secured a deserved away win.
Villa’s season, after a loss against Sheffield Wednesday and John Terry’s injury, was apparently already over for some.
However, the recurrence of Kodjia & Hogan’s injuries, however bereft of form they might be, served only to fuel this.
What we saw though was a gritty, determined and effective showing from Bruce’s re-worked Villa side.
Further, for all of the ramblings of “Bruceball” or entrenched negativity, Villa now cuts a side that has figures amongst it capable of hurting teams. As pleasingly, Villa seem to be developing a stamina to see games through…finally!
Snodgrass was a constant menace, as direct as he was physical.
Hourihane, who has taken some time to settle was an effective, dangerous and intelligent presence in the centre of the park. The Irishman was desperately unlucky with an effort; a curling, pacey effort which faded just over the hosts bar.
Unheralded, Glenn Whelan did the dirty work to protect the centre halves, once more picking up a facial injury for his trouble.
Onomah and Davis look completely on the same page whenever they appear together. Though the bulk of the responsibility shouldn’t fall on such young shoulders, there’s little doubt that their combined attributes make them a logical pairing on the team-sheet for Bruce.
And what of the defence? Whilst QPR can hardly be accused of carrying a mobile nor modern attack, what they did offer was largely countered by the experienced physicality of Samba, alongside the technically sound Chester. Hutton and Taylor looked similarly untroubled.
Sam Johnstone did his bit and earned his wages in the second half, saving a fierce effort from distance to protect Villa’s then 2-1 lead.
The star of the show though was the cool customer Albert Adomah.
Adomah has emerged from inconsistent performer last term, into a constant goalscoring threat. His game is complimented by a proven track record of delivering assists, something which he has carried on into what was a creativity black hole at Villa Park prior to his arrival.
Adomah showed his worth in both halves, calming converting a pressure penalty on the stroke of half-time.
The winger showed his full quality at this level in the second half.
Having been released after good play by the midfield, Adomah drove forward, composed himself, before unleashing a powerful shot across the keeper. It was a great goal live, but a finer goal to win the fixture with.
You’ll find few sites to have scrutinised managers, past and present as much as this one. However, the binary thinking in some quarters [on the subject of Bruce] continues to rear it’s head at the merest sniff of a defeat.
Take the irrational online ramblings post match, such as after the Sheffield Wednesday loss. Worse yet, the knee-jerk sacking prophecies which emerge whenever Villa concede a goal – or – go behind as at QPR.
In an age of fake news and where the minority view can project itself as the barometer of truth to the masses, it’s important to keep abreast of just where Villa are currently at:
- 4th best form based on the last 10 games.
- QPR win the first away victory from a losing position since August 2013 [3-1 Arsenal].
- 5th best away form based on the last 6 games – a major turnaround on previous years.
- 4th highest average player ratings in The Championship [WhoScored]
- 5th placed in The Championship after a sluggish start.
The summary? There is room for improvement (think Wolves), but things are much, much improved (the QPR result being just one example).
The point is, that as a collective we fans have endured years of having to live game to game.
Individual matches mattered so much because our Premier League survival often depended upon it.
Now though, things are different. Whilst we’re far from perfect, it feels like we’ve finally come through a period of transition in early 2017 and are benefitting from bedding in complimentary recruits in the summer.
Being placed 5th, manoeuvring in the pack as we are, sets the club up fantastically going into a busy December/New Year fixture list.
Up next is the type of game to underpin any push towards the leagues summit upon; Sunderland.
The Black Cats are languishing at the foot of the table.
They’re also achieved a feat in looking in even worse shape than we did when relegated. The kicker? Chris Coleman has taken the helm and will be charge for their visit to Villa Park on Tuesday night…Match Preview to follow.