VAR will again (rightly) grab the headlines as Villa slipped to defeat at The London Stadium, but this will go down as a game in with Smith’s side were also their own worst enemies.
The game was ultimately won in the opening seconds of either half.
Villa were half asleep as they conceded an early corner and failed to mark the three runners for the opener. Ogbonna was permitted all the time in the world to nod home, with Matt Targett helpless to stop the advances of Douglas Luiz’s man.
Villa did though grow into the game and became visibly dominant. This pressure was rewarded with an equaliser, after Jack Grealish burst free from midfield to fire home a fine [albeit deflected] strike.
We had hoped to see Villa pick up where they left off at half-time, but inside the first 40 seconds of the second half, West Ham were ahead. More lax defending saw Benrahma (…of course…) coolly deliver a ball for Bowen to head home.
We had our chances, make no mistake, and pressed the hosts throughout. However, we simply didn’t take our chances.
Be it Watkins’ missing from agonisingly close range in the first period, or Trezeguet’s howler in the second. The opportunities went begging as West Ham dug in.
The game was summed up well and truly as we sat and watched, aghast, firstly as Watkins’ penalty cannoned off the bar, before minutes later his last gasp equaliser was ruled offside by VAR.
VAR should be rightly scrutised for another dismal over-ruling of a perfectly legitimate goal. If anything, Watkins was being foulled. The impact of VAR now transcends individual games, as a growing number of supporters openly voicing their waning interest in the spectacle. It needs to be fixed or removed altogether from the competitive game.
With that said, this will ultimately be a game that Smith will reflect upon two unacceptable defensive failings and a raft of missed opportunities up front.
Up next, former Villa boss Steve Bruce and Newcastle this Friday night.
A decade of Villa News to your inbox – JOIN TODAY!
Want to help even more? Please DonateEmbed from Getty Images
West Ham 2-1 Aston Villa