There are occasions where you just have to acknowledge when you’re second best. This was one of those occasions.
Leicester were, at times, rampant at Villa Park. They were slicker and more cohesive than Liverpool were in their 2-1 victory too.
For us, it was a reminder of the sheer gulf that has opened up since our relegation.
Whilst this could conceivably have been a different encounter had El Ghazi found the net rather than the bar early on, Leicester posed a constant threat.
We must reflect on our frailties, learn from our mistakes, but now absolutely focus upon our remaining December fixtures. There are points to be taken which our survival will likely rest upon.
This will be a short eulogy reflecting upon Villa’s performance.
It was a game where Mings, injured, should have been withdrawn before the first was tapped home. The fact he remained on the pitch was a glaring, obvious oversight.
It was also a game that placed Smith’s predicament with Wesley firmly in the spotlight.
The Brazilian now cuts a frustrated and confidence-sapped individual. This seems to manifest itself into strange positional decisions, awkward movement and a clumsy touch.
Indeed, Smith dared not substitute him, despite his suffering, for he would have inflicted inevitable sarcastic jeers upon the youngster. Irrelevant of one’s views on Wesley’s ability or performances, it made for uncomfortable viewing.
McGinn, he’s crying out for a rest. The Scot is visibly running on fumes.
Elmohamady’s inclusion was woefully misjudged, with Frederic Guilbert watching on.
Grealish was hounded and too easily frustrated by the opposition.
For Leicester, Vardy, though, was a predatory menace. The England striker’s slightly fortuitous goal at The Holte End, after Konsa’s slip and with Mings on one leg, did however come after hard work.
The striker has many admirable qualities, least of all his goalscoring, let down only by needless incitement of The Holte End whilst celebrating in the goalmouth. The Holte responded with a poor attempt at humour, loudly heralding Vardy’s wife to be ‘a slag’. Neither actions were palateable (or funny) and the latter particularly lowered the tone of what was a decent game of football until that point. Our club is and has to be above that.
The second goal came as Leicester exploited our frailty out wide, with a dangerous cross fired in at the near post. It was a goal from which we would never recover.
Grealish got a timely goal back before the break, rifling in an effort beyond Schmeichel courtesy of a deflection.
The second half saw Leicester emerge and immediately set the tone for their intent, bursting upon Konsa and dragging an effort wide.
Evans, the former West Brom centre-half, was inexplicably allowed enough room the turn the Titanic, heading home unchallenged.
Vardy completed the rout, slotting home when permitted a run on goal.
Despite the scoreline, Tom Heaton was one of few to leave the field with any credit. A point blank save demonstrating his positional sense as much as his reactions. The England keeper was afforded limited protection across the afternoon and will count himself lucky to have only conceded four.
There’s little point dwelling upon our shortcomings against one of the league’s best, but we must cut out the unforced errors. These will get punished from Leicester to Lincoln.
Smith will presumably reflect on faux pas in his team selection too.
The fact is that Villa now enter a crucial phase of the season from which we will need to have collected essential points.
Sheffield United represents a dogged away tie with which to navigate.
However, games against Southampton, Watford and Norwich can now only be circled as key-critical encounters.