Well, that was disappointing.
What seemed like an expected win quickly turned into frustration as Reading scored a late penalty to leave Villa Park with an unlikely point and Steve Bruce will have learnt plenty from Saturday’s match.
There was a debut, some more frustrating positioning and some fantastic fan support as per usual. What did we learn from Saturday’s game? Let’s find out.
Villa need to learn how to kill off games
There’s no doubt that this was two points dropped for Villa against a Reading side who will be battling relegation this season. Anything other than a victory would come as a shock pre-match so it’s disappointing that Villa did not do enough to get three points. It’s easy to blame the officiating (and boy, will we get into that) but the score should have been over well before the late equaliser.
Villa dominated possession and dictated the tempo, but arguably, there wasn’t enough creation from the attackers to grab a second. Jack Grealish’s injury did not help matters, but going into the final minutes with just a one-goal lead is always dangerous and Villa paid the price for their lack of ruthlessness on Saturday.
Hello El Ghazi
Well, he was a breath of fresh air wasn’t he? The Lille loanee came straight into the starting line-up for his debut and added something that Villa have missed all season so far. He was willing to take on his man, he showed a yard of pace and best of all, he showed he has the ability with his delivery.
An assist in his opening game is the perfect start and Villa fans will quickly get behind him with more performances like this. Hopefully, it’s not a one-time thing but Anwar El Ghazi could be a game-changer for Villa throughout the season.
Andre Green’s career has hit a stumbling block
While it was great to see El Ghazi make an immediate impact, it’s a shame to see why the winger has been brought in. Alongside fellow new signing Yannick Bolasie, Bruce has brought in two strong wingers to fill in a hole that he believes needs strengthening in his side. That weakness comes from the fact Andre Green just did not take his chance at the start of the season.
He looked sluggish. He lacked confidence and now, he arguably finds himself fourth-choice in Bruce’s picks for his wingers. That’s not where a bright, young talent wants to find himself so Green’s season might perhaps be the most important of his career. Hopefully, he finds a way to break back through and become Villa’s next home-grown hero. The evidence so far is bleak to see though.
Villa’s home support is incredible
The attendance figures at Villa Park this season have been simply staggering. To get 33,000 inside the stadium to be watching an English Second Division match is amazing. Villa constantly bring in more fans than many Premier League teams which shows that they are top-tier fans watching second-tier football.
This season, the new players have created a few gems when it comes to new song. John McGinn is better than Zidane, Adomah and Bolasie look set to share a chant and Tuanzebe might have the catchiest of the lot.
Hopefully, the positive atmosphere continues because it’s a long road back to the Premier League and there will be ups and downs.
The referees in Villa games have had a bad week
Now, before we start, let me reiterate that I do not believe the referee cost Villa the win against Reading. The home side’s inability to kill off the game cost them the victory.
However, the standard of the officiating at Villa Park has been nothing short of woeful. To miss Neal Maupay’s stamp against Brentford was a massive over-sight but it got worse when Reading were awarded a penalty seemingly out of nowhere.
James Chester was adjudged to have fouled Josh Sims, but the decision even had the Reading supports bamboozled as to why it was given. I’m sure it will even itself out throughout the season and Villa will get their rub of the green through bad decisions, but it just seems like one thing after another at the moment.
Picture Credit: Aston Villa