Aston Villa 1 – 0 Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace 0

Review by Richard Foster (Twitter: @rcfoster)

Going to Birmingham on a soggy Tuesday evening cannot be on many people’s list of top things to do and after last night’s trip to Villa Park it will not be making mine. To lose to a team that hadn’t won for 112 days was disappointing; to be outplayed by that side was doubly so. Palace’s strangely limp performance deserved absolutely nothing.

It could have all been so different. Within the very first minute, Villa’s defence simply dissolved and Zaha was in on goal. Wilf’s shot curled towards the far post and rather than going in, cannoned off it. Little did we know that this was as good as it was going to get and if it had gone in then Villa’s fragile confidence would have been shattered.

Instead they survived, then slowly and surely they gained control of the match with Carlos Gil pulling the strings, exploiting alarmingly huge gaps in midfield. This was odd as Pardew was employing a five-man midfield. Throughout the team there was a curious lack of spirit and energy, even the estimable Cabaye looked off the pace and as the Frenchman normally dictates the play this was going to be a long night.

unspecified-1 Cropped

But Cabaye was not the only one who was below par, apart from the back four, every player was way below their normal levels. Suffice to say we did not bring our A game, more like a D-. Pardew admitted as much in his frank post-match analysis: “We have to acknowledge that our quality, our game plan didn’t come to light in the first half and it didn’t come to light in the second half, so we’ve got some work to do.”  Hennessey’s howler for the Villa goal summed it up, it was sloppy and completely out of character.

There is no point in dwelling on the most miserable of games partly because it is painful and partly because the players and coaching staff know full well that this was not good enough. We are sorely missing Bolasie who is still injured and offers the team the width that was sorely lacking against Villa. The fact that we have not scored in four consecutive league games means that it does not take a tactical genius to work out what needs addressing and a goalscorer is required and soon. The focus must be on turning things round especially as the next two fixtures are against the third and fourth placed teams.

unspecified-3 Cropped

Leaving Villa Park into the damp chilly night we were surrounded by incredulous home fans. The amount of times I heard “I can’t believe it. I’ve seen the Villa win!” just rubbed salt into the wounds. The only consolation on a damp, dismal visit to England’s Second City was going to the excellent Bartons Arms on the recommendation of co-owner, Stephen Browett for a charming pre-match pint. The evening went horribly downhill from there.

Follow Richard on twitter @rcfoster and look out for his Play-Offs book The Agony & The Ecstasy.

As official sponsor of AFC Bournemouth and Crystal Palace FC, Mansion will be offering unique insights into the team’s games each week, through collaboration with a selection of passionate fan reviewers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *