A disclaimer about this blog post: For the first time in quite a while I don’t have any video or audio for this game, so I’m writing this post while refreshing commentary on the OS. To that end, this will be less of a review, more the random ramblings of a Villan suffering cold turkey from competitive football. One week to go!!
An interesting starting XI for this game. Certainly not quite what I was expecting:-
I have to remind myself that this is why I try to stay clear of making predictions. Hindsight’s 20/20 and this line up makes sense with a little consideration.
Friedel in goal is no shocker, he’s going to remain number one choice this season.
Beye was not involved at all, too soon after the signing I guess. Good news for Lichaj, but will MON pick him against Wigan?
Clark in for Curtis suggests caution surrounding his shoulder injury and MON is clearly looking to bring in some additional talent.
No surprise that Ash started, although the armband caused a second glance. Delph and Gardner starting together in the middle. Now that was not what I was expecting and I have to say well played sir to MON. He clearly rates both players, wants to use them and needs them to have some pitch time before the season kicks off.
As one of the England Under-21 trio without any pre-season action for Villa, Milner was always going to get the nod on the right. Ditto with Gabby, although Heskey alongside him intrigues me. Does MON rate Heskey more than Carew? Other strikers sing Heskey’s praises from the roof tops, they love playing with him, but I don’t think he and Gabby gelled particularly well last season. Is MON trying to force the issue here?
I don’t care how many goals Heskey scores, even as a striker, if he’s helping others to knock them in it’s all good. I just don’t think that happened last season and he was just taking a place in the team that someone else could have been more productive with.
That said, so far this summer he’s had a positive impact and I no sooner questioned his place in this game on Twitter than he scored the opening goal. Meh.
Villa seemed to be on top for most of the first half, Delph looking to impose himself in the centre with a few tasty tackles. Milner, Ash & Gabby were all encouraging.
Villa lead 1-0 at half time and seemed good value for it.
Davies, Albrighton and Guzan came out in the second half for Cuellar, Ash & Friedel. Interesting that Clark is being given the whole game. It looks like Albrighton was on the right, so I’d love to know whether Milner was shifted into the middle with Delph on the left, or whether he simply went to the left himself. I think we’d all like to see if Milner can play a role in the middle so that Albrighton can be accommodated.
Several substitutions on the hour mark; Sidwell, Carew, Delfouneso, and Reo-Coker on for Gardner, Heskey, Gabby and Milner. Carew and Delfouneso together up front, interesting. I’d like to see that partnership develop.
With so many substitutions Villa could be forgiven if they were a little disjointed despite still fielding a strong side. Fiorentina certainly played better in the second half and tested Brad Guzan on a couple of occasions. However, Delfouneso linked up well with Albrighton – not surprising – after some especially impressive work again on the wing from Albrighton.
With 15 minutes to go, Curtis Davies was adjudged to have handled in the area and Guzan needed to face his seventh penalty in a week. He didn’t need to make a save though, Gilardino hit the post.
Fabian Delph was given a 78 minute debut and it seemed to go well. I presume that he must have played at least some of the second half on the left wing, which is great if we have yet another player capable of playing in several positions. Lowry replaced Delph and if MON remained true to Peace Cup form the Aussie would have gone to left back and Shorey pushed up to left wing.
And the game finished 1-0. By all accounts, a decent work out for the team and great to continue the pre-season form. Obviously there will be new faces brought in between now and the end of the transfer window, but the side we’ve seen in the last week or so can get results through the rest of August – yes, that includes Liverpool!!
That’s all for pre-season though, the new Premiership season kicks off next Saturday and I can’t wait. Bring on Wigan!!