The opposite of consistent is…

Dave Woodhall on Villa’s defeat to Stoke.

Sometimes I wonder if they do it for a bet…

Last Saturday Villa gave arguably the best performance of Paul Lambert’s time at the club, and possibly since before then, when beating Chelsea. They followed it up on Sunday afternoon with a display that could best be described as one of stunning ineptitude. To make matters even more explicable they got off to a perfect start when Christian Benteke scored after five minutes.

For a short period after that goal the team looked well in control and likely to score again. In fact, three more goals by half-time wouldn’t have been a surprise at all. What would have been more of a shock was that Stoke scored them all.

Villa fell to pieces in a way that only Villa can, doing their usual trick of letting in two goals within a few minutes thanks in part to some shambolic defending. Injuries to Kharim El Amahdi and Andreas Weimann didn’t help and a third Stoke goal before the break meant the game was effectively over.

Any hope that Villa might snatch something from the match in the second half was soon dispelled when they showed no initiative, flair or inspiration from the off. Marc Albrighton, so effective on the wing lately was played behind the strikers and the rest of the team had nothing else to offer. Stoke’s fourth goal came when the game was in its dying stages and luckily it was put out of our misery soon after.

So, after a couple of weeks when the green shoots of optimism had begun to show through, we’re back to wondering what the future holds and what level the Villa genuinely are at. Clearly they’re not better than Chelsea despite last Saturday’s result, but are they really that much worse than Stoke?

Watch us win at Old Trafford next Saturday now.