Dave Woodhall watches Villa beat Ipswich 2-1 as a familiar face returns to Aston.
When you’re on a bad run you want to play at home to a team who’ve been losing regularly and seem doomed at the foot of the table. When you’re on a really bad run you want to play the Villa.
And so it was that after one win in nine games Villa ‘entertained’ Ipswich Town, not only bottom of the league but also managed by Paul Lambert. Our former manager didn’t get much of a reception from the crowd; we’ve had plenty of them since him and we can now look back on his time of finishing seventeenth in the Premier League as a golden era.
But enough of this cynicism. There were points to be won and Villa looked like they were going to get them with ease after a good start that saw Tammy Abraham open the scoring after six minutes when he hit home a perfectly placed free kick from Conor Hourihane. Villa should have gone on to make the game safe well before half-time but the recent failings came back and Ipswich had more of the play leading up to half-time , even though their sheer ineptitude meant they didn’t have look like scoring.
An absolute stonewall, no question about it, penalty on the hour should have made the game certain and more goals could have come but again Villa let the visitors back into the game and a quality response caused a few more doubts. But after another bit of an alarm when Ipswich hit the post, Villa woke up and saw the game out with little worry. Admittedly, this was probably the most attacking display Villa Park has ever witnessed from a Paul Lambert team although his novel ‘pass the ball back from a goal kick’ tactics seems to have been ditched.
You could say that a narrow victory over a team who are surely getting relegated isn’t much to celebrate but then again, a win’s a win. Ipswich will argue that we got the big decisions in our favour and on another day they could have scored one or two more; their manager’s post-match comments certainly had a ring of familiarity to them. We can counter that by saying we could have got another half a dozen. If Tammy Abraham had scored from either of the two good chances he had in the second half the victory would have been much more straightforward. But in the end it’s three points that move Villa up the table and closer to the play-offs, even if only temporarily.
The half-full/half-empty approach you can take from this one was summed up by someone sitting in front of me, who moaned that Abraham had “missed two sitters now” but didn’t mention the two he scored. Or the elderly bloke on the train home bemoaning Villa’s 45% possession. A Paul Lambert team will never have much problem getting more than their fair share of possession and if you want to look at stats then thirteen shots on target is usually enough to beat most teams.
There are still problems, and any thoughts of promotion based on this performance are wildly optimistic. Villa’s defence is still prone to error, James Chester is clearly struggling and needs dropping while the rest of the back four are either side of average depending on their match to match performance. Midfield with the exception of John McGinn is ponderous and we can’t rely on Abraham to score every match. Four days and counting to bring in the players we need.