Villa lose to Brighton as Dave Woodhall watches another controversial decision.
After the last game I said that Villa can beat, and lose to, any team in the league. I did hope that the win at Arsenal might have heralded a bit of consistency, but no. Yet again Villa blew the chance to move higher up the table with what was perhaps the worst performance of the season against a Brighton side who are better than their league position showed but should still have been put away without much difficulty.
Dean Smith resisted the temptation to rest a couple of Villa’s globetrotting internationals although this idea lasted barely two minutes before Ross Barkley pulled up with a hamstring problem. This was the first indication that it might be One of Those Days, Bertrand Traore was the surprise replacement and although he played well enough, the balance of the midfield was altered and subsequently no-one in the Villa side looked at ease.
With twelve minutes gone the defence were far too slack high up the pitch and Brighton were allowed a goal that could be described as a typical one for Villa to concede.
Trezeguet had a shot well saved and missed another chance, then shortly after half-time the scores were level after a goal that was equally typical of the Villa, this time at the right end. Traore’s free-kick was inch-perfect for Ezri Konsa to get on the end of, and with most of the half remaining and their confidence boosted, Villa should have been expected to step up a gear to claim all three points.
There was a goal soon after, but it was at the wrong end. A ball played in front of the defence, a total lack of marking and Villa were behind once more. That was pretty much all, with Villa not really creating and nothing much to talk about until stoppage time.
The red card was a bit harsh, but that was in no way cancelled out by what came next. Under the current laws you can be offside by an eyelash and a penalty’s awarded if the ball so much as brushes a fibre of the defender’s sleeve. So how is it that Trezeguet can be tripped while in control of the ball and there’s no foul? Graham Turner, Billy McNeill, Alex McLeish and Paul Lambert, to mention just a few, didn’t stop me from watching the Villa but VAR is testing my patience to the limit.
We didn’t deserve to win; too many players had off-days and again, that has to be put right. Maybe Douglas Luiz should have been rested, perhaps Trezeguet shouldn’t have been started; neither were up to their recent standards. Tyrone Mings in particular was watching the ball instead of the man too often. Most of all, you’re not going anywhere if you let in eleven goals in three home games.
But having said all that, the biggest talking point of the afternoon wasn’t caused by a player, but by the referee. It’s always been said that if a ref’s any good you don’t notice him. Under the current circumstances it’s impossible not to notice the officials, and that can’t be right.