Villa and another VAR-cical afternoon

Dave Woodhall on Villa, Burnley, equalisers and those three letters again.

I don’t know much about rugby. I know there’s a World Cup just started in Japan but that’s about it.

Actually, there’s one more thing I do know about the sport and that’s when Aston becomes an independent nation (which is only a question of time now) they’ll win every championship going, because there’s a team there that are experts at playing well for eighty minutes.

That’s how I started off last week’s report and I may as well keep it in, because yet again Villa managed to throw away a win by conceding a daft goal in the last ten minutes.

The team had been changed round from the Arsenal surrender, with Conor Hourihane looking to add more steel into the centre of midfield and left-back Matt Targett finally arriving in the side.

The changes seemed to have worked, Villa starting well and Hourihane at the centre of the early action, hitting the post from a free kick and crossing for John McGinn to tap in what looked like the opening goal only for VAbloodyR to rule it out what seemed five minutes later.

It’s getting beyond a joke now, and I wish the FA, Premier League, Rupert Murdoch or whoever is in ultimate control of the decision-making in football would have the courage to face up, admit that it isn’t working and scrap it for at least the rest of the season until it can be sorted or preferably dropped down a big, deep hole.

But that really shouldn’t have mattered. Anwar El Ghazi opened the scoring, justifying my (admittedly whispered) belief that he’d be worth trying in a more central position as I reckon he could become a regular goalscorer, and Villa went in at half-time well on top.

Burnley changed their pattern of play, Villa failed to react quickly enough and the subsequent equaliser was about as predictable as VAR having a detrimental effect on the game. But at least Villa sharpened up for a while after that and McGinn’s second of the afternoon actually counted, although there will probably be some sort of appeal to Uefa, along the lines of the juxtaposition of the stars being detrimental to Burnley’s defenders or similar.

More predictable was the almost instant second equaliser, again as a result of hesitation in a defence that should know better by now and there it was – two more points dropped. A decent game with plenty of talking points would have made for a worthwhile afternoon’s football if only Villa had a couple more wins to their name but in the current situation it’s more of a cause for concern. The easier run of fixtures are starting to slip away and the win that will kickstart a decent run seems as elusive as ever.

There’s still not much wrong with the team – Marvelous Nakamba is improving with every match and Targett had an impressive outing before going off with what was hopefully not too serious an injury – but the defensive lapses that cost us in virtually every match are getting no better, which makes me question what John Terry is currently doing. I also wonder why Dean Smith, who was able to out-think on his feet every Villa manager he came up against twice a season when he was at Brentford, is now so slow to react to games as they unfold. It’s something that has to be sorted out.

On Saturday Villa travel to Norwich, a place in the table and a point better off. There shouldn’t be any panic this early in the season but the wrong result will start to increase those concern levels. Still, there shouldn’t be a problem as long as we can cut out the defensive calamities, or failing that hide the batteries from the VAR machine.