Villa got a vital three points on Saturday. Dave Woodhall can see blue skies ahead in more ways than one.
Villa Park was a very happy place at five to five on Saturday. We’d got three welcome points, other results had gone for us and more than anything, the team had not only played with a bit of style, we’d also been able to adjust to changing circumstances as the game went on. After a damp morning the sun was out. There was even an ice cream van on Trinity Road. Happy days, indeed.
Blackburn’s sixth trip to Villa Park in 14 months was also our easiest win. The visitors came with the aim of stifling Villa’s creativity; it made for a boring first half hour but after that we were well on top. Four goals in the second half were all the result of some lovely play, with Ashley Young showing that on form he’s a star performer. Kyle Walker had his best game for the club and has got to be kidnapped into signing permanently. On the other side of the defence Fabien Delph did well in an unfamiliar position following Nathan Baker’s injury. Le Boss said he brought on Delph rather than a more defensive-minded player because Blackburn were offering no threat down their right wing, a piece of tactical thinking our previous manager would have struggled with. The reward was as fine an attacking display from two Villa full-backs as we’ve seen for a long while, one pass from Delph along the line recalling memories of Gordon Cowans in his prime.
Robert Pires showed that he’s still got the class to dominate midfield against such opposition while the recalled Marc Albrighton looked like the England international-in-waiting we’ve come to recognise. In fact, I could praise the entire team.
Blackburn seem like they might be this season’s ‘safe in February, fighting relegation in May’ side, but the spirit and ability Villa showed would have been enough to see off much better opposition. On days like this you can see what Gerard’s trying to achieve and the rest of the season could be a lot more enjoyable than we feared a couple of weeks ago.
And so to Eastlands for the FA Cup fifth round, taking place on its traditional time of Wednesday evening. We played the fourth round in January and the fifth round’s had to wait until March; if the FA ever wonder why the cup’s losing its importance they should have a word with themselves first. It’ll be hard, no doubt but it’s about time we pulled off a big cup win.