Dave Woodhall on Villa’s latest.
One of the more predictable events of the season is that at least one of Villa’s games against Spurs will be on TV. Last year saw an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at White Hart Lane that led to the first real signs of discontent against Alex McLeish as the manager’s ultra-defensive line-up and tactics were displayed to the watching world.
This season the scoreline was the same but Villa’s performance was a vast improvement. In fact, had Christian Benteke put away what appeared to be a straightforward chance when the game was still goalless we could have been looking at a memorable victory. But it wasn’t to be and after a good first half Villa slipped to another defeat, one which leaves them sixteenth in the league with a single win from the opening seven league games. To make matters worse the team finished with ten men after Joe Bennett, who is settling down well into the left-back spot, was taken off with a badly gashed knee after Villa had already made their three substitutions.
If Darren Bent had been in the side from the start things might have been different but Paul Lambert once again left his most potent attacking threat on the bench for most of the game. I’ve got no idea why he should does this – some sort of power ploy aimed at exerting his authority maybe, or it could be that he doesn’t see the player as being at Villa Park much longer and so wants to plan for the future without him. He surely doesn’t believe Villa have more chance of scoring without Bent in the side.
As has been the case too often already this season, we can look back on another performance where the youngsters did well, and although they’re showing promising sings in almost every game, they’re not yet good enough to beat many sides. There’s no sign of panic yet but a couple of wins would come in handy, and as soon as possible.
In a wider context Spurs are one of the clubs we should be competing with, and there’s naturally a feeling of anxiety and annoyance that they’ve gone racing ahead of us. The days when Villa would go to White Hart Lane with a good chance of returning with three points seem a long time ago. But, football goes in cycles. At the moment Spurs are at the top of theirs while Villa are just starting to recover from a down period. In a couple of years who knows how the situation will have changed? It’s not that long since Spurs – as well as Everton, another club in that historic ‘best of the rest’ group – were spending years muddling around in mid-table with only the occasional relegation scare to liven up another mundane season. Villa are not going to be in our current position for ever.