Derby daze

Dave Woodhall on Villa’s draw with Derby.

As is often the case in such circumstances, there are two ways of looking at Villa’s draw away at Derby. A point gained, or two lost. Does the fact that we failed to beat average opposition mean we’re doomed to mid-table mediocrity, or does it show that we’re not going to roll over for one of the fancied sides of the division? Should we be glad that we’re a point off the play-off zone without having got in to top gear, or worried that we’re a point away from the bottom three?

Ony time will tell which of those arguments is right, but I do believe that ever since the fixtures were published most of us would have settled for a draw at Pride Park. Derby are one of the sides most fancied for promotion and not losing away to one of your rivals has got to be a decent result whatever the circumstances.

Villa were without Aaron Tshibola, because going four games without one of our new signings getting injured would have broken one of the fundamental laws of science, and with Mile Jedinak’s work perimt not yet sorted a midfield partnership of Gary Gardner and Ashley Westwood was not one to give much cause for optimism. They didn’t do much wrong, yet neither did they do a great deal right. Gardner doesn’t seem up to scratch and though I hope he goes on to prove me wrong, it seems as though a succession of serious injuries has had a detrimental effect on a player who was favourably compared to Steven Gerrard in the early part of his career. As for Westwood, he divides opinion but while he might not be good enough to be a first team regular, he’ll surely be a decent enough squad player as the season wears on.

Villa’s defence was sound enough but in attack they were poor. Losing Rudy Gestede to injury was a blow as substitute Libor Kozak is clearly not up to speed, and again after such a long lay-off he may never be.

So, a draw was probably a fair reuslt. Buth sides had chances and on another day both could have won. Villa were probably the happier with the result – two away games might have produced just one point but they were against two of the strongest sides in the league and after the defensive shambles of last season, to have only conceded once in three hours is a massive improvement. Any side who finish above Wednesday and Derby must be odds-on for at least a play-off place and I saw nothing in either game to suggest Villa can’t do just that.

Provided, of course, we can score enough goals. Dr Tony has said via his usual method of communication that a “world-class” number nine is on his way to Villa Park and who are we to doubt him?

Sadly, one player who won’t be on his way anywhere is Stiliyan Petrov, who has finally announced his retirement from playing. Whatever he does from now on, it has to be not far away from us. Villa, and football, can’t afford to lose such a man.