Aston Villa and the two steps back

Villa lose 2-1 at Bournemouth. Dave Woodhall ponders.

We should be used to it by now. After Tuesday night’s memorable victory Villa travelled to Bournmouth knowing that a performance of anything like similar quality would see the home side swept away with ease and a decent gap begin to emerge between us and the relegation places. Against the odds, January had largely been a successful month and carrying that form into February would have eased the fear of going down considerably.

As it turned out, the promise that January brought didn’t extend for a single day, and probably not even for a minute. Villa were back to their old error-strewn, second to every ball worst and handed Bournemouth three points that should have been ours for the taking. What was particuarly depressing was that this was the team most would have picked and with the exception of John McGinn, whose return can’t come amoment too soon, it’s the best we can choose from for the rest of the season.

The defence was a shambles and both Bournemouth’s goals were easily avoidable, resulting from slack marking and misplaced clearances. In midfield the team was far too lightweight, the Nakamba/Luiz combination that had worked so well for the past few games having one of its off days. And there lies the main problem we’ve had to contend with all season – there’s not enough experience in the team, not enough old heads to provide leadership and therefore not enough resolution to dig themselves out of trouble.

With the home side down to ten men early in the second half there should have been a way back for Villa to get something from the game. Twenty minutes from time Jack Grealish and Keinan Davis combined to give Mbwana Samatta a goal on his league debut and the hunt for an equaliser should have been on, but Villa seemed to run out of ideas after that. There were a couple of missed chances, although at the final whistle no-one could reasonably claim that we deserved to get anything from the match.

Whether it was a reaction from Tuesday night, or complacency, or the more probable reason that Villa are just too downright inconsistent, this was a frustrating end to a period where the team had looked as though they’d turned a corner. Unfortunately, the corner that was turned led to another dead end.

We’ve got two weeks until the next game, at home to a Spurs side who have proved to be equally as inconsistent as us, albeit at a different level. Villa at their best are more than capable of winning this one, but as we’ve seen only too often already this season, their best doesn’t come around anywhere near as often as the sort of performance we witnessed on Saturday.

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