Villa win at Leicester and Dave Woodhall is looking ahead.
Villa had been eleventh place for so long we were in danger of taking the plaster off the wall when we moved; in three days we’ve gone up four places. At this rate we’ll be top of the league by the end of the month.
Leicester have invariably managed to do well against the Villa. Even when they were poor and we were better than we are now they could get an annoyingly good result against us far too often so Tuesday night was always going to be a difficult one, even without the upturn that’s supposed to come from getting rid of a manager. This time, though, would be different. You just knew it would.
Boubacar Kamara was left out and replaced by Leon Bailey, which seemed a bit odd but Unai knows best. There wasn’t much to talk about in the early stages then a couple of passes carved open the Leicester defence for Ollie Watkins to score again. Naturally there was a VAR claim but we’re becoming a big club now so the goal stood. Leicester equalised ten minutes later and all I’ll say about that is that there should be a rule against clubs who play music after scoring. In fact, the only thing worse is supporters clapping along.
Into the second half and Ashley Young got fouled twice within minutes by the same player. Both were bookings and Leicester were down to ten men, which against the Villa isn’t always a disadvantage but again, this is the new improved Aston Villa. Emery left his substitutions until late in the game; Jhon Duran came on with ten minutes to go and five minutes later there was a triple change which included the arrival of Bertrand Traore for the ever-inconsistent Leon Bailey. One of the things I love about football is a player who gets the ball and you don’t know what he’s going to do with it. Sometimes he’ll tread on it, sometimes it’ll end up in the next town, then sometimes, very special times, he’ll curl it round the keeper and just inside the post from twenty yards. Whatever new players arrive during the summer we should keep Traore for moments like that.
There was time for Leicester to be awarded a penalty and for VAR to overrule it because we’re a big club now and it would have been saved anyway. Three useful points and onto the next game.
Statisticians will tell you that the new manager bounce is a myth and changing bosses doesn’t lead to any improvement in form. The defence will now call its star witness. What we’ve been witnessing since Unai Emery agreed to take over isn’t so much a bounce as a quantum leap. We’ve won six out of eight away games and scarcely looked troubled in any of them. Not only is the team on form, there’s an air of confidence around Villa Park that suggests things are going to continue getting better for a long time. On a couple of occasions during my Villa-supporting life I’ve thought we were building a dynasty, only for circumstances to conspire against us. This time I doubt our manager will be asked to take the England job and I can’t imagine him walking out to end up at St Andrews, either. Emery didn’t come to Villa to finish seventh; I wonder where he now thinks he might take us.