Aston Villa and the road still travelled

Villa draw at Chelsea in the FA Cup fourth round as Dave Woodhall watches.

You wait years for a 0-0 draw then two come along together. Villa went into the January break with a goalless draw at Everton, they came back from wherever Premier League footballers go when the weather’s cold (Dubai, probably) and had the same result at Stamford Bridge. The opposition was better and Villa deserved to go through on the balance of chances but they didn’t, so it’ll be back to Villa Park whenever the FA and the clubs can spare the time.

Villa’s starting line-up was as strong as any Premier League team will put out in the fourth round. Then again, looking at the bench, Unai Emery didn’t seem to have much option. Some clubs complain bitterly about injuries, others just get on with it.

And Villa certainly got on with this game. Douglas Luiz seemed to have opened the scoring after twelve minutes when he tapped in a deflected shot from Moussa Diaby but VAR ruled it out for handball. Not that I’m paranoid or anything, but that’s the VAR the FA said wouldn’t be used for this match. Youri Tielemans also had a good header saved while at the other end Emiliano Martinez was kept busy by a combination of Chelsea attackers aided by a couple of unintended attempts from Luiz and Alex Moreno.

There were no goals in the first half and none after the break either, although again both teams had chances. Villa came into the game more as the half wore on and although Leon Bailey should perhaps have been introduced a bit earlier than his brief stoppage time cameo,it would have been a bold move to change the team round as they were increasingly looking the more likely to score. Ollie Watkins had a good chance, Matt Cash had an even better one and Ezri Konsa came close right at the end.

A frustrating night although not an entirely bad one – there are some tired legs in the side even after two weeks off and the amount of players missing can’t be overstated. We’re still in the cup and that’s the main thing; when the draw was made I don’t think many Villa supporters would have been too upset with a draw and we achieved that without much trouble.

It could be said that Villa haven’t played particularly well for over a month but against that we were disappointed not to win away against a team unbeaten in ten and who’d won their last eight home FA Cup ties. That’s proof of the progress Villa have been making and with a replay at Villa Park to come we’ve got every chance of going through.

Talking of which, the club got the prices badly wrong for the League Cup tie with Everton and they know it. I appreciate that everything at Villa Park now comes at a premium but the replay will be a bonus windfall, so how about cutting the prices, making sure we get a full house and giving us a night to remember?