What a disappointment.
After a win against Liverpool and credible draw against Swansea away, I couldn’t believe that we didn’t get anything against a Villa team that was there for the taking.
Wifried came into the side in place of Jason Puncheon, and James McArthur replaced Joe Ledley (who was injured) to link up with Mile Jedinak in the centre of the park.
With pace and skill in both wide areas and with Marouane Chamakh behind Dwight Gayle, one would have to say it was a very attacking looking formation.
What transpired was an evening of frustration, for the fans, the players, and the coaching staff as time after time we wasted fantastic opportunities to put the Villa defence under pressure and scrutinise their back line by wasting great crossing opportunities in wide areas. Yannick and Wilfried worked so hard to get into great crossing positions only to miss everyone out in the penalty area and over hit the ball.
Villa defended with great discipline and bravery, their defence was committed and determined and time after time they got bodies in the way or cleared the ball to squash the Palace threat. I thought we dominated the central midfield area and attacked more than in any other game this season, our shot tally of 17 attempts confirms that. It can go down as a lack of composure at times rather than great defending - a little more concentration was required to get the quality on those crosses and through balls.
The match hinged on a defensive mistake by Scott Dann close to the touchline. With seemingly no danger in sight he was indecisive in possession, got caught out by Christian Benteke who ran 50 yards to score his first goal of the season and the only goal of the match just after the half hour.
With an hour of the match to go I felt confident that if we’d had scored one goal, we would have gone on to score two. For every set piece Villa had 11 men in their own penalty area, they defend in numbers, the break we needed didn’t occur, no luck in the penalty area and referee Michael Oliver waved away our penalty appeal from half time substitute Frazier Campbell when he appeared to be pulled back by Cieran Clark inside the 18yrd box. We can’t fault the players for their effort, they drove at the game with everything they had but its all about the quality at this level. Players must provide that little bit extra in all departments for us to improve our overall chances of being successful.
Onto the next one, Tottenham Hotspur away.