Steven Gerrard made just the one change ahead of the trip to Newcastle United today as the suspended Ezri Konsa was replaced by Calum Chambers, who made his starting debut in a Villa shirt.
Although Villa’s record at St James Park is nothing to shout about, no one would have expected the below-par lacklustre performance we were about to witness.
Newcastle are a different proposition to the one that visited Villa Park earlier this season. They have a new manager, new owner and fair few new players following the January transfer window.
Having said that, I still believe Newcastle, although started brightly, are capable of so much more and had we actually turned up today, could have come away with something.
Villa were sloppy in possession and slow out of it. The only goal of the game come after 35 minutes. The Geordies were awarded a spot-kick but Craig Pawson (who was poor on the day for both sides) was overruled by VAR and a free-kick was rightly awarded.
Kieran Trippier scored from a more awkward position in mid-week and made this one look easy as he curled the ball around the wall and past Emi Martinez in the Villa goal.
Villa were slightly better after the break but far from their best and could have snatched a share of the points when Ollie Watkins headed home from close range just after the hour mark.
The length of the check, told us what we all knew was coming, an offside was awarded and the goal chalked out.
The game fizzled out with any clear cut chances from either side in a scrappy final third to the game.
Villa now have just one win in their last seven games as manager Gerrard promised changes next time out.
- Calum Chambers was relatively comfortable as he replaced Konsa. The former Arsenal defender was composed on the ball and handled the threat of Chris Wood rather well.
- Away supporters. I have to pay credit to the travelling support because of the long journey and the tripe they had to endure on the pitch.
- I used to question if Dean Smith motivated the starting team before games when we would witness similar performances to what we witnessed today. Under different management and we are still getting no show performances which ultimately stems from the players. Questions need to be asked and players need to stand up or move on out if Villa are to progress.
- The VAR decision to rule our goal out wasn’t clear and cut for me. I felt that the line was drawn from the front of the Newcastle defender but his heel seemed to be in line with Watkins and what was in fact playing him onside. I won’t use this as an excuse because we deserved nothing from today’s game but it’s decisions like this that are making so many fall out of love with the modern game.
Aston Villa v Watford
Saturday, 19th February
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Both sides will look to this game as one that they need to be picking up three points. Roy Hodgson will be looking for his first win as Hornets boss while Gerrard will want his side to bounce back from today’s defeat.