Aston Villa 3 (Coutinho 30, J Ramsey 34,43)
Leeds United 3 (James 9, 45+2, Llorente 63)
Well, that was a rip-roaring game to warm the cockles! And it was one of those typical Leeds United rollercoaster days. The euphoria of an early goal, then 3 – 1 down and looking like we’d be getting a thumping. Grabbing a goal back before the break with a Dan James header (yes! Another one!) and then pouncing in the second half to share the spoils! Yep, that was a damn good game of football!
I think most people would agree that we’d have snapped their hands off if they’d have offered us a point without playing this one – although I do know a few folks who were adamant we were going to wallop the Villa tonight; mentioning no names… Kenny! Villa are no mugs and neither is Stevie G and he’s had long enough with them now for us to start to expect to see some improvements. But going a goal up with a real striker’s finish from Dan James (maybe Bielsa has been right all along!) got us hoping for a lot more. It was an end to end game from the start but there was little to suggest we’d soon be giving up yet another lead; eleven times I think it is that we’ve done that this season!
In the blink of an eye though Villa were 3 – 1 up and the way we allowed them to carve us apart didn’t bode well. Coutinho is a decent player but the Leeds midfield seemed to be adopting an “after you Claude” modus operandi every time he got the ball and then our defence would part like the Red Sea. I’ve heard many folks since say that they were confident we’d pull that two-goal deficit back … but those goals we conceded suggested to me that the Villa could easily get a few more!
Thankfully that Dan James leap, climbing above Villa defenders almost twice his height (well, it looked like that anyway) just before the break gave everyone a bit of a confidence boost and in the second half, the longer the game went on the more rattled the home side looked, with them resorting to the same tactics everyone else resorts to against us; keep going down at the least excuse, take an age over every restart when the ball goes dead, and generally shithouse their way towards the final whistle! Diego Llorente again showed he can be a useful weapon whenever the ball falls to him after a set-piece and then it was just a matter of whether we could find a winner during the few spells when Villa allowed the game to flow.
A point it was though and, for me, it was a very decent point. Maybe it’s just teams in claret and blue that we are playing well against – Burnley, West Ham and now Villa have all been shown up by us lately – but, as they say, you are only ever as good as your last game. We must now go to Everton on Saturday and get back to the real business of this season; beating the sides around us in the table. A win at Goodison would put us seven points ahead of the Toffees and with Norwich hosting Man City and Burnley facing Liverpool, it could prove to be a significant day in our season. We slipped up the last time we had the chance to put a dagger through the heart of a team battling in our section of the table, we must not do that again, Frank Lampard or no Frank Lampard! If we needed any more of an incentive then surely coming up against ‘Lamps’ again is it!
In general, we are playing well, although I’d prefer if we could start to look a bit more difficult to pass through in midfield; maybe now that Adam Forshaw is fit again he should be back in the side to help fill that midfield void we saw at times today. Marcelo doesn’t often change a side that’s getting results though, so don’t be surprised if it’s the same again at Goodison.
Aston Villa Leeds Utd
Possession 39% 61%
Shots 12 16
On Target 4 8
Corners 6 11
Fouls Committed 11 9