Aston Villa 2 (Bailey 3, Buendia 64 )
Leeds Utd 1 (Bamford 83)
13th January 2023, Premier League.
Another defeat that will have the “Marsch out” brigade shouting their demands – as many did at the game - but for me, it was another decent performance where, but for one or two sloppy moments and Lady Luck preferring Villa to Leeds, we deserved more than we got.
OK, the bad bits first: To concede a goal in the third minute following one of our own corners is yet another example this season of Leeds shooting themselves in the foot. Harrison’s corner was not the worst (we’d see much worse as the evening wore on!) but when it was cleared, to see Harrison jogging gently back behind the play all the way to our area was simply not good enough. Leeds were then exposed on both flanks and Villa chose their right where Pascal Struijk once again was caught in no man’s land just as he was in almost identical circumstances at Cardiff. Simply not good enough Leeds.
After that disaster of a start, Leeds were then pretty much in control of the game – watch any highlights programme and all you will see is Leeds pushing forward creating chance after chance - but the agility of Martinez, a marginal offside call that denied us both a goal and a penalty for handball, and some sheer bad luck meant Villa took that early lead into the break.
Villa were better in the second half while, for Leeds, that awful propensity to pass the ball to the opposition came back to haunt us for the rest of the night. Simple passes were played too close to the pressing Villa players and too often they were intercepted. The second Villa goal had elements we’ve seen before too. A shot well saved by Meslier but Buendia, following up, far quicker and not tracked able to head the ball over our keeper.
The one big positive for Leeds was the arrival on the pitch of a sprightly-looking Patrick Bamford and it was encouraging to see at least one piece of Willy Gnonto’s good work finished off with a fine strike by the returning striker. If he is finally fit (and it is a big ‘if’ of course) he could well prove to be one of the pieces we need to complete this evolving Leeds United jig-saw.
So, overall it was another frustrating performance from Leeds. I’m still convinced we have a decent squad of players who, if we can just find the best starting XI, including Sinisterra, will be a match for most teams. There are some technical deficiencies though that do point more at Marsch than the players. It’s surely on the training ground that we need to sort out our corners for example – we’ve scored from a couple recently and yet last night, from eleven corners we took, I can’t remember a good one! For me, Jack Harrison should not be in the side, let alone be taking the corners. Incidentally, one measure of our territorial superiority was that Villa had no corners at all!
Then there is this inability to play a simple pass. What is that all about? Whatever it is it needs sorting, Villa were able to play their way out of defence with accurate swift passing… we couldn’t.
On we go, Cardiff now on Wednesday night, and surely we have to experiment and try to find that best XI for that one and not rest anyone? Make sure we put that one to bed. That‘s what I’d do, but I have a feeling that, as usual, we’ll have more of an eye on the upcoming Brentford game and we’ll end up messing up both games! If we do, then even I have to say it might be the end of Jesse Marsch.
Aston Villa Leeds U
Possession 54% 46%
Shots 11 16
On Target 5 4
Corners 0 11
Fouls 12 18