Villa face first set back against a rampant Leeds.
Aston Villa XI:
This highly anticipated match between Aston Villa and Leeds United had turned into the strangest derby game since Sky tried to convince us of a Brighton/Crystal Palace rivalry. Despite both stadiums standing a whopping 123-miles apart, fans on social media had built this game up to become arguably a bigger occasion than West Bromwich Albion’s pending visit later in season.
The rivalry itself seems to have stemmed from both club’s time in the Championship. With the infamous last meeting between the two teams ending in a controversial 1-1. That game all but saw Leeds automatic promotion hopes vanquished. Despite Leeds being in the automatic picture for the majority of the season, it was Villa who were promoted, leaving Leeds playing another year in the Championship.
The game itself was, to quote the common saying, a game of two halves. Unfortunately for Aston Villa, the two halves were for Patrick Bamford. From his 5 shots in the first half, 4 of them were off target. His luck would change in the second half, scoring a 19-minute hat-trick.
Despite Leeds dominance in the first half, Villa were the team to have the best chance with Jack Grealish’s shot cleared off the line on 25 minutes. This was about the highlight for Villa, who arguably, were lucky to go in at the break level.
Leeds started the second half as they had finished the first but it was Villa again who came closest to scoring, with a stunning piece of individual skill from Jack Grealish. In what looked like a one-man mission to prove that he isn’t as slow as pundits think. Grealish picked the ball up in his own half, knocked it past the Leeds defender and sprinted through on goal. Working his way into the box, the Villa captain held onto it for a moment too long as he was forced wide and his eventual shot hit the goalkeeper at the near post.
Villa were then made to pay for those missed chances when Bamford capitalised on a save from Martinez, smashing in the loose ball and making it 0-1. His second goal came 12 minutes later with an impressive strike from outside the area, doubling Leeds advantage.
Perhaps the goal Smith will be most disappointed with was Bamford’s third. The Leeds striker received the ball in the area from Helder Costa out on the right and, despite having four Villa defenders around him, managed to curl his shot into the far corner past Martinez.
It was a disappointing result and performance for Villa tonight, who looked off the mark from the start. Despite a few glimpses from Jack, Villa struggled to string passes together and build any real attacks.
While Villa had an excellent transfer window and added real quality, tonight did however highlight Villa’s lack in depth. Bamford’s goal was the first time this season Villa have been behind, giving fans the opportunity to see how the team would respond. In the end, the only substitute to come off the bench was Bertrand Traore for Trezeguet on 66 minutes. Despite needing a goal, Davis remained on the bench.
While this is Villa’s first real setback, which was inevitably always going to come, Villa are still second in the table, accumulating 12 points out of 15. A start any fan would’ve taken five games ago.