When I write fan reports, I like to stay as objective as possible whilst still capturing the fan spirit. After this weekend’s collapse against Wolves, I think this report calls for a bit more of my emotional commentary – but don’t worry, i’ll keep it short and sour.

Villa Park, 3pm, Saturday afternoon. Wolverhampton Wanderers, neighbours of the Midlands and the Premier League table, arrived in the autumn sunshine to return from the international break with a bang. Villa were again without Bailey, however Sanson returned to the bench and late arrivals Emi Martinez and Douglas Luiz secured a spot in the starting XI.

This is how the two sides lined up:

The mood in B6 felt optimistic – a positive lineup with the return of Buendia to the 11, and derby day confidence radiating through the fanbase. A sold out Villa Park onlooking, the first-half was one of wasted opportunities for the home side, with Danny Ings missing a great opportunity from good link-up play between McGinn and Buendia. Wolves had an equally brilliant chance through Adama Traoré, who performed his trademark run on goal and then failed to challenge Martinez. I think it would be a fair assessment to say that Villa edged the first half, but neither keeper were terribly busy and Smith would have been disappointed again with the wasteful play in Wolves’ 18 yard box.

At half-time, I hate to admit that I was confident. McGinn looked lively and was dominating play, Buendia was making some lovely movements, and Villa looked like they were going to score at some point. I was right, but so much went wrong thereafter.

Early into second-half play, John McGinn stormed up the wing and chipped a perfect cross into the box, meeting the head of Danny Ings, who was ready and waiting to poach. Villa Park erupted, and taunts to the away end quickly ensued. The game felt comfortable and controlled by then, and at 67 minutes Luiz was substituted for Nakamba for what could only have been tiredness post-international duty. Before this change could even bed in, McGinn struck the back of the net to double Villa’s advantage. Celebrations were in full swing, and “2-0 on your big day out” began to echo from the stands. Painful in hindsight.

2-0 up after 70 minutes, the game felt like it should be wrapped up nicely. Two Villa changes came in the form of Ramsey for Buendia and Young for Cash, who appeared to be struggling in the 79th minute. In that time, Wolves also made two changes with Fàbio Silva and Podence joining the field. This ten minute period was so detrimental to Villa’s game, as they started to fall deeper and looked cagey in defence. Meanwhile, Wolves’ switch up invigorated them, and they piled forward like they were the leading team. It was quite scary, even at 2-0, to watch Villa completely crumble under the pressure to simply manage the last quarter of the game.

Let’s limit the misery here. Wolves scored three in the last 15 minutes. Each one came from pretty poor set piece delivery, but awful defending in the second phase, and simple complacency amongst other things, meant that Bruno Lage’s side took all three points by the final kick of the game. Yes, there was an unfortunate deflection for their third goal, but to concede a free kick in that spot – in the dying moments of the game – is unforgivable. The back line looked shaken, frantic, panicked from the moment Wolves scored their third, which is a fundamental issue that must be addressed.

It is infuriating that so often Villa look at their weakest and most vulnerable after scoring. Game management and defensive errors led to a pretty monumental collapse, and I cannot wait to see how the team responds to this. Perhaps this will be the end of the 3/5 at the back? Personally, getting Leon Bailey fit and resorting back to a 4-3-3 would be the best solution, and some serious lessons on concentration need to be handed out before Friday’s game.

I feel like those three points lost were pretty significant, and I hope this does not end up being a definitive moment in the season. Most weeks I’m positive, thinking that there can be positives taken and lessons learnt, but I was quite concerned by Saturday’s failures and feel that something must change – fast.

Hannah.


PLAYER RATINGS

PLAYER RATINGS | Aston Villa 2-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers


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