When Aston Villa lost 8-0 to Chelsea I accepted it as a revolting freak result. When Villa lost 4-0 to Tottenham Hotspurs I was simply glad that it wasn’t eight.
When Villa lost 3-0 to Wigan I was too ill to absorb any further pain. When they drew 2-2 with Swansea I was grateful for a point, 2-1 against Ipswich and I thought Villa had turned the corner. A 3-1 defeat to League Two Bradford Cityand it all began to make sickening sense. Aston Villa simply can’t defend.
Tuesday evening should have been a night when most Aston Villa fans applauded Bradford City for their hard fought efforts but, travelled home feeling that a place in the ‘Capital One’ Cup final was only 90 minutes away. Instead it will be Bradford fans that, in two weeks time, will feel that only one and a half hours stands between them and a trip to Wembley.
Villa had enough chances to come away from Yorkshire with a decent score, and a job half done. Benteke had at least four chances to score, and Agbonlahor two, but they found Bradford keeper Matt Duke in frustratingly magnificent form.
Substitute Darren Bent also had a chance to stake a claim for a starting birth, but he mistimed his header and Villa fans began wishing that Harry Redknapp’s Nan was on the pitch instead. But it’s not Villa’s inability to take their chances tonight that has annoyed me; it is the consistently awful defending.
If Villa had departed the rocking Valley Parade with a 0-0 draw, or even a 1-0 defeat, the majority of Villa fans would still be very confident that the deficit at Villa Park could be overturned.
As it stands scoring two goals against Bradford, as well as keeping a clean sheet, is looking increasingly difficult.Bradford has already proven against Premiership opposition, particularly against Arsenal, that they are capable of defending for long periods of time.Bradford City’s entire success this season has been built around the fact that in 40% of their games, in League Two, they have not conceded a goal. That is a statistic that Villa can only look upon with envy.
I appreciate the fact that in Lowton, Baker, Clarke, and Bennett (who was particularly bad) that Villa has a young inexperienced defence, but that is even more reason for Lambert to get in the market and sort it out before it’s too late. Villa’s laughable goal difference has already made their Premiership status look vulnerable, and their defending on Tuesday night has gone a long way towards blowing their chances, of what on paper should have been, an easy route to the final.
Take nothing away from Bradford City’s performance though; it was a great night for them and they deserve their moment of celebration. Matt Duke was impenetrable, and Wells, McArdle and McHugh took their chances incredibly well, albeit chances that came about via Villa’s woeful inability to defend.
Sort it out please Lambert…