Gollini not the villain
The most agonising thing about Pierluigi Gollini’s goal-gifting error five minutes from stoppage-time is that his performance up until that point had been flawless. The Italian goalkeeper pulled off a handful of smart saves during the course of the afternoon – including a huge one midway through the second half to deny Fernando Forestieri an earlier winner – and commanded his box with impressive confidence throughout. His distribution was also much better than we’ve been used to from Villa stoppers over recent seasons, while he wasn’t afraid to give his defenders an earful either.
It may have ultimately ended up as a debut to forget, but the 21-year-old will likely earn more than his fair share of plaudits as the season progresses.
Elphick shows his leadership
With his head dressed in a bloodied bandage following a first-half collision with Steven Fletcher, Tommy Elphick looked every bit the leader Villa were so desperately lacking last season. The new skipper was always barking out orders and keeping the back four organised, while he also showed his defensive qualities by racking up a team-high eight clearances, two interceptions and winning all five of his aerial duels at the back.
As a player who already knows what it takes to escape the increasingly competitive Championship, his grit and determination will be much needed over the course of the campaign.
Baker justifies his selection
Like his centre-back partner, Baker deserves plenty of praise for his display on Sunday. Handed the start over Jores Okore, the 25-year-old academy graduate barely put a foot a foot wrong all game and looked calm and composed when bringing the ball out from the back.
His season-long loan spell at Bristol City certainly seems to have done him the world of good and, if he can just stay away from the treatment table, this could finally be the campaign when he establishes himself in the heart of the Villa defence.
Best to come from McCormack
After only getting two 45-minute run-outs during Fulham's preseason, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Ross McCormack in Sunday’s starting XI. The £12 million signing has been struggling with an Achilles problem over recent weeks and, for the opening 45 minutes at least, he seemed to be somewhat off the pace.
However, after a quiet first half, the Scottish striker looked much more animated following the break, showing some good touches around the opposition area and even coming close to scoring with 15 minutes left only to be thwarted by a superb challenge from Tom Lees.
Once his match fitness improves, we should see him bury those chances.
No shame in narrow defeat
As frustrating as the result may have been, it’s important to provide some context. Wednesday are one of the best teams in the division, losing only twice at home all last season, and there were certainly plenty of positives to be taken from Villa’s performance.
With a few more reinforcements, time for the team to gel and easier matches to come, it shouldn’t be long before Roberto Di Matteo’s men start to pick up steam. After all, both Burnley and Middlesbrough only took one win each from their opening four games last term.