Aston Villa’s 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers put the claret and blues back on a winning track. Here’s what I noticed from Dean Smith’s second home game in charge.
Aston Villa beat a very, very weak side in Bolton on Friday evening. Phil Parkinson’s team actually played well, all things considered, but they might just be the weakest club in the division. It was not the most impressive performance ever, but Villa shut down their opponents after the first-half.
Here’s what caught my eye:
1. Everyone impressed…except for one noticeable omission.
Everyone in my post-match player ratings received a 6.0 or higher…except Ørjan Nyland. Aston Villa’s Norwegian goalkeeper failed to inspire any confidence despite keeping a clean sheet. That’s, uh worrisome, when you consider the mistakes keep compiling over the course of 2.5 months.
Against better opponents, he’s going to be burned, badly. New goalkeeper coach Neil Cutler, who was only announced Friday morning, wasn’t too happy.
Nyland’s two first-half errors were somewhat balanced out by a nice kick save after the break. Calling a goalkeeper a good shot-stopper that struggles in other facets is cliché, but that’s exactly what Nyland has shown in an Aston Villa shirt thus far.
2. James Chester and Axel Tuanzebe flourish in new partnership
Tell me, again, why Steve Bruce was so adamant at using Axel Tuanzebe as a full-back?
It was maddening, and credit to Dean Smith for making the correct decision to partner Villa’s two best central defenders together. The defense, as a unit, is still woeful, but the club might not need a January addition to unseat the pair.
Don’t get me wrong, an improvement over Mile Jedinak as third-choice is needed, but it’s not quite as pressing now as it was one month ago. The club needs a new face signed beyond next season when Tuanzebe and Jedinak will presumably be gone, and Chester on the last year of his deal.
3. Villa must be better in order to defeat Derby County
Frank Lampard’s Rams defeated Birmingham City on Saturday by a score of 3-1. Led by Tom Lawrence, Mason Mount, Scott Carson, Harry Wilson, and Co., Derby will be a difficult opponent – especially on the road.
In order to compete, and more importantly, beat, Derby, Aston Villa will have to be much better next weekend than they were this weekend. On the bright side, Villa have an extra day of recovery.