Villa have the team this season to expect to win home and away against a whole bunch of opposition and then some more against more direct competition. This is a team that has progressed over the years and are close to reaching their reasonable peak given the football eco system of England. Martin O Neil backed by Randy Lerner have formed one of the best owner-manager pairs to achieve the more traditional step by step improvement which is more an exception than the norm today.
It took two sleepy minutes from West Brom to allow first John Carew and then Agbenlahor to score. Villa’s efficiency in making full use of their chances illustrated the confidence that the team has and even though it was the home team that dictated play for the rest of the game, Villa were deserving winners.
It was a display of good old “English football” with two teams using pace and power to create chances and regularly look for the finishing touch. West Brom don’t wear the look of a team that has just been promoted (unlike Stoke) and they played positive and at times good looking football. It was ninety minutes of a competitive battle and thoroughly enjoyable. There were however few moments of genuine class and a lack of ideas to finish. Yet again most of the thinking revolved around putting the ball in the box and hoping for magic or blunder to happen.
John Carew stood out in attack and his physical presence caused persistent headaches to the West Brom defence. In fact Carew making a nuisance of himself without even touching the ball is what resulted in the error which then led to the second Villa goal (within 45 seconds of the first).
West Brom themselves pulled one back pretty quickly but were not able to repeat the act with Villa keeping excellent shape till the very end. Martin Laursen was fantastic and totally in charge of all situations.
Ashley Young is a player who gets talked about a lot and though he’s been around for a bit, I must confess this was my first good look at him. He does take a lot of responsibility and has the creative urge, but was a little off on execution today. The first goal though came from his free kick and he definitely is an exciting looking left sided player.
This was Villa’s third away win in 6 days and they will need to continue this efficiency to stay in touch with the leaders so that come the end of the season they can feel comfortable enough of a UEFA Cup spot to aim for something much higher. West Brom will not roll over easily but they need some creativity to add to their grit to push for a top ten. They look positive enough to stay clear of the relegation zone when the time comes.