Last night marked the beginning of another long marathon of a Championship season, and with Villa Chairman Dr Tony Xia watching from the director’s box, the players would certainly have wanted to make a good impression. Here are 5 things that we learned from last night’s draw against Leonid Slutsky’s Tigers.
Sam Johnstone is the best goalkeeper of recent years.
Sam Johnstone was absolutely brilliant last night. His distribution, reflexes and anticipation were of a quality not seen at Villa Park since the days of the big Brad Friedel, and the Manchester United loanee was responsible for keeping Villa ahead in the first half with some top saves from Bowen and Grosicky.
The Villa faithful aren’t happy with Leandro Bacuna.
Despite starting strongly with some fantastic runs and long passes, Leandro Bacuna began incurring the wrath of a Villa faithful who were already slightly unsure about whether or not he deserved a spot in the Villa lineup. His short passes were consistently awry, and there were groans all round as the #7 slowed play down with some passes just behind his sprinting teammates, and when he scuffed a shot high into the Holte End. We cannot fault his effort, but he still clearly has a bit to do on the training ground.
Gabby wants to win back fan adoration.
Gabby Agbonlahor has been criticised in the last for his work ethic, poor shooting and lack of commitment to the cause, but he certainly looked up for it last night. His direct running frightened the new-look Hull defence, and only fantastic pieces of defending from Alan McGregor and Olai Aina denied him a first-half hat trick. He took his goal with supreme confidence, and despite eventually running out of steam in the second half, the #11 was Villa’s best player for most of the match.
Hogan needs a lucky break.
With karma appearing to become more prominent in sport, many pundits could only point to the theory of “very bad luck” as Scott Hogan failed to open his account for the season. Despite having a couple of chances that just skimmed the posts, and getting into all the right positions, the #9 just wasn’t having a good day at the office, and was understandably substituted in the second half.
Amavi could be on his way out.
After featuring heavily in preseason, it came as a huge surprise to see left wing back Jordan Amavi omitted from the squad- but this was later confirmed by Dr Xia to be because of offers made for the Frenchman by four different clubs. After a move to Sevilla fell through after he “failed” a medical, Jordan Amavi may have wondered if he would be needing to start refilling his locker – but it appears that he will indeed be playing for another club this season.