Well, well, well. A performance that divided fans all over social media, as the Claret & Blue faithful had to balance a rare away win – by three goals, no less – with the fact that we played counter-attacking football against a team that we would expect to dominate.
Here is our report on a divisive, but potentially decisive breaking of the SkySports curse. Barnsley began strongly, setting the tempo of the game and forcing John Terry into using all of his experience to keep the home team out. That was as good as it got for them though, as a horrific mistake by Davies in the Barnsley net allowed Albert Adomah to tuck home his first league goal of the season – and it soon became two when Man Of The Match Keinan Davis was brought down in the box, and the African fired home the resulting penalty.
Davis then made it three early in the second half- glancing home a whipped cross by Ahmed Elmohamady, which wrapped up the three away points for Villa. The style of football that we played yesterday evening has been critiqued all night long on social media. Some fans are pleased with the way that Bruce set the team up – a strong back line, with pace up front to be utilised with the space created by allowing Barnsley to attack us. This is actually a tactical masterstroke by the manager, because players like Adomah and Snodgrass will always be utilised best when they are in a position to drive forward. Not only did setting up on the counter mean that we could move quickly up the pitch, it also meant that we could get a good look at the very promising combination of Jonathan Kodjia and youngster Keinan Davis… a combination which won the game for us.
• Firstly, the reason that Kodjia was our main outlet last season was because we were having to hit him early, and then rely on him to create a chance. This season, however, we have the option of hitting Keinan Davis and utilising his main quality- his hold up play- to allow the clinical Kodjia to play of him.
• Secondly, we need to look at the goal that Kodjia scored that was rued out for offside last night. He was played through, and he immediately shrugged off two defenders and tucked the ball home. With match sharpness, Kodjia will be timing those runs much more accurately and getting a lot more chances.
• Finally, Davis has aerial prowess that allows Kodjia to loiter around the area and make runs where his pace and skill can be better utilised, rather than the African having to wait for crosses into the box that so often fail to beat the first man. Unfortunately, some of the supporters resent the idea of the once mighty Aston Villa travelling to lowly Barnsley, and having less than 40% possession.
However… there are a few things that these fans need to remember.
1. We dominated the games against Middlesbrough and Brentford, but barely created anything.
2. Our defence does not have the legs that most defences do. This means that as soon as teams try to counter attack us, we are vulnerable to being torn apart.
3. We have the players to tear teams apart when we are counter attacking them… so why shouldn’t we try something new? At the end of the day, we are unbeaten in six games, and are looking a much stronger unit than we have done at any point in the last four years. A 3-0 away win… I can’t remember the last time we scored three goals away from home. If anybody wants to enlighten me, drop me a tweet… I’m fairly certain that it was back at Stamford Bridge… 6 years ago.