Aston Villa don’t seem to give up on games anymore
Confidence and results often go hand in hand and with poor form teams can give up in certain circumstances. Aston Villa have been guilty of that on a few occasions this season; Southampton away springing to mind as the key example – so it was good to see against Queen's Park Rangers that the mental resilience that’s necessary to stay in this league at times has returned. With a young and inexperienced team the Premier League can be a daunting place; despite Villa taking an early lead they were immediately pegged back and at that point it can be hard to keep a resurgent team (thanks to the arrival of Harry Redknapp) at bay but they managed it to gain an invaluable point.
We didn’t lose
There have been other times over the last 18 months where Villa would have lost that game after being pegged back to level terms so early on. To be honest I think QPR were good value for the win and that we couldn’t really have had many complaints if the result had gone against us. Villa held on however, their defending was for the most part impressive and Lambert seems to have addressed the problem of conceding so many goals with just one conceded in the last three games. Albeit against teams with poor form - the confidence boost that this will bring is huge though. I think the most important thing yesterday was not to lose to a team so close to us in the table at their ground.
Villa’s young guns just keep impressing
It’s well known that Villa have a very young side this season and obviously with such inexperience comes the occasional struggle, but I’m continually being impressed with the consistency of some of the younger players – especially those that have been bought from other clubs and are settling into a new team so well. Christian Benteke was a constant threat and linked up well with his team-mates once again, he also scored a pretty neat header which was correctly chalked off as he was offside. Ashley Westwood once again did his job very well, recycling possession and sticking to his task of playing simple passes to keep the ball – his completed passes ratio hasn’t dropped below 85% when he’s started a game this season and even managed an astonishing 94% against Manchester United.
I don’t think I’m being biased when I say that Matthew Lowton has been one of the most consistent right-backs in the league this season, just watch a few games and you’ll see what I mean, he produced another solid performance against QPR. Brad Guzan is one of our oldest players at 28-years-old but that’s a ripe age for a goalkeeper and he continues to get better and better – several key saves again proved that Paul Lambert made two brilliant choices – the first re-signing Guzan and the second dropping Shay Given for him. Nathan Baker also deserves a mention; the young centre-back standing in for the injured Ron Vlaar didn’t make many mistakes and made some crucial tackles.
Our form continues to improve
Three games without defeat, five points from out last three games, beating and drawing with two fellow relegation strugglers – however you look at it this last week has been a very important one for Villa and perhaps only the most optimistic fan could have hoped for more points from those fixtures. Reading and Southampton both lost again; we stopped QPR from closing the gap to us and next on the fixture list is Stoke at home, a tough game no doubt but one that we should be looking to win with a few tricky league fixtures to follow.
We’re getting a bit of luck go our way
I’m not going to moan too much, we’ve had good luck and bad luck as every team does but yesterday we were perhaps fortunate to escape with a draw. Rather than the bad luck that we saw against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a few games ago, we saw the more generous side of lady luck as Shaun Wright-Phillips hit the post in the first half and Brad Guzan tipped a Clint Hill header onto the bar – two vital incidents that could have gone against us and changed QPR’s (and potentially our own) season.