There were so many strange things about the game yesterday that I don't quite know where to start. Firstly I missed the train from Leeds and arrived breathless in my seat at about 2.20, at which point my Dad told me we were 1-0 up. Now the only time I've ever missed the start of a Villa game before I also missed a goal for us; Sunderland in the late 90's sometime, Nelson was playing for us and it was his cross which was tucked home by a sorry Mackem.
This omen turned out to be a good one as Agbonlahor made the victory secure on the hour, but he was then involved in a continued and unseemly spat with Marlon Harewood, which childishly stemeed from Gabby not passing to his strike partner in the last minute. Firstly Gabby probably should have passed, and probably shouldn't have just told Harewood to 'F*** Off' for the next few minutes, but was there really any need for that situation to escalate? Marlon Harewood should have a good look at himself for his reaction; he might be desperate to prove himself but picking on a fellow player, especially Gabriel 'One of Us' Agbonlahor, was an unwise decision for a number of reasons.
Harewood's passion was, though, largely out of place in this slightly lacklustre game. There was a bit of a post-Chelsea hangover that hung around Villa Park, almost limiting the claret and blue faithful to half-hearted, 'I'd really rather be in bed' efforts you'll often see on Student League pitches on a Saturday morning. Well maybe not that apathetic, but you get the picture. Still, though, lingers the sense of camaraderie and expectation amongst our support. Its an expectation that soon Aston Villa are going to explode into a trail-blazing, glorious ascent, suddenly turn that corner to real, and maybe long-standing success. And the most worrying thing is that this feeling is almost total, there could be some really glum faces in the next few years.
As for a match report, we were just that bit better than Everton. In midfield we had the assurance and class of Barry and impact of Young and Agbonlahor whilst Everton had the waif-like and anonymously tidy Osman and Pienaar flanking their two industrious, but limited, centre midfielders. Carson was comfortable all day in goal, even getting an assist, whilst Wessels, who wasn't even on the programme, looked unsure of himself. Moyes possibly made a selection error in leaving Yakubu and McFadden on the bench, with Johnson and Anichebe failing to make inroad on our defence, which dealt with everything gently chucked at it with ease.
I feel sorry for Everton fans because it wasn't the kind of performance they are used to, and rightly expect. I would, though, back them to turn around their form with Arteta back in the starting line-up. Victories like this, from a Villa perspective, are pleasing because we were comfortable against a very decent team. Now we have three games which will tell us a lot more about the side, and hopefully we'll respond positively.