Gerard Houllier gives face to the expression that all Villa fans are holding inside. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Aston Villa once again dropped points to a team whom they should have beaten soundly. Bolton looked dangerous on the counter and that's what turned out to be Villa's undoing. The match started off well, with Ashley Young scoring at the fifteen-minute mark off a free kick taken just outside the box. In fact, the Villans were in full control of the game for the first twenty minutes before the Trotters found their stride, but were unable to score more than one goal.
Let's go back to texts from last night:
Kirsten: We better not fall apart
Aaron: If we do=sbzsqs
If I had just one word to describe this match, it would be sbzsgs. The definition of this vowel-less mouthful? The play of a team that is able to show such promise for approximately 25 minutes per game, but even in those 25 minutes manage to squander enough chances to leave its supporters frustrated and longing for a strong drink.
Both Stewart Downing and Marc Albrighton threatened the Bolton goal, but everything went just wide. Then Bolton started pressing forward and a goal seemed inevitable. The defense seemed to crumble once again, allowing the ball to ping around in the box, with no one able to take responsibility for clearing it. The first time this occurred, Luke Young put up a fantastic block, but just minutes later Bolton were there again, with no miracles for the Villa. Petrov failed in getting the ball out of the area, allowing Kevin Davies to score.
So why does sbzsgs keep happening to Villa? I contend that it's not a weakness of the back four as much as it's an issue with the defensive midfield. Yes, the back line made a couple of fouls that could have easily led to penalties, which is certainly something they need to stop. Richard Dunne playing with an injured back is not helping anyone. But the major issue is that opposing teams are managing to cut straight through the midfield and have plenty of time to launch an assault on goal.
Stiliyan Petrov was nearly absent from play today. Stephen Ireland managed one close attempt on goal, but did nothing on the defensive end. Gérard Houllier, sitting in the stands for the match, often looked confused and dismayed. One could easily imagine that he was wondering what he'd gotten himself into. If Villa fans want to see our team pick up three points again at some point this season, we need to hope that Houllier was contemplating the best way to use the midfield.