LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 18: Ron Vlaar of Aston Villa walks off the pitch with medial staff after receiving a head injury during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Aston Villa at the Boleyn Ground on August 18, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
The Paul Lambert era did not get off to the start that Aston Villa fans were hoping for, with a goal from Kevin Nolan in the 40th minute all that was needed to give West Ham a win in their first game back in the Premier League. Villa were dominant in possession and kept things locked down defensively for the most part, but the quality in the final third was sorely lacking. Jussi Jääskeläinen had very little to do and in the end it was a comfortable win for the Hammers in spite of the close scoreline.
While there were certainly some worrying signs for Villa fans, none of them were altogether unexpected; West Ham were quite content to let Villa keep the ball in midfield but ratcheted up the pressure once they ventured within striking distance. Darren Bent was largely choked off from the ball and though a few of Villa's long-range efforts came close, Jääskeläinen always had them covered. As the game wore on some of Villa's inexperience began to show, with wastefulness and indecisiveness becoming the norm. There was a real lack of urgency late on, and that's something I can't imagine Paul Lambert is going to allow to continue.
If Villa were going to lose this game, this was the most likely way for it to happen. West Ham converted one of their chances and locked down the game, with Villa's lack of creativity preventing them from breaking down the home side's defense. It wasn't a pleasant result and the performances must improve, but the problems on display today were not at all surprising. We've known for a while that Villa need some reinforcements, and one has to believe they're coming. And we should also understand that it's going to take some time for players to adjust to Paul Lambert's style of play. This was not a good performance, but it's hardly reason to panic.