The more this season goes on, the more it seems like the start of last season. We now have seven points from seven games, exactly the same as this time last term.
Just a quick sidenote, this was my first time in the Holte End too, and I wasnt dissapointed with the atmosphere one bit despite the draw.
Villa struggled to take advantage of a ten man Middlesbrough, who will almost certainly be the happier of the two teams.
The big news in terms of the team wasn’t anything to do with the starting eleven, but Jonathan Kodjia’s return to the first team on the bench.
With only three minutes gone, former Villa winger Adama Traore went in hard on Connor Hourihane, and was subsequently sent off. Finally, this was the lucky break Villa needed to kick start their September.
But while Villa had most the possession, no one really provided the spark to ignite the game.
Robert Snodgrass had a good chance to test Randolph midway through the first half, but could only roll a shot at the Boro keeper.
Then Hourihane found yard of space but could only blast over.
But one opportunity stood out from the first 45, Snodgrass chipped a ball into the box and Bjarnason, who had time and space, put his header far too high to find the target. At this point I was thinking we might as well have Chris Samba upfront.
At half time, Bruce sorted things out. Hogan and Adomah came on for Jedinak and Bjarnason to make a 4-4-2. Instantly, we looked better.
Our first real chance of the second half came when Adomah broke down the wing, and saw his cross parried by Randolph straight into the path of Snodgrass. The Scotsman, with the goal at his mercy, crashed his half volley against the bar. Hourihanes follow up was then blocked.
While our attack were somewhat unlucky, in defence Villa looked solid as ever. Britt Assombalonga was Boro’s main threat but Chester and Terry did well to contain him.
And after Scott Hogan had an air shot when the ball was put on a plate by Elmohamedy, the game took another big turn.
Lansbury was sent off for a tackle from behind on Marvin Johnson, and now, despite some half hearted complaints, it was 10 v 10. Bruce could’ve strengthened the midfield at this point, but he decided to do the ballsy thing in bringing on Johnathon Kodjia for Keinan Davis.
This was the catalyst for the game to open up even more. Kodjia went close with a header, Assombalonga went through but was foiled by Johnstone, but the best chance went to Connor Hourihane.
The ball came to the Irishman just outside the six yard box. Y’knows when you get the “this is it” feeling, ye, I’m pretty sure the 40 plus thousand people in Villa Park got that.
But no. Who was on the line to stop the midfielders goal bound effort? Not a Middlesbrough defender but Scott Hogan.
We could have so easily won this game, not just because of the early sending off for Boro, but because of the chances we had.
In terms of Steve Bruce, I still think it’s too early in the season for him to lose his job. On the other hand, I can’t see us getting a winning streak going with him at the helm. So it’s swings and roundabouts.
Bikir Bjarnason – I really struggle to see what he adds to the team. He’s not made a smooth transition into the Championship at all, although I think that’s partly down to the fact he’s not a winger despite Steve Bruce playing him there!