Aston Villa 0 Newcastle 0: Three talking points
Aston Villa 0 Newcastle 0: Three talking points as Paul Lambert's men can't find a way past Magpies
Villa lack offensive threat
Paul Lambert and Roy Keane took to their hot-seats for Aston Villa’s first home match of the season, and although they picked up a point against a tricky Newcastle side, they’ll know that there still remains plenty of work for them to do. Following on from their narrow 1-0 win against Stoke City last weekend, Villa now have four points on the board, but they’ll be keen to avoid scrapping for points as the season unravels. Simply put, they lack a real goalscorer up front, someone who can nab 12 to 15 league goals in a season. And the reason why it’s so obvious is because they actually get themselves in a number of positive attacking positions; they just don’t seem capable of converting with enough regularity. Gabriel Agbonlahor proved himself a decent outlet for their counter-attacking football, but he failed to really do much with it. And while the introduction of Darren Bent looked to have given them a real spark going forward, he couldn’t find the back of the net either. Christian Benteke is nearing a return from injury but doubts linger over whether he can rekindle his form from the 2012/13 season. With the transfer window still open, Lambert is sure to continue scouring the market for a proper marksman, and while their funds certainly won’t facilitate any big names, drafting in a natural finisher for relatively little certainly won’t do them any harm. Because if they don’t, it’s sure to be their downfall.
Sanchez looks promising
He might have only been on the pitch for just over half an hour, but Carlos Sanchez was one of the hosts’s best players on the pitch. Joining in seamlessly with a rather scrappy and high-tempo match, his presence on the field was a welcome introduction. Appearing vocal and unafraid to bark orders, the former Elche CF player gave them a real boost as he moved from box to box. And a snapshot of what Villa fans can come to expect from their marquee signing didn’t take long to come about. With practically his first touch of the match, he found himself in a generous amount of space about ten yards from the edge of the Toon Army’s box, on the left hand side, before lofting a fantastic ball into Alan Hutton, running in towards the back post. And although the result was only a corner, it was clear straight away that Sanchez has much to offer. And despite picking up a yellow card, his overall contribution in a condensed period was a real joy to watch. Alongside him, although perhaps a little less obviously, it was Paul Dummet who stole the show with some intelligent passes, clever movement and deft touches that all really eased the workload on his team-mates and caused a few headaches for the opposition.
The flanks are Magpies’s biggest strength
On another day, we might well have seen Alan Pardew celebrating a hard-fought away win, but as it turned out, they just didn’t have the clinical touch. Because if the team adorned in claret and blue looked poor up front, so too did the visitors. A combination of misfortune and inaccurate finishing really let them down, as well as one or two fine stops from Brad Guzan. In effect, though, where Newcastle looked the brightest was down the flanks. They got great joy whenever they shifted the play out wide. And it was Daryl Janmaat, their right wing-back, who looked the liveliest of threats in that area, managing to fashion a number of opportunities with some decent deliveries. In fact, their new acquisition from Feyenoord was even unlucky not to get his own name on the score-sheet, as he should have scored in both the 51st and 56th minutes. Provided they can work on anticipating Janmaat’s play a little better and as their strikers work up a more intimate understanding of his play, we might very well see him better the five assists he got in the Eredvisie last season. Watch this space.