Mings and Coutinho are helping Villa get back on track
Aston Villa’s draw with Manchester City was a huge result for Steven Gerrard given the pressure he was under during the game, but that point was never going to satisfy the fans if his side couldn’t follow it home home to Southampton.
This was not a good performance, but it was a good result. Villa didn’t look fantastic but they helped make Southampton look awful and that was more than enough to win it. The sight of Emiliano Martinez on his knees at full time showed just how much it meant.
The Villa keeper had to wait nearly five months for that clean sheet. He had Tyrone Mings to thank. What little momentum the Saints could generate around the Villa box was pushed away by his head, towering above everyone else in the penalty area.
Gerrard has bemoaned individual mistakes throughout his time at Villa Park, but there was nothing remarkable here – just players fighting for the fans and each other. If this team can do that, then the belief remains that they have the quality to achieve something.
Philippe Coutinho brings that quality. The Brazilian made a quick impression on the fans, but they haven’t seen him in that mood enough of late. It wasn’t exciting, but it gave the shine. Gerrard will settle for that if it brings results like this.
Southampton’s struggles are putting pressure on Hasenhutl
What a strange season this has been for Southampton already. Down two to Leeds in the second game of the season, having been overwhelmed by Tottenham on the opening weekend, Ralf Hassenhuttl was under pressure quickly but managed.
After rescuing a point against Leeds, he won at Leicester and finished August with an impressive win over Chelsea. But just when there was buzz about this new Saints side, they succumbed to back-to-back 1-0 defeats to Wolves and now Aston Villa.
Hasenhuttl saw similarities in both performances, but at least there were chances at Molineux. “Today, we didn’t have chances. For me, that’s the most disappointing thing. Our game wasn’t sharp enough, not fast enough and not good enough.”
Worryingly, he spoke of his team “not being brave enough” and being “out bounced” by their Villa rivals in every duel. There are some big players in that Southampton squad who shouldn’t be bullied, but perhaps patience is required from a young squad.
Hasenhuttl left most of his summer signings on the bench. Ainsley Maitland-Niles didn’t even make the team. He has to adapt to our game and that takes time.” The problem is that fans want to see these young players given a chance now.
Based on this evidence, there is no point in delaying. The international break will see most of the squad go in different directions, but it’s still an opportunity to reset. What is certain is that it will need to be better than that when they return to face Everton at St Mary’s.
Palhinia is proving his worth at Fulham
Erling Haaland has killed any talk of a Premier League signing of the season, but Fulham’s Joao Palhinia must be near the top of the list of those behind the free-scoring Norwegian.
The midfielder, a £20million addition from Sporting Lisbon in July, was instrumental in Fulham’s 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest on Friday, with his stunning goal helping seal a victory that lifted them to sixth .
In conversation with Sky Sports Last month, Marco Silva revealed that Palhinha was signed mainly for his off-the-ball skills and those qualities have been on display all season. He has made more tackles (35) than any other Premier League player.
But the 27-year-old gives them much more than that.
Palhinia is also a significant aerial threat, as he showed with his headed goal in Fulham’s 3-2 win over Brentford in August, and his strike against Forest, superbly executed from outside the box, showed he has the technique to match.
It’s no wonder Silva moved quickly to secure his signature following Fulham’s promotion and it won’t be long before the rest of the Premier League start to take notice. Palhinia proves his worth.
The forest collapses again in the second half
If all seven of Nottingham Forest’s Premier League games this season had finished at half-time, they would have 11 points – seven more than they have now.
That tally would see them level with newly promoted rivals Fulham, instead they languish in the relegation zone for the next few weeks as we head into the international break.
A worrying trend is starting to emerge for Steve Cooper’s side, with the last nine goals conceded all coming in the second half of games.
“I think a lot of it is self-inflicted,” head coach Steve Cooper said Friday night. “We just don’t get the first goal very well. There’s been a few occasions now where once someone comes in we look vulnerable and that was the case tonight.”
That vulnerability cost them after Tosin Adarabioyo’s towering header leveled the game for Fulham.
The memory of Bournemouth – another newly promoted side – coming back from two goals down to win at the City Ground just two weeks ago clearly left its mark on this team and they failed to regain their focus, conceding another two goals within five minutes. of the equalizer.
Cooper now has a few weeks to take stock and consider how best to fix his team’s susceptibility to collapsing when he concedes, but he needs to find a solution quickly.
Four defeats in the Premier League puts pressure on a manager’s shoulders and we have already seen how ruthless owners can be this season in the cases of Bournemouth and Chelsea.
The light at the end of the tunnel for Forest is that they next face Premier League basement side Leicester, who have been out of ideas so far this season after a summer of inactivity in the transfer market.