1. Sure, there’s a tinge of disappointment in letting a two goal lead slip, and in the winning streak not reaching 7, but… Villa Park is not a good hunting ground for City, we’ve won just once there in 17 visits, and the home side are probably better than their current standing in the table suggests, so a score draw is a fairly decent result.
2. City were very good in the first half, doing a fine job of drawing the sting out of Villa’s frenetic early advances, bringing the tempo down to a pace that suited us and then exerting control. We failed to replicate that in the second 45, in which the home side were emboldened by a late first half goal to go at us and equalise and then seek a winner, while City struggled to get their foot on the ball and have a prolonged spell of possession. It’s true that we could have pick-pocketed a winner from Chris Martin, but for the letter stages of the game were largely hanging on.
3. The game changed massively when Jordy de Wijs went off injured. The Dutchman may have had a challenging start to his life with City, but he bestrode the narrow pitch like a Colossus at Villa park, limiting Bolassie, Adomah and Abraham to scraps for the first 40 minutes. The defensive reshuffle was devastating for the Tigers, as it was de Wijs’ hasty replacement McKenzie who was immediately overpowered by James Chester to half the deficit.
4. Six goals in four games (or ten in ten if you prefer) now for the Herefordshire Arjen Robben, who must be tempting Premier League sides to test Ehab’s resolve with a cheeky bid in the next ten days. Jarrod Bowen’s exponential development over the last two and a half seasons has been a joy to behold.
5. It’s a bit churlish to question Nigel Adkins’ decision making when our form is DWDWWWWWWD, but some were querying the lack of a third substitute as a claret and blue tide was rolling ever nearer our goal in the second half. Fraizer Campbell for Chris Martin seemed to be the consensus of the Tiger Nationals in the Doug Ellis Stand. Campbell might have given Villa’s underworked in the second half defenders more to do, but Chris Martin does have a knack of drawing free kicks. Martin isn’t as poor as some make out, though he isn’t a target man, judging him on how he responds to long punted passes is akin to judging a fish on its ability to climb trees.
6. Saturday’s draw had the mildly odd outcome of City rising a place to a season-high of eighth, but falling six points behind the play-offs. A top-six berth still feels a faintly implausible outcome for a City side that was in grave relegation danger until fairly recently, so falling a little further behind doesn’t unduly trouble us. That said, it’s undoubtedly a point that had more significance at the top of the table rather than the bottom.
7. Blackburn are City’s next opponents, and it’s an interesting fixture. They’re tenth, but level on points with us, and can’t have given up their own hopes of pinching a play-off position. Victory at home to fellow midtablers is the sort of thing on which top six hopes are built, and they’re sure to target this as a winnable game, one that could reignite their prospects. Fair enough, we’d do the same. But nabbing a win in this sort of game is something City are clearly capable in this run of form, and a win for Adkins’ charges would keep us in the hunt. Both sides are surely going to play to win. It could be another entertaining affair.
8. In light of his recent form, coupled with his contract expiring shortly, some of the post-match conversation after Villa focussed on Evandro’s future. At 32 he’s hardly in the first flush of youth, and his fitness is notoriously unreliable. But what’s clear is that a fit, in-form Evandro is a significant asset for City. Assuming we line up in the 2019/20 Championship, we could do a lot worse than keep him around, ideally on a contract tailored towards rewarding appearances. At his best, he’s a joy to watch – a passing in the same exalted league as Robert Koren, capable of skipping past a man à la Geovanni and the more he plays, the more influence he exerts.
9. Campbell for Martin at Blackburn? It seems an obvious choice, as Campbell has played very well this season while Martin is certainly in possession of his detractors. It hasn’t been a gloriously successful loan for the Derby man, but he’s shown a little more in the past few games, perhaps enough to make it a close call for the manager – particular as Campbell’s fitness is always a concern and it could be better to slowly reintroduce him into the first team. Competition for places, eh…
10. In case you missed it, here’s our 200th podcast featuring a real hero of ours in Justin Whittle, as we look back 20 years at the Great Escape campaign. We went to Villa that year too, but there were 91 league places between us back then and our regular opponents included Scarborough and Rochdale.