Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Ayew sends Villa seeking unwanted horizons (West Ham United 2-0 Aston Villa)


The timing of Jordan Ayew's elbow into Aaron Cresswell's face could have sent fraud investigators all over the globe frantically checking the gambling markets for red cards in the first half hour.

Villa had a decent portion of ball possession early on in this game. They were denied a stonewall penalty and Ayew was looking like the best player on the pitch. That was until his inexplicable transgression sent him to the showers and his club closer to the event horizon.

West Ham started the game seemingly content to let the bottom club come to them. Their fans seemed non plussed but it's possible that manager Slaven Bilic trusted his players to absorb Villa's pressure until they blew out. Then his team could assert themselves. After a fashion, it worked.

The game was won in the second half with two unanswered goals. Michael Antonio met a gorgeous pass from Mark Noble on 58 minutes. Cheikou Kouyaté wrapped up the game with five to go.

Just like that Villa's three game unbeaten streak is over in the most demoralising way. The sad truth is that Rémi Garde's players fought like hard men but were undone by the idiocy of the very player most likely to make the biggest difference in this frankly wretched team. No one would blame the Villa players if they skipped the coach home and made their way to one of many east London's drinking dens to toast their future's end.

And what of Garde? He arrived at the monied Premier League with a decent reputation only to find a depleted squad and uncommitted ownership. There must be a growing part of him that wishes he'd held out for another gig in France after leaving Lyon in 2014.

Towards the end of the game a few of the dedicated fans unfurled a bedsheet in which they had daubed a message exhorting the board to sack themselves. I imagine, given the clubs almost certain descent into the English Football League, that they would if they could.

But it was a good result for West Ham so at least they're pleased.