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In a packed Premier League football schedule over the Christmas period there were very few surprises, except for one.
A hard fought draw against a difficult Stoke side at the Britannia stadium and a lacklustre home defeat to newly promoted Swansea were, sadly, par for the course. But these games fell either side of a surprising victory over Chelsea.
Admittedly, Chelsea are not the Premier League powerhouse they used to be, but it was a great victory and Villa showed signs of how dangerous their attack can be. Pressing in midfield to win possession and devastating pace in the counter attack were welcomed additions to an often cautious Villa side. If Gabby had slotted home his one-on-one with Cech, it would have been a humiating day for the Londoners.
Unfortunately, expectations ran high going into the Swansea game, and Villa failed to show up. The Welsh side gave Villa a footballing lesson with possession and great attacking moves. Not helped by Villa giving them both of the goals. To someone uneducated in football, Villa could have been mistaken for the Premier League new boys. McLeish might as well have phoned Rodgers and gifted him a 2-0 victory before the match, with Lerner outside the ground refunding ticket holders their hard-earned money.
Four points from the three games is not a bad result, but the performance against Swansea indicates that home form, where Villa have to take the game to their opponents, poses a problem for the normally defensive McLeish. Counter attacking is a great asset to have, but it cannot be used to win every game.
With rumours abound that Kenny is sniffing around again for Darren Bent, the transfer window could be a worrying time for Villa supporters if Lerner continues to try and recoup more of his money.
After flashes of brilliance and potential from Villa against Chelsea, there is much to feel encouraged about. But subsequent disappointment against Swansea, big questions about the owner's committment and a precarious league placing, January will be an interesting month.
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