Stoke 0-1 Villa blog: Villa aces embrace defensive resilience
Paul Brown on Stoke win.
18th Aug 2014
Stoke 0-1 Villa blog: Villa aces embrace defensive resilience

Boss Paul Lambert spoke before the Stoke match of the "huge firepower" at his disposal this season, pointing to the capabilities of forwards such as Gabby Agbonlahor, Andi Weimann, Darren Bent, Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak.

But it was at the other end of the field that Villa really excelled at the Britannia Stadium.

Yes, you need to score goals to win games - and Weimann's strike was first-class.

But it was our brilliance at the back which really shone through.

The central defensive pairing of Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos looked like they'd played together for years while Aly Cissokho and Alan Hutton provided valuable resolve and steel in wide areas.

There were some special moments too.

Who will forget an early tackle by Cissokho on Potters stopper Phil Bardsley?

As the powerful left-back collected the ball after brushing Bardsley confidently out of possession, the awesome away following - all 2,900 of them - screamed their approval.

Then there were two supreme blocks from the central aces.

First Vlaar rushed out to close-down a Bojan Krkić drive, which looked destined for the net while, right at the death, Senderos did equally well to get his body in the way of a Marko Arnautovic bullet.

The reaction of Senderos on the final whistle was extraordinary - and put a lump in the throat of the claret and blue faithful all around the world.

Senderos - clearly pumped up - turned to Vlaar in triumph before the pair embraced in defensive delight.

This is the kind of care and consideration for your craft which will have Lambert in confident mood for the coming days, weeks and months ahead.

There were more celebrations on the final whistle as players, staff and fans celebrated a fine start to the 2014-15 campaign.

No win is easy to come by but the way Villa saw out the match - killing time and, more importantly, the hope of Potters followers - bodes very well for the future and demonstrated a steely determination, a street-wise style if you like, throughout the team.

The afternoon was topped off by the antics of Cissokho - the former Liverpool, Valencia and Lyon ace - who added to his plaudits on the pitch by greatly impressing off the field too.

He earned acclaim from the travelling army by heading straight over to them on the final whistle to applaud their enormous vocal efforts - before throwing his shirt into their lion's den. 

It's a good job he gave it away. If you'd tried to take it from him, he'd have defended it defiantly - along with his three new mates!

paul brown, blogs,
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