It was great seeing a Villa win on Saturday, and even better seeing the huge crew of supporters packing the Globe—no fewer than 25, by my count. Summer seemed hardly to have passed at all as I said hello to Simon, Andrew, Nick, Greg, Daniel, Greg, Brian, Nik, Tyler, Tyler, Mike, and, of course, our celebrity couple Bob and Diane. (Not to mention Megan, the best server in Chicago, who had considerately reserved the requisite number of tables.)
On the pitch, our offense wasn’t thrilling, but the team played with a command and control so often lacking last year. Most notable, in my mind, was the tougher looking back line. World Cup standout Cap’n Vlaar wasn’t called upon for many heroics, given the solid outings of Hutton, Senderos, and Cisshoko. (I hope Baker and Clark continue to mature and improve, whether at Villa or wherever, but if nothing else, at least we look a hell of a lot meaner, which counts for something.)
In attack, I probably would have subbed Gabby, or Weimann, or both (the latter preferably the minute after he scored), but Richardson looked lively, and Grealish provided a tantalizing glimpse of the possible future. All in all, a solid result and an important three points—we need to rack up as many as possible before three difficult games in September. And with Villa winning away on opening day two years in a row, Arsenal were glad not to have drawn us again! (Though they did have their hands full with Palace.)
Funniest moment of the day was when a Gooner at a nearby table referred to the large number of Villans as “Veeya fans.” Treating the double-l as a “y” would make sense, of course, if we played in La Liga. I had to laugh at his ignorance, although I guess you could argue his pronunciation makes as much sense as me calling him a Gooner. Can an American be a Gooner? Can an American be a Veeyan? It’s a brave new world….