Five key talking points after Villa’s dismal FA Cup exit vs Stevenage

Aston Villa’s woeful run in the FA Cup continued on Sunday in a 2-1 defeat to Stevenage, with Unai Emery undoubtedly having plenty to ponder after witnessing a calamitous late collapse.

In truth, Villa were poor throughout. Despite dominating possession, we didn’t do enough with it and when chances were created, we were nowhere near clinical enough.

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Despite Morgan Sanson finding a breakthrough in the first half, there was always the threat of being punished in the latter stages for not extending our lead, and that turned out to be the case as Stevenage scored twice in a matter of minutes to turn the tie around and dump us out of the competition.

With a quick turnaround to our next game as we host Leeds Utd on Friday night, Emery knows he has to get to work and get a response from his players. Having had our weaknesses and vulnerabilities exposed by Stevenage, not only will confidence be low, but the blueprint is there for opposition sides in terms of an effective approach to adopt against us.

Late capitulation inexcusable

Although we weren’t good enough throughout, there was no excuse for the way in which we threw the game away in the latter stages and ended up losing.

From Leander Dendoncker’s poor play which led to the penalty and his red card in the build-up to the first goal, to the lacklustre defending for the second and Robin Olsen being beaten at his near post. It was shambolic stuff from Villa, and it was perhaps a concerning insight into the fragile mentality and resolve that the players have.

While it was bad enough to concede and potentially have to travel for a replay, but to then concede again so soon after raises serious question marks about the lack of leadership and strong characters among those involved to see it out.

Players fall badly short in big opportunity, test from Emery

Emery made eight changes for this game, handing an opportunity to many depth players to come in and prove their worth moving forward.

Instead, the Villa boss arguably learned that the quality in depth simply isn’t there and he can’t rely on a number of them.

Several individuals fell badly short of the level required, and given that it was still a strong XI with plenty of experience and supposed quality, we didn’t come close to doing enough.

Great to see Sanson put in a good performance

Perhaps the only positive was Sanson’s impact on his return to the Villa line-up. The Frenchman put in a good shift for the team with his work off the ball and added a bit of composure and quality to our play down that right side.

It was great to see him get a goal too, and it’s hoped that’s something he can build on and he’ll get more opportunities off the back of that, as opposed to it potentially being a late effort before moving on this month.

It’s understandable as to why some fans are open to seeing him leave given he hasn’t been able to perform consistently for us since joining. However, there is a talented player there and hopefully Emery will be able to unlock that if Sanson now stays healthy.

Part of process, Emery learning more and more about his squad

As the Villa boss stressed in his post-match interview, while there is real disappointment and frustration with going out of the FA Cup so early, it’s all part of the process as he continues to learn more about his squad.

There’s little doubt that Emery will get us on the right track in the long term, and he’ll continue to make his assessments moving forward on the squad in terms of where we need strengthen and who needs to be replaced.

These players haven’t shown an ability to produce consistently, and particularly if they struggle to adapt and execute the game plan that Emery is providing for them and demanding they put into practice on the pitch, we could see some significant changes moving forward.

Likely to speed up recruitment work

While Emery would have hoped to bring in his own players this month regardless of Sunday’s result, he’ll be hoping to inject some fresh faces before too long to start making his mark on the squad.

According to AS, Alex Moreno could be his first signing as Villa boss this week, and it’s expected that there will be more to follow.

What will be equally as interesting is if there will be any outgoings and if Villa can offload those deemed surplus to requirements by Emery this month. There will be a few, especially after the performance against Stevenage, but we’ll see just how much business we can get done in the coming weeks.