Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard and forward Danny Ings were both pleased after we secured a 1-0 win over Leeds Utd in Brisbane on Sunday.
Villa’s encounter with our Premier League rivals was the first of three pre-season friendlies in Australia, with Brisbane Roar to come on Wednesday before we face Man Utd at the weekend.
Ings’ second-half penalty was the difference between the two sides, but although Robin Olsen was forced into action to make three notable saves in particular, Philippe Coutinho missed a penalty in the opening 45 minutes while Ollie Watkins was denied having had a big chance of his own to break the deadlock.
In turn, while there were positives to take from the game, most notably the performance of summer signing Boubacar Kamara in the first half, there will undoubtedly be things that Villa will know they need to improve on as we continue through the pre-season schedule.
Gerrard though was happy with what he saw in the most part, and naturally coming through the game with no fresh injury concerns is just as important at this early stage of the year.
Gerrard on Villa’s win over Leeds
“We’ve got the win, we’ve got the clean sheet,” he told VillaTV. “I was really happy with a lot of the first half – our organisation, our shape was good, we looked really dangerous on the transition. There were a lot of positive things.
“Second half got a bit scrappy. We could have stayed on the ball a little bit longer and shown a bit more style.
“Having said that, I thought we defended extremely well. We gave one or two chances away but Robin Olsen was really big for us.
“The new signings were positive, we’re healthy and we’ve come through the game, so we move on and I’m sure we’ll take a lot from the game.”
Ings on Villa’s pre-season preparation so far
“Every single game is competitive and to get a win in the first game is key,” he told VillaTV. “We know that we need to get a lot of fitness over this period, but at the same time we want to win games and get into that habit. It was a good start today.
“The work ethic was there from start to finish, we defended in numbers whenever we needed to, and I also thought we created a number of good moments.
“It’s the first game for some of the lads coming in and I thought they did very, very well. Their understanding of where to be positionally was there.
“It was nice [to score}. I should have had a couple today, but to get the winning goal feels nice.”
It’s still early days in pre-season, but Gerrard will no doubt want to see the players put his plans and style of play into action on the pitch to show we’re developing a clear identity and direction under his management.
Having had a good period of time to work with the players on the training pitch, the Villa boss will take confidence from this performance and result, and it’s hoped that it’s a foundation for further improvement in the upcoming games ahead of facing Bournemouth in our Premier League season opener on August 6.