Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard conceded we didn’t defend well enough at Crystal Palace but bemoaned the penalty decision in our 3-1 defeat.
Villa took an early lead through Ollie Watkins after making a bright start at Selhurst Park, but that lasted all of a few minutes as Wilfried Zaha drew the hosts level shortly after to deliver a crucial setback for us.
Despite being outplayed and second best, Villa were able to get into the half-time interval on level terms, but a Zaha penalty and a goal from substitute Jean-Philippe Mateta secured all three points for Patrick Vieira’s side and inflicted a second defeat in three games for us so far this season.
Given how poor we were and how Palace were clearly deserved winners, it was disappointing, albeit expected too, that Gerrard brought up the penalty decision and suggested that was a key turning point in the encounter. Ultimately, we didn’t deserve to take anything from the game and having bigger issues to focus on and solve.
“It’s a step backwards on the back of last week,” he told Villa TV. “We started this game really well, got ourselves in front, scored a really good goal and it was the perfect start for us. We looked dangerous going forward but we didn’t keep the lead for long enough.
“We allowed Crystal Palace back into the game. The game was in the balance for an hour and then there was a big, big decision that went against us with the penalty.
“We didn’t react well enough to going 2-1 down. We were really unlucky that when the goalkeeper’s made a fantastic save, they get the follow-up. I think the penalty’s really harsh on us.
“For large parts of this game we were well in it at a tough place. The game’s run away from us. In big moments we haven’t defended well enough, and we’ve been punished.
“I want them [the players] to stick together more. I want them to be harder to play against.
“I want them to be diligent with the information that we’re giving them in terms of out of possession. I want them to run hard and win duels.
“We were second best in too many departments today.”
Time will tell what happens between now and our next game, but the fixture list isn’t kind moving forward in the coming weeks as we face West Ham Utd, Arsenal and Manchester City in the next three outings.
The pressure is building on Gerrard to get this right and to get us showing some consistency and improvement, as unfortunately that is all lacking at this stage and questions continue to be asked of his management given the nature of both the performances and results.
Villa were outplayed for large periods on Saturday, and with the good work against Everton undone, we now need to produce another big response. There are doubts given the obvious flaws and issues in this current side in terms of the way we’re set up and tactically prepared for games, as with the talent and quality in this side, we should be much more competitive.