Boy we really needed to win that one. I’m beginning to expect that Espanyol are going to grab a lot more points in the second half of the season than they did the first, as they are just so much more competent in Aberlardo’s 4-4-2 than they were in their disastrous three in the back setups earlier this season, but nonetheless getting zero points at home agains the bottom team in the table is a disaster.
It was always going to go this way from the start, as David Lopez gave the visitors an early lead on an awful sequence of Villarreal defending:
GOAL FOR ESPANYOL!— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) January 19, 2020
It's an early opener for the visitors as David Lopez puts his header past Sergio Asenjo to make it 1-0 inside five minutes.#VillarrealEspanyol LIVE NOW ⬇️
CONNECT https://t.co/LRYa03w6yI pic.twitter.com/GHCzXlkoUz
Villarreal attempted 21 shots in this game but only five were on target. Eight shots were outside the box entirely. According to understat.com’s expected goal’s metric, we edged Espanyol slightly but there are two caveats to be had there. One, Espanyol has the worst xG total in the league for the season, and two, we only outperformed then in xG because understat (unlike many models) counts penaltie attempts as 0.75 xG. Take that away and we managed barely more than 1.5 xG while giving up more than 2.
Fresh Espanyol signing Raul De Tomas gave the visitors a 2-0 lead after halftime, and it would ultimately be enough to see them through for three points. A consolation Santi Cazorla penalty will do little but pad stat columns as the Yellow Submarine missed a grand opportunity to gain points at home. We said before the match that this was not a forgiving matchday but fortunately, many of our rivals for the Europa League had problems of their own. Real Sociedad were blown away by Real Betis, Mallorca won 4-1 against Valencia, Athletic Bilbao drew against Leganes, and Granada lost to Barcelona. The only contender for Europa who had a good weekend was Getafe, who made the pickle Leganes is in even worse.
When the dust cleared we sat in 9th place in the table. An opportunity was surely missed, as we would have been in 7th with a win, but we are still only three points off where we ultimately need to be. Now, on to Girona where hopefully we can find more success in the Copa than we just had in La Liga. Given the fact that Girona is focusing on getting back to the top flight, we may be catching them at just the right time.