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  1. 5 points
    I've seen some really bad things happen at Villa, in my time as a fan. Losses in league cups to lower league teams (Scunthorpe, Sheffield United) but I have never felt so deflated and depressed as I do at this moment. Don't get me wrong, Bradford deserve their massive achievement 100% and I wish them all the best for the final. But whilst this is their finest hour, this is also my clubs darkest hour and I am not sure we can pull this around in time to save our premiership status. It is easy to put the blame on people, O'Neill, McLeish, Houllier or even Lambert (who isn't faultless when it comes to tactics). But we really need to look at the build up to today, and the little things that have happened to cause such an incredible drop over the past three years. From the moment he took over as the custodian, Lerner stated that he would do everything to achieve the goals he had for Villa and the ultimate aim was champions league football. The first three years were incredible, we saw a league cup final, three 6th place finishes, inspirational moments and a team that looked well on its way to being something special. All of a sudden Lerner decided he could no longer afford to support the wage bill, finance high earning players or make any large investment in the team. With this O'Neill stepped down and the motion was set in place. Now, what I do not get is for a man who came in saying he had a 5 year plan, why did he not have this plan worked out so that the investment was steady, why did he let things run riot, how did he not notice there was a problem sooner? Well, I think he made the gamble that we would get champions league football and when that failed he just cut funding dead, on the spot, gave in with the avalanche plan and looked to recoup costs. OUCH! Everybody knows what happens when you try to stop a runaway train, you get a derailment and mass casualties. Players were sold, they were not replaced with quality, managers came and went for high fee's - it felt like names were being pulled out of a hat and given a chance to manage us. From Houllier to McLeish, how can any person of logic make this choice? These appointments were like chalk and cheese, you cannot go from one set of ideals to another and expect miracles. We have been badly run, from the top for the past three years. And just like the minor success we had with the over-the-top investment, there is a disaster around the corner waiting for us if we do not put this right with investment in the team. This team, over the past three years has had its heart ripped out, it is now lifeless and drifting into the championship. We need to invest in quality, players who can change games and make things happen, we miss Milner, Barry, Young and Downing and there are no players at this club who can change a game. I cannot see this happening though, Nero is fiddling whilst Rome is burning and with just nine days to put things right, a restriction on wages, a lack of quality is going to see us have some very dark days at this club. All thanks to the errors made right at the top.
  2. 3 points
    It has been 3 months and we have gone 12 games since we last tasted defeat. It is still disagreeable to see visiting fans celebrating a win at Villa Park and it is even worse for their team to be picking up the Championship trophy afterwards, as was the case yesterday. The last time we ended a game pointless, was against the team that we next face over two legs for a place in the playoff final. Our clear objective is now to ensure that we remain unbeaten in our next three games. Six of the players that started our last game and five of the players who started our last home game, started this one. The decision to rest players yesterday, was without doubt the right one. We have bigger fish to fry than Delia Smith, Ed Balls, Hugh Jackman and Stephen Fry’s boys in the coming weeks. The three play-off games that are to come, can provide us with the happy ending to this season that our recent tremendous run should culminate in. These crucial games will define our season. Win them and we will accompany Norwich back to the top flight, as they escorted us down to the Championship three years ago. Losing against our local rivals or in the final against either Leeds or Derby, would have an unthinkable impact on the makeup of our superb team. It just cannot happen! Yesterday’s game gave our visitors their first win at Villa Park since 1992. This win also resulted in them being promoted as champions. Victory in the play off games, will give us the opportunity to play our first choice eleven when we meet them next time and the outcome would I suspect be likely to be somewhat different. I look forward to seeing that game next season! Norwich started strongly, like the game meant more to them than it did to us, which it did. They took an early lead, but we showed our resilience by equalising within 7 minutes and then shading the first half. Either side could have won it during the second half and there was little to choose between the two sides. The game appeared to be likely to end in a draw, which would have perhaps suited both clubs, but Norwich were greedy for more. As has so often proved the case this season, they stole the points in the last few minutes. That was cruel on the much-changed team that we put out yesterday, but we will get over it should our season end in promotion. My player ratings from a game that was played in front of a packed Villa Park, during which we remembered those who had joined the ranks of the HEITS during the season on 20.18 minutes are: Jed Steer – 6 – He was relieved that Hernandez’s 45th minute curled shot from outside of the box struck the crossbar, with him well beaten. Did well to get his outstretched right hand to a 69th minute Stiepermann shot from the edge of the box and perhaps could have done the same with Vrancic’s 86th minute winner, which eluded the same outstretched hand, having been hit from very nearly the same place. Alan Hutton – 6 – It was fitting to see him given the captaincy on what is likely to be his last league appearance in the claret and blue shirt that he has worked so hard to win, as well as hold during his time with us. It must have just been pure coincidence that we looked a tad susceptible on the right flank yesterday. Hats off to the Scottish Cafu! Axel Tuanzebe - 6 – Seemed slow to react to the Hernandez cross that Pukki turned in, having got to the ball in front of him. Kortney Hause – 6 – Needed the game. Neil Taylor – 6 – Reliable again. Albert Adomah – 6 – Surprisingly did the full 90 minutes. Glenn Whelan – 7 – Poked a 45th minute shot just over from the edge of the box. Had another solid game in the middle. Henri Lansbury – 6 – He’s not quite Jack but who is? Did a decent job yesterday and showed that he can play a part, if required in the games that are to come. Conor Hourihane – 7 – Hit a sweet free kick that produced the equaliser. Curled a 30-yard shot just wide of the far post on 37 minutes. Andre Green - 6 – Andre was unlucky that his goal-bound 17th minute shot from a central position in the penalty area, after Hutton’s cross found its way to him, was blocked by Aarons. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – MOTM – 3 goals in his last 4 games now. Johnny Danger is encouragingly living up to his nickname at the business end of the season. Did well to get in front of his marker and flick Hourihane’s perfectly placed free kick past Krul and into the far corner of the net on 14 minutes. Headed an accurate 33rd minute Hourihane cross just over the bar. A defender got a touch to a 37th minute ball played into the box for him from Adomah, but he got to the loose ball and his close-range effort was blocked by Krul’s legs at the near post. Gamely ran on to a poor 54th minute back pass played back into the box, that Godfrey just got to first, but sent the ball narrowly wide of the far post in doing so. Substitutes: Keinan Davis – 6 – Replaced Kodjia on 72 minutes and again looked both keen and capable. Birkir Bjarnason – Came on for a rare appearance replacing Lansbury on 80 minutes. Bikir was not on quite long enough to gain a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  3. 3 points
    This was a dire game. Our visitors from the dark side of the city showed exactly why they are in real danger of relegation and we showed why we were unable to sustain a promotion challenge this season. But sometimes winning is everything! Small Heath needed a win but they were not good enough to get one or a draw! We needed to put on a show for those 38,000 Villa fans that paid good money to witness this local derby but we lacked either the ability or the desire to put our opponents to the sword in the way that we had hoped we would. This was some way off being an end to end derby that will stick in our memories like some have in the past but the win will always be there on paper as will the impact it may ultimately have on the final league table. The game was drifting towards a goalless draw before the introduction of Small Heath’s nemesis Gabby with just 31 minutes remaining. His introduction enthused the Villa fans or was it the Villa fans that inspired him to produce a match-winning performance? How our win and the fact that Gabby scored it with his first goal in 14 months must have rubbed salt into the wounds for our neighbours. They now need points from their two remaining games of the season or failing that favours from the teams that Blackburn (who are currently 2 points behind them) have left to play if they are to avoid the drop. Given we are Blackburn’s next opponents I’m sure that we will do everything we can to help them in their latest relegation battle. Should they sadly fail in that battle and we therefore lose the opportunity to play them next season I’m sure we will not take any pleasure whatsoever from that. This win takes us back into the top half of the table, takes us over 60 points, extends our unbeaten league run against Bloose to 7-games and secures our rightful position as the cream of Brum. My player ratings from a game before which we paid our respects to Ugo and after which the players celebrated a derby win with some gusto as did we are: Sam Johnstone – 6 – Seldom had any cause for concern but will have been relieved when Adams hit the best opportunity of the first half well over. Kept a 64th minute on-target effort from inside the box from Davis out with an outstretched hand. Alan Hutton – 6 – Worked hard, wanted the win and once again demonstrated that he is comfortable at this level. James Chester - 7 – Has had busier days but he held the defence together when needed and made his usual timely interventions. Headed a 63rd minute Lansbury free-kick well over the bar and played a part in the goal as did Baker and Hogan. Nathan Baker – 7 – Commanding in the air today. His position is undoubtedly in the centre of the defence alongside Chester asking him to do anything else lessens his effectiveness markedly. Neil Taylor – 7 – We looked much more assured at the back on his return. Albert Adomah – 4 – This was another game that passed him by and we need to see so much more from him particularly in the final third of the field if he is to merit the starting place he was again given today. Henri Lansbury – 6 – Worked hard to secure the win but we really do need to work at getting the goals from him that he was able to produce for fun at Forest by next season by giving him the freedom to get forward more. Mile Jedinak - 7 – So solid in the middle today. Made several strong challenges and won many a ball in the air with consummate ease. Leandro Bacuna – 4 – Astonishing to see him start with Hourihane left on the bench. I struggle to see what he brought to the team today that Conor would not have been able to. Jack Grealish – 5 – As a local lad I had expected much more from him today but he was given little space by the opposition and seemed reticent to make the sort of forward runs he is capable of prior to his substitution. Scott Hogan – 5 – Suffered from a lack of service but did little to worry the defenders he came up against and showed that he needs a striker alongside him. Headed a 15th minute Bacuna cross wide that he stretched for but was unable to get high enough to direct. Substitutes: Gabriel Agbonlahor – 7 – MOTM - Replaced Grealish on 59 minutes. He really was up for this one and he made the difference with this brief reprise of the sort of performance he once produced for us. He ran after lost causes like the Duracell bunny, won balls in the air and scored our sweet winner and his 5th goal against Small Heath on 68 minutes. Baker won the ball from a Lansbury corner which was then headed on by Chester before Baker headed on a partial clearance and Hogan got a slight touch on it before it fell to Gabby who moving back onto it clipped the ball into the top corner of the net with aplomb. Gary Gardner – Replaced Adomah on 75 minutes. Not on quite long enough to earn a rating but showed a willingness to chase the ball down more than once. Conor Hourihane – Replaced Hogan on 83 minutes. He needs to start games and as is the case with Lansbury we need to get him to the level he was consistently performing at with his former club by the start of next season. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  4. 3 points
    Despite both Newcastle and Bournemouth notching wins, our chances of staying up managed to slightly improve. 16th 0.1% unchanged17th 0.5% +0.1%18th 1.5% +0.2%19th 8.2% +2.1%20th 89.7% -2.4%Villa: 99.4% (-0.1%) Sunderland: 78.9% (+10.5%) Bournemouth: 41.4% (-24.7%) Swansea: 36.0% (+22.3%) Newcastle: 22.9% (-25.7%) Norwich: 18.4% (+15.1%) Chelsea: 1.5% (+0.5%), West Brom: 1.5% (+1.4%)
  5. 2 points
    We witnessed history being made yesterday. In years to come the question will be asked, do you remember when our great club broke their record of consecutive league wins in 2019? That record had remained unbroken since 1910. That’s beyond living memory, so we had to refer to the record books to read about that winning run and that grand old team. In the years to come, you will be able to say that you were there and that you witnessed this incredible run. You can tell your children, your grandchildren and anyone else who is prepared to listen, that you remember this splendid team, this great run and had the pleasure of seeing Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Tammy Abraham et all play in the claret and blue. Those players have earned their place in Villa history as did Harry Hampton, Billy Walker, Pongo Waring and Eric Houghton, before them in bygone seasons. We secured our place in the end of season promotion playoffs yesterday, with two games of the season to spare. Only in our wildest dreams, did any of us see this winning run coming at the beginning of March. As our boss said after yesterday’s game, “If you had asked me 11 games ago would we go and win the next 10, I would have thought you were a little bit crackers.” Now let’s extend this winning run to 15 games! This superb run merits a joyful ending. For it not now to end with our promotion, would be too cruel on this team who have worked so hard to claim their ticket to the play off lottery. For a second successive season to end in despair would be beyond abhorrent. We have played better than we did yesterday during this run of wins. Millwall are always a tough nut to crack and were both determined and uncompromising, as they looked for a point to assist their relegation fight. Although not at our scintillating best, we were still clearly the better of the two teams and on another day the score might have better reflected this. As it was, for the second successive home game the visitor’s man of the match was their goalkeeper, but once again he still finished on the losing side. Villa didn’t need to go into fourth gear to win this one. We eased to victory without adding a second goal, that would have left us sitting more comfortably near the end. Our team have now developed the confidence and composure to see games out without undue cause for concern though. We seemed perhaps, to be conserving something for the decisive games that are to come, as we eased to what was ultimately a comfortable tenth win in front of a packed Villa Park. My player ratings from a game that sealed a Happy Easter for us and that meant that the play offs are coming are: Jed Steer – 6 – Produced a very good save on 15 minutes, pushing a Wallace shot from outside of the box, out for a corner to his right. He then had a moment of madness, when he ran out to but didn’t get near a 71st minute floated free kick into the box, taken from just inside our half by Pearce which was thankfully headed wide by Cooper. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Elmo gets better with each game and looks increasingly composed, confident and reliable. Mile Jedinak - 7 – Mile did a tremendous job again in the centre of our defence yesterday in the absence of both Axel and Kortney. He was as uncompromising and determined as our opponent’s defenders were and that is saying quite a lot. Tyrone Mings – 8 – MOTM – So steady and so composed at the heart of our defence. Didn’t put a foot wrong and oozed confidence. He plays a crucial role in making this team tick. Neil Taylor – 7 – Did well again and has played his part in this fantastic winning run. Albert Adomah – 6 – Substituted after an hour no doubt with the intention of preserving his energies for those battles that are yet to come. Glenn Whelan – 7 – Substituted on 60 minutes, most likely for the same reason that Albert was. Got down bravely where the boots were flying on 16 minutes, to head away a corner that had fallen to Pearce who had played it back across the face of the goal. Provides solidity for our midfield. John McGinn – 8 – Did well to avoid a booking that would have threated an untimely play-off suspension. Whelan played a neat ball to him inside of the box, but his 41st minute shot was blocked at the near post by a defender. Had a hand in many of our chances. Jack Grealish – 8 – A welcome return for the player whose return to the side as captain following a lengthy injury, sparked the outstanding run that broke a long-standing club record yesterday. Green played the ball back to him and his 68th minute shot from near the penalty spot was only kept out by Martin’s legs. McGinn found him near the centre circle on 72 minutes, Jack ran on to the edge of the box before hitting a shot which deflected off a defender just inches past the keeper’s right-hand post. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Hit the cross that Jonathan put away for the winner. Headed a 9th minute Grealish corner wide at the far post and brought a defender down in getting up for it. McGinn played a nice ball for Anwar to run onto, he looked to curl a shot past Martin and inside of the far post, but Martin got down well to push the ball around the post on 90 minutes. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Came in for the injured 25-goal Tammy and hit our winner in the 30th minute. Pounced on a misjudged loose back pass a minute earlier, but his heavy first touch enabled Martin to just touch the ball first as they met on the edge of the box and the chance was gone. Made a nice run inside the box on 56 minutes running between two defenders before hitting his shot wide of the far post. Jack found El Ghazi on the left side of the box and his nicely hit 30th minute cross, was hit home by Johnny Danger to his obvious delight. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 6 – Replaced Whelan on 60 minutes and did his bit in the middle. Andre Green – 7 - Came on for Albert on 60 minutes and looked good. Grealish found him on the right of the box on 66 minutes but his shot from a tight angle hit the side netting. Hit a sweet 84th minute volley after an El Ghazi shot had deflected off a defender towards him, only to be denied a goal by a great reflex save by Martin. McGinn swept the ball right for Andre who ran inside of the box and hit a 90th minute shot that deflected over the bar off a defender. Keinan Davis – 6 - Replaced Johnny Danger on 76 minutes and again did his bit, showing some surprisingly deft touches with the ball at his feet. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  6. 2 points
    We were missing three of our biggest hitters for this game, but the absence of Jack, Tyrone and Kortney could not derail our fast finishing promotion train. These three players had played crucial roles in extending our run of successive league wins to 7 before yesterday’s game. Their absence was a real cause for concern before Saturday’s kick-off, but we proved that we are not quite a one-man team after all, despite rumours to the contrary. It has been 44 years since Aston Villa last recorded 8 consecutive league wins. We were promoted at the end of that 1974-75 season, finishing second to Manchester United. Let’s hope that this tremendous run of wins produces the same happy ending. This was a real top of the table clash and in the first half both sides battled like rutting stags to gain supremacy. The second half was a different matter. We pulled 4 points clear of our promotion rivals with a dazzling 45-minute display that produced another vital win and could have given us a more decisive win, than the odd goal one that we achieved. Their goalkeeper Max O’Leary had a day to remember, making save after save to prevent us from stretching our lead to an unassailable one. When they pulled a goal back with 16 minutes of normal time remaining along with an astonishing 7 minutes of stoppage time, many may have anticipated the game being cruelly snatched away from us during those nervous final minutes. That didn’t happen though and didn’t really look like happening. Instead we played out those remaining minutes with confidence and without too much cause for alarm. The players that turned out in claret & blue yesterday wore their shirts with pride. They played as a team and the squad clearly all want to play their part in achieving our goal. They players gave everything, and by so doing, brought what had seemed only a few weeks ago to be an unrealistic hope of making the play offs within touching distance. WBA supporters were telephoning BBC WM after the game claiming that they want to meet us in the play offs, my message to them would be “be careful what you wish for!” My player ratings from a game that took us within 3 wins of equalling our club record of 11 consecutive wins which we achieved in 1897 and that also got Lee Johnson rather infuriated for some reason are: Jed Steer – 6 – Well protected by those in front of him, other than when they pulled a goal back. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Another very composed and solid performance from Elmo. Axel Tuanzebe - 8 – He was simply outstanding at the heart of our defence yesterday. Axel was both assured and composed throughout. Mile Jedinak – 7 – Brought all his experience to bear to produce this solid defensive performance when we so needed it. Had an 85th minute header blocked on the line. Neil Taylor – 7 – Did well. His confidence is growing with each win as is his contribution to each of those wins. His attempted clearance was blocked at the start of the build up to their goal and he had a 77th minute shot blocked at the near post. Albert Adomah – 6 – Played his part for the whole game this time, in securing what was an important win. Hit the post with a header on 13 minutes. Hit an 80th minute shot wide of the keeper’s left-hand post. Glenn Whelan – 8 – Controlled the midfield again. Held it together making full use of his experience and steadied things when a cool head was needed. Fully deserves the plaudits he is now getting. John McGinn – 8 – Had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders in this game and John thrived on that. Ran the ball from the corner flag into the box before hitting a shot that O’Leary did well to tip over the bar. Hit an 88th minute shot over having been found by Davis and had a 94th minute shot tipped over the bar. Conor Hourihane – 8 – Had a 31st minute header from an El Ghazi cross punched clear by O’Leary. The keeper again did well to block his 62nd minute close range shot with his leg, which went on to bounce over the bar. Was awarded our penalty when going for a cross into the centre of the box from McGinn. Nodded an inviting El Ghazi cross over on 64 minutes. Picked up a loose ball in the middle to start the move that he finished on 66 minutes with he turned and hit a shot past the keeper and inside the far post for our second goal. On another luckier day for him, he might have had a hat-trick. Anwar El Ghazi – 8 – MOTM – Produced the sort of performance that he had showed he was capable of at WBA. He beat his man for fun yesterday, particularly during the second half during which he was unstoppable. Hit a 13th minute shot from well outside of the box that O’Leary was only able to palm away towards Adomah whose header struck the near post. Hit a 62nd minute shot from outside of the box that O’Leary could only punch away to his left. Found Conor inside the box to claim an assist for our second goal. This was a match-winning performance and we need to see more of the same in our remaining games. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Lacked the service he has become accustomed to getting from Jack in the first half. Showed nerves of steel when slotting his 55th minute penalty into the centre of the goal, as O’Leary dived to his right to give us the crucial first goal, having missed one at Rotherham in midweek. Tammy has two dozen goals this season and another six would be very, very nice. Substitutes: Keinan Davis – 7 – Replaced Tammy on 72 minutes and did a really great job. Held the ball up well when we needed him to, fitted smoothly into the lone striker role and quickly got into the game. Outmuscled a defender to claim a ball played forward by Lansbury and moved into the box, hitting a 94th minute shot that O’Leary blocked with his legs at the near post. Henri Lansbury – 6 - Replaced Conor on 80 minutes and played his own part in securing this win. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  7. 2 points
    This was an unbelievable, outstanding, incredible, amazing, astonishing, sensational, surprising, unexpected, remarkable, dramatic and thrilling comeback! With eight minutes of normal time remaining Sheffield United were temporarily on top of the league and were a seemingly comfortable three goals ahead. By the end of the game that lead had disappeared before their very eyes, their promotion hopes had been blunted, and they found themselves shell shocked and sitting back in third place where they had been at the start of this astounding game. Our visitors bossed the first half on our own patch. They picked up where they had left off at Bramall Lane 5 months earlier and showed how much they wanted to finish the game in top spot by dominating the early stages of the game. We were caught on the back foot and had looked a very poor second best. This extraordinary result was achieved despite the match officials showing that they could match Mr Magoo and Arsene Wenger by not seeing that Sharp was offside when Dowell hit the ball in the build up to their second goal before compounding that error by not noticing that he had gone on to kick the ball out of Kalinic’s hands. That goal had been allowed when we were threatening to get back into the game and looked to have extinguished our hopes as did later decisions to ignore late penalty appeals by Mings and McGinn, but we were determined not to be denied by inept officiating. This exhilarating late, late show admittedly only earned us a point, but this outstanding comeback showed both resilience and character. We might yet look back on this night, on which we snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat as a turning point in our season. It could possibly have as positive an impact on our remaining games as it threatens to have a negative effect on our visitor’s promotion chances. Stranger things have happened, this comeback being just one example. We just need to play for the whole of each game like we did at the end of this one from now onwards! My player ratings from a game that took us within one win off the final play-off spot are: Lovre Kalinic – 5 – Dived to his left on 5 minutes to block a Baldock shot from the edge of the box. Could only parry Dowell’s 53rd minute shot from outside of the area onto Madine’s head. His header struck the far post and Sharp kicked the ball into the net and out of Lovre’s grasp for his second. Gathered a 77th minute McGoldrick shot from just inside the left edge of the box at the second attempt. Alan Hutton – 5 – Picked up a loose attempted headed clearance just outside the box on 56 minutes but his shot went harmlessly over the bar. Sharp peeled off Hutton to head home a 62nd minute Dowell cross but sometimes a hat-trick is not quite enough! Tommy Elphick - 6 – Made a good challenge on Madine as he looked to turn in a 51st minute Baldock cross. Solid alongside Tyrone. Tyrone Mings – 8 – MOTM – Silenced his vocal critics from South Yorkshire with a towering performance and what had appeared to have been a late nicely headed consolation goal from an 82nd minute Hourihane corner. Pulled down by Basham as he made ground inside the box to reach the ball, but his penalty appeal was ignored by the referee. Comfortable on the ball and played the ball out of defence very well. Neil Taylor – 4 – Made Baldock look like the Brazilian Cafu at times on a night for him to forget. Not a great exhibition of defending again. Mile Jedinak – 4 – Unsurprisingly looked short of pace on his return to the starting line-up. John McGinn – 6 – Screwed a shot wide from the edge of the area on 83 minutes. Held by Stevens on 93 minutes as he looked to reach a ball played into the box by Hourihane, but his penalty appeals fell on deaf ears. Worked hard as usual. Conor Hourihane – 5 – Hit a 71st minute free kick from the edge of the box that Henderson parried away. Not contributing much other than his undoubted dead ball prowess. Anwar El Ghazi – 5 – Nice to see him tracking back a bit. Still lacking the end product that he produced at WBA though. Jonathan Kodjia – 5 – Some nice touches and looked keen to be involved at times prior to his substitution. Tammy Abraham – 7 – He had drifted well behind the goal line as the corner came over for their first, so he was unable to prevent the ball going over the line when Sharp put in Madine’s far post header back across goal. Elphick hit a shot from the left of the area that Henderson didn’t hold and instead pushed into Tammy’s path at the far post with the inevitable consequences on 86 minutes (goal number 20!). Didn’t enjoy a lot of service but worked hard and his late goal sparked what had seemed fanciful hopes of a draw. Substitutes: Andre Green - 6 – Replaced Kodjia on 65 minutes and completed our remarkable comeback with a sweet far post header from a McGinn cross on 94 minutes. Worth a start in my opinion. Glenn Whelan – 6 - Came on for Jedinak on 66 minutes and made a difference to the game. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  8. 2 points
    Aston Villa with nothing to play for save their pride and their fans played their part in defending the integrity of the EFL by not surrendering meekly to a team that needed a win as had Huddersfield last weekend for example. We were reduced to ten men in the 63rd minute when the referee decided the penalty they converted was not quite enough punishment for Baker so it then appeared Brighton were set for the win that they needed to clinch the title. However, their wild goal celebrations proved to be somewhat premature because 10-man Villa kept at it and Grealish hit a late equalizer that handed the trophy to Newcastle. The sorrowful reaction of the Brighton players at the end showed how much the game had mattered to them. No doubt Newcastle fans will accept that we played a major role in bringing them the trophy they collected yesterday and will stop whingeing about our football club for a short time as a result? We finished the season with a plucky point but in the bottom half of the table, albeit top of that bottom half. We now face a vitally important summer during which Steve Bruce will need to make the changes necessary to gather the extra thirtysomething points we will need to secure automatic promotion next season. What yesterday’s game did prove is that in games against Brighton this season there has not been a great deal to choose between the two teams (although it is arguable that we produced our two best performances of the season against them). Brighton who have been promoted have had the consistency that we have lacked and have not had the runs of bad results and poor performances that have blighted our season and cost us any hope we once had of joining them in the top flight next season. Respect is also due to the Seagulls fans who applauded at the right moments, showed appropriate respect and resisted any temptation there may have been to remind us of our under-achievement during this season. Enjoy your return to the top flight and I hope we will join you next season. The highlight of yesterday for me was the half-time appearance of Villa heroes’ Peter McParland and Nigel Sims 60 years on from their 1957 FA Cup win against the Busby Babes. I really hope that we can lift that trophy again for them soon as this is the longest time our club has gone without winning it by some distance. On a personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to add my late friend Peter Wyper to the list of Villains that we have sadly lost during this season. Pete was a life-long Villa fan who was among those that cheered the 57 cup winners on their return to the city from Wembley. Pete passed away yesterday evening following a lengthy battle with illness. He will be much missed by his family and friends – HEITS. My player ratings from our last game of this disappointing season are: Sam Johnstone – 6 – Was sent the wrong way from the spot but had earlier did very well on the 58th minute to block a shot from Baldock with his legs after the forward had got the better of Baker. Sam also did well to keep out a 77th minute shot from Bruno. If that was to be his last game for us it was a decent one but will it prove to be given he has now found his confidence with us? James Bree – 6 – Was found on the edge of the box by Bacuna on 78 minutes and his shot was deflected just over the bar. James Chester - 7 – Solid enough at the back as usual and is becoming a threat up front. Nathan Baker – 5 – Given his marching orders a little too readily for me in the 63rd minute when he clipped the heel of Baldock as he was pulling the trigger having reacted slower to a header on than the forward had. Neil Taylor – 7 – A good solid overall performance that was his best for us to date for me. Albert Adomah – 4 – Did the best of what work he did when they had the ball. His impact up front was once again only minimal prior to his 61st minute substitution. He is capable of doing a lot more than he did yesterday and than he has done of late. Henri Lansbury – 6 – Hit a decent 13th minute shot from around 30 yards that Stockdale pushed wide for a corner low at his left-hand post. He really should have put us ahead 7 minutes later when Pocognoli chested a Taylor cross back across the face of the goal to him but he turned his header inches wide of the far post with the goal gaping before him. Nice to see both Henri and Hourihane getting forward more often than has recently been the case and they can become a very effective midfield pairing with a pre-season behind them. Conor Hourihane - 7 – MOTM - Bent a free-kick around the wall in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time which Stockdale did well to turn around his post. Hit a 56th minute shot from outside of the box that Stockdale got down low at his left-hand post to keep out and 2 minutes later Davis played the ball back to him inside the box and his shot was again saved by the keeper low at the far post. Eventually took an 85th minute free-kick from the edge of the box following Bacuna’s shenanigans that forced a save from Stockdale. Leandro Bacuna – 5 – Showed the same lack of discipline that led to his recent suspension for getting in the face of a linesman again yesterday when twice forcibly demanding the ball at free-kicks from Hourihane. When did he last score from a free-kick and what leads him to think that he should be in line to take a free-kick ahead of Conor (who tends to force a save rather than prod the ball into the defensive wall)? His petulance was more striking for me than what impact he otherwise had on the game yesterday. Will his name still be found on the team sheet next season or will his long-awaited move to a Champions League team actually happen? Jordan Amavi – 6 – Did well enough playing once again in an advanced role. Scott Hogan – 5 – Pounced on a sloppy half-hit 34th minute back pass from Pocognoli hitting a shot from inside of the box that was deflected just wide by Stockdale’s outstretched leg. Worryingly limped off the field following a clumsy challenge by Sidwell that the referee chose not to show any card for. Substitutes: Keinan Davis – 7 – Replaced Hogan in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time and showed some promise for the future during the second half. Lansbury played a ball into the box for him to run onto on 50 minutes but penalty appeals were ignored by both the referee and his assistant when Dunk slid in to take Davis rather than the ball. He was not quite able to force the ball home near the goal line after Amavi had headed the resulting corner towards Chester at the far post who in turn had headed the ball goalward. Grealish hit a 69th minute cross and having turned nicely he hit a shot that forced a save from Stockdale. Had an opportunity to win the game when the ball fell to him off a defender with a minute of stoppage time remaining. Keinan ran to the edge of the box but his shot was a weak one and was easily held by a relieved Stockdale. Jack Grealish – 7 - Replaced Adomah on 61 minutes. Hit our late equalizer on the 89th minute. Taylor played the ball to him near the edge of the box and his curled shot went past a couple of defenders as well as remarkably keeper Stockdale who was left on his knees having failed to get anything on the ball as it went past him. This was a clear step up on some recent displays from Jack. Tommy Elphick – 5 - Replaced Amavi on 65 minutes. Half hit a 68th minute back pass that Murray ran onto before playing the ball unselfishly back to Baldock who saved Tommy’s blushes by making a hash of the scoring opportunity which left the ball being played clear after it hit Chester’s leg rather than the back of the net. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  9. 2 points
    This was admittedly only a friendly but this game gave little cause for optimism for the season that is ahead of us. This performance was uncomfortably similar to many of the displays that we gave last season and those around me were openly questioning what differences there actually has been on the pitch itself rather than off it. We had the best of the game until they hit their equalizer on the hour mark. But our defence suddenly looked shaky as it had done more often than not last season. The visitors hit a second on 74 minutes and added another two minutes later to run out comfortable winners. We looked weak at the back, lacked creativity in the middle and lacked a cutting edge up front. It only took a goal to see the frailties and insecurities of last season re-emerge. These are not new problems and there is a lot of work to be done to turn things around. Players need to be signed and we need to start those signings with a striker to play alongside Ayew. Can we progress with much the same squad that got us relegated last season? I doubt it very much. We need a team that will not think the worst when we go behind and will not have the memory of last season hanging over most of their heads when they start each match. The league we face will not have teams of the standard that we faced last season but it will have teams that will relish the prospect of beating us by giving it everything. This new season has to be better than last and we cannot linger in this division. We need to start well and to expect to win games rather than to lose them. We also need to do what is needed both off and on the pitch to make that happen. This game demonstrated that we may still be at best a work in progress. My player ratings from a game that did little to lift our pre-season hopes are: Pierluigi Gollini – 6 – MOTM – Looked confident, commanded his area well and distributed the ball effectively. Parried a shot from Fischer on 60 minutes but Negredo was left in space to hit home the rebound for their equalizer. Left exposed for the other two he conceded. Alan Hutton – 5 – Worked hard and put a foot in as he can be relied upon to do. Made his usual forward runs but they continue to lack an end product. Tommy Elphick - 5 – Will now be aware of the job he faces in trying to steady the troubled and anxious defence he finds himself now in. Nathan Baker – 6 – Looked commanding in the first half but somewhat less so in the second. Climbed highest at the far post to head home a 15th minute cross from Bacuna. Aly Cissokho – 5 – Hit some decent crosses but lost possession in the build up to their first. Leandro Bacuna – 4 – Maintaining his fitness pending his impending move to a Champions League outfit. I have to question what he has shown to be still starting games for us. Gary Gardner – 5 – A steady first half performance. Ashley Westwood – 5 – Needs to stand out more in this sort of midfield line-up than he did yesterday. Jack Grealish – 6 – Looked more confident and committed than he did last season but he needs to try to take games like this by the scruff of the neck and make things happen. Jordan Ayew – 5 – Jordan started well enough but he failed to sustain that level of performance as the game wore on and looked to be lacking in motivation at times which is a concern. Forced a save from Valdes on 14 minutes and touched the ball inches wide of the post from close range on 38 minutes. Rudy Gestede – 4 – Lacked pace as well as movement and I did not see anything yesterday that suggested he will terrorise defences this season or provide us with the goals that we need to mount a promotion challenge. Substitutes: Aaron Tshibola – 6 - Replaced Gardner at half time and looked solid enough. Andre Green – 6 – Replaced Bacuna on 75 minutes and showed some nice touches. For me he should be starting games in front of the player that he replaced yesterday. Ciaran Clark – Replaced Baker on 89 minutes so did not have enough time to earn any rating. Jordan Amavi - Made a welcome if brief return from his long-term injury when replacing Cissokho on 89 minutes. He also had insufficient time to get a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  10. 2 points
    This is an ongoing blog which will look at each area of Aston Villa’s squad of players that are contracted to the club at the end of the 2016 season. The first post will go through all the Goalkeepers at the club, looking at whether the club should attempt to keep them on, or try to offload them out of the club. After a season of failure, following years of near misses, it is easy to suggest that the entire squad should be ripped up, so the aim is to look objectively at every player. 1 - Brad Guzan The big American goalkeeper is slowly becoming part of the furniture at Villa Park, having been signed originally by Martin O’Neill. This makes him the second longest serving member of the senior squad, behind Gabriel Agbonlahor, which can be viewed in two very different ways. Having been there for so long he will understand the club, the fans, the expectations and be an old head in the dressing room that doesn’t cause trouble or grab the wrong headlines. However, unfortunately for him he has been the goalkeeper to have taken Villa through year after year of relegation battles and his form took a nosedive that he didn’t seem to quite recover from. He is still the USA’s first choice keeper and has helped keep us up in many seasons. Under the new management, especially with the new goalkeeper coach coming in, he is worth giving another chance. If the club receive any serious bids I can see him potentially wanting to put the last season behind him with a fresh start, but he doesn’t need to be forced out the club. 31 - Mark Bunn A strange one in the sense that he hasn’t showered himself in glory during his time at the club, but hasn’t been any worse than Guzan this season and has pulled off a couple of impressive saves. He hasn’t been a regular first choice keeper since 2009 with Sheffield United in the Championship. With his career slowly heading downward, and seemingly only ever signed permanently as a backup keeper, I would prefer it if he was moved on in the summer. 13 - Jed Steer Jed has been at the club a fair few years now and has never made the step up from third choice keeper, which would initially ring alarm bells and suggest he’s surplus to requirements. However, this season just gone he’s been sent out on loan to Huddersfield and by all accounts has done a good job for them, to the point that they’ve extended his loan twice. A keeper who is young and still developing, Aston Villa could do a lot worse than keep him at the club, even if it was as second choice. Whether he’d want to be second choice is another question though. The chances are he has found his level and if Huddersfield are interested in keeping him permanently, I would let him go. 41 - Bradley Watkins I know relatively little about this goalkeeper, but what I am aware of is that he has slowly overtaken Benjamin Seigrist in the eyes of the academy staff, who looked a capable goalkeeper himself at one time. I would guess though, at 21 years old, he probably hasn’t progressed to the level that would make him a viable bench keeper. With his contract up at the end of the month, it is unlikely that it will get renewed. To summarise, I would only be looking to keep hold of Guzan for next season, but even then I wouldn’t say no to a reasonable offer. There are a lot of good goalkeepers in the lower leagues and this is one position we cannot afford to take a risk with. Rumours of Daniel Bentley are very welcome as I think he would be a fantastic option, but there are other keepers, such as David Marshall, who we could launch an ambitious bid for. I would consider signing: David Marshall - looked good for Cardiff in the Premier League, plenty of experience Boaz Myhill - was at West Bromwich under Di Matteo and Clarke, looked solid when called on Daniel Bentley - My preferred choice, an excellent young keeper for Southend who looks ready to take the next step. Hopefully Aston Villa can convince him to do that with them. It would make sense to build from the back, so a solid goalkeeping signing early on in the transfer window would be a signal of intent.
  11. 2 points
    No sooner had we packed our bags and headed off on our Bert & Ernie-style summer holiday together than the one piece of news we'd been waiting for came to pass. Just days after the end of Aston Villa's dismal relegation season in the Premier League, it was announced that the club was to be taken over by Dr Tony Xia's Recon Group, a Chinese investment vehicle with big intentions. Of course, Villa being Villa the whole thing's gone a little murky since then. Questions over Xia's wealth, means and plans have provided the media with a fruitful backdrop to the void left by the formal processes of the takeover and the question of Villa's new manager looms large as pre-season (we presume) approaches. Listen to the show: Click to play / right-click to download (MP3) Import to podcatcher of choice (feed) Subscribe in iTunes View the full article
  12. 2 points
    And with that, it was all over. 38 games done, the last of them a limp 4-0 loss at the hands of Arsenal, and Aston Villa are essentially now a Championship club. In the last show of the season Chris and Steve revisit the supporter questions asked in The Independent over the weekend, which Chris provided answers for; now it's Steve's turn. There's also our annual review of Villa's players. Over the years we've tended to give each one a grade but this year we haven't bothered because, well...F. Nevertheless we rasp our way through the full squad, single out the bad 'uns, try to find some good 'uns and generally just have a good old whinge about the season just gone. Listen to the show: Click to play / right-click to download (MP3) Import to podcatcher of choice (feed) Subscribe in iTunes View the full article
  13. 2 points
    We showed some much needed fight and spirit yesterday against a team who were no better than we were and were perhaps fortunate to leave Villa Park with a point. But when we concede the first goal this season it is very unlikely that we will win the game because try as we might we do not really pose a significant goal threat to our opponents. West Ham had their best moments at the end of each half. They went ahead in first half stoppage time and seemed the team most likely to score when it was us that really needed to have been pressing for a winner near the end but we had the best of the game overall. There are signs of improvement now and our players do seem to be settling into a system as well as into this league. We came back from being a goal down as we did at Newcastle and have now for the first time this season gone 2 games without defeat. These are positives we can take from a season where positives have been very few and far between for us. So we have now gone 10 home league games without a win. We have not won in the league at Villa Park this season and have only won one of the 18 games we have played since the first day of the season. That form sadly has relegation written all over it. On the two previous occasions that we were bottom of the table at Christmas we were relegated and the odds are against us making it third time lucky. The two teams that were bottom of the table at Christmas 2013 and 2014 survived but to have any chance of doing the same we really need to be winning games like this one and we did not. A draw from a game like this would have been OK if we had say another 10 points to our name but we are playing catch-up and we will not catch up in time by drawing games. We are 9 points adrift of Norwich who currently sit just above the drop zone. We play them next and follow that up with Sunderland who are only 4 points clear of us. We need to win both of those games now to bring those clubs within our reach. They are 6-pointers and must win games. Make it so Villa! My player ratings from a game that has left us hanging onto our top flight status by our finger tips are: Brad Guzan – 6 – Got a hand to a 25th minute near post shot from Zárate which he turned wide and gathered a shot from Obiang on 79 minutes a little uncomfortably. Brad again left a lot of space at one side of his goal for a late stoppage time free kick but managed to scramble across his goal to turn Valencia’s shot out for a corner. Alan Hutton – 5 – Alan worked very hard as he always can be relied to do but his crosses were generally poor and he left wide players in too much space on a couple of occasions. On one such occasion Valencia had oceans of space in the build up to the move that led to Kouyaté striking the woodwork. Former Villa target Cresswell then found himself with no-one anywhere near him before he cut inside and picked his spot on the edge of the box. Alan later had a far post header cleared near the line by Collins on 74 minutes. Jores Okore – 6 – Jores gave another solid enough display at the back. Joleon Lescott – 6 – The captaincy appears to have had a positive impact upon Joleon who looks more assured now and organises those around him pretty well. Leandro Bacuna – 5 – Adrián blocked his 28th minute shot from the edge of the box which bounced to Gestede who was unable to get enough on his header from the rebound to trouble the keeper. Jordan Veretout – 7 – Had a 53rd minute shot pushed past the far post by Adrián after Hutton had found him on the edge of the box and he had ran into it between 2 defenders. His recent improvement in performance is being sustained. Carlos Sánchez - 6 – We lost some shape when he went off through injury on 38 minutes. Idrissa Gana – 7 – An encouraging display. Put himself about yesterday and stood up to be counted. Ashley Westwood – 5 – Hit a shot over the bar from 30 yards after Bacuna had found him in space and did the same with a volley on 71 minutes after the ball fell into his path from a corner. Might have conceded a second half penalty when the ball struck his arm but that would have been harsh on him and on us. Jordan Ayew – 7 – MOTM - Jordan was as cool as a cucumber when he stepped up to slot home his 62nd minute penalty sending Adrián the wrong way. He really looks up for the fight and looks a quality forward now. Rudy Gestede – 6 – Won balls in the air and was brought down for our penalty by Kouyaté as he raced onto a ball having got in front of his man. He seems to now be settling into playing in this league but he needs to find the goal touch he produced for Blackburn in the league below if we are to avoid joining them next season. Headed a Veretout cross wide of the post on 18 minutes and headed a Hutton cross over the bar on 50 minutes that he really should have headed downward. Turned well inside the box on 59 minutes following a Veretout free kick but his shot was parried away by Adrián. Substitutes: Carles Gil - 6 - Replaced Sánchez on 38 minutes. Took a while to find his feet but he played his part in getting us moving forward in the second half. Hit a 44th minute shot wide of the near post from the edge of the box. Adama Traoré – Replaced Veretout on 83 minutes but was not on the field long enough to merit a rating. A Happier New Year to all readers - Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  14. 2 points
    A 2-0 loss at home and a pair of clubs near us in the table beating clubs at the other end of the table. Disaster? Our chances of staying up actually slightly improved. 16th 0.1% unchanged17th 0.6% +0.1%18th 2.4% +0.9%19th 12.3% +4.1%20th 84.6% -5.1%Villa: 99.3% (-0.1%) Sunderland: 86.9% (+8.0%) Swansea: 43.4% (+7.4%) Bournemouth: 28.8% (-12.6%) Newcastle: 24.1% (+1.2%) Norwich: 15.2% (-3.2%) West Brom: 1.2% (-0.3%) Chelsea: 1.1% (-0.4%)
  15. 2 points
    It's become a matter of great discussion, about how important Darren Bent is to our future prospects and success. For what it is worth, if we had Young and Downing supplying from the wings, I would have Darren Bent in the team every single week. The problem is, we do not create the chances Darren thrives on, and thrived on under the attacking threat from both Downing and Young. Simply, without the ammo, Darren is less of a threat. In my eyes, we cannot risk playing somebody who offers so little to us as a team, especially when Benteke can bring others into the game (something I have seen little evidence of Bent doing). So, I fully back Lambert with the dropping of Bent, we simply cannot afford to rely on somebody who has limits, especially when others are scoring plus add more to the team. Spot on! Bottom line is that if Lambert doesn't fancy Bent then of course he should be sold. We are not in any position to be having players on 70k a week spending most of their time sitting on the bench. Not many clubs bar the elite are. As others have said we currently look a better side with Bent out the team than in it. For that reason I don't see him getting much game time any time soon. In fact I suspect that Bent simply isn't part of Lamberts medium to long term plans and he'd be more than happy to have the 10+ mill and 70k a week in wages to spend on other players. Source: Darren Bent V.2
  16. 1 point
    A fifth successive league win has taken us above Middlesbrough and into fifth place. We played some scintillating football in the first half and were the better team by some distance, but we ended it just one goal to the good. A two or a three-goal lead would have better reflected our first half dominance and it would have put the game beyond our visitors. We were unable to play with quite the same panache that we had produced in the first half during the second. We almost appeared to be running down the clock, having apparently taken a leaf out of our beleaguered and soon to be departing Prime Minister’s play book. Unlike her though, we did achieve the meaningful result that we were seeking, but we needed the two-goal cushion that we eventually got and that our ascendancy richly deserved to secure it. Having stretched our lead to two goals after an hour, an apparent goalkeeping error, good goalkeeping by Raya and missed chances conspired to give the visitors hope of getting something out of the game, when there should have been none. Blackburn were let back into the game in the second half and their confidence grew as we were pinned back in our own half too often. Those old concerns about being able to see out a game returned, as did the worry that a one-goal lead is never a comfortable one. The end of the game couldn’t come soon enough for us, although the referee seemed willing to keep it going until they had equalized, having found 6 minutes stoppage time to play from somewhere. We did however, eventually secure the vital win that we were looking for and the relief was there for all to see as the final whistle was belatedly blown. My player ratings from a game that kept us in front of the chasing pack and that gave us the opportunity to see Juan Pablo and Martin on the pitch again at half time are: Jed Steer – 5 – He does seem to have the occasional error in him, as he demonstrated yesterday, having last done so at Forest. Jed was otherwise generally assured, but what seemed to me to be a lapse of concentration produced the goal that brought the visitors back into the game. Mulgrew’s 74th minute free kick appeared to possibly bend a little in the air and Jed was left only able to throw out a hand to his right to keep it out as he moved left. Ex-nose Bell was the first to react to the loose ball, hitting it into the net to set up a fraught end to the game for us. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Another good display from Elmo, who is looking more reliable with each game. Kortney Hause - 7 – Solid alongside Tyrone once again, to the extent that a fit again Axel did not need to be rushed back to shore up our much-improved defence. Tyrone Mings – 8 – MOTM – Kept our defence composed when it was coming under increasing pressure during the second half and popped up at the other end to give us the much-needed insurance of a second goal. McGinn hit a sweet 61st minute cross from the left edge of the box that Tyrone headed downward and into the net past the despairing Raya. He is clearly a very good top-flight defender and will hopefully be appearing there with us next season. Neil Taylor – 6 – Steady enough at the back and might have had a second in first half stoppage time when Grealish found him on the left of the box and his shot could only be palmed towards the near post by Raya. El Ghazi was offside when he helped the ball in at the far post, but would the keeper have been able to have scrambled across goal to have kept it out, had he left it? Glenn Whelan – 8 – Another very solid, composed and assured midfield performance by Glenn. He has hit a rich vein of form, hasn’t he? He was beaten twice in the air at the far post for two successive first half corners, Conway rattled the bar following the second on 16 minutes. We might therefore need a re-think on who we place on that post for our future games. Andre Green – 6 – Substituted after 66 minutes. The ball wouldn’t quite run for him yesterday and ran past him more than once early on, his final ball needs greater accuracy. John McGinn – 8 – Put his international woes behind him yesterday. John was unlucky to not get the goal that his terrific first half performance merited, when Raya pushed his 21st minute shot against the far post, after Green had found him nicely on the edge of the box. Hit a sublime ball to El Ghazi in the build up to our opening goal. Hit a 15th minute shot from outside of the box that Raya gathered at the second attempt. Conceded an unnecessary free kick that produced their goal. Jack Grealish – 7 – A good game from Captain Jack with John and himself, running the show and getting us moving forward. Anwar El Ghazi – 6 – His well hit cross produced our opening goal, after he had nicely chested down McGinn’s ball to him. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Tammy was in the right place at the right time once again when he tapped home El Ghazi’s inviting 8th minute cross from close range for our early opening goal. Turned well before hitting a shot from near the penalty spot from a nice McGinn cross, that Raya kept out with his legs. Could and should have eased our nerves on 89 minutes when Hourihane found him inside the box nicely, but he hit his shot over the bar. Substitutes: Albert Adomah – 6 – Replaced Green on 66 minutes and will now be eyeing his starting place. Conor Hourihane - Replaced Jack on 89 minutes. Played a nice ball to find Abraham inside the box on 89 minutes, which should have led to our third goal. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  17. 1 point
    Jack’s back and so were the Villa yesterday! Alan Durban, Kevin Hector, Roy McFarland, Alan Hinton, Archie Gemmill, Roger Davies and Francis Lee. Your boys took one hell of a beating! Captain Jack invigorated the team on his return and led by example. We have not looked nearly as good as we did yesterday, in the 13 league games that we have played without him, since injury deprived us of our talisman. One player does not make a team, but one player can help a team to play like one! Three first half goals won it for us at Pride Park in November and four first half goals won it for us at Villa Park yesterday. We have scored 7 goals against Frank Lampard’s Derby and have kept two clean sheets against them this season. If we could play them every week, then promotion might still not be quite beyond us! Villa rather than our visitors looked the serious promotion contenders yesterday. If only Jack had been able to come back a month earlier, we might have made a late run for the play offs. As it is, we are 6 points behind sixth place Bristol City. That gap could be pegged back to three points as they still have to visit Villa Park, but they do have a game in hand. Derby also have a run of 4 successive home games to follow this defeat, which still leaves them 3 points ahead of us. A more realistic and achievable target is therefore making it another double on Sunday! Our visitors were not at their best yesterday, but they seldom are at this stage of the season, are they? The scintillating first half performance that we produced yesterday, would have blown away any championship team though. We eased through the second half with the game already won but lost another central defender through injury during it. Tommy Elphick can now be added to Axel and Chester, on the treatment table, on the day that we got our Jack back. Could Chester be fit for selection by Sunday, I wonder? My player ratings from a game that left us remembering how good it feels to see a Villa home win and how hard it can prove to stop smirking after a victory such as this, are: Jed Steer – 6 – Had a quiet afternoon but his presence may be giving some much-needed confidence to the defenders who are in front of him. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – He retains the ball. Sometimes he plays the ball back behind him to do so but he doesn’t give the ball away too often. He does what it says on the tin and did so yesterday very well. He got an assist with a well-placed cross for our second. A good solid overall performance from Elmo. Tommy Elphick - 7 – Solid again alongside Tyrone before he was stretchered off on 67 minutes. He was unfortunately on crutches after the game. Appeared to catch his foot on the turf when moving towards a pass from Mings. This was cruel luck for Tommy, who has been twice the player he was before his loan spell, since returning to the club from Hull. Tyrone Mings – 8 – He looks increasingly composed and comfortable with each game. Headed an El Ghazi cross wide of the far post on 57 minutes. We must pull out all the stops to try to keep him at Villa Park next season! Kortney Hause – 7 – He wins plenty of ball in the air, doesn’t he? He understandably tends to drift towards the middle of the defence, which leaves room on his flank. Looked solid yesterday and played some nice balls out of defence. Looked comfortable when switched into the centre of our defence following Tommy’s substitution. Glenn Whelan – 8 – Glenn turned back the years yesterday and produced a very good solid all round midfield performance. He also hit the corner that Jack volleyed home to make it four before the half time whistle. Albert Adomah – 7 – Albert was involved, keen and made a positive impression during this game. Hit a shot over the bar from inside of the box on 20 minutes. Conor Hourihane – 8 – Back to his best yesterday at long last. Conor popped up here, there and everywhere. Grealish played a nice ball forward to El Ghazi whose cross was hit wide of the far post by Conor on 5 minutes. Four minutes later, Jack floated a superb ball for Abraham to run onto. Tammy’s attempt on goal was blocked by Carson, only for the ball to run onto Conor, who turned home our first. He then swept home our third and his second on 44 minutes, placing the ball past Carson from the edge of the box with some aplomb. Jack Grealish – 9 – MOTM – So much for needing a couple of games after a lengthy injury break to get back to his best! Jack was simply tremendous on his long-awaited return to the first team. He hit a magnificent, unstoppable volley from the edge of the box to give us our fourth goal in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time from Whelan’s corner. He then hit a 55th minute shot from the edge of the box that Carson pushed away for a corner. He teased and worried Derby until leaving the field to a standing ovation on 71 minutes. Hopefully he will get a little more protection from match officials following his return from injury, although it only took 17 minutes for him to receive a first clumsy challenge that went unpunished yesterday. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Good to see him tracking back a couple of times and he did well when doing so. Made a strong run before hitting a cross that Tomori blocked a minute into first half stoppage time. The ball then cannoned off Wisdom into the side netting and we scored from the resulting corner. Took a touch on a 79th minute Hourhihane cross before hitting a shot that Carson blocked near the far post. A step up on his recent performances. Tammy Abraham – 8 – Hit his 21st goal of the season to end a barren run of three games without a goal. Whelan found Elmo on the right on 37 minutes and Tammy stretched to prod home his cross at the far post for our second. Claimed an assist for our third, when he won a high ball and ran on towards the box before playing the ball to Hourihane to score our third. Hit a 76th minute shot from the edge of the box, having been found by Grealish which forced a good save from Carson. Great to see him nodding his head in reaction to this encouraging win on the final whistle. Substitutes: Neil Taylor – 6 – Came on for the unluckily injured Elphick on 67 minutes. Fitted in well enough, enabling Hause to move into the middle of the defence. Tom Carroll - 6 – Replaced Jack on 71 minutes and got some more first team minutes behind him during what was a less than pressured finish to the game. Andre Green - Came on for El Ghazi on 80 minutes. Andre was not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  18. 1 point
    Goals from Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie on their home debuts gave us a much-needed win last night. This was not a scintillating performance from us. Our visitors rarely threatened our brittle defence and we eased to a routine victory without looking particularly good. The win was comfortable enough and it was achieved without us having to hit our stride. We didn’t look fluent last night, and we have a team of individuals that have yet to become a team but when that does happen the rest of the league had better beware because we have some pretty good individuals. Last night’s win gives the team something to build upon and it has lifted us up to sixth in the table. That is not too shabby given our performances to date. Another win on Saturday could give the team an opportunity to put together a string of positive results that could in turn cement our place in the top six and install some much-needed confidence into them. We played 4-2-4 last night which was a good and unexpected decision. The Millers arrived at Villa Park looking to take a point. They didn’t really look like doing so once we went in front but until Bolasie headed home our second there was always a danger that they would steal a point with an equalizer against the run of play as Reading had done before them. One goal is never a comfortable lead and we really need to kick on once we go in front so that our games do not always go down to the wire. Wood was too close for comfort on 77 minutes with a header that went wide of the post, but our second goal thankfully made the game safe just 2 minutes later. This result will temporarily ease some of the pressure at Villa Park. The rare clean sheet will show our defence that it is not impossible to go through a game without conceding as will our two goals demonstrate that if we make the chances we have the players who can take them. We are not yet a well oiled smoothly running promotion machine, but we might yet in the fullness of time become one. My player ratings from a run of the mill win against The Millers are: Orjan Nyland – 6 – A quiet event free evening. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Did well on dropping back to a role that I consider that he is more suited to also chipped in with a pin point cross that resulted in our second. James Chester- 6 – Solid on those occasions that our defence was tested. Headed wide from a McGinn cross on 64 minutes. Mile Jedinak – 6 – A quiet night for our defence but he was commanding in the air and did well in this central defensive role that we insist in playing him in on this occasion. Headed an 81st minute Bolasie corner harmlessly wide. Will Mile be rested for Axel on Saturday if we choose to try a little squad rotation? Alan Hutton – 6 – Another reliable performance on the left. Anwar El Ghazi – 6 – Substituted on 73 minutes having given a decent enough display. Conor Hourihane – 7 – Earned his place with that free-kick at Blackburn and performed well on his merited return to our starting line-up. Hit a 45th minute free-kick wide of the post. Hit a 66th minute shot that Rodak kept out at his near post. Jack Grealish – 7 – Some welcome signs of a return to form last night. Could it be that he had needed some time to become familiar with having other players around him that can make things happen as well as himself? He is also not seeing as much of the ball as he was and may need time to become more accustomed to his current role. Nicely found by Kodjia but his 19th minute shot went past the far post and Abraham was just unable to reach it to turn it in. Curled a 72nd minute shot just wide of the far post. John McGinn – 8 – MOTM – A determined ball winner and he uses it so very well. Had an 87th minute shot from the edge of the box gathered by Rodak. Comfortably our most valuable player last night. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Looked sharp, pacey and keen. Scored our opener on 27 minutes. Grealish found Kodjia on the edge of the box who played a sweet ball past 2 defenders to Tammy who hit the ball past the keeper and into the corner of the net. He did some nice work prior to finding El Ghazi who hit the ball onto the netting on the top of the goal on 15 minutes. He looked very good and will get better. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Showed some nice touches and his partnership with Abraham looks to have some potential. Had a decent 1st minute cross pushed away by Rodak who also kept out his attempt to convert McGinn’s cross from close range 3 minutes later. Headed an 18th minute Grealish cross over the bar. Substitutes: Yannick Bolasie – 6 – Came on for El Ghazi on 73 minutes and sealed the win with a determined 82nd minute diving header from a nice Elmo cross. Looks ready for a start on Saturday. Albert Adomah – Replaced Kodjia on 81 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. James Bree - Replaced Abraham on 86 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating but it is nice to know he is still in contention for a place. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  19. 1 point
    One goal is often not enough and so it proved yesterday. Up until Reading’s late equalizer it had looked like we had done just enough to get a win and “just enough” appeared to be all that we had thought that we would need to do. Our defence is however porous, and we were not capable of closing out yesterday’s game. We have not managed to keep a clean sheet in the league so far this season. That is a feat that we achieved 16 times last season. Our defence, which was so well organised back then with John Terry in it is now crying out for reinforcement, but time is fast running out for us to bring players in. There was the usual late, late goal at Villa Park yesterday but this time it was our visitors who scored it. We are now four points worse off against the opponents that we have played this season when compared to last season’s results and that is how far we are behind the early pace setters Leeds and Boro. We cannot rely on making up ground lost early in the season on those teams that are in the automatic promotion places now. We need to close the gap between us quickly before it grows into a chasm. This was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show. Our best display of this new season against Brentford was followed by this poor display. We still have our unbeaten record, but this draw feels like a defeat. We seemed to approach this game expecting to win it. We need to go at the throat of teams from start to end to earn a victory and not sit back waiting for it to happen. We regularly need to hit fourth gear rather than coast in second. Any team has a puncher’s chance of getting something from a game when there is only a goal in it. We may have had the possession, but we didn’t do enough with it. It is no good raising your game against the better teams in this division and dropping points against the rest. Three points is three points after all and at the final reckoning a win no matter who it came against will remain three points. That 3 points will go towards the final points total that we will need to achieve to finish in the top two. That needs to be our target as we know the play off lottery offers no guarantee of promotion. Reading will be happy with a point for their coming battle to remain in this division. They showed little ambition up front until we went a goal ahead but score they did as have every other side we have met in the league to date. We cannot be satisfied with a point. We dropped points last season in games like this one at Villa Park. We have got to start producing our best on a consistent basis against every team that we face this season because if we do not teams will punish us for not doing so. We cannot afford to take any opponent lightly in this league nor should we or we will risk facing another season in it. My player ratings from a game that brought us a disappointing third successive draw are: Orjan Nyland – 7 – We may have found a keeper after all. Blocked a close-range effort from a corner by Moore on 44 minutes and then saved a 46th minute Bacuna freekick at his left-hand post. Made a tremendous double save on 82 minutes from Baldock at close range and then from Meite who hit the rebound. Dived to his right and Baldock hit his disputed penalty into the centre of the goal for their late equalizer. Axel Tuanzebe – 6 – Another competent performance in what is unlikely to prove his most effective defensive position. James Chester- 6 – One rare error from him cost us dearly yesterday. James had looked a clear favourite to reach a ball into the box first in the 3rd Minute of stoppage time but was outpaced by Sims. Their substitute took the opportunity to crumple to the floor with time running out for his side after Chester had won the ball but our captain in going to ground unnecessarily gave the referee a decision to make and he gave the benefit of any doubt to them. James was otherwise his usual steady self on those occasions that our visitors ventured towards our goal. He was unlucky to see a 12th minute header thunder off the crossbar from a nice Elmo cross. Mile Jedinak – 6 – Allowed a Sims cross to go past him and only a terrific double save from Nyland prevented Reading from scoring as a result on 82 minutes. Otherwise gave a decent enough performance but this should not be accepted as being his long-term role. Alan Hutton – 6 – Gave his usual consistent level of performance. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Stooped to head home El Ghazi’s perfect cross on 51 minutes and had a good all-around game. Birkir Bjarnason – 7 – Made a good saving tackle on the edge of the box on 9 minutes winning the ball when an opponent was in a threatening position. Gave a very good solid performance throughout. Jack Grealish – 6 – Substituted at half time having picked up a dead leg. Hit an effort back across the face of the goal on 41 minutes. John McGinn – 7 – MOTM – Looked a class above. Used the ball well and kept very involved. Made an early run into the box but his 1st minute shot was held by Mannone. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – A promising debut. Looks a wide threat, comfortable on the ball and showed a few tricks. Hit a pin point cross for our goal. Made a nice run into the box on 11 minutes and his shot was deflected into the side netting off Mannone. Anwar made way for Albert on 67 minutes. Jonathan Kodjia – 5 – What a difference a couple of days can make. From a man of the match 2-goal performance in midweek to this sort of below par display again. Johnny Danger needs some sort of competition for his starting place and was sadly something less than dangerous yesterday. Did not have a great deal of service perhaps but he can do better than this. Flashed a shot over the bar on 62 minutes when others were better placed had he looked to find them. Lost the ball when looking to go it alone on 85 minutes when Hourihane was waiting unmarked inside the box. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 6 – Came on for Jack at half time and did well. We need to try to find a place for him in the starting line-up. His goals come in handy after all. Hit a shot from the edge of the box on 50 minutes that Mannone collected comfortably and was found by Adomah inside the box in the 69th minute but he hit his shot wide of the far post. Albert Adomah – 6 - Replaced El Ghazi on 67 minutes. Made a couple of decent runs and looked lively. Cut inside and hit a 73rd minute shot that was easily gathered by Mannone at the near post and then scuffed a shot 3 minutes later. Neil Taylor - Replaced Kodjia on 91 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  20. 1 point
    Villa won this tie at the Riverside and finished the job last night. It was a close call between the two teams, but we were so determined to emerge the victors that we were not to be denied. Boro have played us four times in the Championship this season and have not scored against us. If anyone was going to score last night, it was Villa that had looked the more likely to do so. Boro had a little more possession than we had last night but they rarely threatened to do anything with it. Our game management was as impressive as was our defence resolute. We started strongly and had the better of the second half when it was our opponents who needed to press for a goal to level the aggregate score. Although at times we were forced back in the first half the clean sheet that secured the win that clearly meant so much to our team was rarely under threat in hindsight although a Villa goal would have eased our understandable nerves. Our players gave all they had and were backed by an impressive wall of noise that was produced by a packed claret & blue clad Villa Park. Boro’s one and only plan was to give the ball to Adama. That plan did not work on Saturday and it did not work again last night because on both occasions he was unable to get the better of our formidable defence. Pulis assisted us by repeating the same tactics that had failed in their home leg and by not starting with Bamford and Fabio last night when they had to seek a goal. So, it is to be a Wembley playoff final with Fulham that makes or breaks our promotion campaign this season. Fulham will be the media’s firm choice. They can play some nice football, but have they ever come near to the level of performance that we produced to humiliate this season’s champions at Villa Park two months ago? They have had their off days this season as have we. There was not a lot to choose between the two clubs points tallies at the end of the season and we have both beaten each other once. I think we have the big match experience and the team spirit to clinch promotion at Wembley. To do that we need to produce the sort of Wembley performance that we gave against Liverpool 3 years ago rather than the one that we produced a month later against Arsenal. We won a cup final on the same day that we will be facing Fulham 36 years ago. Wembley would be a great place to clinch promotion but as we know it is no place for losers. Let’s win one again to get back where we belong on the 26th! My player ratings from a game before which we remembered Jloyd and after which we celebrated reaching Wembley once again are: Sam Johnstone – 7 – Confident and assured for most of the game. Was perhaps fortunate to still be on the pitch at the end having got a hand to keep out an 87th minute Adama effort when he had strayed just outside of the penalty area with his mind on claiming the bouncing ball. Downing’s resultant free-kick from the edge of the box thudded against the crossbar much to Sam’s relief. James Bree – 7 – Lost possession on a couple of occasions early on but did his bit and settled into the game well. Did well to head out a 40th minute Adama cross at the far post with Howson having ran into position behind him. James Chester - 9 – Another confident display. Hit a 37th minute shot wide of the post from a Grabban header. John Terry – 9 – Just one win from picking up another trophy. Led by example last night. Alan Hutton - 9 – Had Adama in his pocket once again. Adama had the edge in pace but Alan had the guile, will and experience to win his duel with him. Robert Snodgrass – 8 – Covered an awful lot of ground last night. Mile Jedinak - 9 – MOTM – Played a crucial role in front of the defence and his contribution like his beard was immense last night. Conor Hourihane – 8 – Worked tirelessly to deny his opponents space and time. Charged down a 10th minute Randolph clearance but the ball deflected harmlessly to the left. Almost got on the end of a 34th minute Adomah cross but Friend made a timely and important challenge. Albert Adomah – 8 – Another that put in a big shift for the cause. Had a 71st minute shot from the edge of the area deflected off a defender past the far post. Jack Grealish – 9 – Curled a sweet 75th minute shot from the edge of the box which Randolph did well to keep out at the far post. He just oozes class. Lewis Grabban – 8 – Worked hard up front and was denied by Randolph’s outstretched right leg when he got on the end of a 60th minute Adomah cross after a good one two between Jack and Albert. Hit a shot from well outside of the box 10 minutes later that Randolph tipped over. Substitutes: Jonathan Kodjia – Replaced Grabban on 79 minutes and did his bit tonight. Nice to see him joining in with the celebrations at the end. Not quite on long enough to get a rating Glenn Whelan – Replaced Hourihane on 85 minutes. Not on long enough to merit a rating. Birkir Bjarnason – Replaced Adomah on 91 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Get Up Villa! John Lewis
  21. 1 point
    Aston Villa have the look of a thoroughbred racehorse that is moving up swiftly and unnoticed on the rails as the tiring horses in front labour and stumble towards the finishing post. Their jockeys are casting worried glances behind them at the fast finishing claret and blue clad horse that had been written off as a no hoper too soon continues to make an increasingly strong finish and move through the field. Do you want to bet against us? A fourth consecutive home win and clean sheet last night brought Villa another point closer to a sixth-place finish. The gap between us and the final play-off place continues to shrink and is now down to single figures with six games remaining. The improbable dream continues to become less unlikely with each win that we achieve. This is the first time since 1983 that we have won 4 consecutive home games without conceding a goal. Kodjia’s winner was his 7th goal in 7 games for us and it takes him to 18 goals for the season. We have taken 21 points from our last 8 games. Our target which looks more realistic each week is now another 6 wins. That would bring us to 75 points and hopefully to sixth position which would give us a crack at the play-offs. Hitting the post and opening the scoring in the first 5 minutes often suggests there will be further goals to come but that was not to be last night and instead our visitors enjoyed more than their fair share of the possession. They looked a decent side last night other than when they reached the final third of the field where they posed us little threat. There always remained a worry that they might create a clear goal scoring opportunity before the end of the game and at times we were defending with our backs to the wall but their clear chance never quite came. Instead we kept another clean sheet and in truth looked the more likely team to score on those occasions that we got forward. At the end of the day Villa go marching on and add QPR to the list of teams who have left Villa Park feeling aggrieved at not coming away with at least a point. We have the means to win games like this one. It is not always pretty to watch but we can see out games and claim the points as we did last night so it is effective and battling performances such as this might just see us make a late run for promotion. My player ratings from a game that left our current promotion odds ranging from 66/1 to 200/1 today are: Sam Johnstone – 6 – Punched away a couple of balls that he might have been better catching but still looked confident and played his part in securing another clean sheet. Got down at his post in the 83rd minute to deny Luongo. Alan Hutton – 6 – Got forward more often than he could do at the weekend and was solid enough at the back. Made a terrific 81st minute run but his cross was misplaced just behind Hogan at the far post. James Chester - 7 – Another solid performance alongside Baker. These two are indispensable and are the central pillars on which our clean sheets are built. Nathan Baker – 7 – Tidy no nonsense defending again last night. Had a 56th minute effort that ran to him from a Lansbury corner deflected wide for a corner. Neil Taylor – 6 – Solid enough at the back but his 22nd minute attempted back pass was too risky and Johnstone did well to reach the ball first and put it out for a corner. Albert Adomah – 6 – Unlucky to see his 3rd minute shot from near the edge of the box strike the base of the post after he had picked up the ball from a Lansbury header. Hit a 51st minute effort well wide of the post having been found by a nice ball from Lansbury. Henri Lansbury – 7 – Had an 84th minute from outside of the box deflected just over the bar and worked ceaselessly. Mile Jedinak - 7 – Another solid display. Leandro Bacuna – 6 – An unexpectedly early return to first team action. He produced positives along with some negatives last night. Hit a low shot on the 39th minute that Smithies gathered at his near post having claimed an assist for the winner. Jordan Amavi – 6 – Not quite as effective as he was on Saturday but he looked good when going forward and gave us another defender when we were under pressure at the back. Was off target with an ambitious effort from wide of the goal when a cross might have been more likely to produce a better result on 81 minutes. Made a nice run on 71 minutes but his cross failed to reach the waiting Kodjia in the middle of the box. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – MOTM – Hit our winner on the 5th minute. Exchanged passes with Bacuna before running into the area, leaving the defenders in his wake and hitting the ball sweetly past Smithies and into the centre of the net. His goals are vital for us. Substitutes: Scott Hogan – Replaced Adomah on 77 minutes. Nice to see him back so soon after leaving the field with a knock at the weekend. Scott was not on quite long enough to earn a rating. Andre Green – Replaced Amavi on 85 minutes. Made a run into the box on 89 minutes but his effort was blocked and ran out for a corner. Tommy Elphick – Replaced Kodjia on the 91st minute to strengthen our defence in the last couple of minutes but he was not on long enough to gather any rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  22. 1 point
    Our third consecutive home win against the Canaries brought us potentially just 7 more wins away from making it into the play off’s. This had seemed an impossible dream only six games ago, it has now become an improbable one but with each win we get it becomes a little more possible. We have 7 games left before the final reckoning. We probably need 21 points from these 7 games or 19 at the very minimum. We have taken 18 points from our last 7 games. Fulham will need to get another 12 points from their last 7 games to make what we manage to get academic but we face them in what could be a 6-pointer on Easter Monday and they have taken 6 points less than we have from their last 7 games. Sheffield Wednesday slipped out of the top 6 yesterday having managed only 5 points from their last 7 games. The other 3 teams that are currently 2, 3 & 4 points respectively above us have managed 8, 6 & 10 points from their last 7 games. As Steve Bruce said after the win “We’re making a fist of it”. Our visitors will be unhappy to come away with nothing to show for their contribution to yesterday’s game. They pushed us back too often and for too long for my liking particularly in the second half and enjoyed 69% of the possession. As we dropped deeper a goal seemed increasingly likely but it was Villa that scored it in the 87th minute to calm our nerves. We have found the means to win games like this one. We now have goals in us and the ability to see out games where in the past we had thrown points away in the closing minutes. This is our third consecutive win and clean sheet. We have conceded 1 goal and scored 11 in our last 7 games. That is promotion form! My player ratings from a game that took us up to eleventh in the table and took us 3 points behind our visitors who finished 17 points clear of us last season are: Sam Johnstone – 7 – Looking increasingly confident and will no doubt claim an assist for our second. Jerome was found by the impressive Pritchard on the edge of the box on the 11th minute who then ran into the box pushing the ball wide of challenges from Baker and then Chester before hitting a weak shot that deflected wide of the post off Johnstone. Came off his line well to deny Jerome on 35 minutes and then got in the way of the follow up shot. Alan Hutton – 6 – Did a decent job at the back. James Chester - 7 – He is so reliable and marshalled the defence very well yesterday. Nathan Baker – 7 – Looked very solid and did the simple things that needed doing at the back well and without any fuss. Neil Taylor – 6 – A steady performance after what has been a difficult time for him. Albert Adomah – 6 – Made some good runs especially in the first quarter of the game but his final ball went astray too often. Hit a cross for Hogan on 7 minutes but his header was well wide. Hit another on the 70th minute but Kodjia touched the ball inches wide of the far post. Henri Lansbury – 7 – Worked tirelessly in our midfield yesterday. Mile Jedinak - 7 – Solid when we were under pressure and popped up at each end of the field to ensure our hard-earned victory. This was demonstrated on 79 minutes when he managed to get a foot to the ball just as an opponent was about to pull the trigger. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Hit the top of the bar with a 60th minute header after Bennett had found him with an attempted clearance near the line from a Baker header. Scott Hogan – 7 – Looked good yesterday before injury forced him off the pitch on 37 minutes. Scott showed signs of forming a decent partnership with Kodja prior to that and set him up for our opening goal. Hourihane hit a 33rd minute cross which found him in the middle of the box. Scott turned nicely before hitting a crisp low shot that McGovern saved at the foot of his post. Let’s hope he is back for QPR. Jonathan Kodjia – 8 – MOTM – Scored the two goals that separated the two teams yesterday. Hogan found him with a nicely weighted ball to his right on 25 minutes. Jonathan ran into the box with it and hit the ball sweetly with his left foot into the top corner of the net past the keeper and Pinto who was on the line. He played a one-two with Adomah on 64 minutes and then unselfishly tried to find Albert again inside the box when for once a shot may have been the better option. Scored our second on 87 minutes to clinch the win. Johnstone hit the ball from his own box to the edge of the other one where Kodjia ran onto it squeezing between Bennett and McGovern to prod the ball past the keeper for his 17th goal of the season. Substitutes: Jordan Amavi – 7 – Replaced Hogan on 37 minutes and did very well. His pace caused our visitors some real problems in the second half not least on 80 minutes when he was brought down by Pinto having gone past the player who earned a second yellow as a result. Gary Gardner – 4 - Replaced Hourihane on 69 minutes and disappointingly made little to no positive impression on the game. Andre Green – Replaced Lansbury on the 87th minute making a welcome albeit a brief return from injury. He was not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  23. 1 point
    We have played better this season and lost. We have played better this season and drawn. I cannot recall us playing any worse for a very, very long time and winning. We may have won ugly at the end of what was a scrappy game but we did win it and that belatedly gave us our first win of 2017. We now face what is a 6-pointer with Bristol City at Villa Park on Tuesday before travelling to bottom club Rotherham next weekend. These two clubs are now 6 and 22 points behind us respectively. Two more wins against these two clubs would give us three consecutive wins for the first time this season as well as take us to 45 points and that has been good enough to stay up in all but one of the last 6 seasons. It wasn’t pretty yesterday. We had only 29% of the possession and only 2 shots on target. Steve McClaren (who could have made very good use of his trademark umbrella yesterday) said “I don’t know how we lost the game”. They lost it because they managed only one shot on target and because as we know to our own cost you don’t win games without scoring goals. Derby are on the crest of their usual slump in results that appears to happen on or around this time of each season and which ruins their promotion hopes. Our season has been one long slump that was shortly interrupted by a new manager bounce. We never really got going yesterday and when we went ahead we seemed to spend the rest of the game trying to hold on grimly to our slender one goal lead. We managed to do so and claimed a rare clean sheet in the process although we were holding on desperately in the last 15 minutes to the extent that we looked like the away side. We defended too deep in the second half and surrendered the initiative to the visitors all too readily. Having said that, I said before the game that a dour 1-0 win would do nicely and that is just what we got! My player ratings from a game that brought back that winning feeling to Villa Park after a dire run of 7 defeats from our previous 8 games are: Sam Johnstone – 6 – Although our visitors had a lot of the ball Sam was only really tested once. He came through that test well touching a good Bent header over the bar on 75 minutes. This clean sheet cannot do any harm to his confidence. Alan Hutton – 6 – A solid defensive performance. Someone other than Alan might have scored on 59 minutes when the ball dropped to him inside the box but he took far too much time before pulling the trigger and his eventual shot was blocked. James Chester - 7 – MOTM – Solid as usual at the back. James had a 7th minute header from a Lansbury free-kick into the box touched over the bar by Carson after Jedinak had headed the ball on to him. He then went on to score what turned out to be our winner on 24 minutes. Kodjia got a touch to a Lansbury corner that took the ball into Chester’s path. The ball flicked up off our captain’s left thigh for him to then head in from close range. Nathan Baker – 6 – Solid alongside Chester but was fortunate not to concede a 34th minute penalty when he brought down Bent inside the box. Neil Taylor – 5 – Looks to be more comfortable when defending rather than when trying to get forward. Needs more games under his belt to show his best but he needs to show more than this to keep Amavi out of the first team reckoning by his performances alone. Albert Adomah – 5 – Some way off his best yesterday and made only a limited impact up front. Leandro Bacuna – 4 – Surprisingly found himself playing up front as a loan striker after Kodjia was substituted on 88 minutes and was then walking off the pitch 4 minutes into stoppage time having deservedly been sent off. Might have settled things on 89 minutes when Carson’s attempted clearance when under pressure from Gardner found him near the edge of the box but his first-time effort was high, wide and far from handsome. He then reacted wildly to what looked a very poor decision by a linesman to give a throw in against him by going forehead to forehead with the official. Once he did this having lost control of himself we were left playing out the rest of this game and no doubt at least the next three games without him. Any positives he might have otherwise taken from this game were therefore undone by one moment of madness. Henri Lansbury - 6 – Looked good particularly in the first half. Mile Jedinak – 6 – Played a major role in trying to hold us together in the middle yesterday when we were under pressure as we often were. We miss him badly when he is out of the side. Andre Green – 6 – Very quiet during the first third of the game but then made a couple of decent first half runs. Andre was very unlucky not to give us a second goal on 47 minutes when he stretched to get a diving header to a Bacuna cross that struck the post. Jonathan Kodjia – 5 – Lacked service and although he held up the ball well on occasions, worked hard and will claim an assist for our winner the lone striker role did not look well suited to him. Substitutes: Jordan Amavi – 5 – Replaced Adomah on 72 minutes. Jordan continues to look a shadow of the player he was before he was involved in transfer speculation. I assume his reaction to this speculation led Bruce to sign another full back who is currently starting games instead of him. Birkir Bjarnason – 4 - Replaced Green on 74 minutes and made little if any impact on the game. Gary Gardner – Replaced Kodjia on the 88th minute. Put himself about and looked lively in the very limited time he had available to do so which was not quite long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  24. 1 point
    We still await our first win in 2017. Any lingering promotion hopes that might still have persisted in the most optimistic of Villa fans minds (my own included) were extinguished along with our unbeaten home record yesterday. This was a game that we had hoped to win albeit not with any great confidence but it was one we had not expected to lose. It was the first of four home games in our next five matches that could have begun a run of home wins. Ipswich were in as miserable a run as we were when they arrived at Villa Park but as Forest found last weekend Villa are currently the team to play when you are a football club on the crest of a slump and looking for a rare win. We started the game brightly but had nothing to show for that at half-time and if you fail to find the net when you are on top as we were in the first half then the thought persists that you may well have missed the boat. The second half was a different story. We were not so dominant as we had been in the first half and did not create chances or half chances in the same way as we had during the first 45 minutes. One stumble gave Ipswich an opportunity to win a game and it was a chance that they took to win a game that up until then neither team had really looked like winning. The visitors scored with their only on target shot during the whole game. We seem to have rediscovered the habit of losing games in the last few minutes having done so against Forest and now Ipswich. We are also crying out for goals because you need them to win matches. We have an average of under a goal a game from our 30 league games to date and have lost 2 more games than we have won. We are now 16 points off sixth spot but only 7 points clear of the bottom 3 so it is now sadly clear where a focus needs to be. We were unfortunate that one mistake cost us so dearly yesterday but you don’t always get the rub of the green when you are losing games as often as we are at present. This team may well look better when they have had chance to dwell but as I recall we were saying the same thing at the start of this season! For me this three at the back system is not working for us and it was not the way to go yesterday given the team we were facing had very limited ambitions outside of their own half. Four at the back would surely have been enough. Hutton is no attacking wing back and Taylor looks more of a defensive back than a wing back that will run at people. By bringing Elphick back we are also disrupting a central defensive pairing that had been working well. The onus was on us to bring the game to them, to make chances (which we did) and to put one or more of them away (which we did not). We already have a changed team that are short of confidence so are we asking a bit too much of them to also ask them to adapt to a different way of playing? My player ratings from a game which we resigned ourselves to another season in the Championship are: Sam Johnstone – 6 – Held onto a near post shot from Ward on the 48th minute, had no real chance with their winner and that was about it for him on an otherwise untroubled afternoon. Alan Hutton – 5 – A surprisingly rapid return to the starting line-up. Performed in the manner we have come to expect from him. He did hit one of his best crosses in a Villa shirt on 36 minutes that was just above Hogan and that Kodjia was not quite able to get on target despite an acrobatic attempt to do so. James Chester - 6 – Solid, assured and seldom put under pressure by the visitors. Ran alongside McGoldrick and did not get a challenge in on him before he squared the ball through Baker’s legs and past Hourihane for Huws to steal the game for the Tractor Boys from close range on 83 minutes. Tommy Elphick – 5 – Slipped, lost his footing and was left floundering on the ground like a fish out of water as McGoldrick collected the loose ball in the build up to their late winner. Nathan Baker – 6 – Nathan has been playing so very well alongside Chester but is less comfortable on the left of three central defenders although he gets on with it and did even make the odd foray down the flank yesterday. Failed to get a header on target from a nice 79th minute Hourihane free-kick and had a header blocked a minute later. Neil Taylor – 6 – Looked quietly competent on his debut but I could not help thinking that if we are looking to play wing backs we had one who looks ideally suited to that role left sitting on the bench. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Conor has not settled into the team quite as quickly and as seamlessly as we had hoped but there are some positive signs of what could grow into a good long term productive partnership with Lansbury taking shape. Hit a solid low shot from the edge of the box which produced a good one handed save at the post from Bialkowski on the 9th minute. Hits a nice dead ball and let us hope he finds the back of the net against his old club on Tuesday which could prove the making of him as a Villa player. Henri Lansbury - 7 – MOTM – Our most effective player by some distance yesterday. He makes us tick on those occasions that we do so. Hit an 8th minute shot that Bialkowski pushed past the post for a corner. Birkir Bjarnason – 6 – Hit a rasping shot that thudded against the crossbar on 21 minutes after Hourihane had found him unmarked just inside the box in a central position with a free-kick from the left edge of the area. Worked hard and this was his best performance for me to date in our shirt. Jonathan Kodjia – 6 – Was the go to guy who was fed the ball and expected to run at defenders yesterday and he did that well enough on occasions. Worked himself into a shooting position inside the box on the 42nd minute but Bialkowski got down well to save his attempt. Found by Adomah just inside the box in the last minute of stoppage time but his shot was gathered at his near post by Bialkowski. Needs to look up for others who may be in a better position more often and play alongside his new strike partner rather than behind him. Scott Hogan – 6 – Placed a shot just wide of the post on 32 minutes. Did not get a lot of service and I had expected to see him look more of a threat than this but it is very early days for him. Substitutes: Albert Adomah – 5 – Replaced Hutton on 67 minutes. Failed to make the impact we had hoped for yesterday in a game that I would have started him in to give him more time to do so. Andre Green – Replaced Taylor on 77 minutes. Not on quite long enough to gather a rating. Leandro Bacuna – Replaced Elphick on the 89th minute and was also not on long enough to get any sort of rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  25. 1 point
    This was a game of two halves. We scored twice in the first half, might have put the game beyond doubt and were a constant threat to the visitors who appeared to be there for the taking but we then snatched a draw from the jaws of victory. I suspect that our players thought that they would be able to comfortably coast through the second half but Simon Grayson’s half-time words stung Preston into second half action and they dominated the second half as much as we had controlled the first. They got into our faces and scored the vital third goal of the match on 64 minutes which led to our players showing the anxieties and frailties that they are still prone to. Our visitors ran the show in the second half and were level on 76 minutes with their second goal in 12 minutes. We were fortunate that they did not push too hard for a winner that would have shattered our unbeaten home record. Each game we play seems to put a play-off place further away from us. We are now 9 points off sixth place. Defeats for the fourth, fifth and sixth placed clubs gave us an opportunity to close the gap on them further but we squandered that chance yesterday. We need to go on a run of wins now to make up the gap between us and sixth spot and to leapfrog the teams (including yesterday’s visitors) that stand between the top six and us. Sadly, we draw too many home games and lose too many games away to make us going on such a run look a realistic prospect. Before the game, I along with others were left wondering why on earth Gabby was in the starting line-up yet again. We now know. He was in the team because Ross McCormack has in recent weeks developed the sort of fitness and attitude issues that he had himself displayed over recent years. It is almost amusing that the recent behaviour of McCormack which mirrors that of Gabby over a longer period has ensured Gabby’s extended run in the side at a time when we had hoped McCormack might take the opportunity that the absence of Kodjia and Ayew on international duties offered him to show he could get goals for us as regularly as he has for others in the past. We now have some time available to reinforce further the team that will travel to Brentford with new signings and players potentially returning from international calls. That time will also offer McCormack an opportunity to begin to change his attitude and to try to seek the forgiveness for his misdemeanours that Gabby has been granted for his by Steve Bruce. My player ratings from a game before and during which we remembered Graham Taylor are: Sam Johnstone – 6 – Had the quietest of first halves. He appears to like to take the option of punching rather than trying to catch the ball when he has the choice doesn’t he? Given that, he needs to try to get some more distance on those punches on a more consistent basis if they are to become a reliable safe option. Grabbed an 82nd minute header near the goal line and has a level of confidence about him. Alan Hutton – 7 – Made some decent forward runs particularly early on and this must go down as one of his better games for us. James Chester - 7 – Won everything in the air. Was left flat footed on the edge of the box as Hugill took the ball to his right and hit their opener before Amavi could get a challenge in. Nathan Baker – 7 – Another competent performance by what is our most improved player this season. He certainly learnt some good things during his loan to Bristol City last season and has now become one of the first names on our team sheet. Jordan Amavi – 5 – Lost possession more often than he would be expected to and disappointingly looked less effective as the game wore on prior to his late substitution. Albert Adomah – 7 – MOTM – Albert scored a brace of goals which should have been enough to secure the win. His first was a tap in from around a yard when unmarked but he was in the right place at the right time to put us ahead on 22 minutes and the referee let it stand despite vociferous appeals from the visitors for a foul by Gabby on the keeper. Sent Maxwell the wrong way from the spot after 36 minutes for his second. He had been found on the edge of the box by Amavi and ran on only for McGeady to win the ball but bring him and concede a penalty that incensed the visitors. Had an 88th minute shot kept out by Maxwell at his near post. Henri Lansbury - 7 – Pinged a couple of excellent passes and looked comfortable on the ball. He also takes a good corner which makes a pleasant change to what we have grown accustomed to. His lack of recent games started to tell in the second half as Preston took control of the midfield and he was substituted on 77 minutes. He will get even better with games and with another new midfield maestro alongside him shortly. Ashley Westwood – 6 – Started well and looked to be enjoying playing alongside Lansbury but faded somewhat as the game wore on and the opposition found him less of a barrier to their progress through the middle than they would have the injured Jedinak. Hit the ball just over on 32 minutes after Lansbury had played a terrific ball to find Adomah. Jack Grealish – 6 – Needs to try to impose himself more on games than he did yesterday and to remember as he had started to do up until yesterday that he has a role to play when the opposition have the ball as well as when we do. Given little protection from some rough treatment from opponents by a referee who appeared unconcerned that they were using this tactic to nullify his undoubted but too rarely seen talent. Hit a stoppage time cross behind Gabby when a late winner had for a fleeting moment looked possible. Might have won this one for us at times but didn’t quite produce the final touch to do so. Andre Green – 6 – Missed a good opportunity to open the scoring on 12 minutes when he headed Gabby’s cross wide when he really should have at least been on target. He clearly has potential and the ability to take on and beat defenders. He needs games and the increased confidence that a run of first team appearances should give him. Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – Gabby’s starting place is now unlikely to come under any serious threat until Kodjia or Ayew or both return from international duty or we sign another striker. Gabby did well enough yesterday and worked very hard. It was asking a lot of him to play as a lone striker but he did win a couple of balls in the air and pressed defenders. He does not have the pace he once had and what goal threat that he once possessed has now almost entirely been extinguished but he will no doubt claim an assist for our opening goal. Grealish chipped a ball over a defender for Gabby to run onto inside the box but his attempt to chest the ball down only led to the ball bouncing out of his reach. He tried to get his foot to the ball as he collided with the keeper and the ball ran loose to be tapped home by the unmarked Adomah near the line for our first. The ball ended up in the side netting on 33 minutes when he looked to have an opportunity to add a second. His best display for us in a long, long time but that is not saying that much, is it? Substitutes: Leandro Bacuna – 6 – Replaced Henri on 72 minutes. Hit an 83rd minute shot from the edge of the box that Maxwell held easily enough. Gary Gardner – Replaced Amavi on 89 minutes. Not on long enough to merit a rating. Keinan Davis – Replaced Grealish on the 93rd minute and was also not on long enough to get any sort of rating. Perhaps he should have been given a chance earlier? Up the Villa! John Lewis
  26. 1 point
    This was our first Boxing Day win since 2005 and the first time we have won 5 successive home league games since season 1992-93 when we won 7 on the trot and Villa Park was a fortress, as it now threatens to become again. Burton arrived for the first ever game between the two teams to face an all but full Villa Park. We opened the scoring after 15 minutes but instead of pressing for a decisive second goal we then surrendered too much space in the midfield to our visitors. Burton came increasingly into the game and scored a spectacular equalizer 16 minutes after we had gone ahead. For much of the rest of the game they had looked the more likely of the two sides to get a winner and they were perhaps unlucky to leave Villa Park with nothing to show for their efforts. But our first two substitutions made a real impact on this game and rather than concede as the end of a game neared we continued with our new-found habit of clinching a late winner. This was not the sort of game that will have the extra visitors to Villa Park wanting to rush back to see more of the same but it again demonstrated that under Steve Bruce we have found the happy habit of winning games when we are below par. That gets teams promoted but we may need more than that later this week to win a sixth successive home game against high flying Leeds United. We owe them one after our recent defeat at Elland Road and we need to cut the gap between us and them sooner rather than later. My player ratings from a Boxing Day game that 41,337 fans attended and which took us above the club that dwell on the dark side of the city are: Mark Bunn – 7 – Reacted very well to get a hand to a Brayford header in the fourth minute of stoppage time having got down low to save a shot from the edge of the box from the same player on 25 minutes. Had no chance with Ward’s 31st minute equalizer from a Brayford cross but although the finish was sublime he was allowed too much space with both Hutton and Gardner staying static some way off him. Mark was relieved to see Dyer’s shot hit the post on 73 minutes when beaten. Made decent saves from Ward on 35 minutes and from O’Grady on 77 minutes. Alan Hutton – 5 – Not the easiest of afternoons for Alan and he found some difficulty in coping with Dyer at times. James Chester - 6 – Solid when he needed to be. Nathan Baker – 7 – A rock in our defence who did the simple things right without any unnecessary frills. Jordan Amavi – 6 – Seemed to have his mind elsewhere early on but got more into the game as it wore on. Albert Adomah – 6 – Hit the ball harmlessly over on 62 minutes after a Bacuna cross had fallen to him after Kodjia had failed to connect with it. Gary Gardner - 5 – Substituted at half time having picked up a knock on 43 minutes. Mile Jedinak – 6 – Solid as a barrier in front of our defence which is what he is there for but he cannot be expected to do the whole of our midfield’s job on his own. Leandro Bacuna – 7 – MOTM - A good hard working all round display if still a little bit below the Champions League standard that he set for himself last year! Scored our opener on 15 minutes. He started and finished the move playing the ball out wide to Adomah who hit an inviting cross into the box which Leo headed home powerfully having run on into the box. Hit an effort just wide of the post 4 minutes earlier after the keeper had pushed out a Hutton cross to him inside of the box and McCormack had not got a touch to help the ball in as it sailed past him. Ross McCormack – 6 – Hit our late winner on 78 minutes. Adomah fed Ayew on the right who hit a nice low cross that evaded both McLaughlin and Brayford before Ross controlled the ball at the far post with his left foot and hit it home with his right. I hope he will take confidence from this goal as we will need him to have his shooting boots on next month. Jonathan Kodjia – 5 – Hit a fierce shot from the left on the 80th minute that was off target. Some way off his excellent penetrative best yesterday. Substitutes: Jack Grealish – 7 – Replaced Gardner at half time and brought us some needed creativity. Played a one-two with McCormack before jinking into the box and hitting the ball with his left foot which deflected off McLaughlin into the path of Kodjia who tapped the ball in on the 52nd minute only to be adjudged to have been offside. Jordan Ayew – 7 - Replaced Jedinak on 75 minutes and looked keen to make a positive impression in the short time that he had available to do so. Claimed an assist with the low cross that produced our winner and proved a significant threat to Burton following his introduction. An impressive few minutes and a marked improvement on what he had produced in recent games that he has started. Gabriel Agbonlahor – Replaced Kodjia on the 86th minute and showed some energy by chasing down opponents but was not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa & A Happy Promotion New Year to all readers! John Lewis
  27. 1 point
    Aston Villa haven't taken 11 points from 15 games since long before Aston Villa Review began, but that's exactly what new manager Steve Bruce has achieved since taking over. Okay, so it's in the Championship, but that's no guarantee of anything. Saturday's 2-1 home win over Blackburn Rovers was Villa's third under Bruce, and takes them up to 14th. In this week's show Chris and Steve talk about Villa's latest win and the current state of play, and discuss their wishes for the Villa Park redevelopment that Tony Xia teased last week. Filled-in corners? Not for us, thanks. And, of course, we talk about the supporters' relationship - such as it is -with midfielder Ashley Westwood. Listen to the show: Click to play / right-click to download (MP3) Import to podcatcher of choice (feed) Subscribe in iTunes View the full article
  28. 1 point
    What a difference two wins can make. Having won away for the first time in 437 days on Tuesday night we went on to win our second home game of the season yesterday and pulled five points clear of the bottom three. But enough talk of the bottom three we can now look at the top six that we are within six points of. We are coming to get those clubs that currently make up the top six as well as the knuckle draggers from the dark side of the city next weekend. There was to be no late goal conceded by us this time and for a second time within a week it was us that claimed the three points with a late winner. We might have added another two before the final whistle was blown as we finished the game very strongly. Two more wins that would take our winning run to 4 games could well see us in the top half of the table and who would have thought that likely three weeks ago? This was not our best performance although we threatened to run away with the game after taking the lead. It is not a game that will live long in the memory unlike the goal that won it for us which was so well taken. I do however wonder whether it might just be a second win that proves to be a turning point in our season? My player ratings from a game that brought Brucie his 7th point from his first 3 matches and our visitors their first away defeat are: Pierluigi Gollini – 6 – Made a decent save at his near post from Aluko on 44 minutes and tipped a cross over for a corner in the third minute of stoppage time. Alan Hutton – 5 – Did a decent enough job. James Chester - 7 – Looked very good alongside Baker and appeared to have enjoyed wearing the captain’s armband. Nathan Baker – 7 – A solid display and Elphick may not find it too easy to displace him when he recovers from injury. Jordan Amavi – 7 – His best game for us since his return from injury. Looked solid enough at the back and good when coming forward. Leandro Bacuna – 5 – Did a job for us in the middle but I suspect Tshibola might be able to do a better one. Gary Gardner – 6 – Has made a difference to our midfield which had been struggling badly before his introduction. Mile Jedinak – 5 – Played today with players alongside him that have the pace to help him see games out albeit not through to their conclusion. Jordan Ayew – 6 – Forced a one-handed stop from Button on 27 minutes and had a 65th minute free-kick from the edge of the box tipped over the bar by Button. Should have put the result beyond doubt on the 82nd minute when he was put clear by a nice ball from McCormack only to steer the ball wide of the post. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – MOTM - Hutton found him inside the box and his 10th minute shot from a tight angle was well kept out at the near post by Button. Scored our 80th minute winner after Button’s clearance from outside of his box went straight to Adomah who rather than have a shot himself as the keeper struggled to get back crossed for Jonathan to volley the ball at waist height into the corner of the net. What a great finish that was and it was one that was worthy of winning any game! Headed the ball just wide of the post late in injury time after Button had pushed Adomah’s shot towards him. Rudy Gestede – 4 – Given another start but did little to warrant a further one next weekend for me and I think his place will now come under increased pressure from McCormack. Substitutes: Albert Adomah – 7 – Came on for Gestede on the 55th minute and his introduction played a big part in our improved performance. Made our winner and made a nice run into the box in injury time before getting into a shooting position and forcing a save at his near post from Button. His direct approach and running at defenders makes him a player that can win games for us. Ross McCormack – 6 - Replaced Jedinak on 73 minutes and looked lively. Ashley Westwood – Replaced Ayew on 86 minutes and was not therefore on long enough to gather any rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  29. 1 point
    I've an awful flu-like chest infection right now, so there are two boxes waiting to be unboxed. I'm frustrated. So for now I am giving away a prize, which is great if you love Star Wars! Subscribe to my channel to be in with a chance of winning! www.youtube.com/c/denjamediauk
  30. 1 point
    Chris and Steve have been unable to record a show for a while for various reasons that ain't none o' ya biznizz, but we're back in action this week to catch up on the latest happenings at Aston Villa. Roberto Di Matteo's side has hardly impressed since last we spoke, and our conversation about Villa's recent matches against Brentford and Ipswich Town is a case study in brave-facery. As well as assessing the two freshest games, we talk about the apparent pressure on Di Matteo, his performance to date, Villa's start in the Football League Championship and a few of our new signings. Is it really all doom and gloom yet again, or is this simply a football team that needs a little time to click? Listen to the show: Click to play / right-click to download (MP3) Import to podcatcher of choice (feed) Subscribe in iTunes View the full article
  31. 1 point
    It's been a minute but we're back. Yes, plenty has happened since our last show but we needed a break after four brutal years or we might not have even made it into this coming season. It all begins on Saturday, with Aston Villa's Football League Championship kick-off taking place at Hillsborough on Sunday afternoon. In this week's Aston Villa Review we have a quick preview chat about that game against Sheffield Wednesday and recap the club's summer dealings, welcome the new coaching staff and ponder the pros and cons of Dr Tony Xia's outspoken Twitter ways. Buckle up, it's going to be one hell of a season. Listen to the show: Click to play / right-click to download (MP3) Import to podcatcher of choice (feed) Subscribe in iTunes View the full article
  32. 1 point
    Matt and Dan return together for another episode as they give you all the facts about Leeds, Newcastle, Norwich and Notts Forest. See it here:
  33. 1 point
    Please excuse the technical difficulties in this video, as Matt Lynch and Dan Bardell are joined by Jack Crawford and Ben Hobson, to talk all things AVFC
  34. 1 point
    The classic discussion show returned today as Dan and Matt were joined by Daniel Raza and Reece Lloyd. Topics included the Austrian Pre Season Camp, Jack Grealish and Stan Petrov.
  35. 1 point
    Dan Bardell talks two player who've slipped under the radar in recent weeks, Ciaran Clark and the returning, Nathan Baker. Dan shares his thoughts on whether the duo should stay or leave Villa.
  36. 1 point
    Dan Bardell and Matt Lynch welcomed Molly Jennens (writer for Old Man Said) and Mat Kendrick (of The Birmingham Mail) to discuss topics ranging from Pre Season to Petrov.
  37. 1 point
    Matt and Dan are back once again for another video. After digesting the newly released fixtures for the upcoming campaign, the two sat down to discuss their initial reactions. They also looked at which games stood out, and gave a three word review on their thoughts for the season ahead.
  38. 1 point
    Dan Bardell gives his 3 reasons as to why Jack Grealish should stay at Aston Villa. Surely winning promotion (fingers crossed) would mean more to him than mid table mediocrity with a Stoke City, for example. Agree with Dan? Leave a comment below.
  39. 1 point
    A rare two goals at home still produced “nul points” for us because we have a defence that is as watertight as was The Titanic. If this was the performance of a team with the weight taken off their shoulders it was not markedly different from the performances they produced before relegation (which our “custodian” deemed inevitable after only 5 league games) became a mathematical certainty last weekend. Southampton scored four and could have had a couple more if the woodwork had not denied them. We all arrived expecting another defeat and that is what we got. This was our 12th home defeat of the season, our 25th loss from 35 league games and our 10th successive defeat which brings us just one more defeat from equalling the worst run of losses in the history of our football club. Everyone wants to play us at the moment. Even Newcastle who could well be joining us in the league below next season will anticipate getting nothing less than a win and an easy three points from our next and final home game of the season. So we had better get our chants of “Going down with the Villa” in early doors! Our caretaker manager selected a team no doubt with the hope that we could keep it tight at the back. That worked well didn’t it? We scored twice but the visitors still ran out comfortable winners. There is little point in picking players like Bacuna and Richardson (who would no doubt have played had he not had a knock) that have lost the crowd and done little to nothing to warrant selection this season. Why not play the kids alongside Gil, Jack and Traoré? Its not as if doing so could cost us our place in the division is it? These players would enjoy the full backing of the fans in the way that Ayew does. Failing to play our more creative players along with the young players to give them some first team experience smacks of ignoring what the fans want but that is sadly not unusual at our football club. It was great to see those thousands of banners held up before the game and on 74 minutes to show that the vast majority of fans are unwilling to accept how our football club is being run as it lurches from bad to worse on almost a daily basis. Well done to all involved in this protest! My player ratings from a game that gave us another disappointing and predictable result are: Brad Guzan – 4 – Came out to block a Long shot with an outstretched arm on 57 minutes, kept out a Davis effort at his near post on 59 minutes and then held a Rodriguez shot from outside of the box 2 minutes later although it was hit straight at him. Brad was beaten on 71 minutes by a shot from the edge of the area from Tadic which took a slight deflection off Westwood. He then pushed away a Davis cross with one hand on 79 minutes but did less well a minute later when he pushed weakly at a cross with one hand that fell to Long who spared his blushes by hitting the ball over. Did well to take the ball away from Mané inside the box as the substitute threatened to add a fourth on 84 minutes but he again exposed his fallibilities on 89 minutes when he presented the ball to an opponent with a quick ball played just outside his own area but fortunately Cissokho was able to take the ball off Long inside the area. Alan Hutton – 6 – Kept trying to move us forwards. Had an 85th minute effort helped over the bar at his near post by Forster and had a header from a Grealish corner headed off the line late in second half stoppage time. Micah Richards – 3 – Substituted at half time. Joleon Lescott – 2 – A ball was played for Long on the 2nd minute that went over the head of Richards and then bounced off Joleon and back to Long whose shot fortunately cannoned off the bar. He then left the same striker in space 12 minutes later and the ball was headed in for their opener from Bertrand’s cross. Rodriguez tried to turn in a dangerous cross on 56 minutes which was deflected wide of the post off Lescott. He was left covering space rather than the unmarked Mané when he gave them their fourth on 94 minutes. Aly Cissokho – 5 – Worked hard and Aly was solid enough at the back. Leandro Bacuna – 2 – Really should have been on target with a header from a nice cross from Westwood that he turned wide of the post on 22 minutes. He then gave the visitors a two-goal cushion after 39 minutes with a thoughtless as well as an aimless back pass from well within the visitor’s half. Long then easily outpaced Lescott to reach the ball first. Guzan did well to dive at Long’s feet and to push the ball away from him but the striker then squared the ball for Tadic who was unmarked when hitting the ball home. Had Richards hurried rather than ambled back he might have been able to have challenged the scorer. Ashley Westwood – 7 – MOTM – You wait almost a whole season for a league goal from him and then like the Clapham omnibus two come along together. His two goals were the highlights of our performance yesterday and his second was particularly well taken. Got on the end of a 38th minute Ayew cross but the ball went straight into Forster’s hands. Ashley then scored in the first minute of first half stoppage time when a good run and cross from Ayew was missed by Gana but ran on to him and he did well to find the corner of the net. His second came on 85 minutes when Gestede was unable to connect with a Grealish cross and the ball ran on to him just inside the box. Ashley proceeded to curl a splendid measured shot into the corner of the net. Idrissa Gana – 5 – Appeared to lack a little of his usual interest early on but got into the game increasingly as it wore on. Carlos Sánchez – 3 – He has not been the rock in our midfield that we had hoped for when he signed for us and that continued to be the case yesterday prior to his substitution. Scott Sinclair – 4 – Made a couple of decent runs. Hit a shot wide of the post on 35 minutes from the edge of the box and he had a shot saved by Forster’s feet after the ball had run to him in stoppage time after Gestede had lost it on the edge of the box. Jordan Ayew – 5 – Why would anyone bring off Jordan when the team should have been chasing the game? That was clearly a view shared by many giving the resulting chant of “You don’t know what you’re doing”. Had an 8th minute effort comfortably saved at his near post by Forster but was our biggest threat to the visitors until he was withdrawn. Substitutes: Kevin Toner – 6 – Replaced Richards at half time and gave a steady enough display that should lead to him starting our remaining games for me. Rudy Gestede – 4 - Replaced Ayew on 59 minutes and headed a 66th minute cross from Cissokho over which he had to stretch back to reach. Jack Grealish – 5 - Replaced Sánchez on 68 minutes. He needs to start our remaining games. Jack gave a couple of reminders of the player we knew from last season and was unlucky that a few of the things that he tried that did not quite come off. Get straight back up next season Villa! John Lewis
  40. 1 point
    Another game gave us another passionless, sad, embarrassing capitulation that has brought us a game nearer to our inevitable relegation. This is the second time we have managed 7 consecutive defeats this season and it was our 22nd league defeat from our 32 games to date. The “Proud History, What future?” signs were there for all to see at Villa Park yesterday and well done to all that took part in that protest! We were half way through the first half before we went behind yesterday and for once we did not concede another goal within a couple of minutes. This time we managed to stay only one behind until a stoppage time penalty gave the visitors a two goal cushion and they predictably added another shortly after the re-start. That third goal was well taken but we offered the same sort of resistance that you would expect a set of training cones to provide. This was way too easy for our visitors who were missing keys players but could have won this with their Under 21 side. Had Chelsea had the inclination or something still to play for this season we would have lost by more than the four goals that we did. The sad thing is that very few of us would have been surprised had we done so. My player ratings from a game that left us potentially just one more defeat away from being mathematically certain of relegation with five dead rubbers still to play after that are: Brad Guzan – 3 – Spread himself well at his near post on 37 minutes to block a shot from Rahman and got down low to hold another shot 2 minutes later. He fumbled a 48th minute effort from Oscar before parrying Pato’s 59th minute shot into the path of Pedro to claim an unwanted assist for their fourth goal. These all too regular howlers have not helped the increasingly brittle confidence of the defenders in front of him or our chances of avoiding our sad fate which will soon be confirmed beyond any doubt. We cannot afford not to sign a new keeper for next season! Alan Hutton – 4 – We like it that Alan works hard and dropping down a division might see him find it easier when coming up against less gifted and speedy forwards as well as less accomplished defenders when he moves forward himself. He got stuck in as we expect that he will yesterday but left the game early due to gathering two yellows in 7 minutes. Micah Richards – 4 – Won the ball more than once when it seemed he was unlikely to do so. Joleon Lescott – 3 – Shows the odd sign of the player he has been in the past but time seems to have caught up with him this season. Loftus-Cheek turned in Azpilicueta’s 23rd minute cross for their opener which took a deflection off Joleon’s leg on its way past Guzan. Aly Cissokho – 4 – Conceded the penalty during first half stoppage time that gave the visitors a two goal cushion when flattening Pato as he looked to get on the end of a cross from Fabregas. Carlos Sánchez – 3 – Started reasonably well but he always has a mistake waiting to happen in him and he failed to make any attempt to cover Pedro’s run into the box for their fourth. Prior to his substitution he had embarrassingly taken to trying to stop Chelsea players going past him by attempting to tackle them by grabbing them around the body with his arms. These half-hearted attempts at a tackle would have been bad enough in a schoolboy game of rugby but we were allegedly supposed to be playing football. Ashley Westwood – 4 – Needs to make more of an impression on a game than he did on this one. Idrissa Gana – 5 – Another decent display and he was again comfortably our best midfield player. Carles Gil – 5 – Started well and forced a save at the near post from Courtois on 31 minutes. Jordan Ayew – 5 – Had a 22nd minute effort deflected for a corner. Was unlucky to see an attempted clearance from Baba Rahman cannon off him into the arms of Courtois on 31 minutes. Got between two defenders inside the box on 41 minutes and placed his shot just wide of the far post. Hit a 30 yard shot on 50 minutes that Courtois plucked comfortably enough from the air. Rudy Gestede – 4 – Failed to make any real impression on the defenders he came up against yesterday. Hit a speculative long range shot on 15 minutes which was on target but lacked the pace to pose any sort of threat to Courtois. Failed to get an outstretched leg to a ball on 79 minutes. Substitutes: Jack Grealish – 6 – MOTM - Replaced Gil on 66 minutes. Made an encouraging impact hitting a good cross over on 68 minutes. He was then brought down inside the box by Pedro on 71 minutes but the referee chose to ignore his penalty claim. Volleyed a shot wide of the post on 88 minutes. Leandro Bacuna – 3 - Replaced Sánchez as part of the double substitution on 66 minutes to a merited chorus of boos and he will not have any future in the Champions League on this sort of showing. Jordan Lyden – Replaced Gana on 82 minutes and was not on long enough to gain a rating. Going down with a whimper Villa! John Lewis
  41. 1 point
    Last night Villa fans in their hundreds decided to get up, stand up on 74 minutes before exiting into the night. Our “custodian” obviously did not do so not least because he had as is usual not bothered to attend the game. No doubt as in the past his decision to stay away was influenced by his lack of interest in the club he once claimed to be the “custodian” of as well as by the likely welcome he would get and has so merited should he have done so. Well done to those who organised, publicised and took part in the 74th minute protest last night. To those who stayed in their seats or who left when the third goal was conceded 14 minutes earlier I would ask that you to think again about joining us on the 74th minute in our next two home games http://outthedooron74.co.uk/ It is astounding that given our recent results we still stand only 8 points from safety. It makes me wonder what might have been had we rolled the dice from the start of the last transfer window with a little more intent and if our team was a little less inclined to accept being relegated without a fight. Sadly with games at Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal as well as at home to Spurs and Chelsea among our remaining 10 games our relegation for the first time since 1987 is all but 99.9% sealed. Even if we somehow won each and every one of the other 5 games we have left that would leave us with just 31 points. That would not be enough. To hit even that target let alone to get another 4 or more additional points which could set a point total that 3 clubs above us might struggle to reach looks well beyond us. Perhaps a 4-point target that would take us to 20 points by the end of the season would be a little more achievable. Our “custodian” and board accepted our fate in January if not before then. They should hang their heads in shame about that. The players seemed to give up any lingering hope they may still have had in our last home game and that continued to be the case with last night’s performance albeit quite an improvement on our last home one. As fans I think we now reluctantly accept our fate but we are far from happy about the custodian, board and players being quite so ready to accept it earlier than most of us had been. Some of us may still cling to the irrational hope of an unlikely miracle that will see us stay up against all of the odds but we all know that we are now holding on to the slippery edge of the abyss by the finger tips of just one hand. Once again we looked likely to concede a goal every time our opponents attacked and any confidence we had evaporated as soon as we went a goal down. Everton were content with an all too comfortable win last night. Fortunately our visitors resisted the temptation to move out of second gear and help themselves to the further goals that had looked there for the taking. At times our midfield looked reasonable; on occasion our attack also caused Everton’s defence a little concern but we find scoring goals as hard as we find conceding them easy. Everton fans deserve credit for applauding our fans singing during the second half when all was already lost and for doing the same to show support as we left the ground on the 74th minute. I have also been reliably informed that Baines and two of his team mates applauded the Holte End at the end of the game. Let us hope that this most played top-flight fixture is only briefly interrupted. My player ratings from a game that finally turned our promised bright future into an embarrassingly bleak one are: Brad Guzan – 4 – Got the nod over Bunn. Brad demonstrated that the susceptibilities that led to his losing his starting place have not gone away. He failed to get an outstretched hand to the cross from Funes Mori that led to their third goal on the hour having made a good save from a Lukaku header moments earlier. He had previously spilled a 33rd minute Mirallas shot but Lescott saved his blushes by clearing Oviedo’s shot off the line. Alan Hutton – 4 – Worked hard and was a willing runner but he was unable to produce an end product. Alan looked a bit like a fish out of water playing in an unfamiliar wing back role. Michah Richards – 5 – Put in a shift but failed to pick up Funes Mori choosing instead to run in front of him to leave him free to head home a 5th minute Mirallas cross. Connected acrobatically with a 26th minute corner but his effort flew a yard wide. Joleon Lescott – 5 – Was in the right place at the right time to clear a 33rd minute close range shot off the line and had an effort in the first minute of first half stoppage time turned wide. Ciaran Clark – 3 – Should have chosen to stay on Lennon but was distracted by Lukaku who was behind him and ended up on neither player when Lennon hit the ball past both Lescott and Guzan from another Mirallas cross for their second on the half hour mark. He also failed to pick up Lukaku who was therefore unmarked when he slotted the ball home when behind him for their third. Aly Cissokho – 6 – MOTM – Did surprisingly well in a wing back role. Aly hit a 32nd minute shot that Robles saved at his near post. He also provided some good crosses such as the one after a good run on the 43rd minute that Gabby was unable to get his head to. He was also again solid at the back. Leandro Bacuna – 3 – For a reason unknown to me Leo seems to be one of the first names on the team sheet. He again did very little to justify his selection last nigh other than when forcing a save from Robles with a 28th minute shot from outside of the box. Ashley Westwood – 4 – Had a decent 24th minute shot from the edge of the box turned around the post by Robles and a 62nd minute shot blocked inside of the box. Idrissa Gana – 5 – The best and hardest working of our midfield yesterday. Jordan Ayew – 5 – A welcome return for Jordan after his three game suspension. Gabriel Agbonlahor – 3 – Got a touch on the ball on 23 minutes that produced a save from Robles but although he did some running when they were in possession particularly early in the game he posed no threat to their defence. Substitutes: Rudy Gestede – Replaced Gabby after 67 minutes and scored our consolation goal 12 minutes later which I have now seen on television. Rudy climbed well in front of Jagielka and hung in the air to get on the end of Veretout’s measured cross which he headed home with some aplomb. Other than this I did not see enough of him to be able to give a rating although his goal was well taken and suggested he might yet do a job next season given the right service. Jordan Veretout – Replaced Westwood on 71 minutes and claimed an assist. I was also not there long enough to be able to decide on a rating for him having gone out the door 3 minutes after he came on. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  42. 1 point
    This was a shambolic, embarrassing and disappointingly rancid performance. The light we had thought we had spotted at the end of a long dark tunnel was all too easily extinguished as was our recent run of improved performances and fragile confidence yesterday. We started this game with a better goal difference than Newcastle and level with Norwich. We had an opportunity to move to being a slender 5 points from safety with a win. Given our dire home record against yesterday’s visitors most of us would have taken a point although we really knew we needed all three but to lose and to concede 6 goals without reply in the process was beyond our very worst fears. This was our heaviest home league defeat in 81 years. Back in season 1935-36 we conceded 7 goals twice at Villa Park losing 0-7 to WBA and then 1-7 to Arsenal with Ted Drake scoring all 7 goals of their goals. We were relegated that season and yesterday’s appalling performance had relegation written all over it. We started well enough but our heads dropped when we conceded two goals in 9 first half minutes. At half-time the game could have gone one of two ways. We could have shown some fight and pulled a goal back or at the very least kept the score down to a two or three goal deficit or we could throw in the towel and become demoralised as we did in another abject display in the FA Cup against Manchester City. We took the later option conceding 4 goals in 13 second half minutes shamefully. Football does not get worse than this at Villa Park. Liverpool were languishing in the bottom half of the table when they arrived at Villa Park yesterday. This was not the Liverpool of the 70s and as we showed in last season’s FA Cup semi-final they can be beaten. But we failed to turn up, treated them with too much respect and made them look better than they actually are. If only our players had shown anything near the spirit that the Holte End did near the end of this sad game! We did not want this game enough to battle, press and challenge our visitors and instead surrendered meekly. We now have 12 games left in which to bridge the 8 point gap that stands between us and safety. Three points at Stoke might repair some of the damage but after this humiliating defeat it is hard to see any way back for us! My player ratings from a game after which my “bright future” scarf looked increasingly ridiculous are: Mark Bunn – 4 – Acted as merely a spectator when neither a forward nor a defender made any contact with Milner’s 25th minute free-kick that went straight in at his far post. Kept out Clyne’s first shot after Firmino had found him but was left grounded along with Veretout when the same player was first to get to the rebound to score their penultimate goal. Mark was then left flat footed when Touré’s unchallenged header from a Henderson corner found the net to his right for their sixth on 71 minutes. Beat Sturridge to the ball after Coutinho had tried to set him up on 54 minutes having earlier saved well from Moreno at his near post on 33 minutes and from Sturridge again on 44 minutes. Michah Richards – 4 – Made a couple of moves forward and was not the worst of our defenders yesterday. Joleon Lescott – 3 – Almost turned in a Henderson cross to make it 7 in the 86th minute but Bunn got down to keep it out. Jores Okore – 3 – Origi got in behind him on 63 minutes and neither he nor Lescott were able to get back to do anything to stop him adding a fourth goal. Aly Cissokho – 3 – Neither he nor Lescott took responsibility for Sturridge who was therefore unchallenged when heading in their first. Leandro Bacuna – 2 – Made a half hearted attempt if that to close down Coutinho whose cross was headed home past a static Bunn for their 16th minute opener. He then conceded the free-kick that led to their second although there was little contact with Coutinho who went to ground all too readily for me if not for the referee. Failed to bring the ball under control on 58 minutes losing the ball to Can who hit the ball home from the edge of the box for their third. Had a 60th minute shot pushed away which was cleared before Gana who had found him on the edge of the box could get to the loose ball having had another effort fumbled by the keeper when he cut into the box after 47 minutes. Jordan Veretout - 3 – Failed to cover Clyne’s run on 65 minutes which led to their fifth. Ashley Westwood – 3 – Can do more than this as can the rest of the team. Idrissa Gana – 5 – MOTM – Shaded it as the best of a bad bunch for me yesterday. Carles Gil – 4 – Has had much better and more influential games than this but he had little to nothing to work with yesterday. Gabriel Agbonlahor – 2 – Had a reasonable first 10 minutes or so but soon faded badly and looked so much more like his recent lack lustre self than he had during his last Villa Park appearance. Substituted on 57 minutes. Substitutes: Scott Sinclair – 5 – Replaced Gabby after 57 minutes. Scott actually ran at their defenders a couple of times and was unlucky when his measured 80th minute shot hit the angler of crossbar and post. Jordan Lyden – 5 - Replaced Bacuna on 66 minutes and it was a little harsh to make him play any part in this debacle. Alan Hutton – Replaced Richards on 85 minutes so was not on long enough to earn any rating. Stay Up Villa! John Lewis
  43. 1 point
    There's no Defense! Nobody will deny, the goals against Villa this season are going to send us down, but who is to blame? We can look around the Villa team and see areas with a lack of experience in their positions. Villa have Gana, Veretout, Ayew, Amavi, Okore, and more, but one area we have experience is defense. We look at Guzan, Hutton, Richards, Lescott, Clark, and Richardson, and we have 1490 games at a Premier or Championship level. If that is the case, then why are conceding 2 goals per game in the Premier League? Over the years, through my coaching experience, to have a strong defense, you need a decent and vocal goalkeeper, and two well organized central defenders. One of those defenders, needs to be able read the game extremely well, and take charge of the defense. Have Villa got that? I think Guzan has shown enough in the past, he is a very good keeper. He has made a few mistakes this year, but with such a lack of confidence in your defense, who would blame him. As we look at the central pairings that have been used over a number of games this season, we have: Richards & Clark (8 games, conceding 1.75 goals per game) Richards & Lescott (7 games, conceding 2 goals per game) Okore & Lescott (4 games, conceding 1.25 per game) We can say, certain pairings may have played against stronger opposition, but in the end we have to make the decision, certain pairings may just not work. I look back at the games throughout the season, and so many goals have been conceded by poor positioning, or players not attacking the ball while it's in the air. The two goals against Norwich, Richards wasn't close enough, and didn't challenge Howson. Richardson, marking nobody, doesn't close down Mbokani Bezua, as the ball floats over Clark's head. Is this down to the manager’s instructions? Or are our players just that bad or just can't give a rat's ass. The confidence maybe low, and a win may change things, but I feel a lot of the blame falls on our captain. Clark has made a couple of mistakes, and Lescott is a lot slower these days, but our captain's ability to control the defense is the major problem. Richards is awesome at challenging for a long ball in the air, or challenging a forward as he receives a ball with his back to goal. Sadly, his wanting to charge up field, and lack of defensive awareness is killing us. If he had been in charge of the Titanic, it would have sank long before it hit the iceberg. All the other three defenders, should position themselves off Richards. Defending is a lot about positioning and angles, and not just how strong you may be in the challenge. I have worked with flat back fours for over twenty years, and the only time Villa's defense has looked right is when Richard's hasn't been there. I'm not saying Richards shouldn't be one of our central defenders, I'm just saying he shouldn't be the one controlling it. 1490 games between them, and we looked like they have never played a flat back four before. I am not exonerating the rest of the players for their part, but when you don't have a leader you can rely on, then players start to do their own thing, and it all falls apart. I'm not blaming Richards for, Lescott's slowness, or Clark's naivety, or Richardson's lack of ability to attack a ball, but I blame him for not being the lighthouse to keep everyone safe. People claimed, he was going to be an England regular for years to come at the age of 17, but his career flounder at Man City. He played with Lescott there, and formed a strong partnership, and friendship, sadly that partnership is now failing because Richards is the leader. I believe the Lescott partnership could be the one that brings a holt to the flow of goals, but only if Richards takes a step back, and hand over the reins to his friend. I believe if Richards isn't willing to do that, then it has been shown in recent weeks that Okore is.
  44. 1 point
    Dead cats apparently have a reputation for bouncing. The relevance to Villa after a home loss to Watford may not be clear, but it is perhaps in that light that one should consider this fact: Villa's chances of staying up improved despite a home loss to Watford. Whether the change was major (it more than doubled!) or minor (the difference was 0.3%) is a question of the observer's perspective, but the fact remains: the club are in a slightly better place today than last week. Crazy, huh? Of course, our chances of finishing rock bottom increased as well: 16th 0.1% +0.1% 17th 0.4% +0.2% 18th 1.3% -0.8% 19th 6.1% -4.1% 20th 92.1% +4.6% One [possible] reason for this phenomenon: the clubs immediately above us are close enough in goal difference that nearly any scenario where we finish level with them sees us with a better goal difference. Villa: 99.5% (-0.3%) Sunderland: 67.6% (-22.2%) Bournemouth: 66.1% (-13.5%) Newcastle: 48.6% (+30.6%) Swansea: 13.7% (+9.7%) Norwich: 3.3% (-5.2%) Chelsea: 1.0% (+0.7%) West Brom: 0.1% (unchanged), Stoke: 0.1% (+0.1%)
  45. 1 point
    They think its all over it seems it is now and it is still only November! It is hard to see us coming back from this sad, sad situation to retain our top flight status this time. Our absentee landlord has failed in his role as custodian of our football club and that will cost him financially and us in ways he does not or chooses not to appreciate. It looks like we are down before the Christmas decorations have gone up! This was a must not lose game that we lost. Watford beat us at Villa Park in the league for the first time since 1969. We have not won a game since the first day of the season in the league and have only managed two draws since then. Will we win one in what remains of this season let alone win enough games to keep us up? We are fast running out of games now let alone winnable ones. Watford was one of the games we really needed to win if we were to retain any realistic hope of adding another 27 or so points to the 5 we currently have. We are now faced with a need to gather points from games that we will start as heavy underdogs in as we did against Manchester City. Our next two games fit that description. We started this game well pressing our opponents from the start and looking like the home side for once. Watford took the lead totally against the run of play but we deservedly pegged them back before half time having shown a good response to going a goal down. We clearly had the better of the first half but we did not put away enough of the chances that we made and our defence showed the usual signs of frailty when they tried to hit us on the break. The 8 minutes injury delay came when we were well on top. We were caught napping shortly after the re-start and the visitors took the lead again. We needed to kick on again in the second half but not for the first time this season we demonstrated the difficulty we find in performing at the same level for more than 45 minutes unless that level is an embarrassingly below par one. On the positive side we scored two goals at home. That should have produced a point at the very least but our defence conceded three to add to the four they leaked last week and you really cannot expect to win games when you are conceding goals to that extent. We hit a late goal which did give us some hope of a grandstand finish during the ten minutes of injury time. We deserved to get something from this game but we failed to lay a glove on our opponents in stoppage time and they spent more time in our half than we did in theirs. My player ratings from a game that has left us cast adrift from the rest of the league are: Brad Guzan – 7 – Did well to block a 17th minute Ighalo with his body but the same player turned the ball past him later in the same move after the ball ran to him off Clark. Brad did well to stop a Capoue shot with his legs on 24 minutes and he twice saved us from further embarrassment in stoppage time by turning Guédioura shots off target. Alan Hutton – 5 – Did well going forward and was brought down for the free kick that led to our equalizer. Put the visitors back in front on 69 minutes when he turned the ball past Guzan and inside the post in the process of taking the ball off Ighalo after Deeney had threaded a ball between Clark and himself. His heavy touch on 85 minutes also led to us losing the ball in the build up to their third and ultimately decisive goal. Kieran Richardson – 4 – Failed to get forward effectively enough and was again a cause for concern at the back. Michah Richards – 7 – MOTM – Led by example and scored a tremendous goal on 41 minutes heading a well weighted Veretout free-kick into the corner of the net. His goal celebrations showed how much this game meant to him and he gives an example other players need to follow. Ciaran Clark – 5 – Ayew touched a 39th minute Veretout corner across the face of the goal which Ciaran hesitated to move towards and could only stab wide with an outstretched foot. He really needed to go for the ball that Deeney headed in on 85 minutes to seal our defeat which had unluckily bounced off Richards into his path. Carles Gil – 7 – If only he could see out a full game. Worked hard, has a lovely touch and his creativity was much needed in Jack’s absence. Jordan Veretout – 5 – Hit a sweet free kick for our equalizer and had a couple of other nice touches but he needs to try to impose himself on games more. Carlos Sánchez - 4 – Lost the ball on the edge of his own box which led to their opening goal and was also dispossessed by Deeney on the edge of the box shortly afterwards. Not a good day overall for Carlos. Idrissa Gana – 5 – Hit a nice shot just wide of the post on 27 minutes but needs to make a bigger impact on games than this. Scott Sinclair – 6 – Forced a good save from Gomes on 31 minutes who turned his goal bound effort past the post. Made some decent runs yesterday and produced a better overall display than those of late. Jordan Ayew – 6 – Had a decent shot saved at his near post by Gomes in the 10th minute and hit the bar with a header 3 minutes later from a Gil corner that was re-taken due to a coming together inside the box prior to the corner being taken. Really should have been on target when a 20th minute Veretout shot fell to him but he somehow managed to screw the ball wide of the post. Had a 31st minute punched away by Gomes who was grateful to see Sinclair’s header from the rebound go safely into his arms. Jordan curled a sweet shot into the corner of the net from the edge of the box on 89 minutes to give us a late second goal. Substitutes: Adama Traore – 6 - Replaced Gil on 68 minutes. Gave us pace, urgency and a couple of decent crosses but he needs to look for a pass occasionally rather than to go it alone. Rudy Gestede - Replaced Gana on 82 minutes but was not on long enough to gather a rating. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  46. 1 point
    These numbers assume no dramatic improvement in quality of play (including, for instance, tactics), nor any new manager bounce. Additionally, as can be seen in the recent yo-yoing of the Tyne & Wear clubs' chances, it only takes one sufficiently good result to cause things to look (at least for a time) a lot brighter. 16th 0.1% -0.3%17th 0.3% -0.9%18th 2.1% -1.4%19th 10.8% -0.6%20th 86.7% +3.2% Median, maximum likelihoodVilla: 99.6% (+1.3%) Sunderland: 84.9% (+26.3%) Bournemouth: 67.7% (+12.8%) Norwich: 25.9% (+0.2%) Newcastle: 14.5% (-27.0%) WBA: 3.3% (+0.3%) Chelsea: 1.9% (+0.8%) Liverpool: 1.8% (-11.9%) Swansea: 0.5% (+0.3%)
  47. 1 point
    Has the bleeding stopped? 9th 0.1% unchanged10th 0.1% unchanged11th 0.2% -0.1%12th 0.6% +0.1%13th 1.2% +0.2%14th 2.4% +0.8%15th 4.3% +1.5%16th 6.9% +1.9%17th 10.2% +1.3%^^^ upper quartile18th 14.8% -1.4%19th 22.3% -4.9% Medianvvv lower quartile20th 36.9% +0.6% Maximum likelihoodDespite the increased chance of finishing rock-bottom, our overall relegation chances decreased: Villa: 74.0% (-5.7%) Sunderland: 60.2% (-23.8%) Newcastle: 52.4% (+22.6%) Bournemouth: 40.0% (-15.0%) West Brom: 35.3% (+27.7%) Watford: 22.7% (+11.9%) Liverpool: 9.0% (-10.8%) Norwich: 3.7% (-0.3%) Stoke: 1.0% (+0.9%) Chelsea: 0.9% (+0.8%) West Ham: 0.5% (-0.3%) Swansea: 0.3% (-6.2%)
  48. 1 point
    Source: Player Match Ratings: Villa grind down The Miller’s!
  49. 1 point
    Source: Player Match Ratings – Up for the Cups!
  50. 1 point
    Well, that wasn't very pretty, was it? I wrote on twitter that I felt uncomfortable about being outplayed (and we were very outplayed) by Norwich. Alan Hansen reportedly described our performance as embarrassing, and while i dont usually have much time for the miserable sweaty, on this occasion he was right. it was embarrassing. I dont do knee jerk reactions, and while I remain confident that we will come through this, I'm not *quite* as confident as I was before. For me, what has changed from our performances against Newcastle and Swansea is that we arent working as hard, and thats whats worrying. In those two games, our best of the season.we hunted in packs, shutting down the spaces, making it hard for teams to play against us. We did the same in the last round of the League Cup too at man City. Yesterday, and last week? That energy and enthusiasm seems to have dissipated, Norwich just had it too easy. They had too much time on the ball, we didnt shut them down at all and we were very lucky to steal a point. On the plus side, we are starting to see what Benteke is made of. I thought that was a great 70 minutes from the young man, and taking him off for the zombie Bent was a mistake, as we lost our 'out' ball. If we are going to stay up, The Beat will be a big part of the reason why. ************* Me and Tim are heading off to Swindon on Tuesday, hoping we arent on the wrong end of a cupset, as Tim goes to school with a few Swindon fans. Despite their current financial plight they have been on an up since the mad Italian arrived there. Looking forward to meeting up with old firends, and hoping the match marks the start of an upturn,
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