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Everything posted by John

  1. This probably isn't a very good time to be playing our visitors. They have won their last 7 games after all, but they are not a better team than Liverpool and we went so near to getting a positive result against the league leaders last month. They will start this game as favourites, but they last won a league game at Villa Park way back in 2001. Overall, we have won 27 and have drawn 22 of the 86 games, that there have been between the two clubs. We will need to be wary of Vardy and Maddison, but they in turn have Jack and McGinn to cope with. They are currently 20 points better off than we are, but at home we have already shown that we can be a tough nut for anyone to crack. We do need to be getting something out of this one, so that we can stay clear of the relegation places. There are more winnable league games to come in what will be left of December, but that does not mean that winning this game is beyond us, despite what the visiting fans, will no doubt assume. We need to get a positive result from this game. Just do it for us Villa!
  2. A win tomorrow, would bring us within 8 points of our hosts. A point would see us stay a point above a point a game average, which over the course of the season should secure our safety. This will be a tough one, but I'm sure West Ham felt the same at the weekend! Our last win at Stamford Bridge came in 2011. We have lost our last four games there and have twice suffered particularly embarrassing defeats there during the past nine years (7-1 in 2010 & 8-0 in 2012). Overall, we have won 51 and have drawn 32 of the 138 league games, that there have been between the two clubs. We can take confidence from Sunday's performance and from the well deserved point that we took from that match. A win would be tremendous and West Ham have shown that they can be beaten. I would be more than happy with a point from this one though.
  3. A win tomorrow, would take us level on points with Manchester United. They really are not the team that they once were and Solskjaer is presently holding onto his job by a very fine string. That said, Old Trafford is far from being a happy hunting ground for us. We have won there only three times in 2009, 1983 and in 1954, since 1930. Yes, that is just 3 wins in 89 long years! 1930 was a good year for us though, we beat them once at Villa Park (7-0) and twice at Old Trafford (4-3 & 3-2) during that calendar year. Overall, we have won 43 and have drawn 38 of the 166 league games, that there have been between the two clubs. We have has our moments against them, but those moments have been few and far between. We did beat Busby's babes at Wembley in 1957 and denied Fergie his treble in 1994, but games against them have been mostly pretty grim affairs for us. I for one, think that it is about time that we started to win games against this lot! They don't have Giggs, Cantona or Beckham now, nor Best, Law and Charlton. We can go into this game with a new side, that can look at the league table, the players they will be up against and feel this is a game that they might just be capable of getting something from. It will not be easy, but it will not be quite as tough, as it has proved in the past. I would prefer to be playing them at Villa Park tomorrow, but now is not a bad time to be playing them. They won't currently have quite the same level of confidence, that previous Manchester United teams have had, when we have been their visitors. Just win it (or at least draw it) for us Villa!
  4. So is their defence (other than Maguire)...but not in the same way. James, Rashford and Martial are not Law, Best and Charlton. I back our defence to make it difficult for them.
  5. I rate Konsa as well, but I think Engels will be top class too. We are spoilt for choice. I think that international games played a part for both McGinn and Mings, but I'm sure they will recover over the coming days. I thought 7.5 for Guilbert & Targett as well, but I don't do halves so I rounded them down to 7.
  6. This was a big, big, win for us last night. It brought us within a point of our visitors, and it took us to the top of the bottom six. It provided some much-needed breathing space between the clubs who occupy the three relegation places and our football club once again. It was a game that just might look like a bit of a 6-pointer, come the end of the season. It was an important game that we needed to win, against a team that will be likely to be involved in the relegation scrap at the business end of the season. It was a winnable game that we ended up winning rather comfortably. There was not too much to choose between the two teams during the first half hour, but two goals in 4 minutes opened a gap between the sides, that the visitors never really looked like closing. Newcastle really don’t much like their visits to Villa Park do they? They sang “We’re higher than you” near the end. They might not be able to sing that for too much longer. They may have lost Rafa, but they still have Mike Ashley and now have our former gaffer. They will take little solace from that, or from last night’s result and it will have been an awfully long trip back to Tyneside for them, will it not? Newcastle came for the point and by doing so, our former boss perhaps showed us a little too much respect for their supporter’s liking. We had lost our previous three games and they had been unbeaten in their last three after all, but form is temporary. Steve Bruce threw on Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle, in a late attempt to find a cutting edge. Rod Stewart, from whom Carroll bought his current house, is probably fitter more often at 74, than is the Geordie striker. He along with the player that the Baggies couldn’t afford to keep, couldn’t bring them back into this game. The two-goal margin did not flatter us, we made the opportunities to have won this by four or five. We didn’t concede a goal late on and kept a clean sheet, what’s not to like? The three points have taken us to 15th place in the PL and we are now as near to the top six as we are to the bottom three. We can now visit Old Trafford on Sunday, with more confidence than we have had for many a year. My player ratings from a game that took us a point ahead of my point a game season’s target are: Tom Heaton – 8 – Fernandez met a 43rd minute corner and his header bounced off the ground to Heaton’s left from 6 yards out. Tom did well to keep the ball out, making a sharp save to his left. Was called upon again on 47 minutes and did well to push a Saint-Maximin shot past the far post with an outstretched hand. Hayden hit a 59th minute shot straight at him, that he was able to reach above his head to save, after Douglas had been too easily dispossessed on the edge of the box. Held a 69th minute Carroll shot, which again went straight towards him, at the near post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Fernandez stretched to block his dangerous 90th minute cross at the near post with Wesley waiting hopefully behind him. He’s looking a real bargain. Ezri Konsa - 7 – Might have scored twice. Once for us with a 53rd minute downward header from a Grealish corner that Dubravka did well to keep out at his right and for them, when he sliced a 60th minute Saint-Maximin cross inches wide of the near post. He is looking increasingly comfortable. Tyrone Mings – 7 – Not quite as totally dominant as we have come to expect. Matt Targett – 7 – A solid and convincing display. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Failed to reach a 13th minute cross from Targett that just needed a touch. Jack made a powerful run towards the left edge of the box before being brought down by Fernandez. Hourihane hit the resultant 36th minute free kick with his usual accuracy into the 6-yard box, which Anwar was on hand to hit into the roof of the net. Almost added a second but was caught offside when running onto a 44th minute ball from McGinn. He found the net, but the last defender had not continued to cover his run, having instead turned to close in on McGinn and thus as he had not checked his run Anwar was clearly off. John McGinn – 7 – Dubravka saved low at his near post from him on the 76th minute after Jack had threaded the ball between 2 defenders for him. Ran strongly into the box, receiving a pass from Jack but his 93rd minute shot was hit wide of the far post. He then collected a long ball from Mings and shaved the left post with a 94th minute shot from outside of the area with the last kick of the game. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Jack rolled the ball across the edge of the box for him to hit a 29th minute shot that Dubravka did well to tip over the bar with one hand. Kept the ball well. Conor Hourihane – 9 – McGinn played a sweet ball for Jack from inside of the centre circle, but Yedlin pushed him from behind just inches from the edge of the box as he ran to meet it. Conor took the resultant 32nd minute free kick touching the ball to Jack, who teed the ball up for him, creating an angle from which he hit a superbly placed shot between the near post and Dubravka for our first goal. Hit an ambitious volley over the bar from an 86th minute Mings cross. Jack Grealish – MOTM - 9 – Ran the game and ran forward with great purpose throughout. His opponents paid a heavy price when twice resorting to bringing him down on the edge of the box, as our two goals resulted from free kicks given for fouls on Jack. He almost curled a 62nd minute shot inside the far post, having combined well with El Ghazi near the edge of the box. Hit a 69th minute shot along the turf that was easily collected by Dubravka. Wesley – 7 – Held the ball up well at times, kept busy and might have scored on 77 minutes when he met a perfect Hourihane cross, but his close-range attempted tap-in was blocked on the line by Dubravka. Substitutes: Henri Lansbury – Replaced Hourihane on 91 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  7. My England team would be: Banks, Madeley, McFarland, Moore, Pearce, Ball, Robson, Peters, Charlton, Greaves, Lineker. Subs Shilton, Hughes, Todd, Gascoigne, Hoddle, Hurst & Shearer. My (Villa only) England team would be: Spink, Gidman, Barry, Ugo, Southgate, Milner, Cowans, Platt, Little, Withe, Morley. Subs: James, Mings, Barrett, Hendrie, Merson, Young & Dublin.
  8. This international break has come at a good time for us. We have first team regulars, that need time to recover from their injuries and we haven't got too much momentum to lose, having lost our last three league games. The same can't be said about our visitors, who have won their last two games and have taken 7 points from a possible 9, to lift themselves temporarily out of the bottom six. It has been 6 years since Newcastle last won at Villa Park and 8 long years since we last beat them at home. They have headed back to Tyneside with a point, following their three latest visits to Villa Park. Overall, we have won 51 and have drawn 36, of the 156 league games that have been played between the two clubs. We need a win from this game. Three points will maintain the gap that currently exists between the bottom three and ourselves. Victory will also burst our visitor's bubble. Three games ago they were below us and we now seek a win to bring them within a point of us. This is a Monday night game that could see us starting it, only outside of the bottom three on goal difference. It is also, unlike our last three league games, one that we will start as favourites. We fell below my point a game target, due to our last defeat and our three game losing run has to be quickly terminated. Let's send our old boss Steve Bruce back up North pointless, just win it for us Villa!
  9. Yes, I had expected him to miss out on this squad due to that, but he's there again and so is that tired old snake, but there is still no room for our Jack. I know that Southgate is spoilt for choice in the middle, but he does seem to be looking for any sort of reason not to pick Jack.
  10. Wolves last beat us two years ago, which was when we last visited Molineux. Since then they have lost the two games they have played against us at Villa Park. We were beaten on our last two league visits to Molineux in 2017, but prior to that had not lost there since 1978. Overall, we have won 46 and have drawn 26 of the 108 league games, that there have been between the two clubs. A win would take us a point above our hosts and it would also move us nearer to the middle of the table than the foot of it. Even a defeat would not see us drop into the bottom three, but we don't want another one of them! Wolves have drawn 3 of their 5 home games this season, so given they have also lost 1 of these 5, their stadium is not impregnable. A draw would see us averaging a point a game after our first 12 games, which should see us to safety if we are able to reach 38 points at the season's end. It is claimed that over the course of a season, points lost due to VAR will be evened out. If that is to prove the case for us, then we need to start getting a few decisions going our way sooner rather than later! Sunday would be a nice time for that to start happening. A win would be very welcome, I would also find avoiding defeat acceptable. That said, just win it for us Villa!
  11. I still would like us to sign Bowen, before someone else does. I heard that clown Ken, who telephones Radio WM so often, suggest that the Noses go for him a few days ago. As if they could afford him and is if he would consider joining them. A couple of other interesting names above as well.
  12. Two late goals, the last of which was scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time, preserved Liverpool’s long unbeaten run. They also denied valiant Villa a reward that their whole-hearted display merited. A draw would have represented a fair enough result, but this defeat was more than harsh. By the way, where did those 5 minutes of second half stoppage time come from (he actually played 7)? When this stoppage time Brexit like extension was announced, it seemed to me that the referee was prepared to play on for as long as it took for Liverpool to get a winner. Once we had to endure Fergie time, is Klopp time now a thing? Villa gave everything they had yesterday. We defended like Springboks and to come out of this game with no points to show for it was so incredibly hard to take, for both players and fans alike. The fans were our twelfth man, the referee filled that role for Liverpool. Having tripped Marvelous and then immediately brought down McGinn for the free kick that produced our goal. Why had their 94th minute goal scorer Mane, not been booked before receiving his eventual 37th minute yellow card, for example? Liverpool did have the lion’s share of the possession and they kept going forward remorselessly until the last minute of prolonged stoppage time. Ultimately this was a heroic effort and a very harsh result, but you can’t really expect to survive by dropping too far back with half an hour plus stoppage time still to be played. The ball was played out of defence and into their half, before being quickly returned into the final third of our half all too often. Our players were understandably becoming increasingly tired as the game wore on and Liverpool do have a habit of getting late goals against their opponents. Nevertheless, the longer the game continued with our slender lead intact, the more hope grew that this would be the game when Liverpool’s late onslaught came to nothing, but it was not to be. One goal was hard enough to take but two was nothing short of inhumane! There was not to be the embarrassing capitulation that gift wrapped the points to Liverpool on their last visit to Villa Park on this occasion. This time they made a late smash & grab for them. They will have made their way back home relieved that their unbeaten record remains intact, knowing they had been in a real game this time and no doubt relieved and more than a little surprised to have won it. This was the sort of prestige fixture that last season’s promotion, gave us the opportunity to play once again. It is not a game to be in trepidation of, although currently it does represent a bit of a free hit for us. What we have proved now, is that we can compete again with the best. We also have the nucleus of a team that can settle into the Premier League and that could in time become accepted, once again as belonging in it. We didn’t take a point yesterday or from Manchester City, but we were not really embarrassed by either side. For a minimum of 45 minutes at Citeh and for much of this game, we made the two best sides in the country work very hard for what they got. If we approach that sort of form, now that those two games are behind us against the rest of the clubs that are destined to finish below them, then we can comfortably gather the points that we will need to ensure our safety. My player ratings from a game during which our players got scant reward for the immense effort that they put into it are: Tom Heaton – 8 – Made a nice 18th minute save from Saleh at the near post. Saved low at his near post twice from Wijnaldum and then Mane on 49 minutes. Tom also did so well to block a close-range goal bound 60th minute Mane header at the near post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Picked up an early knock that he gamely played on with, until his 69th minute substitution. Did well, particularly as he was clearly carrying a niggle. Bjorn Engels - 9 – Did well to clear a dangerous 36th minute Robertson ball into the box for a corner. He was in the right place at the right time so often yesterday. Tyrone Mings – 9 – MOTM – Looked every inch the captain yesterday, encouraging those around him in their endeavours and carrying out his own in an exemplary fashion. Did very well to block a glancing Mane header, that was heading towards the near post on 26 minutes. Matt Targett – 8 – Hit a nice 9th minute cross that was aimed for Wesley which ran past him into the path of Engles who really should have got his head to it, inside the 6-yard box. He was very solid at the back. Anwar El Ghazi – 8 – Might have given us a lead in the 1st minute when Wesley squared the ball to him and it somehow eluded both van Dijk and Mane on the edge of the area, but his shot was hit straight at Alisson. More involved in the game than he often is and did some tracking back, although Mane ran inside him to meet Robertson’s 87th minute cross, before heading the ball past Heaton at the far post. Marvelous Nakamba – 9 – Fully lived up to his name yesterday. Worked incredibly hard. Hit a splendid 78th minute ball from within his own half that found Trezeguet, who in turn played a nice cut back to find Hourihane inside the left of the box, which on another day might have produced a second goal. John McGinn – 9 – He didn’t stop working yesterday. He burst out of defence with pace, snapped at the feet of opponents and did the work of two men in the middle. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Looked very good at times, particularly when he was moving forward with the ball. Trezeguet - 9 – Ran himself to a standstill and then ran some more. Scored his first Villa goal to give us the lead that we held onto until so near to the end of this game on 21 minutes. McGinn floated a free kick that found him at the near post, from where he squeezed a shot into the net, past Allison’s right leg. Hit the air rather than the ball at the far post on 36 minutes when trying to volley a well-aimed ball from El Ghazi to him. Worked tirelessly in his own half and in the opposition’s one throughout. Wesley – 8 – This was much more like it. If he consistently chased, challenged and put himself about as much as he did in this game, then Wes would prove more than a handful for defenders, particularly as you don’t come up against the likes of van Dijk every week. It was particularly pleasing to see him going from one attempted challenge to another 5 times, closing opponents down each time just prior to his late substitution. He can feel aggrieved by numerous refereeing decisions that went against him during this match. Substitutes: Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 - Came on for the injured Guilbert on 69 minutes. Conor Hourihane – 6 - Replaced Douglas on 73 minutes. Allison closed him down at the near post and his attempted 78th minute cross was cleared by van Dijk, when a shot might just have given us a two-goal lead. Seemed to find it more difficult than he usually does to get into this game. Jonathan Kodjia – Replaced Wesley on 86 minutes. Might have got a head to, rather than swung a leg towards, the corner that Mane got his head to at the near post for their late, late winner. Not on long enough to get a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  13. The current league leaders visit Villa Park on Saturday. Their supporters are already in a state of shock, because this is a rare Liverpool away game that has not been chosen for live television coverage and it is also to be played on a Saturday afternoon with a 3 o'clock kick-off! Let's give them another shock and take a point or three from the game. A win would bring us within 14 points of our visitors and it would abruptly terminate their current unbeaten record. They may have gone 27 games without defeat, but they haven't played Dean Smith's new Aston Villa yet! We won 2-1 in 1998 against Saturday's visitors, with Stan Collymore scoring both of our goals. Since then Liverpool have lost only once in 18 visits to Villa Park, with Downing scoring the only goal of the game in 2011. Overall, we have won 55 and have drawn 40 of the 182 league games, that have been played between the two clubs. Liverpool's unbeaten record has not always looked that secure away from Anfield of late. They only drew at Old Trafford in their last game and didn't look all that comfortable when winning by one-goal margins at Sheffield United, Chelsea and Southampton. Let's make this a Villa win to place alongside our tremendous home wins of 1992 (4-2), 1981 (2-0) and 1976 (5-1)! Just do it for us Villa (although, I would take a point)!
  14. Villa made 9 changes last night, but our Black Country visitors outdid us by making 11. This game was not therefore played at the level or intensity that we can expect when these two teams meet again in a week and a half. Wolves clearly demonstrated through their team selection, like Brighton before them, that this competition was not a priority for them. They paid the price for that decision and I rather hope Liverpool will play their kids in the next round as well! There was no real tempo to this game, particularly in the first half. Wolves played a big part in this, because both teams need to contribute towards a game for it to sparkle. The young side that Wolves selected lacked experienced players alongside them and it showed. This was a game that looking at the team sheets, we were expected to win. We did so, without needing to get out of second gear and we didn’t. We did what was necessary to win and that was not too much last night. This game was therefore some way off the blood and thunder that would normally be associated with a local derby, that was a cup tie to boot. That’s not our fault alone. It takes two to tango and although the game was a bit of a damp squib, we did win it and are now within touching distance of another potential Wembley appearance. The game looked a bit like a friendly, until they equalised, and we then quickly restored our goal advantage. A one-goal lead is a slender one, but it had always looked like being enough to take us into the last eight. It wasn’t to be a happy ending for visiting fans last night on their big day out. It wasn’t to be too much of a spectacle for us either, but victory was ours and that is what the record books will show. My player ratings from a game that proved that we have the greater squad strength of the two Premier League outfits are: Jed Steer – 6 – Pulled off a vital save from Cutrone on to keep us ahead. Stood little chance with their goal, Cutrone having ran between Conor and Kortney to meet Taylor Perry’s 54th minute cross, he then poked it inside the near post and past Jed. It was otherwise a quiet evening for our keeper. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Captain for the night and his experience told at times. Got a fine touch at the near post on Lansbury’s 57th minute cross to give us what proved to be our winner. Ezri Konsa- 7 – Looked very composed. Kortney Hause – 7 – Easily won challenges in the air and he will have enjoyed this win. Neil Taylor – 4 – Almost took this game into penalties with an awful, casual, badly under hit attempted back pass that was pounced upon on the edge of the box by Cutrone. He looked destined to hit an undeserved second equaliser as he ran into the box, but Steer did very well to make ground towards him and block his shot with his legs. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Put us ahead on 28 minutes. Lansbury threaded a lovely ball past a defender and Anwar hit it with his right and the ball trickled in past Ruddy’s right hand for our opener. Hit an effort wide of the right-hand post from around 30 yards in first half stoppage time. Headed a 65th minute Elmo cross that Ruddy saved at the near post and was then unlucky when he hit a 70th minute Taylor cross that hit Bennett, which would otherwise have found the net. A decent enough showing, but he could have done even more against these opponents. Henri Lansbury – 7 – Started quietly but later imposed himself on the game and was involved in both of our goals. Headed an 80th minute Trezeguet cross wide of the far post, when he should really have been on target. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Hit a speculative 21st minute shot over the bar from around 25 yards. Lost possession too easily just inside his own half to Taylor Perry and that casual moment led to their equaliser. His quality otherwise stood out in the middle. Conor Hourihane – 6 – A fair display. Trezeguet - 6 – Hit a 62nd minute shot wide of the near post, having been found inside the box by Hourihane. Kept busy. Keinan Davis – 7 – MOTM – Held the ball up well once again, won the ball in the air and ran strongly with it. He does everything, other than really look like scoring. If he were able to add goals to his game, then we would have a £25m striker on our hands. Left the field having appeared to pull a hamstring on 49 minutes and we missed him up front. Substitutes: Jonathan Kodjia – 5 - Replaced Davis on 50 minutes. A welcome return to the first team following injury, but he will need to show more than this and to find his match fitness quickly, with Davis likely to be out for a period. John McGinn – Replaced Lansbury on 81 minutes. His coming on, demonstrated the comparative strengths of the two benches. Not on long enough to earn a rating, but he did gather an unwanted yellow card. Hit an 83rd minute shot just over, having seen an effort a minute earlier blocked. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  15. I suspect that this may be a battle between two teams, that include few players that started for their club last weekend. If so, I think this favours us, because I rate our squad the stronger of the two. It's a local derby, so the clubs might yet be tempted to play a couple of regular starters. Whatever happens selection wise, I think we can expect a proper cup tie and a great Villa Park evening atmosphere. This is a cup competition that both clubs have won. Our visitors have done so twice, in 1974 & 1980. We have lifted the trophy a little more often, in 1961, 1975, 1977, 1994 & 1996. Overall, in League Cup ties between the two clubs, we have recorded four wins (in 1996, 1989 & 1982 in both legs) and have drawn once (in 1989). They have yet to progress to the next round having been drawn against us and long may this continue to be the case! Wolves last won at Villa Park 8 years ago and had not won at Villa Park since 1980 prior to that. They were beaten 4-1 on their last visit to Villa Park, in March of last year. A win would take us into the last eight and there would be at least two teams from outside of the PL and Championship waiting for us as potential opponents in the draw. I rather fancy another trip to Wembley, so just win it for us Villa!
  16. I love your confidence, but I think that Steer should be between the posts rather than in Witton Lane.
  17. A win will take us within 5 points of the current league champions. It would also be our third successive league win and a draw would stretch our unbeaten run to five PL games. We last won at the Etihad Stadium in 2012. That League Cup game was all square at 2-2 after 90 minutes, with Barry (o.g) and Gabby our scorers. N'Zogbia and Gabby again, scored during extra time, to give us a fine 4-2 win. Our last league win there was in 2007, when goals from Carew and Maloney gave us a 2-0 win. More alarmingly, Manchester City have scored 3 or more goals in their last six home league games against us. Overall, we have won 52 and have drawn 39 of the 154 league games, that there have been between the two clubs. This is a free hit in my opinion. After all, even if we were going for the league title, then this would be one of the few games that we might might anticipate losing. That said, Wolves have won there and they are currently below us in the league table. Our hosts have also not quite hit top gear yet either. It would be nice to concede less than 3 goals and score 1 or more ourselves. It would also be nice to give them a bit of a game. It would be even nicer to come away from this one with a point or three..
  18. Wesley was very close to a 5 for me. Ratings are all about opinions and its rare for us all to agree on too many. I'm sure that we would all agree on him getting a 10 on Saturday if he serves up a hat-trick though.
  19. Targett applied a Matt finish in the dying seconds of this game to break the hearts of Brighton fans and players alike yesterday. His late, late winner sent us up into mid table above our visitors and prevented VAR from robbing us of another two points. Quite why VAR chose to overrule the match officials and cancel out Hourihane’s well hit 42nd minute goal is beyond me. It certainly was not a clear and obvious error by the match referee, to not rule that Wesley’s attempt to reach a cross from Guilbert at the far post, represented an illegal challenge on Ryan as he flapped at the ball. Yes, Wesley’s arm was raised, as is invariably the arm of anyone who tries to climb in the air to head the ball. To adjudge that to represent a foul on Ryan is taking protection of the goalkeeper, way too far. This decision left me wondering, how many of Andy Gray’s or Peter Withe’s headed goals VAR would have ruled out?’ Brighton started brightly yesterday and scored a 21st minute goal that we could see was coming, from a Gros free kick that was floated towards Webster on the left edge of the 6-yard box. The defender had unforgivingly been left unmarked and he proceeded to head the ball back across the face of the goal and into the far corner of the net. Having been reduced to 10 men on 35 minutes, our visitors still posed an occasional threat to us during the second half. They came into this game with confidence following a surprising, yet well-earned win against Spurs. Their performance yesterday, should probably have seen them coming away from Villa Park with at least a point, against a Villa side that had struggled to find the scintillating form, that had put Norwich to the sword before the international break. Our visitors made their long journey back to the South coast yesterday, having failed to register their first ever win at Villa Park and having been denied a point by our late winner. This was because for once, we were able to find a way of beating both 10-men and VAR. VAR really does need sorting out. We are in mid-table despite VAR, which again intervened as the players had been about to re-start the game. It had also done so in the first half of our last home game, when it cancelled out McGinn’s goal against Burnley, as the players lined up for the re-start. It is rapidly killing the spontaneity of goal celebrations. When the ball has crossed the line, fans at the game are now in fear of its intervention until the game has been re-started. Goal celebrations, which are such a joyous part of attending a game, are therefore now understandably becoming muted. Brighton had enjoyed the better of the game before Mooy’s sending off. Having escaped an early booking, he could have no grounds to complain that he had been harshly treated on collecting 2 yellow cards so soon. Perhaps he was still finding difficulty in coming to terms with England’s earlier convincing World Cup win against the Wallabies! Another 6 points would see us match the total number of points that we were able to accumulate during the whole of the last season that we spent in the Premier League. This like the Norwich game before it, could have been considered a potential 6-pointer. It certainly represents a welcome win, given that our next two league games are against Manchester City and Liverpool. We were not at our best yesterday, but we didn’t resort to hoofing the ball into the penalty area as time was running short on us and winning on your “off days” is a necessary habit to acquire for any successful football team. We stretched our unbeaten home run to four games yesterday, came back to win the game having been a goal behind and have now won our last two league games. These results have seen us go ahead of Manchester United in the league table. I must admit that I rather like seeing that again, it has been far too long since that was last the case! My player ratings from a game that left us singing “Sweet Caroline” again when the final whistle sounded are: Tom Heaton – 7 – Got down to stop a 26th minute Maupay shot at his left-hand post. Maupay then played a nice ball on for Connolly, whose 31st minute shot from right of the penalty spot was prevented from giving them a 2-goal lead by Tom’s left foot. He gathered another Maupay shot at the second attempt on 45 minutes and did well again when he saved a 66th minute Montoya shot low at his left-hand post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Hit a couple of nice crosses into the box, including the one that produced our equaliser. Bjorn Engels - 6 – Played his part in the centre of our defence. Tyrone Mings – 7 – A solid performance. Matt Targett – 7 – Scored our winner with the last kick of the game. He was found by a well weighted 94th minute ball from Jack and coolly hit our second from the left edge of the 6-yard box, past Ryan and into the far corner of the net. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – Had a 29th minute shot from the edge of the box blocked by a defender and hit a loose ball that had cannoned off Ryan wildly over the crossbar on 42 minutes. He really should have done so much better from only 6 yards out. He also headed a nice 67th minute Trezeguet cross harmlessly wide of the far post. Anwar can and needs to do better than this. Marvelous Nakamba – 6 – Left with a lot to do by himself in the middle yesterday. John McGinn – 6 – Some way off his usually very consistent best yesterday. Found the side netting with a shot on 37 minutes and had an on target shot blocked 3 minutes later. Hit a 65th minute shot over the bar, after Jack had pulled the ball back to him on the edge of the box. Jack Grealish – 9 – MOTM – Pulled the strings in our midfield yesterday and made good runs forward. Scored our equaliser and created our late winner. McGinn found Jack just outside the left of the box, he then played a superb ball between 2 defenders for Targett to hit our late winner. Jack had earlier started and finished the move that produced our equaliser in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time. He ran forward with the ball before finding Wesley near the edge of the box, who in turn played the ball out wide to Guilbert whose low cross eluded a defender and Ryan before being bundled home by our captain. Conor Hourihane - 8 – Wrongly given a booking on 19 minutes and thereby conceded the free-kick from which Brighton scored their increasingly likely goal, having made a perfectly fair tackle and won the ball. Unluckily hit the left post with a 23rd minute free kick from 30 yards out. Conor was even more unfortunate to have VAR cancel out what would otherwise have been a 42nd minute equaliser. Ryan had been unable to deal with a cross aimed towards the far post by Guilbert for Wesley, the ball ran to McGinn who played the ball to Conor, whose accurate shot beat the keeper and found the top left-hand corner of the net. He attempted to turn in a 51st minute Targett cross, but hit the ball directly at Ryan, who blocked it and El Ghazi failed to turn in the loose ball. We missed Conor’s midfield contribution following his 63rd minute substitution, which led to Brighton at least initially, having more of a say in the middle. Wesley – 4 – Hit a 53rd minute cross over the bar and struggled to make any impression against defenders who looked like extras from “Land of the Giants”. Substitutes: Trezeguet – 6 - Replaced Hourihane on 63 minutes and looked worthy of a start next time out. Douglas Luiz – Replaced El Ghazi on 76 minutes. Hit an 88th minute shot from outside of the box a couple of feet wide of the post, having been teed up by Jack. Not on quite long enough to gather a rating. Keinan Davis – Replaced Wesley on 76 minutes. Not given long enough to earn a rating. He did however, do very well to take a 93rd minute cross down on his chest, before turning powerfully back towards goal and then hitting a shot from a wide angle, that Ryan fingertipped wide of the far post for a corner. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  20. Brighton have never won at Villa Park. We know all too well that such records are there to be broken, but hopefully this one will remain intact after Saturday's game. Overall, we have won 9 and have drawn 6 of the 18 league meetings, that there have been between the two clubs. Brighton last beat us at The Goldstone Ground 39 years ago. Who would have thought that we would go on to be champions after that? I must admit, that I had a doubt or two myself. A win will take us 2 points ahead of our visitors. Let's stretch our unbeaten home run to 4 games and get up to mid table with another win. Just do it for us Villa!
  21. John

    Douglas Luiz

    Yes, but I doubt that is not a decent sum and it's probably the only way we got the deal done. He will have to be some player (which I suspect he will become) with us to attract them to buy him back, so it's potentially still a bit of a win for us.
  22. John

    Douglas Luiz

    He's our player now, so I don't care what Pep wants or doesn't want. I think that he will soon become a first team starter for us and that it will take a lot of money for Pep to get him back (assuming he's still there then).
  23. The league table looks do much better for us, following Norwich's biggest ever defeat against us yesterday. Delia Smith gives her six favourite autumn recipes in The Sunday Times today. I tried the Stuffed Canary yesterday and I can't get enough of it!
  24. We're having a disco!!! A fantastic win.
  25. Really? I had heard that he only had a tiny tempah...
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