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Found 132 results

  1. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later.
  2. Wolves last managed a league double against us in 1963. That they were able to do it again, so easily this afternoon, was nothing short of embarrassing. There was not a lot between the two sides during the first quarter, but the visitors became increasingly dangerous in the second and winning this game, was far too easy for them during the second half, when they were able to sit back and see the game out. We did not look like scoring at any time and one goal is usually more than enough to give our opponents three points, so it proved today. We did not create anything, we did not have any cutting edge or movement up front, dead balls were often miscued, and what crosses there were, did not trouble the Wolves defence at all. Our defence does look stronger of late, but a clean sheet is a rarity for us, and it always seemed inevitable that we would concede at least one goal today. Two points from four games since the restart is clearly relegation form. Things would look even more bleak, if the teams that are around us were not treading water too. We cannot rely on our fellow strugglers continuing to be quite so obliging. Four games coming in such quick succession, was always going to be a real test for our squad. One thing that today demonstrated, is that we do not have the sort of squad from which, you can pluck players to be able to rest our regular first team starters and still expect to win games. We may not be mathematically down yet, but with only six games remaining and with Liverpool, and then Manchester United up next, we do look like we are going to need an awful lot of points from our last four games, to make any sort of fight of it. We have missed the encouragement of the fans at our three home games since the restart. What ever happened to the passion of the Villa team that beat both Everton and Newcastle 2-0 at Villa Park last year? Our realistic target at the start of this season was 17th place, it is now looking increasingly likely that we will not achieve that target. I am beginning to wonder if we might have done much the same this season, had we not replaced the bulk of the team that got us promotion last year. After all they did play as a team. As things stand, I would be more than happy, if we still had something to play for on the last day of the season! My player ratings from a game that increased our relegation fears and left PL safety slowly ebbing away from us, are: Orjan Nyland – 3 – He once again demonstrated on the rare occasions he was tested, that he always has a mistake in him. Made an awful error on 42 minutes, that so very nearly gave Wolves a first half lead out of nothing. He shaped to throw the ball to the left, but somehow it slipped out of his hand straight to Jota on the edge of the box. Fortunately, Jota was as shocked as everyone else and hit a rushed shot from the edge of the box over the bar. Gathered a 19th minute Jimenez header at the near post at the second attempt. Beaten from the edge of the box by a Dendonker shot into the left-hand corner of his net on 62 minutes. How we are missing Steer and the assurance of Heaton. Ezri Konsa - 5 – Did well enough again in this role. Kortney Hause – 6 – Did well alongside Tyrone in the centre of defence but looked something less than a threat when in the other box. Tyrone Mings – 6 – Solid at the back. Matt Targett – Substituted on 11 minutes, having tweaked a hamstring in making a simple side footed pass. Not on long enough to merit any rating. Marvelous Nakamba - 4 – Either side of the first half drinks break, the ball bounced off him for an opponent to run clear to the right-hand edge of the box, fortunately we were not punished on those occasions. Sadly, some way off being “marvellous” again today. Conor Hourihane – 4 – Not even his dead balls were up to scratch today. Douglas Luiz – 7 – MOTM – He did not do anything wrong and looks increasingly a comfortable PL player. Hit a shot a couple of yards wide of the post on the hour mark. Jack Grealish – 6 – If anyone was going to get us anything out of this game, it was going to be Jack. He was unable to do it against a well organised outfit. Had a low 37th minute shot from the edge of the box saved by Patricio, who was otherwise mainly a spectator. Mbwana Samatta – 5 – Did not look particularly sharp today, I was hoping to see more energy from him and for him play off Davis, which rarely looked like happening. Keinan Davis – 6 – Worked hard and did hold the ball up at times. Playing with another striker made no positive impact on our longstanding lack of a goal threat, but they lacked any decent service today. Substitutes: Neil Taylor – 5 - Replaced Targett after 11 minutes. Did better than many of us, might have anticipated. John McGinn – 5 - Came on for Hourihane on 60 minutes. Time is running out for him to make a positive late contribution to our season, following his long absence. Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Replaced Konsa on the hour. Did what we have come to expect well enough. Mahmoud Trezeguet – Replaced Marvelous on 82 minutes. Not on long enough to earn any rating. Anwar El Ghazi - Replaced Davis on 82 minutes. Did he touch the ball? Not on long enough to earn a rating, in any case. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  3. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later.
  4. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later.
  5. Their two goals may have had varying slices of luck about them, but they dominated this game from start to finish. We have got to be more positive from now, we probably would have been ripped apart yesterday, had we tried to take the game to our visitors. Instead, we appeared to bank on getting a second successive clean sheet within a week and perhaps even scoring a goal against the run of play, ourselves. We achieved the second of those two objectives when Hause scored on 43 minutes. The chances of our team, which have conceded the most goals in the Premier League, achieving the first objective yesterday, was always slim to none. We put men behind the ball, but it was too easy for the visitors and we only succeeded in delaying the inevitable for an hour, at the end of the day. At half time, some of us dared to dream for a moment, that we might beat a top four team for the first time, since we beat yesterday’s visitors in 2014. Reality soon kicked in though. The ball hitting the back of our net during the second half looked inevitable. The longer we could keep them out, the better our chances, would be of just conceding one goal and of hanging on grimly to a precious point. Things were going to plan for an hour and then in two painful minutes, our cunning plan was left in tatters. Dean surprisingly fielded an unchanged team yesterday. The new rule which allows two extra substitutes, was seen to work well for Chelsea yesterday. Had they only been able to have brought on 3 substitutes, they might not have made a double substitution as early as they did, on 55 minutes and within 5 minutes one of those substitutes had brought them level. The ruling helps the big sides and does nothing positive for the rest. Just look at the options that they had on their bench, compared to the ones that were available to us. A goal was always going to come for Chelsea yesterday. Unfortunately, like the Clapham omnibus, you wait an hour for one and then two come together. We just sat back and invited them forward. They had 74% possession, 19 shots to our 8 and 10 corners to our two. There are lies, dammed lies and statistics. Yesterday the stats showed there was only ever going to be one winner and it was not going to be us. At half time we were outside of the bottom three, will we be able to get ourselves out of it again this season and if we do, can we keep outside it? To have any chance of doing both, we will need to win a couple of games and to gather around 10 points from our remaining 8 games. Games will start running out fast now. We could really do with winning on Wednesday, but we will need to play for a win, and we face a team that won 3-0 yesterday, which will have given our next opponents confidence. Hopefully, our former manager, will choose to play for a draw! My player ratings from a game that would have left the crowd restless very soon after the start, had there been one, are: Orjan Nyland – 5 – Saved with his right hand on 20 minutes, from a Mount shot which was hit from just outside of the box. Pushed out a 31st minute Mount cross at his near post. Fumbled a 32nd minute Kovacic shot from just outside of the box and having failed to catch it, gathered the loose ball at the second attempt. Pulisic was unmarked at the far post when he somehow hit Azpilicueta’s 60th minute cross in the space between Nyland and the crossbar. He was left static on the line, when Giroud turned inside the box and hit a 62nd minute shot that deflected off Hourihane, past Mings behind him (who might otherwise have blocked it) and into the net for their winner. Touched an 84th minute Willian shot from outside of the area over the bar. Ezri Konsa - 5 – Doing as well as can reasonably be expected in his present role. Kortney Hause – 6 – MOTM – Put us ahead against the run of play (to put it mildly) after 43 minutes. Douglas hit a nice ball towards the far post that he stretched a foot to reach, Arrizabalaga blocked it at close range, but Kortney reacted quickly to hit the ball into the far side of the net. Could not quite get over the ball when he headed a 68th minute free kick, that Grealish had flighted into the box over the bar. Tyrone Mings – 6 – Had a solid game in the centre of a defence that was under constant pressure. Matt Targett – 4 – Too many crosses came into the box from his side of the field yesterday. Anwar El Ghazi - 4 – Hit a 32nd minute shot from outside of the penalty area that Arrizabalaga parried at his right-hand post. Anwar was again disappointing. His starting place should be in jeopardy by now, but no-one has consistently impressed in a wide role this season. Perhaps, we should take a leaf out of Sir Alf’s book and try being wingless? John McGinn – 4 – We needed John to hit the ground running, with hindsight that was never likely to happen following a six-month absence. John could still make the difference in the games that are to come, but he again ran out of steam today and was unable to play the all action role that he played so well at the beginning of this season and last. Could not get enough on his 34th minute header on a nice cross from El Ghazi that drifted well wide of the far post. Douglas Luiz – 6 – He is looking increasingly like the player that we had hoped that we had signed, since the restart. If only he could add a couple of those tremendous goals that he scored earlier this season, to what is a quickly improving midfield contribution. Jack Grealish – 5 – He really needs to play in the centre, where he will be more involved. We are currently wasting him; he is not a wide player! He is the player, that is most likely to unlock a defence, but he does not look likely to do that, too often currently. He can do much more than this. Chelsea appeared to be under instruction, to take turns to bring him down, during the game. Conor Hourihane – 4 – Quite a drop in his performance from what he produced on Sunday, but if we were going to attempt to play like this, then surely Marvelous would have been the right choice from the start. Keinan Davis – 5 – Put himself about, but he needs someone playing alongside him if we are to score the goals that we need to. I would have started Samatta, in a game like this myself. Substitutes: Mbwana Samatta – 5 - Replaced Davis after 57 minutes. Needs to start games now. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 - Came on for El Ghazi again, this time a minute later, on 70 minutes. Was not able to make any positive impact during the time that he had on the pitch. Marvelous Nakamba – 5 - Replaced Hourihane on 70 minutes and did not make a noticeable difference when added to our non-existent midfield. Jota - Replaced the usually irreplaceable John McGinn on 87 minutes. He was not on long enough to earn a rating, but he did have a late opportunity to steal us a point, with his first touch of the game on 87 minutes. Mings hit a free kick from just inside his own half, that Samatta headed into the box and Jota hit the ball inches wide of the far post. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  6. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later.
  7. We know that VAR is loath to overrule a referee’s decision. Yesterday, showed that it is equally reluctant to overrule a goal line decision, that has been made by Hawk-Eye! Let us have a look at the positives. We kept a rare clean sheet; we took a point that might just prove to be the one that keeps us up at the end of the season and we did not get beaten by a team that many made favourites before kick-off yesterday. The negatives are that a point might not prove to be enough at the end of the day, we did not really look like scoring ourselves too often, we have a problem between the sticks and we are still in the bottom three. The “goal that never was” will be the only talking point for neutrals following this game. What a tragedy that a combination of a Hawk-Eye malfunction, the referee’s usual aversion to viewing an incident using the touchline camera and VAR’s resolute determination not to overrule a decision reached by a match referee, combined to deny Sheffield United yesterday. Before yesterday’s game, VAR had been fast running out of time, to begin to even out the incorrect decisions that had already cost us points, over the course of this disrupted season. It is about time, that we benefited from one of the many dubious decisions, that have been made so far this season. In my view, we are probably owed a couple more, to prevent such decisions having had a significantly negative influence on our relegation struggle. Something that was proved beyond doubt yesterday, was that fans really are vital to making a football match what it is. Without us there is no atmosphere and there is a lack of encouragement for the players. Yesterday’s game was reminiscent of park’s football, the tinned crowd murmur that Sky gave us, in no way matched the vibrance of a packed Villa Park and I gave up on it after a couple of minutes. Should Sheffield United now be awarded a point or even two? I do not recall the same question being asked when we were on the wrong end of earlier decisions. Should we have allowed Sheffield United to score an unopposed goal, as Leeds did for us at the end of last season? That decision cost Leeds nothing. They were already in the playoffs and automatic promotion was unattainable, but doing so yesterday, could ultimately have seen us relegated, so most definitely the answer is no. The referee’s decision is final, after all. Some will claim that the decision will disadvantage our fellow relegation strugglers, well previous decisions that went against us, worked to their advantage and they cannot have it both ways! We were the better team yesterday and we gave a better performance than we had done in the league games that we had played, just before the season was interrupted. Both teams were clearly lacking in match sharpness, hopefully we may therefore have a slight fitness edge when we play Chelsea at the weekend, as we now have a game behind us. Dean made a couple of surprising team selections yesterday. He explained that he was rewarding those players that had looked brightest in training during the past couple of weeks. There will also be a need to not overwork players during what will be a hectic run of games in the coming weeks. We looked more solid at the back yesterday and we created the lion’s share of what few chances there were. We have stopped the rot of 5 successive defeats, that we had suffered before the restart and we are now within a point of safety, although our goal difference is inferior to those clubs who are currently directly above us. The point we got yesterday was much better than nothing, but Sheffield United had looked beatable yesterday and we will need slightly more than an average of a point a game from our remaining games, if we are to make it to safety. My player ratings from a game, before which we remembered those lives lost to Covid-19 to date and players demonstrated their support for the Black Lives Matter campaign by taking a knee, were: Orjan Nyland – 4 – His susceptibility in the air has long been a cause for concern and it will have been gleefully noted by our future opponents yesterday. He so nearly gifted them a goal that would have badly deflated us, if not cost us the game on 42 minutes. Norwood aimed a free kick from the left towards the angle, between the bar and the far post. Nyland fumbled the ball and went backwards over the line, with Davis an immovable object standing at the post, thus preventing him being able to fully stretch out his arms to try to keep the ball on the right side of the line. This error will have left him lacking in confidence, fortunately it did not cost us a goal, but it may well cost him his starting place. Ezri Konsa - 6 – Surprising to see Ezri popping up here, rather than Elmo or Guilbert. Did well though. Kortney Hause – 5 – A 35th minute Hourihane corner found him at the near post, but it hit him, rather than was headed by him and the ball went harmlessly wide. Hit a very lackadaisical ball across the edge of the penalty area on 70 minutes into no man’s land, which was picked up by McBurnie. He found Lundstram, whose shot from inside the box flashed wide of the post Tyrone Mings – 6 – Not quite at his best yet, but he did his bit in holding this new-look defence together. Had claims for a penalty when his shirt was grabbed, and he was pushed out of reach of the ball. Matt Targett – 6 – A solid defensive display. Anwar El Ghazi - 5 – Jack hit a lovely ball to him and he proceeded to hit a 58th minute cross that just needed a touch, but the ball had passed Davis, before he had stretched his leg out. Had a shout for a penalty when there was contact on the edge of the box, but he does tend to throw himself to the ground and that does not always encourage referees to make penalty decisions, if you are wearing our shirt, at least. John McGinn – 6 – After six months absence this was a very welcome return, but John was unsurprisingly, rather ring rusty yesterday. The 76 minutes that he played, will see him nearer to his best, come the weekend. Got a decent header to a 17th minute Grealish free kick that was gathered by Henderson. Jack also found him on the edge of the box on 60 minutes, but Henderson pushed his shot past his left-hand post, easily enough. Worked himself into the ground for the cause. Douglas Luiz – 6 – A good solid performance. Jack Grealish – 7 – Opponents were once again, given licence to bring down Jack, without any fear of seeing a yellow card, as a result. Played a role in most of our better moments and will hopefully get back up to full speed shortly. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Had a 6th minute shot from about 8 yards saved by Henderson at his near post. Good delivery with that left foot as always and was more involved than he has been in some other games. Keinan Davis – 7 – MOTM - He put himself about up front and unsettled their defenders. He does so many good things, but he needs the confidence that a goal will give him. I had thought on hearing he would be starting, that he would be playing alongside Samatta rather than instead of him. Nevertheless, this was a good display by Keinan. Should have done better on 11 minutes, when Hause headed a Grealish corner at the far post, back across the goalmouth. Keinan headed the ball over the bar from close range when under pressure from a defender. So unlucky, when he chested down a nice ball from Targett on the edge of the area and then hit a 52nd minute shot that Henderson kept out at his near post, with his outstretched right hand. Substitutes: Mbwana Samatta – 5 - Replaced Davis after 69 minutes. He did not have the time to make a mark on this game, but he has goals in him and therefore needs to start games like these, in my opinion. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 - Came on for El Ghazi on 69 minutes. Did not make a significant positive impression on the game, during the time he had available to do so. Marvelous Nakamba – Replaced McGinn on 76 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Ahmed Elmohamady - Replaced Konsa on 76 minutes. He was also not on long enough to earn a rating. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  8. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong.
  9. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  10. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  11. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  12. Another late goal won it at Villa Park yesterday, but this time the boot was on the other foot and the late winner left us devastated, rather than ecstatic. This was a good game and we shouldn’t forget that Villa made a big contribution to that. A point would have been well deserved and it would have seen us, view the game much differently at the final whistle. As it was two stoppage time goals, at the end of both halves, did for us. How did we come to be a goal down at half time, having dominated the first quarter of the game and having had the best of the first half? Tyrone’s tonsillitis couldn’t have struck him down earlier during the winter break could it? How did Spurs not have a player booked, when we had two of our players shown a yellow card? When will VAR begin to give us decisions, rather than conspire to rob us of crucial points? VAR did something that it is normally very loath to do yesterday, it chose to overturn a referee’s decision. It was brought in to prevent clear and obvious errors. It took over a minute to find a reason to award Spurs their penalty at the end of the first half, that in real time neither the crowd, the players nor the match officials, considered was a clear or an obvious penalty. VAR is fast running out of time to even out its decisions over the course of the season, to prevent it being seen to have had a significantly negative influence on our relegation struggle. The point that we had in our possession, as the game went into the last minute of stoppage time, might well have proved crucial at the end of the season, we now have to hope that dropping it doesn’t come back to haunt us in May. On the bright side, we are still outside the bottom three and will hopefully have Tyrone back for the next game and McGinn back, in around a month. We will win games if we play like this and can tighten things up at the back. To quote Jose, “I think they did not deserve to lose” and I agree with him. Spurs are a top side and we had them on the ropes early on. Had it not been for a late error we might have claimed a point. Four more wins could keep us up and I’m not yet quite convinced that is beyond us. Our defence had always looked susceptible to being hit on the break yesterday and so it painfully proved. We really can’t afford to be without our big hitters. We are already trying to cope without John McGinn and our already fragile defence looks incredibly shaky without Mings, who organises our defence so well and is so often what holds it together. Let’s not be too harsh on the player who came into the side in his place and was asked to fill his role yesterday. He did make the challenge that VAR chose to award a penalty for and it was his late lackadaisical mistake, that resulted in the late winner that so cruelly robbed us of the point that our overall performance had deserved. Let’s not forget that he also scored our equaliser though and we will need him, in games that are to come. My player ratings from a game that was entertaining for the neutral, but had a devastating end for us was: Pepe Reina – 8 – MOTM – Pepe was so unlucky to have ended up on the losing side yesterday, having kept us in the game until the last minute. Stood no chance with their first, third and was so unlucky with their second, when having dived to his right to save Son’s penalty, the striker was first to the rebound. Saved low at his near post from Bergwijn after 59 minutes and dived to his right 2 minutes later to keep out a Song effort. He parried a 70th minute cross at his near post from Aurier, after he had made his run behind Targett and saved a 86th minute shot from Son with his legs, to spare Baston’s blushes, before diving low to his left to save a 92nd minute shot from inside the box from Lo Celso. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Made a well-timed 48th minute challenge on Bergwijn, who had run from inside his own half into our box, as he was about to shoot. Ezri Konsa - 5 – Ran back to challenge Dele Alli, after he had run onto a ball that had gone through him and Reina then did the rest, coming out to block his 73rd minute shot. Bjorn Engels– 5 – He experienced the highs and the very lows of football yesterday. Bjorn finally scored and was credited with his first Villa goal, when he got up well to head Jack’s 53rd minute corner into the right-hand corner of the net. He had earlier conceded a penalty, when he chased back into the box to challenge Bergwijn, who had run onto a 43rd minute long ball from the half-way line, having left our defenders in his wake. He then made the late schoolboy error that cost us the point, that we had fought so hard to win, when he looked to control a nothing ball played towards him in the middle of the park, rather than just hoof it forward. The ball ran agonisingly under his foot and allowed Son to run clear to score their third. He also blocked a 41st minute Bergwijn shot with his body, that VAR spent a full minute looking at, in the hope that it had struck his hand! Kortney Hause – 6 – The best of our three central defenders last night. Did well to get back to block Dele Alli’s 15th minute shot on the edge of the 6-yard box, after El Ghazi’s loose under hit back pass, which had been intended for him, was picked up by the midfielder. Got in another block on the 34th minute, as Moura was about to pull the trigger at the near post and blocked a 41st minute Dele Alli shot, when positioned inside the 6-yard box. Got under a 58th minute Targett corner and his header therefore sailed well over the bar. Matt Targett – 7 – Made a well-timed 27th minute challenge on Aurier, as he was about to cross at the near post. Looked good last night and was our best defender, for me. Anwar El Ghazi - 7 – Hit a 4th minute free kick harmlessly over the bar from around 30 yards. Picked up Reina’s kick on the half-way line and ran purposely forward before hitting the 9th minute cross that Alderweireld turned in to give us the lead, under pressure from Samatta, behind him. Hit a powerful shot from outside of the box, that moved late and that Lloris saved with his hand, and then with his face on 37 minutes. Headed a bouncing ball, from a mistimed header from Engles, that Lloris easily clung onto on 64minutes. Danny Drinkwater – 5 – Unsurprisingly, given his lack of matches he’s still not up to pace yet. He is showing some signs of improvement, but can we afford the time it may take to bring him up to speed, given our present predicament? Douglas Luiz – 7 – Looked very good at times yesterday. Jack made a nice 18th minute run from just inside our half into the box, before finding him in the centre of the area unmarked, but his attempt on goal was blocked by Davies. What a difference another goal would have made then! Jack Grealish – 8 – Given little to no protection by referee Atkinson, who contented himself with telling his opponents how many times they had upended Jack, rather than giving them a yellow card. Made a run into the box and his 10th minute shot was deflected wide of the near post off Dier, ran into the box again a minute later and hit a shot just wide of the far post from the edge of the box. England’s midfield can’t do without him and nor can we. Mbwana Samatta – 8 – Was a thorn in the side of the Tottenham defence from the 1st minute until his 83rd minute substitution. Kept working tirelessly throughout. Headed a 22nd minute El Ghazi cross wide of the near post. Did well to chest down a 51st minute cross for El Ghazi, who shot straight at Lloris. His presence did much to unsettle Alderweireld, when he scored his own goal and he worked very well as a lone striker. He has hit the ground running. Substitutes: Marvelous Nakamba – 7 - Replaced Drinkwater after 60 minutes. He won the ball well and was determined last night. Must start the next game, in my opinion. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 - Came on for El Ghazi on 70 minutes. Didn’t make any significant contribution during the time he was on the field. Borja Baston – Replaced Samatta on 83 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating on his debut or to make any positive impression. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  13. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  14. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  15. Brendan Rodgers had gone 32 cup games unbeaten until last night. The last time a team that he had been managing was knocked out of a cup competition was five long years ago. That defeat also came at the semi-final stage and it was Aston Villa that delivered that knock-out blow as well! This was a proper cup tie. A game that demonstrated that despite its detractors, the League Cup remains a major domestic honour, that both fans and players still obviously care about winning. Both teams went toe to toe during this game, as they had done in the first leg. There was very little to choose between the two sides over both legs and it may have been decided by penalties, had we not again hit another terrific late winner. The disparity that currently exists between the two clubs in the league table was not as evident last night, as it had been at the same venue in the league only last month. The best team won last night. Our players fought like lions to defeat those pesky foxes and it would have been too cruel on them to have ended up on the losing side last night. Brendan Rodgers may choose to bleat on about a penalty appeal being turned down, but it went to VAR and not for the first time this season, VAR chose to support a decision made by the match officials. Such decisions have cost us already this season and the ball was hit very hard from a very short distance before hitting our player’s hand. A VAR decision went our way for once yesterday, that decision was final, and it was simply marvellous! We now have a deserved trip to Wembley to look forward to, but in the interim we need to turn our full attention to our coming league games. The confidence we will take from our cup run can be taken to Bournemouth at the weekend. Dean Smith’s teams tend to have a strong second half of the season and history is hopefully about to repeat itself. Last night will live long in our memories. We have secured a fifth Wembley appearance in five years. This was not an easy win and we didn’t start as favourites, the same will be the case on 1st March. We will walk up Wembley Way in our claret and blue with hope, rather than in trepidation before the final. Our boys will get stuck in and as a club we are not unfamiliar with cup finals. Our opponents can underestimate us, if they so wish. Bring on those Mancunians, either of them! My player ratings from a game that was decided by a late goal that was made in Egypt were: Orjan Nyland – 9 – MOTM – Orjan has made his two best performances in a Villa shirt in this semi-final. The chap waving the Norwegian flag which bore his name upon it before the game, foretold that he would give a MOTM performance! Blocked a 2nd minute shot from Iheanacho at the near post and then made a terrific save to turn Maddison’s 5th minute shot from inside of the box past the left-hand post. Made another top drawer save from the same player, stretching out his left hand to divert his shot from outside of the box, past the same post for a corner. Made a world class save, when he managed to get his fingertips to a 34th minute Tielemans shot from the edge of the box and help it up onto the crossbar. Stood no chance when Iheanacho hit his third goal against us this season, when he was left unmarked to convert a 72nd minute Barnes cross at the far post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Determined, solid and hard tackling. Ezri Konsa - 7 – Was unable to keep his 69th minute header from a Targett corner down, having made a run to the far post and the ball therefore flew over the bar. He will be a threat in opponent’s boxes in future games. Solid enough alongside Tyrone at the back. Tyrone Mings – 9 – Marshalled our defensive line, was strong in the challenge and made his usual timely important blocks. Did particularly well to divert a 78th minute Maddison cross over the bar with Iheanacho waiting for the ball to run onto him. Kortney Hause – 7 – Another competent and reliable display. Matt Targett – 9 – Matt was positive, made very good forward runs and was solid at the back last night. He works well with and enjoys a good understanding with Jack. Grealish played the ball into the left-hand side of the box for him and his 4th minute cross was blocked by the outstretched leg of Schmeichel. Hit our first on 12 minutes. Guilbert won a challenge, found Douglas in the centre circle, who in turn found Jack in space. Jack ran into the box and did well to cleverly play the ball behind him, to Matt who had made a great run into the box. He then hit a powerful shot from the left, past Schmeichel and into the far corner of the net. It had a strikingly similarity to his shot against Watford that produced a goal for Douglas. Anwar El Ghazi - 7 – Back where he belongs and performs best, having been filling in up front due to our recent lack of forward options. Hit a nice 15th minute free kick from around 30 yards, just over the bar. Soyuncu headed his 44th minute cross over the bar, with Jack on the edge of the 6-yard box waiting to get on the end of it. Douglas Luiz – 8 – Looked worth every penny that we paid last night, and he will get better. Marvelous Nakamba – 8 – Lived up to his surname, won the ball at will, worked tirelessly and made a couple of decent passes to boot. Jack Grealish – 9 – Played an excellent ball to Guilbert, who had started his run just too early and although Samatta turned home the resulting 26th minute cross, it had already been correctly flagged offside. Worked a shooting opportunity inside the box with 3 defenders around him after Targett had played the ball into him, but his shot was just wide of the left post. Hit a dangerous 63rd minute cross into the box that Chilwell dived to head out for a corner with Guilbert behind him, having made a good run. Mbwana Samatta – 7 – A promising debut. It was asking a lot of him to come into a game like this one after such a short time at the club and to lead the line. He provided opposition defenders with a striker to worry about at last. He also got into the right place at the right time a couple of times and can be putting those sorts of chances away before too long. Picked up a loose ball and played it wide to Targett; who then played a one-two with Jack before hitting a 38th minute cross, that our new striker was just unable to turn towards goal. Jack played a perfect ball into the box from a central position that just needed a touch from Samatta, at the end of his well-timed 64th minute run. He was inches away from connecting with it and the ball went just wide of the left-hand post. Worked hard and was understandably tiring when substituted on 67 minutes. Substitutes: Keinan Davis – 7 - Replaced Samatta after 67 minutes, making a very welcome return from injury. Keinan made a positive impression during the time that he had on the field to do so. He looked lively and was a handful for tiring defenders. Made a terrific strong run into the box on 87 minutes. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 7 - Came on for El Ghazi after 77 minutes and scored our late winner on 93 minutes. Elmo floated a curling cross into the box, which he made a splendid run onto, before hitting the inviting ball past Schmeichel and into the far corner of the net. Had earlier ran onto a ball played through 2 defenders by Davis, ran inside the box and had his 82nd minute shot gathered by Schmeichel at his near post. Ahmed Elmohamady – Came on for Guilbert on 84 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating, but he was on long enough to hit the sublime cross, that resulted in our glorious winner and gave him the assist. Win the cup Villa! John Lewis
  16. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  17. A bitter blue nose rang Radio WM last night, after they had been denied a late winner and on hearing that we had scored one. He likened it to “Father Christmas, having not delivered your presents at Christmas!” I’m sure that Troy Deeney must have felt much the same at the final whistle, as we taunted him with, “Deeney, Deeney what’s the score?” He may have put them ahead, grinned and goaded us, in his inimitable manner, after scoring his usual goal against us. He wasn’t smirking at the end though! This was the second successive Villa goal, that had come in the dying seconds of second-half stoppage time at Villa Park. It has lifted us out of the bottom three. This was as encouraging a home win, as was the defeat in our last home game to Manchester City, demoralising Who would have thought that this game would really end so gloriously? We were after all, well below our best for much of the game. We had plenty of possession, but we didn’t really threaten to do anything with it in the first hour of the game. We lacked creativity in the middle and had no threat up front, in the continued absence of a striker. We were painfully short of both confidence and belief. Players were often afraid to make a mistake, so tended to play the easier ball, that went backwards rather than forward. The crowd sensed this and rather than get on their player’s backs, they encouraged them forward. The team responded to the urgings of their fans and gave everything that they had to give and then some more. The hard work they put in, was eventually rewarded with the goal that brought us level, with 22 minutes of normal time remaining. A point would be better than nothing, which for a long time had seemed, what we were likely to get. On the contrary, once we got one, we got more or at least we got another crucial, fabulous goal, that secured the three points that we had needed so desperately. Watford got what they deserved last night, nothing at all! They were so very negative, guilty of blatant time wasting at every opportunity and they made a succession of illegal challenges, to break up our momentum, that were treated far too lightly by the referee. However, it was the visitor’s negativity that eventually did for them. Had they pressed for another on going ahead, instead of being content to try to hold onto what they had, they might have added another that would probably have put the game beyond us. Had the referee also allowed extra minutes, rather than seconds at the end of the game for their time wasting, they might also have had the opportunity to look for a late equaliser. Instead, it is the visitors who trooped off the Villa Park pitch, sitting in the bottom three, rather than us! This result has given us something to build upon. It has somehow, made the likely points total that we need to ensure our PL survival, look much more attainable. It may have been one win and only three points, but that win may look immense at the end of the season. Another 13-15 points can put our relegation fears to an end and the sooner we can get them the better! That sort of points target would have looked a real mountain to climb, unless we had found those two wonderful goals last night, to prevent us from being second from bottom of the table today. My player ratings from a game that was never really in doubt…were: Pepe Reina – 7 – Such a good signing. His experience and reliability can prove invaluable in our relegation battle. Stood no chance with Deeney’s close range header, after he had run in between Guilbert and Konsa. Made a terrific treble save on 55 minutes. He first got an outstretched hand to a shot from Deulofeu at his near post and then saved with his legs after Deeney had pounced on the loose ball, before getting a hand to prevent the ball going into the top corner of the net off Mings, with Deeney close behind the defender. Frederic Guilbert – 5 – Made some decent tackles and looked convincing when he got forward. Ezri Konsa - 6 – Didn’t look too comfortable when playing the ball out of defence, in the first half. Allowed the ball to run onto Doucoure near the halfway line, who then found Deulofeu, who in turn ran into the left side of the area before hitting the side netting on 43 minutes. Trezuget pulled the ball back to him on 53 minutes and his shot from outside of the box, flew wide of the left post. Ezri hit a tremendous shot that produced our late winner. It was on target, Foster perhaps would have had a chance to have kept it out, had the ball not took a slight deflection off the prone Mings, but to credit the goal to Tyrone seems harsh on the lad. It seems he will have to be content with claiming a very, very big assist! Tyrone Mings – 7 – Blocked a 30th minute Pereyra shot from outside of the box, with his head, after the player had picked up a loose ball from Guilbert. Organised things at the back and got something on Konsa’s late shot to see himself credited with the winner, when on his back doing an interpretation of the “dying fly”. Reina’s last-minute free kick had fell to him and he had looked to have been brought down before Konsa hit the loose ball, but I have little confidence that the referee would have blown for a penalty, had we not scored. Kortney Hause – 6 – His strength is basic old-fashioned defending and he’s rather good at that, our present system places some additional demands upon him, that he will be working on in training. Matt Targett – 6 – Foster gathered a low 30th minute cross from him, low at his near post. His header from a 58th minute Guilbert cross unfortunately was straight at Foster. Jack found him inside the box and Foster did well to keep out his crisp shot from the left, which fell into the path of Douglas for our first. Danny Drinkwater - 3 – Showed some signs of improvement last night, although it would have been difficult to have looked any less effective than he had on his last home appearance. Made a couple of decent passes, didn’t hide from the ball, was clearly annoyed with himself, when things didn’t go right for him and there is a quality player there. He’s not surprisingly struggling for pace and to find the fitness needed to get from box to box. The boss has made a big call by deciding that we can afford to start him in games to get him match fit, given our present precarious situation. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 – Worked well and tried to get things moving up front. Hit a 60th minute shot over the bar. Marvelous Nakamba – MOTM – 7 – Back to his very best last night. Solid in the middle, won us possession and kept it. Jack Grealish – 7 – A lot of weight has been placed on his shoulders of late, as we have been relying on him both to create chances and to take them. He got a lot of close attention from opponents last night and did not receive too much by way of protection from the referee. He was often faced with two or three men on him, but he continued to push forward and got the reward that his hard endeavour deserved eventually. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – Didn’t get near to winning any of his aerial challenges, when the ball was played up to him in the air. He’s not Peter Withe and he’s no target man either, Anwar needed the ball to be played towards him at ground level, if he was to have any realistic hope of winning it, last night. Was more effective later in the game, admittedly having not done a lot positive before then. Tried to bend a shot into the far corner of the net on 31 minutes from the left of the box, but it went harmlessly over. Showed some tenacity to evade a challenge and get the ball to Jack, in the build up to our first. Substitutes: Douglas Luiz – 7 - Replaced Drinkwater after 56 minutes. Made a difference in the middle and scored our all-important equaliser on 68 minutes when he coolly hit the ball which had cannoned off Foster into the roof of the net. He then proceeded to jump into the Holte End crowd, in much the same way that Andy Gray used to climb the barrier behind the goal, on scoring. It was great to see such a jubilant celebration. Indiana Vassilev - Came on for Trezeguet after 77 minutes. Not on quite long enough to earn a rating but he showed promise. Headed a nice 86th minute Targett cross, wide at the near post. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  18. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  19. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  20. A late goal from the last kick of this sorry game, may have denied last season’s league champions a clean sheet, but it provided us with no consolation. It could not disguise the fact, that this was a grim return to the sort of humiliating non-performance’s, that we produced in the darkest days of season 2015-16! This was no less than shockingly embarrassing. We had started the game back in the bottom three, due to another win from a resurgent Watford earlier that day and at no time did we look capable of holding onto the point that would have taken us back above them. Manchester City ran through us at will. They started confidently and their confidence grew as it became clear that we were there for the taking. A league one or a league two team, would probably have shown more resistance and would have not capitulated as readily as we did yesterday. This defeat by a five-goal margin, could have been much worse. Six goals did not flatter the visitors and didn’t fully demonstrate the gulf in class between the two sides. It did however, effectively cost us the equivalent of 4 points, given the damage this thrashing did, to our previously comparatively healthy-looking goal difference. It also won’t have helped our recruitment process this month. We had the look of a sinking ship yesterday and players won’t be falling over themselves to join us after a display like this. Pepe Reina must have been looking for loopholes in his contract, after witnessing this debacle. We gave the visitors way too much space from the start. We didn’t press or challenge, stood back and just watched them play. We showed them far too much respect and they showed us no mercy. I had hoped before this game that we might produce something like the performance that we had given at Leicester in midweek. In the absence of McGinn and a striker of any description, it seemed unlikely that we could reproduce the sort of display that we gave, when unluckily losing to the champions elect two months ago. Instead we showed no belief and were no less than lambs to the slaughter. This game was lost at kick off, if not before. The visitors bossed the game all too easily and played the ball around as if we were not there, in the knowledge that goals were undoubtably coming. They are to good a team to fail to compete against. This was their attack versus our defence and there was only ever going to be one winner. We couldn’t string a couple of passes together for long periods and our midfield failed to make an impression on the game. Can we come back from this sort of demoralising performance? Well we won’t meet Manchester City again in the league this season and will meet Liverpool only once. Hopefully we will use this window to bring in at least a couple of forwards, so that we have an outlet up front and even a goal threat. Our remaining fixtures include games at Brighton, Bournemouth and West Ham. Watford visit Villa Park next and we really need to be winning games like these four, if we are to survive. Yesterday’s display does not encourage us to believe, but Southampton strung wins together after a 9-goal drubbing and Watford have now climbed above us, having looked done for, not long ago. We are only a point adrift of the next two clubs and are only three behind the next two, so we can but hope! My player ratings from a desperate, dispiriting game, are as follows: Orjan Nyland – 4 – Should have been able to get a hand to Aguero’s shot for their third on 28 minutes. Collected a 34th minute De Bruyne cross low at his near post. Aguero hit a 57th minute shot from the edge of the box into his hands and then having gifted possession back to the visitors with a poor throw, he collected Cancelo’s low cross at the near post. Stuck out a leg to block a 64th minute Silva shot at the near post and blocked a 70th minute deflected shot from the edge of the box from Cancelo Ahmed Elmohamady – 3 – Tried to shepherd the ball over the line, but Aguero was able to pull the ball back and this led to their second. Siva played the ball to his left to find Aguero inside the box and he wasn’t then able to put in a challenge before he hit the fifth, between Hause and Mings and past Nyland’s left hand. Ezri Konsa - 3 – Intercepted a 12th minute Cancelo cross that Jesus would otherwise have been likely to have turned in at the near post. His attempted 81st minute pass to Mings, was instead presented to Cancelo who in turn found Aguero, who proceeded to hit their final goal past Nyland. Tyrone Mings – 5 – Did well to keep out a 64th minute Jesus shot, that would otherwise have produced an earlier sixth for them. Kortney Hause – 3 – Should have been more determined to get a challenge in on Mahrez as he was about to hit home the opener. Neil Taylor – 3 – His 78th minute challenge on Jesus, deflected the ball wide of the near post for a corner. Danny Drinkwater - 2 – Thrown into this one having signed on loan only days earlier and been starved of fist team action for a couple of years. He therefore had some excuse for giving a less than effective performance. Substituted having got some much-needed game time after 79 minutes. Mahrez had went too easily past him on the edge of our box, before hitting their opener. He was then dispossessed by Silva, as he took a touch inside the area when trying to turn, who then set up Mahrez for their second. He was also unable to make any challenge on De Bruyne in the build up to the third and was outpaced by the same player, before he hit the cross for their fourth. Douglas Luiz – 3 – Substituted on 65 minutes. Left Aguero unhindered on the edge of the box; before he hit their third. Conor Hourihane – 2 – Made no impression on this game and his selection instead of the more defensive minded Marvelous was perhaps too adventurous. Jack Grealish – 5 – Picked up an unnecessary late booking for dissent, which could potentially rule him out of a vital future game. Anwar El Ghazi – 5 – Hit a 41st minute shot wide of the far post from just inside the left-hand edge of the box. Hit our 91st minute penalty into the back of the net, to the left of Ederson. Substitutes: Marvelous Nakamba – 5 - Replaced Douglas after 65 minutes and did well enough, on what was a very bad day for others. Trezeguet - 5 – MOTM - Came on for Hourihane on 71 minutes. Made a run into the box and his 86th minute shot was put out for a corner by Gundogan. He was then found inside the box by Jack and went past the same player, before being tripped by him to produce our penalty. Why on earth did VAR take a full minute to check, what was an obvious penalty? Henri Lansbury - Replaced Drinkwater after 79 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  21. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  22. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  23. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  24. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  25. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
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