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Found 122 results

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  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. 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
  12. 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.
  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. 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.
  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. This game wasn’t a Christmas Cracker, but it’s the result that is the be all and end all, given our present precarious situation and we were the club that came away with the oh so precious points. This was our first belated taste of seasonal cheer and didn’t it go down well? We have taken six valuable points from the Canaries this season and now have our first double of the season in the bag as well. Yesterday’s win brought us within a point of West Ham and two behind both Brighton and Bournemouth. Anything less than a win, would have seen an uncomfortable gap start to develop between the bottom three and those clubs. Yesterday’s victory gives us a win and a defeat, from the first two of the critical three-games that will bring 2019 to a conclusion. We travel to a reinvigorated Watford tomorrow and need a minimum of a point and preferably all three, to maintain the healthy gap between the bottom two clubs and ourselves. One goal always seemed likely to win this one, if in fact there was even to be one. At half time, the game looked as if it might just as easily drift into a goalless draw, which would not have been enough for either club. The importance of this game between two clubs that were relegated together and then promoted together three years later, was clear for all to see yesterday. Neither side could afford to lose this 6-pointer and both teams were clearly determined to emerge the victors or at the very least with a share of the points. There wasn’t a lot to choose between the two teams yesterday. Norwich might claim to have had the better of it, they certainly had some clear opportunities, but it was to be Villa that found a lethal finish to secure the points. It was tough on the visitors, but as we have already found out this season, a good performance does not always result in a win or even a draw. We battled well to hold our lead, although we did tend to drop increasingly deep towards the end. This clean sheet has hopefully played a big part in bringing our recent poor run of results to an end, before it could do us irreparable damage. We are now half-way through this season, and we have 18 points from our 19 games. 36 points would be unlikely to keep us up in my opinion and a point a game might not prove quite enough this season, the way the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United are gifting points to teams that are around us. We may therefore need to find as many as 22 points from our remaining 19 matches to ensure our safety. Points from the teams that are around us is what we need, six from Watford to add to the six from Norwich would be nice. We are going to need some new blood next month, the odd unexpected win or two and perhaps VAR giving us something, rather than costing us for a change! My player ratings from a game that brought us three points that could well prove to be crucial at the end of this season, are: Tom Heaton – 8 – MOTM – Gathered a low shot from the edge of the box from Cantwell after 8 minutes. He was relieved when a 17th minute Byram header struck the bar, after the defender had evaded his marker Elmo. Did so very well to keep out a 51st minute Trybull header at his left-hand post, after he had evaded his marker Trezeguet. Made a crucial reaction save on 86 minutes to keep out a shot from Hernandez at his left-hand post. Those two exceptional second half saves, were of the quality that had kept Burnley up before he moved from them to us. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Injected some experience and a cool head into a defence, that had looked so shaky last time out. He also hits a decent cross or two. Ezri Konsa - 7 – He looked solid yesterday and alongside Kortney did well as a central pairing, when under a fair bit of pressure from the visitors. Did well to claim the ball from Pukki after the striker had ran into the box on 20 minutes. Headed a 75th minute corner wide of the far post. Kortney Hause – 7 – Wolves loss has been our gain. Did very well to get a touch on the ball, just as Pukki was shaping to hit it, after the striker had run inside the box and onto a ball from Buendia after 16 minutes. Both Konsa and himself, were running alongside Pukki and Heaton was moving towards the striker to close him down, before Kortney had made that crucial intervention. Matt Targett – 5 – This clean sheet can help his confidence return and that of the squad in general. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – Looked to be on the verge of substitution twice in the first half as he sat despairingly on the turf, apparently putting the extent of his pain threshold to the test. He can drift out of games for periods, but also has occasional moments when he looks a threat and I guess that is what currently keeps him in the starting line-up more often, than not. Made two or three hasty clearances, that unnecessarily handed back possession in the second half. The ball went through his legs, as he attempted to turn a Trezeguet header from a 37th minute Elmo cross, inside the far post with his left foot. Marvelous Nakamba – 4 – Substituted on 56 minutes, having not for the first time of late not quite lived up to his first name. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Made an incredible clearance to deny Tetty a certain goal on 51 minutes, when he somehow stretched to divert his shot over the bar, from no more than a couple of feet from the goal line. Had earlier hit a low shot from the edge of the box, wide of the right post on 6 minutes and hit a 14th minute shot over, after a shot from Konsa had been deflected into his path off Wesley. Jack Grealish – 8 – Enjoyed the extra involvement that playing in the number 10 role gave him yesterday and stepped up to lead by example, with Tyrone and John unavailable to share that responsibility. Hit a 54th minute shot from the edge of the box that Krul saved to his right and claimed an assist for the winner. Trezeguet – 4 – He has a determination about him, but he failed to make any really significant positive impression upon this game. Wesley – 5 – Contributed to this result, with some decent work holding up the ball and some hard-running yesterday. At times, he can give the appearance of a decent striker outside of the box, but any confidence he might once have had inside it, is long gone despite encouragement from supporters, his goal drought continues and shows no prospect of ending in a constant flood of goals. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 7 - Replaced Naka after 56 minutes and hit our winner on 64 minutes. Conor played a one-two with Jack, who jinked into the box before returning the ball to Conor who hit a sweet shot past Krul and into the right-hand corner of the net. He just must start for me, if necessary, instead of one of our wide boys perhaps. Jota - Came on for Trezeguet on 84 minutes and was not on long enough to gather a rating. Henri Lansbury – Replaced El Ghazi after 92 minutes. Not on long enough to attract any rating. Stay up Villa and Happy New Year to all Villa Talkers! 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. We had an unwelcome visit from the ghost of relegations past yesterday. This was our fourth successive league defeat. Unsurprisingly that grim losing run has left us in the bottom three, facing a relegation fight and a possible Fulham-like immediate return to the Championship. In earlier games this season, we could blame VAR for some unjust decisions and rightly claim that we were not getting the points that some of our performances merited. In our last home game, we could point to the fact that we were up against a team in Leicester, who were on the crest of an unbeaten run and thus being outplayed in defeat against them, did not quite seem to be a harbinger of potential doom. The same cannot be claimed, after being outplayed by a team that started the day three points behind us and that won a game that both teams could not afford to lose, way too easily This crucial run of three games, that could set the tone for the rest of this season, could not have started any worse. Nine points from the games against the teams that occupied the relegation places, before yesterday’s abject defeat, could have pulled us clear of them. We must now get something from both of our next two games to prevent Norwich and Watford, pulling us back towards them. We went into this run of games already without Tyrone Mings, who is both inspirational and undoubtably, one of our three most consistent performers. Yesterday a cruel early injury, robbed us of a second of them. Captain Jack has now to lead a team that has fast grown bereft of confidence, to show a determination to compensate for the absence of their two teammates, in the next two vital games we have remaining this year. We started slowly again yesterday, as we had done against Liverpool, but this time it was our visitors that scored the crucial first goal. Our heads dropped all too readily following that opening goal. We badly missed John McGinn when injury robbed us of his strong running and competitive edge. I also wonder why we chose to replace him, after only 8 minutes, with a second holding midfield player in a game that we needed to win. Jack was on the periphery of things, wide on the left and surely, he then needed to be moved into the middle, where he would have had a greater involvement in the game. There was a distinct lack of Christmas cheer to be had at Villa Park for home supporters yesterday. Our visitors were of course happy to receive our gift of three points, but they had perhaps not quite been expecting to have them handed to them on a plate. It is said that it is better to give than to receive, few of us were of that opinion as we left the ground, after this game! My player ratings from a game that we need to put behind us and learn from are: Tom Heaton – 6 – Did well to get right hand to Long’s 21st minute shot from inside of the box, but the ball was pushed into the path of Ings for their opening goal. Prevented Ings from getting a hat-trick when he pushed his 84th minute shot to his left and was relieved when Hojbjerg blasted the resultant loose ball over. He then made a save low to his left from Hojbjerg 4 minutes later. Frederic Guilbert – 4 – Had a shot helped over the bar by McCarthy’s right-hand in the 3rd minute of first half stoppage time, having been found by Grealish on the edge of the box. Bjorn Engles - 4 – Looked a shadow of the player that played so convincingly alongside Mings in earlier games during this season. Was far too easily outpaced by Long, as he ran onto a pass from Redmond that led to their first. Kortney Hause – 5 – The best of our defenders during this one. Coolly chested a Long header down for Heaton to collect on the goal line, with Ings behind him on 26 minutes Matt Targett – 4 – Let Ings run past him as they both ran into the box for their first. Both full backs struggled at the back on Saturday. Anwar El Ghazi – 3 – McCarthy blocked his 15th minute attempt to turn in a Targett cross at the far post. Made a half-hearted at best challenge on Stephens, when marking him at the corner from which he headed their third. Anwar produced one of those infuriating displays yesterday, when he seemed to lack the determination to try to get into the game and to make a positive impression upon it. John McGinn – Substituted after only 8 minutes due to injury, not therefore on long enough to gather a rating. Douglas Luiz – 5 – Hit a 27th minute shot from the edge of the box wide of the left-hand post, having been found by Grealish. Conor Hourihane – 4 – We expect much more from him, but he was not alone in that yesterday. Jack Grealish – 7 – MOTM – Hit our consolation goal on 75 minutes and hit another shot from a similar spot in the 94th minute that moved in the air, which McCarthy pushed out for a corner. His fine goal was the one bright spot in a gloomy afternoon at Villa Park. He chested the ball down, which took one bounce before he hit a sweet shot from the edge of the box into the top right-hand corner. Wesley – 3 – Hit a 19th minute El Ghazi cross wide of the post, which was the way he was facing, rather than turn it towards goal and he was also unable to direct a 37th minute header from an El Ghazi cross towards goal. Headed a corner wide of the post from a 65th minute corner. He lacks confidence, wasn’t provided with a lot of service and didn’t go looking for the ball too often either. At times held the ball up and moved it around but he needs to make a bigger contribution in games like this, that tend to pass him by all too easily. The ball is not his friend on the ground or in the air, particularly when he is inside or near to the area and goals do not seem to be his forte. Substitutes: Marvelous Nakamba – 3 - Replaced McGinn after just 8 minutes. Another player who having shown outstanding early promise, currently is producing something other than marvellous displays. His awful touch on Redmond’s cross presented the ball to Ings for their third on 51 minutes and when the resultant loose ball fell to their striker on the edge of the 6-yard box, the result was all too inevitable. Jonathan Kodjia - 5 - Came on for Hourihane on 56 minutes and looked worthy of a start soon. Trezeguet – 5 - Replaced El Ghazi after 68 minutes. In the absence of Conor, he hit an 80th minute free kick from the left edge of the box that was gathered by McCarthy. Stay up Villa and Merry Christmas to all Villa Talkers! John Lewis
  20. Alan Hansen once said, “You can’t win anything with kids.” Last night proved, that you certainly don’t win cup quarter finals with them! Liverpool could have chosen to play a couple of their first team squad, who would not be needed for tonight’s exacting game against Monterrey last night. Those players could have added a bit of first team experience to last night’s youngsters and then flown out to Qatar today. They chose not to do so. They gave the extra cash that their mid-season trip would give them, priority over a cup competition that they have previously won eight times. By doing so, they undermined this cup competition and left their academy players facing the prospect of a demoralising defeat. Sprinkling their team with 2 or 3 first team squad members would have been unlikely to have won the game for them last night, but it would have made it look more of a match. As it was, the match lacked any real cup-tie atmosphere, the attendance was down on what it would otherwise have been and the result, if not the margin of victory seemed pretty much inevitable at the kick-off. Liverpool got what they deserved last night. An abrupt exit from the cup, their first defeat in 20 games and their heaviest ever League Cup defeat. This was a game that we were expected to win. Failing to do so, would have been an utter embarrassment. We made 10 changes ourselves from Saturday’s PL starting line-up, but this was literally a game of men against boys, no matter how much potential those boys may or may not have. We started hesitantly and it was against the run of play, when we opened the scoring on 14 minutes. There was an element of fortune in that goal and in the second that followed within 3 minutes, but once that 2-goal cushion had been established any contest that there might have been, was extinguished. Our young opponents fought gamely and didn’t let their heads drop, they also enjoyed plenty of possession and might well have scored one or more, had Nyland have not been so determined to keep them out. Having established a four-goal lead at half time, it seemed we were reluctant to press home our advantage in the second half. Perhaps, we had decided to not give the youngsters that had been put up before us as potential lambs to the slaughter, to that slaughter. Certainly, had we put away a couple more of the numerous opportunities that we created last night and moved from second into third gear more often, we might have had two, three or even four more goals last night. My player ratings from a game that left us just one tie from a third Wembley appearance in three seasons are: Orjan Nyland – 9 – MOTM – Top class last night. Made a one handed save at his near post from Elliott on 10 minutes and then blocked a shot from Kane at the same post with his left leg, following the resulting corner. Pushed a 26th minute shot from Christie-Davies over the bar and made a terrific one-handed reaction save to keep out a 54th minute Kane effort from the edge of the 6-yard box. Kept out a 67th minute header from Kane at the near post. Made a smart one handed save from Elliott on 85 minutes and then saved at his left-hand post from Clarkson’s follow up header. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Found by Jota and hit a 17th minute cross from the right-hand side of the box, which took a wicked deflection off a defender, that took the ball over Kelleher and into the net just inside the far post for our second goal. Ezri Konsa- 6 – A quiet evening. James Chester – 6 – So nice to see James back in the first team last night. Neil Taylor – 4 – Didn’t particularly look over comfortable against the opponents he came up against last night. Jota – 6 – Had a hand in our third and fourth goals. Henri Lansbury – 5 – Had a 76th minute shot from the edge of the box parried wide by Kelleher’s right hand. Douglas Luiz – 6 – A solid all-round performance. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Gave us the lead with a 14th minute free kick from the right-hand edge of the box. Kodjia didn’t quite get a touch on it, but his close-range presence, hampered Kelleher’s ability to commit to the goal bound cross. Trezeguet - 6 – He was the first player to look like he wanted to make an impression on this game for us after 10 minutes. Got into scoring positions, but didn’t find the net, having done so. Hit a 57th minute shot harmlessly wide of the far post and another 63rd minute shot from the left-hand corner of the box into Kelleher’s hands. Hourihane played a ball for him to run onto on 63 minutes, he touched the ball past the onrushing Kelleher, but it was hit too weakly from just inside of the box, giving a covering defender the time to get back and clear it before it was able to creep inside the far post. Diverted a 64th minute cross from Lansbury over the bar. Ran onto a 71st minute ball from Douglas, his shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Kelleher’s right foot. Was just unable to get on the end of Wesley’s 75th minute cross and failed to make the necessary contact with his head to an inviting 86th minute Elmo cross to the far post. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Played a role in Hourihane’s opener and added our second shortly afterwards. Jota played a nice ball for him to run onto, he ran inside the box and coolly side footed the ball past Kelleher’s outstretched left leg and into the corner of the net. Jota then brought the ball under control before finding Elmo on the right-hand of the box, his 45th minute cross was prodded home with his left foot from the edge of the 6-yard box. This was a real poacher’s goal and his goals made a case for a starting place on Saturday. He also made a well-timed run onto a ball from Lansbury and hit a 60th minute shot from the edge of the box, that was pushed past the far post by Kelleher’s left hand, before it was adjudged to have been marginally offside. Substitutes: Wesley – 6 - Replaced Kodjia on 73 minutes. Made an opportunity for Trezeguet and then scored our fifth on 92 minutes to respond to the challenge that Kodjia’s brace of goals had made to his starting spot. Made a nicely timed run onto a ball from Trezeguet, he ran into the box before calmly placing the ball past Kelleher and into the far corner of the net. This was an accomplished finish, that has brought a lengthy goal drought to an end and should give him some much-needed confidence. Kortney Hause – Replaced Chester on 77 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Up the 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. Leicester came to Villa Park on the back of 7 successive league wins. This had always looked like a bad time to be meeting them and so it proved. We were second best by some distance yesterday, but quite a few other teams would have been as well. We needed to be at our very best to get anything out of this game and we were some way off that. They have risen to second in the table and we now sit uncomfortably above 18th place, only on goal difference. There was to be no mistaking which team was which yesterday. Our season will not however, be defined by games like this one. It will be determined by our ability to put this game behind us and to win the winnable games, that we will face later this month. Sitting watching this one, was occasionally reminiscent of some of those excruciating home performances from the 2015/16 season. Let’s hope that fortress Villa Park will not be so easily taken again, by future visitors. We may be too close for comfort to the last of the three relegation places, but we are 4 and 6 points respectively above the bottom two, with a superior goal difference. There are also six teams who are currently above us, that are within 4 points of us. We are only a point off a point a game for the season. We need to avoid being unduly negative, things may well look a lot better in 2 – 3 weeks. A place outside of the bottom six, remains on! My player ratings from a game, prior to which fans and past players paid tribute to the late, great Ron Saunders are: Tom Heaton – 7 – MOTM - Dived at his near post to push out a 13th minute Maddison free kick. Came out of his box well to beat Iheanacho to an under hit 37th minute attempted back pass from Konsa. Kept out a close-range header from Soyuncu, whose run had not been picked up with his face. Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Calmly tapped the ball back to Heaton, after Evans had played the ball into the 6-yard box from the left, having met the ball played into the area after running behind his marker Wesley. He was marking Evans at a 49th minute corner but was prevented by Ndidi from covering the scorer’s run and VAR chose to ignore that. He shouldn’t be keeping Guilbert out of the starting line-up. Ezri Konsa - 5 – Did well to block a 3rd minute Maddison shot on the right-hand side of the 6-yard box. Unluckily tripped by Heaton as he ran into the box with Vardy, which gave the striker the time to have another go at turning the ball home for their first. Tyrone Mings – 5 – Brought down Ricardo on the right-hand edge of the box to earn himself a yellow card on 11 minutes, after his own poor first touch had presented his opponent with the ball. Really didn’t want to come off, with what looked like a pulled hamstring, but although it showed how much playing for us means to him, this injury couldn’t be run off. He was clearly prevented from closing down or chasing back by the injury, when they scored their first. Belatedly substituted on 23 minutes. We will miss his organisation, influence and his “nothing shall pass” attitude, if he is to be out for a few weeks. Matt Targett – 5 – Has looked better in his own half, as has the rest of the defence. Anwar El Ghazi – 6 – Really should have been on target, when he hit the bar after 11 minutes. Jack had switched the ball nicely to Targett on the edge of the box, his cross went behind McGinn and in front of Wesley to Anwar, who seemed surprised that it had reached him and wasted the opportunity to put us in front. He then headed or shouldered a 24th minute Grealish free kick over and onto the roof of the net. Wesley found him inside the box, but his 83rd minute shot was hit harmlessly wide of the near post. Gets into the right positions and often looks good until the very last moment. He needs to put a few more opportunities away. John McGinn – 5 – Like Jack not at his best, but he’s still as good, if not better than anyone else. John looks like he would benefit from a rest. The problem is that we can’t really afford to give him one and we can’t really afford not to give him one. Conor in for him on Saturday? Douglas Luiz – 5 – His 77th minute header was intended for Jack but was picked up by Praet who then played the ball that put Vardy clear for their fourth. Marvelous Nakamba – 5 – Not at his combative best yesterday. Jack Grealish – 6 – Gave us hope of a comeback when he scored in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time. Konsa chested an attempted headed clearance down and Jack hit the ball from inside of the box into the far corner of the net, off the post. Became increasingly frustrated in the second half. Wesley – 4 – Not a lot of service, but not a lot of impact either and he provided no goal threat. Substitutes: Bjorn Engles – 6 - Replaced Mings on 23 minutes. Made a vital 32nd minute interception on a Vardy ball, that was intended for Iheanacho, but Bjorn did well to put it back to Heaton. Did the same 6 minutes later when he stretched to stop a ball from Maddison, putting Vardy clear. Trezeguet - 6 - Came on for Marvelous on 59 minutes. An Evans attempted clearance fell to him on the edge of the 6-yard box, but his 87th minute shot was hit well wide. Frederic Guilbert – Replaced the injured Targett after 78 minutes. Not on long enough to gain a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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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