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Found 85 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. Points win safety and we are not gathering enough of them. It’s still early days in this season and we are not cut adrift yet, but we really need to get out of the habit of not holding onto winning positions. We had the lead twice yesterday, but we were twice pegged back and therefore failed to gather the three points that we so needed. As a result, we still find ourselves sitting uncomfortably in the bottom three. We now need to win our next home game against Brighton and to start picking up points from our away games, to begin to compensate for the points that we are dropping at home. We should aim to start doing that next week at Norwich, in what they may see as an early 6-pointer. Four points from these two games would see us average a point a game, which if maintained over the course of the season, should be enough to secure our safety. Villa started brightly yesterday. We had the best of the first 45 minutes, and we went in at half time, a goal to the good, despite VAR having ruled out one from McGinn’s on the 25th minute. Villa failed to really push on in the second half, frustratingly twice conceding equalisers. The second of which was a real sucker punch, that came within 2 minutes of our regaining the lead from the head rather than the hand of Rodriguez on this occasion. By the way, what really is the point of VAR, given the way that it is currently being used? Perhaps it is, to quote my friend Sinead, an abbreviation for “Villa Are Robbed”? It certainly does us no favours and creates a lot of uncertainty after the ball has hit the back of the net. It also impacts adversely on the spontaneity of the game. Yesterday we celebrated a 25th minute goal from McGinn only for it to be ruled out a couple of minutes later, after the goal celebrations had died down. Are we soon going to have to wait to celebrate a goal until VAR tells us that it is safe to do so? VAR also backs up the decision made by the on-field referee 99.9% of the time, as was the case again yesterday when it ignored a foul on the edge of the box on El Ghazi in the build-up to their first goal. It also rubber stamped the referee’s decision that a yellow, rather than a red card was adequate punishment for Rodriguez’s crude late challenge on Jack. It seems to me, that VAR is more concerned about supporting fellow officials than making the right decision. This was never going to be an easy game, there will be no easy games this season. Burnley are a scrappy side and they made this a scrappy game. They were adept when it came to time wasting and to making over-robust challenges, particularly on McGinn and Jack, that the referee was happy to be exceedingly lenient with. They however are, annoyingly effective, know how to grind out results and they left Villa Park yesterday with the point that they came for. On the positive side, we are looking so much more competitive on our return to the Premier League than we had been on our embarrassing exit from it. We also stretched our unbeaten home run to three games yesterday, although the last two of these have been draws. My player ratings from a game that left us still waiting for our second league win of the season are: Tom Heaton – 6 – Tom collected a 36th minute McNeil free kick low at his right-hand post. Was rooted to the spot when Wood headed home their second equaliser. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Looked good when moving forward as well as in defence. Bjorn Engels - 7 – Both Bjorn and Tyrone were given a thorough test by Burnley’s forwards. Tyrone Mings – 7 – Didn’t always look quite as comfortable as usual yesterday. Matt Targett – 7 – Nice to see him getting a start, typical of his and our luck that an injury led to him not being able to see out this game. We missed him up front and at the back, after his 62nd minute substitution. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – McGinn swept a lovely ball wide to Guilbert, who hit a 33rd minute cross that Anwar turned sweetly into the far corner of the net for our opener. Substituted having sustained an injury in the build up to their first goal. Marvelous Nakamba – 8 – Looked solid, reliable and kept busy throughout. I would like to see us try a midfield with him starting alongside Douglas, with John and Jack playing ahead of them. John McGinn – 9 – MOTM – Scored one, had one ruled out by that dastardly VAR and not even a succession of illegitimate challenges could stop him making a terrific impact upon this game. Headed a nice 3rd minute Targett cross over the bar. Side footed Trezeguet’s precise 79th minute cross inside the near post and through Pope with aplomb to give us the lead again. Jack Grealish – 7 – Looked noticeably more effective playing further forward yesterday. Hit a shot well over the bar on 9 minutes, after the ball had been played back to him on the edge of the box. Jack was denied by Pope who saved his well hit 45th minute shot from just outside of the box at his left-hand post. Wesley found him on 74 minutes but his shot from the centre edge of the box was hit harmlessly over. Conor Hourihane - 6 – Nice to see him back in the starting line-up. Struck the outside of the left-hand post with a nicely hit 13th minute free kick from just outside of the area. He was given offside eventually by VAR, having hit the cross that McGinn hit home on 25 minutes. Had a decent shot blocked by a defender by the near post in the 6th minute of second half stoppage time, after a corner had fallen to him. Wesley – 4 – I was thinking that this just might be one of those days when a striker does virtually nothing throughout a game, other than score. Sadly, it wasn’t! Substitutes: Neil Taylor – 4 - Came on for Targett on 62 minutes and the impression that he made on the game was not a positive one. Neil was badly mismatched as Rodriguez raced ahead and easily climbed above him to head home their first. Committed himself embarrassingly early, allowing Lowton the space and time to put over the cross that led to their second equaliser. Kortney would surely have been another viable option; had he been sitting on our bench yesterday. Trezeguet – 6 - Replaced El Ghazi on 70 minutes, I for one, had rather expected him to start. He hit a splendid old-fashioned winger’s cross from the line for McGinn, to claim an assist for our second goal. Keinan Davis – Replaced Wesley on 88 minutes. He holds the ball up well and brings others into play, but he also unfortunately makes Heskey look like a bit of a goal machine. Nevertheless, two out of three ain’t bad, as Meat Loaf once said, and he must be getting very close to a league start now. Keinan wasn’t given long enough to gather a rating yesterday. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  3. 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.
  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. West Ham like Everton before them, arrived at Villa Park with some pundits talking about where an anticipated victory would leave them in the league table. The Hammers failed to leave with the three points, as had The Toffeemen, perhaps those pundits might start showing us a little bit of respect before too long. The point gained last night gives us 4 points from our first 5 games and a second successive clean sheet at home. This represents a satisfactory enough start to our season and takes us out of the relegation zone (Mind the gap Wolves!). What we now need to do is to build upon these last two home games and to stretch our unbeaten home record from two to four games. A minimum of four points and preferably all six, should be our target from our next two home games against Burnley and Brighton. It is important that we put together an unbeaten home run that will make visiting clubs aware that they are in for a battle, if they expect to leave Villa Park with anything. This team will get better as it becomes accustomed to playing alongside each other and playing in the Premier League. In the interim, we need to pick up points like this one to prevent us being left with a lot of ground to make up when we do click. West Ham will finish this season in the top half and are not a bad side, so at this stage of the season a point is not too disappointing, even when it was collected against a team that were down to 10 men from the 67th minute. We don’t seem to take much of an advantage from opponent’s being sent off and last night, was not to prove an exception. The second booking did seem harsh, but Mike Dean chose to give the benefit of the doubt, rather than a second yellow for simulation to Noble on 38 minutes when he went down inside the box. If only Kevin Friend had given the same benefit of doubt to Jack at Palace, we would now be on 5 points rather than 4. My player ratings from a game that reinforced the view that goals may prove hard to come by this year are: Tom Heaton – 6 – The quieter by some distance of the two keepers last night. Easily held a 7th minute shot from the edge of the box from Noble and a header from Taylor. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – He’s looking increasingly competent. Met a nice 33rd minute cross from Jack on the edge of the 6-yard box, but his mistimed header was easily collected by Fabianski. Bjorn Engels - 8 – MOTM – Assured, confident and has quickly developed a superb understanding with Tyrone. Faultless last night. Tyrone Mings – 8 – Made a good block on a 35th minute Noble cross and got another crucial block on a 73rd minute Haller shot inside of the box. What a partnership we now have at the centre of our defence. Neil Taylor – 6 – Reasonably solid at the back last night but will surely have a Targett on his back soon. Anwar El Ghazi – 5 – Responded petulantly when Mings berated him for not tracking Noble’s 35th minute run, moving his head towards Tyron’s face. There could only have been one winner, but he could perhaps show this sort of aggression when going for the ball in the other box, rather than when going for a colleague in his own. Looked a bit like a Joey Barton wannabee last night and VAR did look at this sorry incident, which might have earned him a red for the intent to butt. Fabianski was a determined first to a 40th minute Jota cross aimed for Anwar and left the intended recipient of the ball in a heap on his follow through. Jack had earlier played a nice 32nd minute ball to him inside the left-hand side of the box, but the ball was never quite brought under control and ran out of play. McGinn chipped a lovely ball to him that he chested down well on the edge of the box before hitting a shot that Fabianski gathered without undue concern. Marvelous Nakamba – 7 – Almost lived up to his name. A promising debut from a player who immediately looked at home as our deep lying midfielder. Could we potentially play him and Douglas, moving Jack and John a little further up? John McGinn – 7 – Hit a well struck 30-yard shot that unfortunately went straight into Fabianski’s clutches. He was found just inside the box by El Ghazi during the 1st minute of first half stoppage time. His shot took the slightest of deflections off Wesley, who was in an offside position before being kept out low at his right-hand post by Fabianski. Jack Grealish – 6 – Jota played a nice ball to Jack whose 51st minute cross was parried away at the near post by Fabianski, the loose ball was hit from just outside of the box by McGinn narrowly wide of the same post. Luiz played a nice 88th minute ball into the box that Jack stretched a leg to reach at the far post. He was only able to get a slight touch on it from 7-8 yards out, which sent the ball harmlessly wide. That had seemed to be the golden opportunity for a late winner, but I have the feeling that had he found the net, VAR might have found his toenail had strayed offside. It’s not quite happening for Jack just now is it? Jota - 6 – Ran out of steam and was substituted on 66 minutes. Hit a couple of decent crosses. Wesley – 4 – Some way below the standards he set himself with his last so impressive home performance. Headed a nice 13th minute cross from Jack over at the near post and then headed a 45th minute Jota cross tamely that Fabianski went down to his left to gather. That chance was later ruled offside by VAR. Went to ground all too easily and predictably when the ball fell towards him off a defender’s shoulder, after Davis had got a cheeky touch on El Ghazi’s 92nd minute corner. Didn’t have a lot of service but he can do better than this. Substitutes: Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 - Came on for Jota on 66 minutes, did what it says on the tin again. Douglas Luiz – Replaced Nakamba on 81 minutes. Not on quite long enough to gather a rating but stopped a dangerous looking run from Haller with a far from subtle, yet nevertheless important illegal challenge after 82 minutes. He might also have claimed an 88th minute assist when he found Jack near the far post, so he did show what we had missed in the short time he had available to do so. Keinan Davis – Replaced Guilbert on 85 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Up the 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. 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.
  9. The Toffeemen arrived at Villa Park expecting to go top of the league for 24 hours yesterday. They may have assumed they would win, but they were licked by the hungry Villa lion. We found over the previous three seasons, that you should never take a win for granted against any football club. Some Everton fans and perhaps some members of their team, made that mistake before last night’s game. A resilient performance from the boys in claret and blue, had them eating their words at the end of the game. Marco Silva and Tony Bellew clearly found defeat as hard to swallow as it was to accept last night. There is now just a point between the two clubs. Villa Park was a wall of sound and of celebration as we recorded our first win of this new season following our promotion. It has been three and a half long years since we last won a Premier League game. We have got the taste of victory back, it’s sweet, we like it and we want more! Everton started the game strongly as a previously unbeaten side would have been expected to, but they were unable to convert their possession into goals. We cut out the errors, that had cost us points in our previous two games and we battled hard for this morale boosting win. We also played some sweet football between scoring and the end of the first half. A clean sheet and two goals scored, gave us just what we needed from this game. What a difference that first goal made. It boosted our confidence and gave us belief. It also gave us something to hold onto and all credit to our players, who were very determined to cling onto this victory. Is anyone else suffering from the same permanent grin that they last had on their face after the playoff final? It’s so very good to be back and winning again. My player ratings from a game that produced post game rejoicing and noise, that was reminiscent of Wembley a couple of months ago are: Tom Heaton – 6 – Well protected by those in front of him. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Was found by Jack on 32 minutes and ran from just inside his own half, to the edge of their area before hitting a shot over the bar. Defended well and clearly likes to get forward. Another debut that was full of promise. His value must be near £20m now! Bjorn Engels - 8 – Did well to block a 32nd minute shot from Calvert-Lewin that was hit from just past the penalty spot, after Coleman had found the striker with a nice ball. He also got a partial block on Iwobi’s 71st minute shot, which made it a comfortable catch for Heaton. He looks so assured alongside Tyrone. Tyrone Mings – 8 – He wasn’t going to let a pre-match groin strain keep him out of this game, was he? Reacted well to block a Keane shot from six yards out, that was later ruled offside by VAR, after a 12th minute corner had fallen to him. Tyrone was first to react when Kean’s 83rd minute shot hit the right-hand post to avert the danger. Tyrone is the rock upon which our sound defence has been built upon. Neil Taylor – 6 – Solid enough at the back and was determined not to lose concentration due to the barracking he received from Everton fans. He remains somewhat less effective when he moves into the other half. Trezeguet – 6 – Unlucky to be booked on 84 minutes when Coleman took a frustrated and petulant swing at the ball and him after being awarded a free-kick. Worked hard and does a lot of it when the opposition have the ball. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Closed opponents down well and looked solid. John McGinn – 7 – He was here, there and, everywhere wasn’t he? John was found by another nice ball from Jota before hitting a low 25th minute cross from inside the left-hand side of the box for the waiting Wesley, that Pickford held onto at his near post. Jack Grealish – 7 – Was brought down inside his own half and his quickly taken free-kick began the move that led to the opening goal. Trezeguet played the ball back to him on the left-hand edge of the box, from where he looked to curl in a 45th minute shot that went a couple of yards past the far post. Gave a determined performance, chased and challenged for the ball when it was not at his feet. Jota - 8 – Guilbert played the ball to him in the 21st minute, but instead of playing the anticipated one-two he played a superb ball into the box, between two defenders for Wesley to claim a big assist for his goal. Substituted on 77 minutes having fully justified his selection and having hit some clever passes. Wesley – 8 – MOTM – Answered those (including myself) who had entertained some early doubts about him, with this tremendous performance. He hasn’t taken too long to settle, has he? Made a nicely timed run to meet Jota’s perfectly weighted pass into the box to him and coolly turned the ball past Pickford and into the left-hand corner of the net on 21 minutes. Raced purposefully onto another well hit ball from Jota 3 minutes later, running strongly past Mina, who recovered well to block his shot on goal. Held onto the ball well and was happy throughout to engage in battles for the ball with the uncompromising Mina and Keane. Substitutes: Anwar El Ghazi – 7 - Replaced Jota on 77 minutes and made a big impression on this game, in so little time. Wesley found him on 84 minutes, he stepped forward before hitting a shot from outside of the box, which Pickford pushed clear to his right. Jack played a clever ball to him on the right edge of the box, he then hit an 89th minute shot that deflected over the bar off Keane’s back. He went on to put the result beyond doubt on 95 minutes. Taylor cleared the ball from well inside his own half, Wesley picked the ball up before giving the ball to McGinn who in turn played the ball to Anwar inside of the box. He then ran past Andre Gomes and steered the ball past England’s number two’s dive, or should I say through it? Ahmed Elmohamady – Came on for Trezeguet on 86 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  10. We had given Bournemouth a two-goal start after just 12 minutes of this game, due to avoidable errors. You really can’t afford to do that in the Premier League. Mistakes will be punished more regularly than they were in the Championship and goals will be harder to come by. We will therefore need to minimise our error rate quickly, if we are to start gathering some much-needed points. It’s early days and we are making chances, but I am starting to wonder where our goals are going to come from. McGinn and Jack will chip in with some, as occasionally will others, but our forward players do not initially give me the impression that they will ensure that the net bulges on the regular basis that it will need to. How we could have used another striker for cover and to provide us with another alternative. We face a steep learning curve and our new signings, as well as some of our other players will need to try to adapt like fish to water to the demands of the Premier League, if we are to take points from our next 7 games. We will be facing the top two from last season following those games, so these games which are against teams (other than Arsenal) that we should have a good chance of taking points from, will be crucial to our season. We do not want to find ourselves with an early gap to make up, as doing so by putting together a winning run will be more difficult than it was last year. The same will also be the case, as yesterday demonstrated when it comes to coming back from behind. Twelve points from these games would be my realistic target. We can take comfort for now from how we have performed during our first two games. We will shortly become less comfortable, unless we can pick up some points, sooner rather than later. There will be no easy games this season. The teams that we will face like Bournemouth will not arrive at Villa Park in trepidation. They will at least initially target a game against us as one they should be getting something from and will not, unlike some clubs last season be content to just park the bus and hope to ride out the storm that is to come. After those first 12 minutes we did get a grip on yesterday’s game, but we had left ourselves with a mountain to climb. We made chances, but they also made a couple themselves. It took a moment of Brazilian magic to bring us back into the game, but we never looked convinced that the comeback was really on and so we tasted the first of what I trust will not be too many home defeats of the season. I don’t want to see many more sets of away fans celebrating a victory on our patch, it’s something that I have always found a bitter pill to swallow. My early thoughts on VAR? It doesn’t stop a referee being abysmal, as was the case yesterday. We might have had our chances of making a comeback enhanced, had yesterday’s referee had the bottle to show a merited second yellow card to Billing in the first half following blatant fouls on Jack and then McGinn, before he was withdrawn by Howe at half time, to avoid giving him another opportunity to do so. My player ratings from a game that rather dampened our spirits on the return of Premier League football to Villa Park and that gave the visitors their second successive 2-1 win at Villa Park are: Tom Heaton – 5 – For some inexplicable reason he tripped Wilson, who had run onto a 1st minute ball played into the box by Fraser to concede the penalty that produced their opener and that put us on the back foot. Wilson who was only about a yard or so from the line, had run well wide of the left-hand post and his touch would have most likely sent the ball beyond his reach in any case. King proceeded to send Heaton the wrong way from the spot. Tom was unlucky that a deflection took Harry Wilson’s shot out of his reach for their second, but he positioned himself well to save Fraser’s 82nd minute shot with his legs. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Hit some nice crosses and I would guess that his familiarity with playing with Trezeguet in front of him at international level, may have contributed to him retaining his first team place. No place for Guilbert even in the squad though? Bjorn Engels - 7 – Another encouraging performance alongside Tyrone. Tyrone Mings – 8 – MOTM - Unlucky to find himself on the losing side, against his former club following a pretty much faultless performance. Neil Taylor – 6 – Has reacted well to his first team place being under considerable threat. Had a 57th minute shot blocked by Cook when an Elmo cross fell to him and headed a ball from Jota on 80 minutes well wide. Might Targett nevertheless, come into contention for a start on Friday? Trezeguet – 6 – Showed that he doesn’t enjoy being on the losing side when he tried to rally both fans and his fellow players towards the end of the game. Tracked back well a couple of times and turned nicely on the edge of the box on 66 minutes before hitting a shot that was saved by Ramsdale at his left-hand post. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Looked increasingly promising following his decisive early error of judgement. He was not easily dispossessed, grew increasingly comfortable on the ball and hit a tremendous shot on 71 minutes from outside of the area into the top right-hand corner of the net, to set up what could have been a late comeback. He was in the middle of his own half when he chose to allow a 12th minute pass from Trezeguet to go through his legs, no doubt under the impression that the player behind him was another Villa player, rather than Harry Wilson. The losing playoff finalist gratefully accepted the gift and hit a powerful shot that took a deflection off Mings on the edge of the box, which led to the ball evading the diving Heaton’s reach and going in off the left-hand post for their second. I have a feeling that he may become an exceptional player. John McGinn – 7 – Had an 8th minute shot from outside the box tipped over the bar by Ramsdale, a 22nd minute shot from just inside the box also blocked by the keeper and hit the right-hand side netting with a shot on 42 minutes. Jack Grealish – 6 – Had a quiet first half. McGinn took a quick free kick which found Jack in space, he ran on before hitting a 53rd minute shot from the edge of the box just wide of the right-hand post. Claimed an assist when he played the ball back to Luiz from within the box to find him in space and to provide him with the opportunity to hit a goal on his debut. Got on the end of a well placed 63rd minute Elmo cross, but shouldered, rather than headed it from close range and the ball sailed well over the crossbar. Anwar El Ghazi - 5 – Failed to make any significant impression on this game. When he hit that first half free kick from the edge of the box harmlessly over, I’m sure I was not the only one thinking of how we were missing Connor’s dead ball prowess. Wesley – 5 – It’s early days, but he doesn’t look like a natural goal scorer to me. Hit a 26th minute shot from near the left-hand post that deflected off a defender and was pushed away for a corner by Ramsdale and had a shot blocked by a defender after Trezeguet had ran into the box and squared the ball for him. Substitutes: Jota – Replaced El Ghazi on 75 minutes. Didn’t make enough of an impression during the limited time that he had available to do so, to earn a rating. Keinan Davis – Came on for Trezeguet on 87 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. 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. Its only half time, despite Bon Jovi’s confidence, but if we can hold on to what we’ve got at the Hawthorns on Tuesday night then we’ll make it to Wembley on 27th May. We take a one goal lead with us on Tuesday night and that didn’t really look very likely at half time, did it? Albion arrived yesterday, with avoiding defeat as their primary objective. Is Pulis providing Jimmy Shan with tactical advice as well as Michael Appleton? The first half looked like a carbon copy of the game they had won at Villa Park in February. They were solid at the back, worked hard, flooded the midfield and gave us very little space. Jack and John’s threat from the middle had been nullified by them during the first half. We had plenty of possession, but we had created very little of note with it and we gifted them the lead on 16 minutes to boot. What a time this would have been for the winning form that had gotten us into these playoffs to have deserted us. This Villa team are not beaten that easily though. The game was turned on its head by two goals in 4 minutes from us as we went into the last 15 minutes of normal time. Dwight Gayle’s 88th minute red card, when the referee had finally lost patience with him will result in their hot-headed, top scorer missing the second leg. That may yet prove as important to the outcome of this tie, as was the introduction from the bench of Conor Hourihane yesterday. We have seen a couple of Lazarus like semi-final comebacks over the past couple of days. Our own comeback deflated our visitor’s yesterday. The tie is not won yet, but we will not be as ineffective as we were in the first half again. Albion must also make it a more open game in search of a goal that would level the score. That will give us the space we were denied yesterday and the chance to put the game beyond them. The claret & blue relief was as clear at the final whistle, as was the disappointment that was etched on the faces of the whinging Albion players, staff and supporters. We must now finish the job on Tuesday evening. We are two wins away from promotion. It is high time that we left Wembley rejoicing a win, rather than having experienced a painful defeat. Do it for us Villa! My player ratings from a game that has left us, tantalisingly within touching distance of a second successive Wembley play off final appearance are: Jed Steer – 7 – Both he and Taylor went for the same ball on 11 minutes that neither got to. He made up for that communication breakdown seconds later, when he got his fingertips to help a Rodriguez shot from the edge of the box onto the crossbar, that would otherwise have produced a goal. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – He has rightly become an undisputed first choice, hasn’t he? Axel Tuanzebe - 7 – Another good display alongside Tyrone. Tyrone Mings – 7 – Solid at the back, although facing free-scoring opponents. Hit a 45th minute shot from the edge of the box that forced a save from Johnstone. Neil Taylor – 6 – Did well enough. Albert Adomah – 5 – Failed to make a real impression on this game, which was disappointing. Glenn Whelan – 5 – He has been immense in our midfield of late, but Glenn didn’t produce quite the same level of performance that he has been giving in recent weeks yesterday. Made a costly error that gave them an early lead, when he failed to control a pass back to him from Jack on 16 minutes, that Gayle proceeded to run onto before hitting a shot past Steer. John McGinn – 6 – Kept unusually quiet, but even the very best players don’t do it every week, like John they do it 99% of the time. I wouldn’t want to bet against him taking Tuesday’s game by the scruff of the neck and not letting it go. Jack Grealish – 7 – Didn’t make his usual impact upon the game during the first half but he still had a hand in both of our goals. Won a challenge on the edge of the box before hitting a 59th minute shot that Johnstone saved easily enough to his right. Ran into the right-hand side of the box before pulling the ball back to Hourihane on the edge of the box to claim an assist for our equaliser. Was moving towards the near post when Gibbs slid in to bring him down near the 6-yard box for our penalty Anwar El Ghazi - 6 – Hit a shot from the left-hand side of the box that took a deflection off Holgate before being held by Johnstone at the foot of the near post. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Left isolated and starved of service in the first half on his return to the team. Hit a first-time effort over the bar on 15 minutes from an Elmo cross. Made an increasingly significant impression on the game during the second half. Elmo played a ball down the line for him which he ran on with before cutting into the box, outpacing a defender and hitting a cross that Johnstone blocked low at the near post on 52 minutes. Nodded a 55th minute Taylor cross over and past the far post. Tammy was the coolest man in the ground when he put away his 79th minute penalty, sending Johnstone the wrong way and the ball into the right-hand corner of the net for our winner. Holgate was looking for any excuse to go down when Tammy jumped for a header inside the box and he went down dramatically to try to steal a late penalty for his shell-shocked side. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 8 – MOTM – Replaced Whelan on 67 minutes. His introduction led to Jack moving further forward and he made the difference yesterday. Conor was in space on the edge of the box when Grealish played the ball back to him on 75 minutes. His aim was true and his superbly hit left foot shot flashed into the left-hand corner of the net, with Johnstone just a spectator. Had earlier made an important 74th minute interception, stretching to reach a ball intended for the unmarked Murphy from Gayle. Andre Green – 6 - Came on for Adomah on 67 minutes and provided some pace. Jonathan Kodjia – Replaced El Ghazi on 91 minutes. Not on long enough to gain a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  17. 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.
  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. It has been 3 months and we have gone 12 games since we last tasted defeat. It is still disagreeable to see visiting fans celebrating a win at Villa Park and it is even worse for their team to be picking up the Championship trophy afterwards, as was the case yesterday. The last time we ended a game pointless, was against the team that we next face over two legs for a place in the playoff final. Our clear objective is now to ensure that we remain unbeaten in our next three games. Six of the players that started our last game and five of the players who started our last home game, started this one. The decision to rest players yesterday, was without doubt the right one. We have bigger fish to fry than Delia Smith, Ed Balls, Hugh Jackman and Stephen Fry’s boys in the coming weeks. The three play-off games that are to come, can provide us with the happy ending to this season that our recent tremendous run should culminate in. These crucial games will define our season. Win them and we will accompany Norwich back to the top flight, as they escorted us down to the Championship three years ago. Losing against our local rivals or in the final against either Leeds or Derby, would have an unthinkable impact on the makeup of our superb team. It just cannot happen! Yesterday’s game gave our visitors their first win at Villa Park since 1992. This win also resulted in them being promoted as champions. Victory in the play off games, will give us the opportunity to play our first choice eleven when we meet them next time and the outcome would I suspect be likely to be somewhat different. I look forward to seeing that game next season! Norwich started strongly, like the game meant more to them than it did to us, which it did. They took an early lead, but we showed our resilience by equalising within 7 minutes and then shading the first half. Either side could have won it during the second half and there was little to choose between the two sides. The game appeared to be likely to end in a draw, which would have perhaps suited both clubs, but Norwich were greedy for more. As has so often proved the case this season, they stole the points in the last few minutes. That was cruel on the much-changed team that we put out yesterday, but we will get over it should our season end in promotion. My player ratings from a game that was played in front of a packed Villa Park, during which we remembered those who had joined the ranks of the HEITS during the season on 20.18 minutes are: Jed Steer – 6 – He was relieved that Hernandez’s 45th minute curled shot from outside of the box struck the crossbar, with him well beaten. Did well to get his outstretched right hand to a 69th minute Stiepermann shot from the edge of the box and perhaps could have done the same with Vrancic’s 86th minute winner, which eluded the same outstretched hand, having been hit from very nearly the same place. Alan Hutton – 6 – It was fitting to see him given the captaincy on what is likely to be his last league appearance in the claret and blue shirt that he has worked so hard to win, as well as hold during his time with us. It must have just been pure coincidence that we looked a tad susceptible on the right flank yesterday. Hats off to the Scottish Cafu! Axel Tuanzebe - 6 – Seemed slow to react to the Hernandez cross that Pukki turned in, having got to the ball in front of him. Kortney Hause – 6 – Needed the game. Neil Taylor – 6 – Reliable again. Albert Adomah – 6 – Surprisingly did the full 90 minutes. Glenn Whelan – 7 – Poked a 45th minute shot just over from the edge of the box. Had another solid game in the middle. Henri Lansbury – 6 – He’s not quite Jack but who is? Did a decent job yesterday and showed that he can play a part, if required in the games that are to come. Conor Hourihane – 7 – Hit a sweet free kick that produced the equaliser. Curled a 30-yard shot just wide of the far post on 37 minutes. Andre Green - 6 – Andre was unlucky that his goal-bound 17th minute shot from a central position in the penalty area, after Hutton’s cross found its way to him, was blocked by Aarons. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – MOTM – 3 goals in his last 4 games now. Johnny Danger is encouragingly living up to his nickname at the business end of the season. Did well to get in front of his marker and flick Hourihane’s perfectly placed free kick past Krul and into the far corner of the net on 14 minutes. Headed an accurate 33rd minute Hourihane cross just over the bar. A defender got a touch to a 37th minute ball played into the box for him from Adomah, but he got to the loose ball and his close-range effort was blocked by Krul’s legs at the near post. Gamely ran on to a poor 54th minute back pass played back into the box, that Godfrey just got to first, but sent the ball narrowly wide of the far post in doing so. Substitutes: Keinan Davis – 6 – Replaced Kodjia on 72 minutes and again looked both keen and capable. Birkir Bjarnason – Came on for a rare appearance replacing Lansbury on 80 minutes. Bikir was not on quite long enough to gain a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  20. We witnessed history being made yesterday. In years to come the question will be asked, do you remember when our great club broke their record of consecutive league wins in 2019? That record had remained unbroken since 1910. That’s beyond living memory, so we had to refer to the record books to read about that winning run and that grand old team. In the years to come, you will be able to say that you were there and that you witnessed this incredible run. You can tell your children, your grandchildren and anyone else who is prepared to listen, that you remember this splendid team, this great run and had the pleasure of seeing Jack Grealish, John McGinn, Tammy Abraham et all play in the claret and blue. Those players have earned their place in Villa history as did Harry Hampton, Billy Walker, Pongo Waring and Eric Houghton, before them in bygone seasons. We secured our place in the end of season promotion playoffs yesterday, with two games of the season to spare. Only in our wildest dreams, did any of us see this winning run coming at the beginning of March. As our boss said after yesterday’s game, “If you had asked me 11 games ago would we go and win the next 10, I would have thought you were a little bit crackers.” Now let’s extend this winning run to 15 games! This superb run merits a joyful ending. For it not now to end with our promotion, would be too cruel on this team who have worked so hard to claim their ticket to the play off lottery. For a second successive season to end in despair would be beyond abhorrent. We have played better than we did yesterday during this run of wins. Millwall are always a tough nut to crack and were both determined and uncompromising, as they looked for a point to assist their relegation fight. Although not at our scintillating best, we were still clearly the better of the two teams and on another day the score might have better reflected this. As it was, for the second successive home game the visitor’s man of the match was their goalkeeper, but once again he still finished on the losing side. Villa didn’t need to go into fourth gear to win this one. We eased to victory without adding a second goal, that would have left us sitting more comfortably near the end. Our team have now developed the confidence and composure to see games out without undue cause for concern though. We seemed perhaps, to be conserving something for the decisive games that are to come, as we eased to what was ultimately a comfortable tenth win in front of a packed Villa Park. My player ratings from a game that sealed a Happy Easter for us and that meant that the play offs are coming are: Jed Steer – 6 – Produced a very good save on 15 minutes, pushing a Wallace shot from outside of the box, out for a corner to his right. He then had a moment of madness, when he ran out to but didn’t get near a 71st minute floated free kick into the box, taken from just inside our half by Pearce which was thankfully headed wide by Cooper. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Elmo gets better with each game and looks increasingly composed, confident and reliable. Mile Jedinak - 7 – Mile did a tremendous job again in the centre of our defence yesterday in the absence of both Axel and Kortney. He was as uncompromising and determined as our opponent’s defenders were and that is saying quite a lot. Tyrone Mings – 8 – MOTM – So steady and so composed at the heart of our defence. Didn’t put a foot wrong and oozed confidence. He plays a crucial role in making this team tick. Neil Taylor – 7 – Did well again and has played his part in this fantastic winning run. Albert Adomah – 6 – Substituted after an hour no doubt with the intention of preserving his energies for those battles that are yet to come. Glenn Whelan – 7 – Substituted on 60 minutes, most likely for the same reason that Albert was. Got down bravely where the boots were flying on 16 minutes, to head away a corner that had fallen to Pearce who had played it back across the face of the goal. Provides solidity for our midfield. John McGinn – 8 – Did well to avoid a booking that would have threated an untimely play-off suspension. Whelan played a neat ball to him inside of the box, but his 41st minute shot was blocked at the near post by a defender. Had a hand in many of our chances. Jack Grealish – 8 – A welcome return for the player whose return to the side as captain following a lengthy injury, sparked the outstanding run that broke a long-standing club record yesterday. Green played the ball back to him and his 68th minute shot from near the penalty spot was only kept out by Martin’s legs. McGinn found him near the centre circle on 72 minutes, Jack ran on to the edge of the box before hitting a shot which deflected off a defender just inches past the keeper’s right-hand post. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Hit the cross that Jonathan put away for the winner. Headed a 9th minute Grealish corner wide at the far post and brought a defender down in getting up for it. McGinn played a nice ball for Anwar to run onto, he looked to curl a shot past Martin and inside of the far post, but Martin got down well to push the ball around the post on 90 minutes. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Came in for the injured 25-goal Tammy and hit our winner in the 30th minute. Pounced on a misjudged loose back pass a minute earlier, but his heavy first touch enabled Martin to just touch the ball first as they met on the edge of the box and the chance was gone. Made a nice run inside the box on 56 minutes running between two defenders before hitting his shot wide of the far post. Jack found El Ghazi on the left side of the box and his nicely hit 30th minute cross, was hit home by Johnny Danger to his obvious delight. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 6 – Replaced Whelan on 60 minutes and did his bit in the middle. Andre Green – 7 - Came on for Albert on 60 minutes and looked good. Grealish found him on the right of the box on 66 minutes but his shot from a tight angle hit the side netting. Hit a sweet 84th minute volley after an El Ghazi shot had deflected off a defender towards him, only to be denied a goal by a great reflex save by Martin. McGinn swept the ball right for Andre who ran inside of the box and hit a 90th minute shot that deflected over the bar off a defender. Keinan Davis – 6 - Replaced Johnny Danger on 76 minutes and again did his bit, showing some surprisingly deft touches with the ball at his feet. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. We were missing three of our biggest hitters for this game, but the absence of Jack, Tyrone and Kortney could not derail our fast finishing promotion train. These three players had played crucial roles in extending our run of successive league wins to 7 before yesterday’s game. Their absence was a real cause for concern before Saturday’s kick-off, but we proved that we are not quite a one-man team after all, despite rumours to the contrary. It has been 44 years since Aston Villa last recorded 8 consecutive league wins. We were promoted at the end of that 1974-75 season, finishing second to Manchester United. Let’s hope that this tremendous run of wins produces the same happy ending. This was a real top of the table clash and in the first half both sides battled like rutting stags to gain supremacy. The second half was a different matter. We pulled 4 points clear of our promotion rivals with a dazzling 45-minute display that produced another vital win and could have given us a more decisive win, than the odd goal one that we achieved. Their goalkeeper Max O’Leary had a day to remember, making save after save to prevent us from stretching our lead to an unassailable one. When they pulled a goal back with 16 minutes of normal time remaining along with an astonishing 7 minutes of stoppage time, many may have anticipated the game being cruelly snatched away from us during those nervous final minutes. That didn’t happen though and didn’t really look like happening. Instead we played out those remaining minutes with confidence and without too much cause for alarm. The players that turned out in claret & blue yesterday wore their shirts with pride. They played as a team and the squad clearly all want to play their part in achieving our goal. They players gave everything, and by so doing, brought what had seemed only a few weeks ago to be an unrealistic hope of making the play offs within touching distance. WBA supporters were telephoning BBC WM after the game claiming that they want to meet us in the play offs, my message to them would be “be careful what you wish for!” My player ratings from a game that took us within 3 wins of equalling our club record of 11 consecutive wins which we achieved in 1897 and that also got Lee Johnson rather infuriated for some reason are: Jed Steer – 6 – Well protected by those in front of him, other than when they pulled a goal back. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Another very composed and solid performance from Elmo. Axel Tuanzebe - 8 – He was simply outstanding at the heart of our defence yesterday. Axel was both assured and composed throughout. Mile Jedinak – 7 – Brought all his experience to bear to produce this solid defensive performance when we so needed it. Had an 85th minute header blocked on the line. Neil Taylor – 7 – Did well. His confidence is growing with each win as is his contribution to each of those wins. His attempted clearance was blocked at the start of the build up to their goal and he had a 77th minute shot blocked at the near post. Albert Adomah – 6 – Played his part for the whole game this time, in securing what was an important win. Hit the post with a header on 13 minutes. Hit an 80th minute shot wide of the keeper’s left-hand post. Glenn Whelan – 8 – Controlled the midfield again. Held it together making full use of his experience and steadied things when a cool head was needed. Fully deserves the plaudits he is now getting. John McGinn – 8 – Had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders in this game and John thrived on that. Ran the ball from the corner flag into the box before hitting a shot that O’Leary did well to tip over the bar. Hit an 88th minute shot over having been found by Davis and had a 94th minute shot tipped over the bar. Conor Hourihane – 8 – Had a 31st minute header from an El Ghazi cross punched clear by O’Leary. The keeper again did well to block his 62nd minute close range shot with his leg, which went on to bounce over the bar. Was awarded our penalty when going for a cross into the centre of the box from McGinn. Nodded an inviting El Ghazi cross over on 64 minutes. Picked up a loose ball in the middle to start the move that he finished on 66 minutes with he turned and hit a shot past the keeper and inside the far post for our second goal. On another luckier day for him, he might have had a hat-trick. Anwar El Ghazi – 8 – MOTM – Produced the sort of performance that he had showed he was capable of at WBA. He beat his man for fun yesterday, particularly during the second half during which he was unstoppable. Hit a 13th minute shot from well outside of the box that O’Leary was only able to palm away towards Adomah whose header struck the near post. Hit a 62nd minute shot from outside of the box that O’Leary could only punch away to his left. Found Conor inside the box to claim an assist for our second goal. This was a match-winning performance and we need to see more of the same in our remaining games. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Lacked the service he has become accustomed to getting from Jack in the first half. Showed nerves of steel when slotting his 55th minute penalty into the centre of the goal, as O’Leary dived to his right to give us the crucial first goal, having missed one at Rotherham in midweek. Tammy has two dozen goals this season and another six would be very, very nice. Substitutes: Keinan Davis – 7 – Replaced Tammy on 72 minutes and did a really great job. Held the ball up well when we needed him to, fitted smoothly into the lone striker role and quickly got into the game. Outmuscled a defender to claim a ball played forward by Lansbury and moved into the box, hitting a 94th minute shot that O’Leary blocked with his legs at the near post. Henri Lansbury – 6 - Replaced Conor on 80 minutes and played his own part in securing this win. Up the Villa! John Lewis
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