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Found 130 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. 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
  3. 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
  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. 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.
  7. 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
  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. 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. This was a big, big, win for us last night. It brought us within a point of our visitors, and it took us to the top of the bottom six. It provided some much-needed breathing space between the clubs who occupy the three relegation places and our football club once again. It was a game that just might look like a bit of a 6-pointer, come the end of the season. It was an important game that we needed to win, against a team that will be likely to be involved in the relegation scrap at the business end of the season. It was a winnable game that we ended up winning rather comfortably. There was not too much to choose between the two teams during the first half hour, but two goals in 4 minutes opened a gap between the sides, that the visitors never really looked like closing. Newcastle really don’t much like their visits to Villa Park do they? They sang “We’re higher than you” near the end. They might not be able to sing that for too much longer. They may have lost Rafa, but they still have Mike Ashley and now have our former gaffer. They will take little solace from that, or from last night’s result and it will have been an awfully long trip back to Tyneside for them, will it not? Newcastle came for the point and by doing so, our former boss perhaps showed us a little too much respect for their supporter’s liking. We had lost our previous three games and they had been unbeaten in their last three after all, but form is temporary. Steve Bruce threw on Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle, in a late attempt to find a cutting edge. Rod Stewart, from whom Carroll bought his current house, is probably fitter more often at 74, than is the Geordie striker. He along with the player that the Baggies couldn’t afford to keep, couldn’t bring them back into this game. The two-goal margin did not flatter us, we made the opportunities to have won this by four or five. We didn’t concede a goal late on and kept a clean sheet, what’s not to like? The three points have taken us to 15th place in the PL and we are now as near to the top six as we are to the bottom three. We can now visit Old Trafford on Sunday, with more confidence than we have had for many a year. My player ratings from a game that took us a point ahead of my point a game season’s target are: Tom Heaton – 8 – Fernandez met a 43rd minute corner and his header bounced off the ground to Heaton’s left from 6 yards out. Tom did well to keep the ball out, making a sharp save to his left. Was called upon again on 47 minutes and did well to push a Saint-Maximin shot past the far post with an outstretched hand. Hayden hit a 59th minute shot straight at him, that he was able to reach above his head to save, after Douglas had been too easily dispossessed on the edge of the box. Held a 69th minute Carroll shot, which again went straight towards him, at the near post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Fernandez stretched to block his dangerous 90th minute cross at the near post with Wesley waiting hopefully behind him. He’s looking a real bargain. Ezri Konsa - 7 – Might have scored twice. Once for us with a 53rd minute downward header from a Grealish corner that Dubravka did well to keep out at his right and for them, when he sliced a 60th minute Saint-Maximin cross inches wide of the near post. He is looking increasingly comfortable. Tyrone Mings – 7 – Not quite as totally dominant as we have come to expect. Matt Targett – 7 – A solid and convincing display. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Failed to reach a 13th minute cross from Targett that just needed a touch. Jack made a powerful run towards the left edge of the box before being brought down by Fernandez. Hourihane hit the resultant 36th minute free kick with his usual accuracy into the 6-yard box, which Anwar was on hand to hit into the roof of the net. Almost added a second but was caught offside when running onto a 44th minute ball from McGinn. He found the net, but the last defender had not continued to cover his run, having instead turned to close in on McGinn and thus as he had not checked his run Anwar was clearly off. John McGinn – 7 – Dubravka saved low at his near post from him on the 76th minute after Jack had threaded the ball between 2 defenders for him. Ran strongly into the box, receiving a pass from Jack but his 93rd minute shot was hit wide of the far post. He then collected a long ball from Mings and shaved the left post with a 94th minute shot from outside of the area with the last kick of the game. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Jack rolled the ball across the edge of the box for him to hit a 29th minute shot that Dubravka did well to tip over the bar with one hand. Kept the ball well. Conor Hourihane – 9 – McGinn played a sweet ball for Jack from inside of the centre circle, but Yedlin pushed him from behind just inches from the edge of the box as he ran to meet it. Conor took the resultant 32nd minute free kick touching the ball to Jack, who teed the ball up for him, creating an angle from which he hit a superbly placed shot between the near post and Dubravka for our first goal. Hit an ambitious volley over the bar from an 86th minute Mings cross. Jack Grealish – MOTM - 9 – Ran the game and ran forward with great purpose throughout. His opponents paid a heavy price when twice resorting to bringing him down on the edge of the box, as our two goals resulted from free kicks given for fouls on Jack. He almost curled a 62nd minute shot inside the far post, having combined well with El Ghazi near the edge of the box. Hit a 69th minute shot along the turf that was easily collected by Dubravka. Wesley – 7 – Held the ball up well at times, kept busy and might have scored on 77 minutes when he met a perfect Hourihane cross, but his close-range attempted tap-in was blocked on the line by Dubravka. Substitutes: Henri Lansbury – Replaced Hourihane on 91 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. Two late goals, the last of which was scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time, preserved Liverpool’s long unbeaten run. They also denied valiant Villa a reward that their whole-hearted display merited. A draw would have represented a fair enough result, but this defeat was more than harsh. By the way, where did those 5 minutes of second half stoppage time come from (he actually played 7)? When this stoppage time Brexit like extension was announced, it seemed to me that the referee was prepared to play on for as long as it took for Liverpool to get a winner. Once we had to endure Fergie time, is Klopp time now a thing? Villa gave everything they had yesterday. We defended like Springboks and to come out of this game with no points to show for it was so incredibly hard to take, for both players and fans alike. The fans were our twelfth man, the referee filled that role for Liverpool. Having tripped Marvelous and then immediately brought down McGinn for the free kick that produced our goal. Why had their 94th minute goal scorer Mane, not been booked before receiving his eventual 37th minute yellow card, for example? Liverpool did have the lion’s share of the possession and they kept going forward remorselessly until the last minute of prolonged stoppage time. Ultimately this was a heroic effort and a very harsh result, but you can’t really expect to survive by dropping too far back with half an hour plus stoppage time still to be played. The ball was played out of defence and into their half, before being quickly returned into the final third of our half all too often. Our players were understandably becoming increasingly tired as the game wore on and Liverpool do have a habit of getting late goals against their opponents. Nevertheless, the longer the game continued with our slender lead intact, the more hope grew that this would be the game when Liverpool’s late onslaught came to nothing, but it was not to be. One goal was hard enough to take but two was nothing short of inhumane! There was not to be the embarrassing capitulation that gift wrapped the points to Liverpool on their last visit to Villa Park on this occasion. This time they made a late smash & grab for them. They will have made their way back home relieved that their unbeaten record remains intact, knowing they had been in a real game this time and no doubt relieved and more than a little surprised to have won it. This was the sort of prestige fixture that last season’s promotion, gave us the opportunity to play once again. It is not a game to be in trepidation of, although currently it does represent a bit of a free hit for us. What we have proved now, is that we can compete again with the best. We also have the nucleus of a team that can settle into the Premier League and that could in time become accepted, once again as belonging in it. We didn’t take a point yesterday or from Manchester City, but we were not really embarrassed by either side. For a minimum of 45 minutes at Citeh and for much of this game, we made the two best sides in the country work very hard for what they got. If we approach that sort of form, now that those two games are behind us against the rest of the clubs that are destined to finish below them, then we can comfortably gather the points that we will need to ensure our safety. My player ratings from a game during which our players got scant reward for the immense effort that they put into it are: Tom Heaton – 8 – Made a nice 18th minute save from Saleh at the near post. Saved low at his near post twice from Wijnaldum and then Mane on 49 minutes. Tom also did so well to block a close-range goal bound 60th minute Mane header at the near post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Picked up an early knock that he gamely played on with, until his 69th minute substitution. Did well, particularly as he was clearly carrying a niggle. Bjorn Engels - 9 – Did well to clear a dangerous 36th minute Robertson ball into the box for a corner. He was in the right place at the right time so often yesterday. Tyrone Mings – 9 – MOTM – Looked every inch the captain yesterday, encouraging those around him in their endeavours and carrying out his own in an exemplary fashion. Did very well to block a glancing Mane header, that was heading towards the near post on 26 minutes. Matt Targett – 8 – Hit a nice 9th minute cross that was aimed for Wesley which ran past him into the path of Engles who really should have got his head to it, inside the 6-yard box. He was very solid at the back. Anwar El Ghazi – 8 – Might have given us a lead in the 1st minute when Wesley squared the ball to him and it somehow eluded both van Dijk and Mane on the edge of the area, but his shot was hit straight at Alisson. More involved in the game than he often is and did some tracking back, although Mane ran inside him to meet Robertson’s 87th minute cross, before heading the ball past Heaton at the far post. Marvelous Nakamba – 9 – Fully lived up to his name yesterday. Worked incredibly hard. Hit a splendid 78th minute ball from within his own half that found Trezeguet, who in turn played a nice cut back to find Hourihane inside the left of the box, which on another day might have produced a second goal. John McGinn – 9 – He didn’t stop working yesterday. He burst out of defence with pace, snapped at the feet of opponents and did the work of two men in the middle. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Looked very good at times, particularly when he was moving forward with the ball. Trezeguet - 9 – Ran himself to a standstill and then ran some more. Scored his first Villa goal to give us the lead that we held onto until so near to the end of this game on 21 minutes. McGinn floated a free kick that found him at the near post, from where he squeezed a shot into the net, past Allison’s right leg. Hit the air rather than the ball at the far post on 36 minutes when trying to volley a well-aimed ball from El Ghazi to him. Worked tirelessly in his own half and in the opposition’s one throughout. Wesley – 8 – This was much more like it. If he consistently chased, challenged and put himself about as much as he did in this game, then Wes would prove more than a handful for defenders, particularly as you don’t come up against the likes of van Dijk every week. It was particularly pleasing to see him going from one attempted challenge to another 5 times, closing opponents down each time just prior to his late substitution. He can feel aggrieved by numerous refereeing decisions that went against him during this match. Substitutes: Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 - Came on for the injured Guilbert on 69 minutes. Conor Hourihane – 6 - Replaced Douglas on 73 minutes. Allison closed him down at the near post and his attempted 78th minute cross was cleared by van Dijk, when a shot might just have given us a two-goal lead. Seemed to find it more difficult than he usually does to get into this game. Jonathan Kodjia – Replaced Wesley on 86 minutes. Might have got a head to, rather than swung a leg towards, the corner that Mane got his head to at the near post for their late, late winner. Not on long enough to get a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. Villa made 9 changes last night, but our Black Country visitors outdid us by making 11. This game was not therefore played at the level or intensity that we can expect when these two teams meet again in a week and a half. Wolves clearly demonstrated through their team selection, like Brighton before them, that this competition was not a priority for them. They paid the price for that decision and I rather hope Liverpool will play their kids in the next round as well! There was no real tempo to this game, particularly in the first half. Wolves played a big part in this, because both teams need to contribute towards a game for it to sparkle. The young side that Wolves selected lacked experienced players alongside them and it showed. This was a game that looking at the team sheets, we were expected to win. We did so, without needing to get out of second gear and we didn’t. We did what was necessary to win and that was not too much last night. This game was therefore some way off the blood and thunder that would normally be associated with a local derby, that was a cup tie to boot. That’s not our fault alone. It takes two to tango and although the game was a bit of a damp squib, we did win it and are now within touching distance of another potential Wembley appearance. The game looked a bit like a friendly, until they equalised, and we then quickly restored our goal advantage. A one-goal lead is a slender one, but it had always looked like being enough to take us into the last eight. It wasn’t to be a happy ending for visiting fans last night on their big day out. It wasn’t to be too much of a spectacle for us either, but victory was ours and that is what the record books will show. My player ratings from a game that proved that we have the greater squad strength of the two Premier League outfits are: Jed Steer – 6 – Pulled off a vital save from Cutrone on to keep us ahead. Stood little chance with their goal, Cutrone having ran between Conor and Kortney to meet Taylor Perry’s 54th minute cross, he then poked it inside the near post and past Jed. It was otherwise a quiet evening for our keeper. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Captain for the night and his experience told at times. Got a fine touch at the near post on Lansbury’s 57th minute cross to give us what proved to be our winner. Ezri Konsa- 7 – Looked very composed. Kortney Hause – 7 – Easily won challenges in the air and he will have enjoyed this win. Neil Taylor – 4 – Almost took this game into penalties with an awful, casual, badly under hit attempted back pass that was pounced upon on the edge of the box by Cutrone. He looked destined to hit an undeserved second equaliser as he ran into the box, but Steer did very well to make ground towards him and block his shot with his legs. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Put us ahead on 28 minutes. Lansbury threaded a lovely ball past a defender and Anwar hit it with his right and the ball trickled in past Ruddy’s right hand for our opener. Hit an effort wide of the right-hand post from around 30 yards in first half stoppage time. Headed a 65th minute Elmo cross that Ruddy saved at the near post and was then unlucky when he hit a 70th minute Taylor cross that hit Bennett, which would otherwise have found the net. A decent enough showing, but he could have done even more against these opponents. Henri Lansbury – 7 – Started quietly but later imposed himself on the game and was involved in both of our goals. Headed an 80th minute Trezeguet cross wide of the far post, when he should really have been on target. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Hit a speculative 21st minute shot over the bar from around 25 yards. Lost possession too easily just inside his own half to Taylor Perry and that casual moment led to their equaliser. His quality otherwise stood out in the middle. Conor Hourihane – 6 – A fair display. Trezeguet - 6 – Hit a 62nd minute shot wide of the near post, having been found inside the box by Hourihane. Kept busy. Keinan Davis – 7 – MOTM – Held the ball up well once again, won the ball in the air and ran strongly with it. He does everything, other than really look like scoring. If he were able to add goals to his game, then we would have a £25m striker on our hands. Left the field having appeared to pull a hamstring on 49 minutes and we missed him up front. Substitutes: Jonathan Kodjia – 5 - Replaced Davis on 50 minutes. A welcome return to the first team following injury, but he will need to show more than this and to find his match fitness quickly, with Davis likely to be out for a period. John McGinn – Replaced Lansbury on 81 minutes. His coming on, demonstrated the comparative strengths of the two benches. Not on long enough to earn a rating, but he did gather an unwanted yellow card. Hit an 83rd minute shot just over, having seen an effort a minute earlier blocked. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. Targett applied a Matt finish in the dying seconds of this game to break the hearts of Brighton fans and players alike yesterday. His late, late winner sent us up into mid table above our visitors and prevented VAR from robbing us of another two points. Quite why VAR chose to overrule the match officials and cancel out Hourihane’s well hit 42nd minute goal is beyond me. It certainly was not a clear and obvious error by the match referee, to not rule that Wesley’s attempt to reach a cross from Guilbert at the far post, represented an illegal challenge on Ryan as he flapped at the ball. Yes, Wesley’s arm was raised, as is invariably the arm of anyone who tries to climb in the air to head the ball. To adjudge that to represent a foul on Ryan is taking protection of the goalkeeper, way too far. This decision left me wondering, how many of Andy Gray’s or Peter Withe’s headed goals VAR would have ruled out?’ Brighton started brightly yesterday and scored a 21st minute goal that we could see was coming, from a Gros free kick that was floated towards Webster on the left edge of the 6-yard box. The defender had unforgivingly been left unmarked and he proceeded to head the ball back across the face of the goal and into the far corner of the net. Having been reduced to 10 men on 35 minutes, our visitors still posed an occasional threat to us during the second half. They came into this game with confidence following a surprising, yet well-earned win against Spurs. Their performance yesterday, should probably have seen them coming away from Villa Park with at least a point, against a Villa side that had struggled to find the scintillating form, that had put Norwich to the sword before the international break. Our visitors made their long journey back to the South coast yesterday, having failed to register their first ever win at Villa Park and having been denied a point by our late winner. This was because for once, we were able to find a way of beating both 10-men and VAR. VAR really does need sorting out. We are in mid-table despite VAR, which again intervened as the players had been about to re-start the game. It had also done so in the first half of our last home game, when it cancelled out McGinn’s goal against Burnley, as the players lined up for the re-start. It is rapidly killing the spontaneity of goal celebrations. When the ball has crossed the line, fans at the game are now in fear of its intervention until the game has been re-started. Goal celebrations, which are such a joyous part of attending a game, are therefore now understandably becoming muted. Brighton had enjoyed the better of the game before Mooy’s sending off. Having escaped an early booking, he could have no grounds to complain that he had been harshly treated on collecting 2 yellow cards so soon. Perhaps he was still finding difficulty in coming to terms with England’s earlier convincing World Cup win against the Wallabies! Another 6 points would see us match the total number of points that we were able to accumulate during the whole of the last season that we spent in the Premier League. This like the Norwich game before it, could have been considered a potential 6-pointer. It certainly represents a welcome win, given that our next two league games are against Manchester City and Liverpool. We were not at our best yesterday, but we didn’t resort to hoofing the ball into the penalty area as time was running short on us and winning on your “off days” is a necessary habit to acquire for any successful football team. We stretched our unbeaten home run to four games yesterday, came back to win the game having been a goal behind and have now won our last two league games. These results have seen us go ahead of Manchester United in the league table. I must admit that I rather like seeing that again, it has been far too long since that was last the case! My player ratings from a game that left us singing “Sweet Caroline” again when the final whistle sounded are: Tom Heaton – 7 – Got down to stop a 26th minute Maupay shot at his left-hand post. Maupay then played a nice ball on for Connolly, whose 31st minute shot from right of the penalty spot was prevented from giving them a 2-goal lead by Tom’s left foot. He gathered another Maupay shot at the second attempt on 45 minutes and did well again when he saved a 66th minute Montoya shot low at his left-hand post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Hit a couple of nice crosses into the box, including the one that produced our equaliser. Bjorn Engels - 6 – Played his part in the centre of our defence. Tyrone Mings – 7 – A solid performance. Matt Targett – 7 – Scored our winner with the last kick of the game. He was found by a well weighted 94th minute ball from Jack and coolly hit our second from the left edge of the 6-yard box, past Ryan and into the far corner of the net. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – Had a 29th minute shot from the edge of the box blocked by a defender and hit a loose ball that had cannoned off Ryan wildly over the crossbar on 42 minutes. He really should have done so much better from only 6 yards out. He also headed a nice 67th minute Trezeguet cross harmlessly wide of the far post. Anwar can and needs to do better than this. Marvelous Nakamba – 6 – Left with a lot to do by himself in the middle yesterday. John McGinn – 6 – Some way off his usually very consistent best yesterday. Found the side netting with a shot on 37 minutes and had an on target shot blocked 3 minutes later. Hit a 65th minute shot over the bar, after Jack had pulled the ball back to him on the edge of the box. Jack Grealish – 9 – MOTM – Pulled the strings in our midfield yesterday and made good runs forward. Scored our equaliser and created our late winner. McGinn found Jack just outside the left of the box, he then played a superb ball between 2 defenders for Targett to hit our late winner. Jack had earlier started and finished the move that produced our equaliser in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time. He ran forward with the ball before finding Wesley near the edge of the box, who in turn played the ball out wide to Guilbert whose low cross eluded a defender and Ryan before being bundled home by our captain. Conor Hourihane - 8 – Wrongly given a booking on 19 minutes and thereby conceded the free-kick from which Brighton scored their increasingly likely goal, having made a perfectly fair tackle and won the ball. Unluckily hit the left post with a 23rd minute free kick from 30 yards out. Conor was even more unfortunate to have VAR cancel out what would otherwise have been a 42nd minute equaliser. Ryan had been unable to deal with a cross aimed towards the far post by Guilbert for Wesley, the ball ran to McGinn who played the ball to Conor, whose accurate shot beat the keeper and found the top left-hand corner of the net. He attempted to turn in a 51st minute Targett cross, but hit the ball directly at Ryan, who blocked it and El Ghazi failed to turn in the loose ball. We missed Conor’s midfield contribution following his 63rd minute substitution, which led to Brighton at least initially, having more of a say in the middle. Wesley – 4 – Hit a 53rd minute cross over the bar and struggled to make any impression against defenders who looked like extras from “Land of the Giants”. Substitutes: Trezeguet – 6 - Replaced Hourihane on 63 minutes and looked worthy of a start next time out. Douglas Luiz – Replaced El Ghazi on 76 minutes. Hit an 88th minute shot from outside of the box a couple of feet wide of the post, having been teed up by Jack. Not on quite long enough to gather a rating. Keinan Davis – Replaced Wesley on 76 minutes. Not given long enough to earn a rating. He did however, do very well to take a 93rd minute cross down on his chest, before turning powerfully back towards goal and then hitting a shot from a wide angle, that Ryan fingertipped wide of the far post for a corner. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  19. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  20. 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.
  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. 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
  23. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  24. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  25. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
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