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Found 42 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. The news that had spread around Villa Park before yesterday’s game that Abraham may well have played his last game for Aston Villa deflated our spirits and the game that followed did nothing to lift the gloom. Dean Smith tasted his second defeat at Villa Park yesterday. Swansea recorded their first ever cup win against us. We produced the sort of shambolic performance that was reminiscent of those that we had grown accustomed to witnessing during our relegation season. We were knocked out of this competition in the 3rd Round for a third consecutive year. Abraham was the perfect fit for us up front as were we the perfect football club for him. If it turns out that he has played his last game for us, then we will not only have a defence and a midfield to worry about but also a forward line that has been neutered. The depth and quality of our squad had already been found wanting by the absence through injury of Jack and Axel. It was further put to the test by leaving James Chester, Conor Hourihane, Yannick Bolasie and Jonathan Kodjia out of the starting line-up. Who was to know that among those that were selected there were several players that would choose to take the afternoon off as well? Our defence once again conceded goals for fun yesterday and our midfield did little to halt the progress of their opponents through it or to create much themselves in and around the penalty box. What was different was the absence of any threat up front from us. With Abraham in the team there is an expectation that we will score goals as freely as we concede them. Without him, that would be highly unlikely to be the case and yesterday was a worrying sign of things that may be to come. Sadly, the strikers we had on the pitch yesterday did nothing to suggest they would be able to score goals with any sort of regularity should Abraham make a move to a football club in the Black County that is suffering from chronic delusions of grandeur. This sorry capitulation was very hard to endure. We gift wrapped Swansea (who failed to make a similar number of changes to their team in order to try to even things up) a place in the 4th Round and they must have had to pinch themselves to believe how easy we made it for them to score 3 goals without reply yesterday. We are now free to concentrate on the league and this abject performance, which led to merited boos at the final whistle will also give our players a weekend’s break from the rigours of football on 4th Round weekend! My player ratings from a game that extended our FA Cup years of hurt into a 62nd year are: Lovre Kalanic – 6 – Let’s give him a little more than 90 minutes to prove his true worth to us. Peter Shilton would have struggled behind this defence (although he is getting on in years now)! Lovre conceded his first goal 2 minutes into his debut when he blocked a low cross but unluckily the ball rebounded into Baker-Richardson and was deflected in off his shin. Turned a 32nd minute shot from outside of the box from Roberts past the post for a corner. Beaten low to his right for their second and third goals. Made decent saves on 76 and 83 minutes to prevent the score looking even more humiliating. James Bree – 5 – Will have and has had better games than this one. Alan Hutton - 4 – He’s not a left back and he’s certainly not a central defender either. Playing him in this position lost us the forward runs that he makes from wide positions and it did nothing to make our already suspect defence look any more solid. Fer ran for and crossed a loose ball following a challenge with him to Fulton to score their third as Alan stood statuesque in the centre of the penalty area. Tommy Elphick – 6 – Headed a 74th minute Lansbury corner wide of the far post. Neil Taylor – 4 – Looked far from comfortable on his return to the first team. Glenn Whelan – 4 – I would have anticipated that Glenn rather than Bjarnason would have been rested for this one. John McGinn – 7 – MOTM – It was surprising that John played the full 90 minutes yesterday (he was the only player to really do so). He is another player that I think would have benefited from a rest, Dean said post game that he would get one when his next booking presents him with a 2-game suspension and therefore an enforced rest! Showed his usual tenacity and work ethic along with his understandable frustration on 92 minutes when Lansbury played a free kick to him and he blasted it over the bar. Albert Adomah – 4 – A couple of times early on, I thought that he might just produce something of his old self yesterday, but this ended up being another disappointing afternoon. Curled a 54th minute shot over the bar and Mulder kept out an 80th minute attempt by him. Callum O’Hare – 6 – Taken out of the firing line on 55 minutes. Like Doyle-Hayes, I think we have a player here, but they both need games and experience. This was an experience that Callum will have been able to take little good from. Showed promise at times along with his inexperience on other occasions. Would benefit from a loan in much the same way that Jack once did in my opinion. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – He looked like he really didn’t want to be there most of the time yesterday. Can do and needs to do better than this on a consistent basis. Was ball watching and failed to pick up Dyer who ran behind him onto Fer’s nice through ball before slotting the ball past Kalanic. Scott Hogan - 5 – Lacking in the confidence that scoring goals would give him, but he is not looking likely to go on a scoring run any time soon, so it is a bit of a Catch 22 situation. Lost possession on the edge of the box which led to their opener. Turned a 1st minute El Ghazi cross wide of the near post and 5 minutes later hit an Adomah cross goalward which hit Mulder on the line rather than the back of the net. Kodjia touched the ball back to him on 62 minutes but his attempt was blocked at the near post by a defender. Had one of these gone in it might have shaken us out of our lethargy. Substitutes: Jonathan Kodjia - 5 – Replaced O’Hare on 55 minutes and didn’t live up to his nickname in the time he had on the pitch. Henri Lansbury - 6 – Came on for Whelan on 60 minutes and appeared to want to take the opportunity he was offered to show that he could do a job for us in the future. Hit a 64th minute shot from outside of the box that flew wide of the left post. Did well enough on a day that too many of those around him did not. Keinan Davis – Replaced Hogan on 72 minutes. Held the ball up well again but he won’t score with the regularity that we need someone to and needs to play alongside another striker. Not on quite long enough to gather a rating. 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. There were flames and a pre-match firework display yesterday but we missed the spark of invention around the box that Jack had until his injury at WBA been providing us with, during the game itself. Dean Smith indicated after the match that he anticipated being without Jack for the rest of this month. His two-month absence will deal a potentially lethal body blow to our promotion hopes. It has already badly dented them, with us having taken only 6 points from a possible 15 from the games he has already missed. We have taken rapid steps to remedy our goalkeeping and central defensive issues already during this transfer window. I feel we now need to do the same in finding someone who can give us some sort of midfield creativity when Jack is absent. This was to be a sorry start to the New Year for us with another two points dropped at Villa Park. The number of games played during the festive season has clearly taken its toll on our team which has also suffered from injuries that have had a noticeably adverse effect on our performance level. We started well yesterday but couldn’t put the game out of the reach of our visitors and we once again dropped points after being in front. Had we not done this quite so often, our promotion prospects would be looking considerably rosier now. We have 3 draws and a defeat to show from our last 4 home games. That is not promotion form. Tammy’s goals have kept us in touch with the play off places, but we have not closed in on sixth place and are instead treading water 5 points off it. We have failed to take advantage of the recent slip ups of Leeds and Norwich and it is Sheffield United and WBA who are now within reach of these two clubs in the battle for automatic promotion. Whilst we look on now focusing on 6th rather than 2nd place. We started well against an anti-football, cynical, time wasting QPR side who were aided and abetted by an inept refereeing display and who after this fixture remain above us having taken 4 points off us this season. Having drawn level on 75 minutes with 11 minutes of stoppage time still to be played once 90 minutes had been reached, QPR might have anticipated their goal being put under constant siege as we pressed for a late winner, but they got the point they came for all too easily without undue cause for concern. My player ratings from a game that produced goals but not the three points that we needed are: Jed Steer – 6 – Held a 69th minute shot from Freeman at his near post and made a good stop with his legs on 86 minutes from an Eze shot. Offered us some level of assurance between the sticks on his recall from Charlton. Had no chance with their first and their second flew past him into the top corner so on a day of only 4 on target shots 50% of them produced goals for the visitors. James Bree – 6 – Did well enough in his natural position. James Chester - 6 – Clipped the ball over their bar on 5 minutes. Played with a tad more confidence alongside Tommy. Tommy Elphick – 6 – Welcome back! Tommy will offer us some reasonable cover in the second half of the season. His Hull loan seems to have helped him to get back on track and he looked better than he had last time around yesterday. Alan Hutton – 4 – Looked good enough coming forward again and he always gives 100% but his primary job is to defend, and he wasn’t up to scratch in that area yesterday. Lost an aerial challenge for the ball during the build up to their equalizer and left oceans of room on his flank too often. A glaring example of that was when he ambled back into a central position and Wszolek was allowed to run unchallenged and cross for Eze to hit their second past Steer and into the top corner of the net. Birkir Bjarnason – 5 – Still in need of game time to build up his match fitness following his injury. Hit a 60th minute shot over from the edge of the box. Seemed to know what needed doing but often did not quite have the legs to do it. John McGinn – 7 – A Bjarnason cross was deflected off a defender to John whose 20th minute shot from the edge of the box rattled the crossbar. His accurate cross a minute later produced our first goal. On hand in his own box to head a 33rd minute cross out for a corner. Had a shot saved at the keeper’s left post in stoppage time Conor Hourihane – 5 – Failed twice to get any challenge in during the build up to their second goal. Hit an 81st minute free kick onto the roof of the net. Albert Adomah – 5 – Can do better than this. Jonathan Kodjia – 5 – Hit a shot wide of the near post from inside of the box on 44 minutes but demonstrated again that he is not a natural wide player. Tammy Abraham – 8 – MOTM – How many goals does he need to score to be on the winning team? Scored his first on 21 minutes when he nodded in a perfectly placed cross from McGinn and added a second on 75 minutes when he touched home another splendidly inviting cross this time from El Ghazi. Ran onto a sweet ball played through from McGinn on 23 minutes and hit his shot over the bar. Also had a 9th minute shot blocked at the near post by Lumley after Adomah had found him well. Substitutes: Anwar El Ghazi - 6 – Replaced Kodjia on 61 minutes. Hit a perfect cross which Tammy turned in for our 75th minute equalizer. Yannick Bolasie - 6 – Came on for Adomah on 61 minutes. Hit the ball across the face of the goal on 78 minutes and headed an El Ghazi cross onto the roof of the net in stoppage time. Had earlier headed a Hourihane corner towards goal that was scrambled away from the goalmouth. Glenn Whelan – Replaced Hourihane on 91 minutes. He was not on long enough to earn any rating and it was a surprising decision to see him coming on rather than Hogan or Davis with a winner being surely our objective in the last 10 minutes of the game. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. 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. Leeds stretched their lead over us to 15 points with their late, late winner yesterday. I can’t really see us closing that gap during the second half of the season. That would leave us with just one automatic promotion place to aim for namely the one currently occupied by Norwich who are currently 14 points ahead of us. To claim that place we must rely on Norwich not being this season’s Cardiff and, on our ability, to overtake them along with the likes of WBA and Derby. It might just come down to a winner takes all clash with Norwich at Villa Park on the final day of the season. We currently stand 11th in the league table and that doesn’t make great reading does it? We are also just 5 points away from a play off place and with half of the season left to be played I still expect us to finish sixth or better. Neither team really deserved to win this one, but we did lose it and that can be attributed to our porous defence which was a weakness to begin with and is now even more so due to injuries. Leeds won for the first time at Villa Park since 2002 yesterday and they did so having been two goals down after just 17 minutes. The lead was never a comfortable one though was it? There always lingers a doubt that we can claim a clean sheet and the third goal always looked like it might be crucial. So, it proved. Although we started the second half well and had the visitors on the back foot for the first 10 minutes of it, they claimed the third goal of the game and had drawn level 5 minutes later. It was more than cruel for their late winner to be scored in the 5th minute of stoppage time though. Had the referee decided that we would play on until they score when the 90 minutes were up? Our 7-game unbeaten run came to a sorry end yesterday and our new boss tasted defeat for the first time at Villa Park. We must now bounce back on Boxing Day in our middle of the table clash with Swansea so that we don’t give ourselves and our hopefully reinforced defence too much ground to make up in the New Year. Given we have now gone 3 home games without a win, perhaps it is to our advantage that this one will be away? My player ratings from a game that did little to lift our festive spirits and instead had us reaching for them are: Orjan Nyland – 6 – Did well to help a 22nd minute Chester back header over the bar when it might otherwise have produced a fortuitous goal for the visitors. Left too much space between his left-hand post and himself on 37 minutes and was relieved to see the free kick from Hernandez fly just wide. Did well to tip a 63rd minute Klich shot from the right-hand edge of the box over the crossbar. His poor clearance from a 67th minute Chester back pass fell dangerously to an opponent around 30 yards out. Parried a 79th minute Alioski shot away. Ahmed Elmohamady – 4 – Gift wrapped them their late winner with a tame back header that played an Alioski cross straight to a delighted Roofe inside of the box in the 95th minute who proceeded to hit the ball into the corner of the net. He had earlier made an 8th minute challenge on Harrison that prevented him making contact with a Roofe cross at close range. James Chester - 6 – The best of our defenders yesterday which is not saying a great deal. Nobody went with Jannson as he headed in his 61st minute equalizer having ran in between James and Hutton to glance the ball in. James Bree – 5 – Needed to try to make a move towards Clarke as he ran all too easily past Elmo inside the box before hitting their first into the far corner of the net. Playing out of position through necessity. Must be worth a shot starting in his natural position. Alan Hutton – 5 – He really isn’t a left back, is he? Glenn Whelan – 6 – Started well enough. John McGinn – 8 – Had another impressive game and gave everything he had. Why does he get booked so often when opponents who do the same or worse to him escape punishment so often by the way? We need to get up this season to keep him. Conor Hourihane – 7 – Hit our 17th minute second with a sweetly placed left foot shot from outside of the box after Kodjia had done so well to make room for himself on the edge of the box before playing the ball inside to him. Yannick Bolasie – 6 – a nice back heel by Whelan led to the ball cannoning off Kodjia and running on to him on the edge of the box but Jansson’s 47th minute challenge averted the danger just as he was about to pull the trigger. Produced one superb piece of Cruyff-like skill out wide on 51 minutes that left 2 defenders bamboozled. Jonathan Kodjia – 6 – Headed a 13th minute Hourihane corner wide of the far post. Won the ball on the edge of the area and flashed a shot just over on 48 minutes. Tammy Abraham – 8 – MOTM – Tammy really didn’t deserve to end up on the losing side yesterday. He back heeled the ball to Hourihane on the edge of the box who in turn played it inside of the box for McGinn the loose ball was behind Tammy but he stretched his leg to make good contact with it and hit home his 9th goal in 8 matches on the 5th minute. Worked very hard throughout. Substitutes: Anwar El Ghazi - 5 – Replaced Kodjia on 62 minutes and made no positive impression on the game. Birkir Bjarnason - 6 – Came on for Whelan on 73 minutes. A welcome return following his injury lay off. His 85th minute corner almost produced a third, but a fine reflex stop by Peacock-Farrell spared Forshaw conceding an own goal. Will need a couple of outings to build full match fitness. Scott Hogan – Replaced Bolasie on 83 minutes. Not on long enough to earn any rating. Up the Villa and Happy Christmas & 2019 to all Villa Talkers! John Lewis
  9. We extended our unbeaten run to 7 games yesterday and Stoke’s own unbeaten run now stands at 9. The deluge in which the game was played was not conducive to flowing football and both teams cancelled each other out in the first half. The goals like the weather were not going to dry up though and the second half rained goals. I had feared that the visitors might extend their run of victories at Villa Park to 4 each time they went ahead but we are made of sterner stuff than we once were, now aren’t we? A draw was a fair result on a day that we were not able to reproduce the level of performances that we have been producing of late, in a game during which we so clearly missed Jack’s invention in and around the visitor’s box. The visitors started strongly, were well organised, gave us little space and were allowed to make several uncompromising challenges in order to break up our forward movement. They came to stifle us and to get a point. They might have taken all three had we not battled back twice from a goal behind. This was a point that may well prove crucial when the season reaches its conclusion against a team that unlike us currently, have both a solid goalkeeper and a solid defence. We now face a second tough home game against the current league leaders on Sunday. They are currently 12 points ahead of us and we could do with a win to bring that gap down to single figures and to leave us with realistic ambitions of finishing the season above them in one of the automatic places. My player ratings from a game that kept us two points ahead of our fellow promotion chasers from the Potteries are: Orjan Nyland – 6 – Saved well from Allen low at his left-hand post on 6 minutes. Parried away an 11th minute shot from McLean from a Martina cross and Chester hooked the resultant loose ball clear. For some reason dropped a knee when Allen put Stoke ahead on 47 minutes and the ball flew over his outstretched arm into the net. Went the right way for Afobe’s well hit 78th minute penalty but the ball was destined for the left-hand corner of his net. Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Allowed McLean to run inside him and then unnecessarily brought him down inside the box with Kodjia covering the run ahead of the forward. James Chester - 6 – Solid enough and looked nearer to his reliable best. Axel Tuanzebe – 6 – Becoming more familiar with and showing signs of growing into the role alongside Chester. Alan Hutton – 6 – Lost possession on the edge of the box to McLean whose cross was hit home by Allen for the visitor’s first. Looked better when moving forward than when under pressure at the back from Ince. He’s got to start on the right whenever possible. Glenn Whelan – 6 – Did all that can be expected of him. He is not a like for like replacement for Jack, but he did put in a shift. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – So disappointing following his display last week. Had little of the ball and did little with it on those rare occasions that he did have it. Was unable to force home a Hutton cross on 55 minutes from close range that Butland gathered gratefully. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Butland helped Conor’s 24th minute free-kick from just outside of the area over the bar. John McGinn – 7 – Got stuck in and was our stand out player until the arrival of Jonny Danger. Missed the space that opponent’s double teaming and focus on Jack normally provides as did others. Yannick Bolasie – 6 – Blasted the ball harmlessly over the bar on 80 minutes when a cross seemed a much better option. Hit a shot wide of the post on 61 minutes from inside of the box. Claimed an assist with a nice cross for our second and it was nice to see him playing a full game. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Had a 55th minute shot from the edge of the area saved low by Butland at a post. Was made to wait a long time to take our 73rd minute penalty but he coolly slotted it home sending Butland the wrong way in the process. Substitutes: Jonathan Kodjia – 8 – MOTM - Replaced El Ghazi on 65 minutes and what a difference he made! Was pulled back inside the box by Pieters as he moved to Elmo’s ball to him which resulted in our penalty. Headed home our second equalizer on 84 minutes when he headed a Bolasie cross pat Butland and into the left-hand corner of his net. Scott Hogan – Replaced Whelan on 85 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa & A Merry Christmas to all Villa Talkers! John Lewis
  10. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  11. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance
  12. 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. What a game that was! It’s not very often that Villa draw a game 5-5. The last time we did so was way back in 1966 when we came back from 5-1 down to draw 5-5 at White Hart Lane. Tony Hateley scored 4 of our goals against Spurs on that day. On this occasion it was Tammy Abraham that did the same. When the dust has settled, we can reflect on the positives and negatives to be taken from this game. We scored 5 goals but conceded 5 as well. We pulled goals back to equalize on three occasions but couldn’t hold onto a lead against 10 men when we had eventually got one. We are unbeaten over the last 4 games, but our winning run came to an end last night. Our attack was impressive, but our defence was shambolic. Tammy Abraham claimed the match ball but wasn’t on a winning side. The referee correctly sent off Figueiredo, but his allocated stoppage time failed to take full account of the 4 minutes that had elapsed between that incident and the resultant free-kick being taken. When we found ourselves two goals down after just 6 minutes, I would have gladly taken a point from this game but when we had drawn level within 8 minutes, I had hoped that we would be able to complete the comeback and claim all three points. Doubt crept in when we went behind again on the 22nd minute and then again on the 51st minute but hope was reignited when we equalized again on a second and third occasion on 36 and 71 minutes. When they went down to 10 men on 68 minutes and we then took the lead for the first time in the game with only 15 minutes of normal time remaining it seemed the game would be ours. This game was anything other than predictable though and we have a habit of not capitalizing on teams being a man down as well as not being able to see out games when we sit back so there proved to be a sting in the tail. It was perhaps inevitable that Joe Lolley and Lewis Grabban would make an impact on the game last night. A brace of goals from a player that is s Villa fan himself and another from a striker who has had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus one of which was us in the second half of last season was a little too much of an impact for my liking. Forest scored with every on target shot that they had. Our defence is clearly our Achilles heel and Forest ran through it like a knife through butter last night. We should have had a penalty in first half stoppage time and had two late goals ruled out for hand ball and offside It was a game that neither team really deserved to lose but I could have just about have coped with our visitors being the team that did. We could now do with a win at Boro to make up for dropping two points at home last night albeit in a highly entertaining goal fest. My player ratings from a game that will live long in our memories are: Orjan Nyland – 3 – Beaten by all 5 of the on-target shots that he faced last night. Grabban hit the ball between the space he had left between himself and the near post for their fifth. He was beaten by shots from Grabban and Cash whose runs into the box were not picked up for their second and third goals. Watched rooted to the ground as Lolley’s well hit shot from distance went past him. No positives to be taken from this at all as any one of us could not have done any worse. Alan Hutton – 5 – His cross late in first half stoppage time was handled by Cash but this was ignored by the referee. His unnecessarily hot-headed reaction following the sending off led to a booking that will see him miss the Boro game and we can ill afford that. James Chester - 4 – Was grounded near the half way line when Grabban started his run into the box that nobody else picked up thus leaving him unmarked and in space to turn in their opening goal. Remains alarmingly below his very best and we are so reliant on his leadership. Is he still not fully fit? Axel Tuanzebe – 5 – Grabban squeezed his last goal past Axel and inside the near post to secure a point for the visitors. The best of our defenders last night. Neil Taylor – 5 – Hit a couple of decent crosses and played a one two on the edge of the box with Abraham but his 74th minute shot was blocked. Cleverly found El Ghazi for our fifth. His defending was a cause for concern at times though. Yannick Bolasie – 7 – Made a nice run into the box and was brought down by Robinson for our penalty. Always a threat on his first start for us. John McGinn – 8 – Hit a 30-yard shot on 14 minutes that Pantilimon was unable to hold, Kodjia was first to the loose ball but his effort was cleared off the line only for the ball to go in off Abraham’s outstretched leg for the first of our equalizers. Hit another good shot from outside of the area following a lovely turn on 39 minutes that Pantilimon was only able to parry away. Hit a sweet cross 2 minutes into first half stoppage time that Abraham headed straight to the relieved Pantilimon. Not fully fit and therefore not able to offer the sort of barrier he normally would in preventing opponents running through us. Conor Hourihane – 4 – Outpaced by Carvalho who ran on into the box and hit their second past Nyland as both Hutton and Axel tried to get near enough to make a challenge. Hit a dangerous 48th minute cross that was cleared for a corner by Dawson with Kodjia in attendance. Finding the defensive part of his current role difficult to get a grip on. Jack Grealish – 7 – Good when we were moving forward and always looking to find a pass, but Jack needs to remember to track back and be a nuisance to opponents when we don’t have the ball. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Not quite able to connect with a nice 2nd minute cross from McGinn. Grealish played a nice ball through to him on 14 minutes, he ran into the box and had a shot blocked by a defender. Hit the shot that led to our second. Tammy Abraham – 10 – MOTM – Scored four and could have had another. Headed in a sweet Bolasie cross at the far post for our first on 11 minutes. Was in the right place at the right time to get in the way of Grabban’s attempted clearance 3 minutes later. Made it a first half hat-trick when he hit his 36th minute penalty down the middle as Pantilimon dived to his left. Headed home a 71st minute Grealish free kick at the near post for his fourth. Scoring goals for fun which is good because we were conceding them as fast as he could score them last night! Substitutes: Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Replaced Kodjia on 66 minutes. Hit what could have been our winner 9 minutes after coming on when Taylor found him on the edge of the box and he hit a splendid shot into the left-hand corner of the net. He was booked on 87 minutes for using his hand to put an Elmo cross into the net to reprise Maradona’s infamous 1986 Hand of God moment. Glenn Whelan – Came on for McGinn on 79 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Ahmed Elmohamady – Replaced Bolasie on 83 minutes. A floated cross from Taylor deflected off a defender’s head to him on 93 minutes but Pantilimon parried it and was relieved when Abraham was flagged offside having forced home the loose ball on the goal line. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  15. Joe Gallagher, Trevor Francis, Kenny Burns, Kevin Dillon, Mark Dennis, Pat Van den Hauwe, Julian Dicks, Noel Blake, Tom Ross, Jasper Carrot your boys took a hell of a beating! This game turned on the 35th minute when Gardner’s cross flew past Chester and Adams got a foot to it only for the ball to thud against the post rather than give the knuckle draggers a two-goal cushion. What could possibly go wrong for them after that? We could go straight up the other end and hit an equalizer which we did. We could then go ahead within 2 minutes and hit another two in the second half. It breaks their hearts doesn’t it? The Scottish Cafu settled the game on the 76th minute with a tremendous run and a wonderfully taken goal. This has amusingly been referred to as a case of Hutton dressed as Lahm. For me it was a goal that was good enough to decide any game. Garry Monk claimed that the visitors are on a learning curve. They certainly are. They are slowly beginning to learn at long last that they are comfortably the second-best football team in the second city and their tired and weary fans must have been grudgingly accepting that as they slunk out of Villa Park yesterday. They have now gone 13 league games without a local derby win and long may that run continue. Our visitors were near their best yesterday which really isn’t that good in all honesty is it? We have played better and have lost recently. We conceded two goals, but we did come back from a goal down and extended our lead again when our two-goal lead was temporarily reduced to one. We had a very slow start but once we got into the game there was only ever going to be one winner and it was a joy to see Jack hold up 4 fingers on one hand and 2 on the other to the Holte End after the game. Small Heath scored their first goal at Villa Park for 10 years yesterday. Back then we scored 5 goals in winning that local derby it was just the 4 this time! The city is still ours and it always will be. My player ratings from a game that brought us our third straight win and took us up to eighth in the table are: Orjan Nyland – 6 – It appears that he may be starting to gain a little confidence. Parried a 42nd minute Gardner free-kick that Dean who was in front of him couldn’t get a touch on to safety and then gathered a 59th minute Adams shot at his near post. Alan Hutton – 8 – MOTM - Hit our stunning fourth goal on 76 minutes when he collected a loose ball inside his own half ran determinedly between Gardner and Maghoma into the box, jinked past Dean on the edge of the box before planting a sweet left footed shot into the corner of the net past Camp. James Chester - 6 – Not quite at his usual very best but that can most likely be attributed to the injury that had threatened his place in the starting line-up and our defence would have been even more suspect had he been missing. Axel Tuanzebe – 6 – Competent again. Neil Taylor – 6 – A decent display. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Hit a 65th minute free-kick that seemed destined for the far corner of the net until Camp got an outstretched hand to it which deflected it past the post for a corner. Glenn Whelan – 6 – Did well enough but he is not quite a like for like replacement for the Scottish Iniesta is he? Albert Adomah – 8 – Three of his crosses brought us three of our four goals before Harding’s challenge brought him a well merited booking and led to Albert hobbling off on 65 minutes. Get well soon Albert! Jack Grealish – 8 – His close-range diving header at the far post from a perfectly flighted Adomah cross hit from the edge of the box gave us the lead and put a smile on Jack’s face as well as on ours. Faced several uncompromising challenges that were too leniently treated by the referee. Headed over on 46 minutes. Jack was too good for them to cope with. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 - Scored our 37th minute equalizer. Hutton played the ball forward to Adomah whose cross was deflected off Morrison’s head towards Kodjia who turned the ball in low at the far post. Hit a 54th minute shot over the bar from outside of the area Harding got to the ball first on 80 minutes when he tried to make it five when the ball was deflected towards goal as he was challenged by the keeper on the edge of their area. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Hit a shot over the bar on 2 minutes from the right edge of the box. Brought down an Adomah cross before himself being brought down by Morrison for our penalty which he took himself coolly sending Camp the wrong way and hitting the spot-kick in off the inside of the post. Headed a 66th minute Grealish corner over from close range at the far post which had evaded Camp’s reach. Substitutes: Yannick Bolasie – 6 – Replaced the injured Adomah on 65 minutes. Will he be fit enough to start in midweek if Albert isn’t? Henri Lansbury – Came on for Whelan on 69 minutes only to be substituted himself on 77 minutes due to injury. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Ahmed Elmohamady – Replaced Lansbury on 77 minutes. He was also not on long enough to earn a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  16. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  17. 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. James Chester was back to his best last night firstly preventing a Bolton equalizer and then scoring our decisive second goal to send us temporarily to the top of the bottom half of the table and just 4 points behind the top six. We had the perfect start last night with a 4th minute goal that it might have been hoped would lead to a confidence inspiring goal glut against a Bolton side that are currently on the crest of a slump. The visitors instead threatened to draw level and we sat nervously and uncomfortably in our seats until Chester added a second to give us a two-goal cushion and what then became a comfortable win. We played better and lost against QPR, but it was vital that we won this battle between two teams that had both lost their previous two matches. We now need to put a decent run of results together which will not be easy looking at our forthcoming fixtures. A second home win and a second clean sheet at Villa Park for our new management team gives us something to work on. Winning our home games as a minimum will keep us ticking along until the next transfer window when we can look to strengthen where necessary. My player ratings from a game that we deserved to win and did are: Orjan Nyland – 4 – He continues to make Pierluigi Gollini look like Dino Zoff! Comfortably collected a mishit 21st minute shot from Oztumer but then embarrassingly dropped a cross 4 minutes later which he then gratefully gathered when it fell at his feet. Seemed to have lost his bearings when he fumbled a harmless 41st minute Oztumer free-kick out for a corner that he should have left to go out. A schoolboy would have been unhappy with doing that under no sort of pressure. Did well to get his right foot to a 47th minute Buckley cross from the edge of the six-yard box which was otherwise bound for Donaldson to tap in at close range for an equalizer, but the negatives outweigh this one positive for me. Although he was not often called upon he continues to look to have an error in him waiting to happen. He needs to be doing a lot of work with Neil Cutler in the coming days to address his weaknesses. Is Moreira still not another option? Alan Hutton – 6 – Looks like he can still remember how to give an effective display in his rightful full back role. James Chester - 8 – MOTM – Back to his best and this game will do no harm to his confidence. Did incredibly well to hook a 24th minute Hobbs header off the line with Nyland beaten. Was flagged offside when he headed home a 32nd minute Hourihane free-kick but was given the benefit of the doubt on 57 minutes when he headed a Grealish free-kick in between Alnwick and the post to settle the game. Axel Tuanzebe – 7 – Will get increasingly more comfortable with more games alongside our captain in the centre of our defence. Did well to use his pace to get back and win an 84th minute challenge with Doidge inside of the box which along with the substitute’s heavy touch on the ball denied him a scoring opportunity. Neil Taylor – 6 – Faced little to really test him last night but generally looked competent enough. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Played in an unfamiliar deep midfield role in the absence of Thor. Did well enough given that and he rarely fails to do a decent job for us. Could he fill this role again? Albert Adomah - 6 – Hit a 14th minute shot wide of the far post from the edge of the box and a bicycle kick (as allegedly invented by a late Villa chairman) onto the roof of the netting behind the crossbar. Substituted on 73 minutes. John McGinn – 7 – Subject to the sort of rough treatment normally reserved just for Jack last night and the referee was as lenient with challenges on him as they usually are when Jack receives the same uncompromising treatment. Won the ball well from Donaldson on 43 minutes before running forward and hitting a cross towards the far post that was played back across the face of the goal by Kodjia only for Alnwick to get a hand to prevent Abraham getting his head on it. John then stooped to head the loose ball into the side netting having continued his run. He is quality and has an obvious tenacity and will to win. Jack Grealish – 7 – Made a nice 4th minute run into the box which was spotted by Abraham who having turned to leave a defender for dead then played a perfect pass to Jack who took the ball past Alnwick and tucked it inside the near post. Had a 28th minute shot from outside of the area pushed wide by Alnwick. Jonathan Kodjia – 6 – McGinn played a one-two with Hutton before hitting a 30th minute cross to the far post which Kodjia could only hook well over the bar. Flashed a 69th minute shot wide of the near post having ran into the area after being found by a nice ball from within his own half by Tuanzebe. Not at his powerful and defence threatening best yet. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Maintained a good work rate last night. McGinn found Kodjia who ran into the box and squared the ball to Tammy on 46 minutes, but it was hit a little too firmly and bounced off his right leg to safety as he tried to take a touch when a goal had looked likely. He won’t fail to score too often in games at Villa Park this season. Substitutes: Yannick Bolasie – Replaced Adomah on 73 minutes. Not on quite long enough to gather a rating this time. I had expected him to start this one. Scott Hogan – Replaced Abraham on 81 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Glenn Whelan – Replaced Jack on 90 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. 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. We tried placing round pegs in round holes rather than in square ones yesterday and it worked! It was nice to hear applause at half time and again at full time from a packed Villa Park on Saturday as the team left the field. It is very early in Dean Smith’s tenure at Villa Park and he has only had a couple of training sessions at best with some of his new players but there were still some early encouraging signs. We pressed our opponents in their own half and showed a willingness to do so. Doing that took some pressure off our defence and we didn’t let Swansea begin to cause us too many problems at the back until the last quarter of the game when they had us on the back foot as we tired and might have denied us the victory our overall play and improved work rate had deserved. We even started to look a bit more like a team than a group of individuals yesterday. This much needed win brings us level on points with Dean’s former club Brentford and only 3 points off the play off places. Leeds and Albion will soon be looking over their shoulders and don’t look so nailed on for promotion after their defeats yesterday. Dean, JT and Richard O’Kelly have a 100%-win record. Dean Smith has a win from his first Villa game and that is something that none of our previous six managers achieved. We had lost to Swansea on their last two visits to Villa Park, so this was a case of third time lucky for us. The acid test will be our next two games which are away from home. We took 3 points from these games last season and could do with getting at least the same this. Let’s go to Norwich and QPR looking for wins instead of with our backs to the wall. Six points from these two games would really get this season started and we do have some ground to make up. We are also Aston Villa and are claiming our new manager bounce! We are not going to become a team that will walk away with this league overnight. We started well and got a win but lacked a clinical finish and enough invention in the final third. We don’t dominate games although we have the players who on paper look capable of doing so. The problems we have found so far this season will not have disappeared and they may well rear their ugly heads again. We just may through hard work and application have it in us to turn the corner and make this a season to remember rather than one to forget. We may just have witnessed the start of something big yesterday. Let’s hope so! My player ratings from a game that we kept a clean sheet for only the second time in a league game this season are: Orjan Nyland – 7 – This was his best performance to date for us by some distance. This can be a new start for him as well as others and he can take some confidence from this display. Horton tried to turn in a cross on 23 minutes from just inside of the box that Nyland pushed away to his left. He then cut out a dangerous looking 56th minute cross low at his near post. Made a good reflex save on 69 minutes from a close-range Fulton header. Alan Hutton – 7 – Gave his usual whole-hearted performance. James Chester - 7 – Solid following his return from suspension. Axel Tuanzebe – 7 – Looked reasonably comfortable alongside our captain in the heart of our defence. Worth a run in this position. Its not as if we are spoilt for choice when it comes to central defenders after all. Neil Taylor – 7 – Has an opportunity to make this position his own again now. Looked solid enough at the back and denied the visitors an equalizer on 79 minutes when he got a foot to deflect a Roberts shot wide that had beaten Nyland who had come off his line towards him. Hit a nice cross on 22 minutes that McGinn almost connected with. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Claimed his fourth assist of the season yesterday. His crosses often find their man, don’t they? I was a little surprised to see him still a starter, but I guess managers know what they will get from him and Dean got that yesterday. Bikir Bjarnason – 7 – Looking more comfortable in the holding midfield role with each game. Likes a tackle and worked tirelessly. His distribution is something he could do with looking at. John McGinn – 8 – MOTM – Back to his best yesterday. John pressed and harried his opponents throughout and worked incredibly hard for this win. We will miss him at Norwich. Jack Grealish – 7 – Play him in the position in which he feels most comfortable and you are likely to get match winning performances again from him. This was an improvement from Jack and I hope he will kick on from this and begin to consistently produce what we know he is capable of. Hit a 21st minute free-kick from the right edge of the box that just needed a touch from someone that it did not get. Hit a 47th minute shot from the edge of the box that took a deflection off a defender before Nordfeldt got a hand to it diving to his left. Elmo picked up the loose ball and Adomah headed the cross back towards Jack whose attempt to hook the ball in from around 8 yards was saved by Nordfeldt. Albert Adomah – 7 – A much better performance than of late. Albert seems keen to impress again and made a couple of decent crosses being much more involved than he had been recently. Hit a 37th minute shot that was gathered easily enough by Nordfeldt. McGinn found him with a quickly taken 29th minute free-kick and his resultant cross took a deflection off Roberts that led to the ball eluding Nordfeldt and almost creeping in at the far post. Hit a 52nd minute effort just wide of the post. Tammy Abraham – 8 – Got our early winner on the 8th minute and on another day, he could have had a hat-trick. Got into the positions to score and this was his 4th goal in 7 games for us which is a more than acceptable strike rate. His goals can get us promoted this season and earn him international recognition again. He was a threat to the visitor’s defence from start to finish and seemed to be enjoying the game and the responsibility of leading the line. Jack hit an 8th minute free-kick against the wall after Tammy had been fouled on the edge of the box. Elmo picked up the loose ball wide on the right beat a defender and cut the ball back to Jack who found Elmo again whose flighted cross towards the far post was headed past Nordfeldt for our winner from just outside of the 6-yard box by Tammy. Couldn’t quite reach a 58th minute Adomah cross and brought down a cross from Adomah 4 minutes later that Nordfeldt dived to his left to save. Headed a 68th minute cross from Bolasie downwards which bounced over the bar with the keeper ending up in the back of the net rather than the ball. Substitutes: Yannick Bolasie – 7 – Replaced Elmo on 64 minutes and hit a nice cross 4 minutes later for Tammy that could have given us some breathing space at the end. Jonathan Kodjia – Came on for Albert on 74 minutes. Not on quite long enough to earn a rating or to make the sort of impression that might demand a starting place. Conor Hourihane – Replaced Jack on 83 minutes. Unlucky to find himself on the bench again in my opinion. Not on long enough to gather a rating. 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. At half time it was a question of how many goals that we would win by rather than whether we would win. They appeared to be just what we had needed to face last night namely a team that had less confidence and were in worse form than ourselves. At the end we proved to be just the team for a club at the bottom of the league to have faced. At half time it was Alex Neil’s managerial future that looked likely to be under more threat than Steve Bruce’s at the end of the game. What a difference a referee can make! Preston had offered no threat up front and little resistance at the back in the first half, but a spot of dressing room half time cup throwing had them taking the game to us at the start of the second period. The referee’s subsequent intervention when he gave the visitors a very soft penalty and then compounded that by sending off our captain left us in disarray. Chester’s challenge on Nmecha was an innocuous one and if the referee really felt compelled to award a penalty then that should surely have been adequate punishment. Had it not been for that sending off we might well have been in the top six rather than two points off the play off places this morning. I suspect that we would probably have weathered Preston’s early second half efforts and cruised to a comfortable win, but it wasn’t to be. Had we been in any sort of form we would have been out of sight before Chester’s dismissal because the Preston defence made our own look almost solid up until then! The referee changed the course of this game, but we too readily surrendered the initiative when we went down to ten men last night. Other teams go down to ten men and it doesn’t have the same devastating impact upon them as it did on us yesterday. We should have tried to add another goal when we were still a goal ahead rather than negatively rely on a defence that is brittle even with Chester in it to hold out for the rest of the game. When we did move forward in stoppage time their defence showed itself to be as leaky as it had been in the first half. We left it too late to find out. If there is one player and one position that we cannot afford to lose a player for most of a second half and for another game due to an unwarranted suspension, then it’s James Chester and our central defence. Why did a player who has scored one goal in 7 years step up to take a vital penalty? Our designated penalty taker may have already been substituted and others may have been sitting on the bench but Bolasie who had already scored wanted to take it and surely Jack or McGinn should have also been ahead of Whelan in the queue to take the spot kick? They should have prised the ball out of the substitute’s hands. My player ratings from a game that we looked like winning at half time and then did again with the last kick of the game but didn’t are: Mark Bunn – 4 – Surprisingly it was he rather than Moreira who replaced Nyland and Bunn doesn’t inspire too much confidence either does he? Came out of his area on 24 minutes to get his feet to the ball before Robinson and blocked a cross at his near post on 50 minutes. Sent the wrong way from the spot by Johnson for their first on 56 minutes. Gallagher’s 79th minute free kick went past a poorly lined up wall and our keeper for the day left too much room to his left to allow their second to creep between him and the near post. Their 86th minute third from Moult appeared to go straight past him. Gathered a 66th waist high shot from the left edge of the box from Robinson and kept out a 79th minute. Perhaps Burnley could spare us one of their three keepers in January? Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Hit a couple of decent crosses and had a decent enough game. James Chester - 6 – His sending off left me wishing we had Mile available on the bench to bring on. Axel Tuanzebe – 6 – Finally played in the centre and looked well worthy of retaining his place last night both with and without our captain alongside him. Moved a loose ball forward to Bolasie to hit in our third. Alan Hutton – 6 – Might have got to the corner that led to their third. Birkir Bjarnason – 6 – Looked comfortable and increasingly effective in the middle in the first half. Pushed to the ground at the far post to ensure he did not get his head to McGinn’s late corner and give us our late penalty. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Faded in the second half but he was not alone in that. Jack Grealish – 6 – Hit a 14th minute shot from the edge of the box over the bar. Showed some fleeting signs of still having the ability to run a game in the first half. John McGinn – 6 – His challenge on the touchline allowed Abraham to run on to hit home our second. Has not quite seemed to take games by the scruff of the neck in the way he had been doing of late but it’s asking a lot of him to do it on his own every time. Tammy Abraham – 6 – Scored our second and what should have been decisive goal on 37 minutes when he ran into the box from the left and stroked the ball past Maxwell into the corner of the net. Unlucky to be substituted on 56 minutes following the sending off to make way for a defender. Jonathan Kodjia – 6 – Had a 9th minute downward header from a Hourihane free-kick blocked at the near post and was found by Elmo inside the box on 16 minutes but his shot was deflected by Maxwell at the near post across the face of the goal and out for a corner. Scored our opener on 26 minutes when Hourihane swept the ball wide to Elmo whose cross was headed past the keeper and into the far corner of the net by Jonathan. Had unusually done some work in his own half in the first quarter of the match less involved in the second half prior to being substituted. Substitutes: James Bree – 6 – Replaced Abraham on 56 minutes. Got a good block in on Fisher at the near post on 81 minutes. Yannick Bolasie – 6 – MOTM - Came on for Kodjia on 74 minutes and hit our 91st minute equalizer in at the near post. He must be starting games now. Glenn Whelan – 4 - Replaced Hourihane on 83 minutes and made a difference but unfortunately not a positive one. Showed acceptance of responsibility by taking the spot kick that should have given us a late winner on 96 minutes but his decision cost us the game because his penalty was poorly hit to the keeper’s left and was just begging to be saved. Just because the ball was in your hands when the penalty was awarded does not mean you have to take the penalty Glenn when you are ill equipped to do so! Up the Villa! John Lewis