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Found 198 results

  1. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  2. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  3. 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
  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. 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
  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. 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
  11. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong.
  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. One moment of magic from John McGinn could only temporarily dispel the gloom from Villa Park yesterday. The beat team won, and we were a long way off being the best team. Our visitors gave what will be one of their best performances of the season whereas we produced one of our worst in what is fast becoming a season to forget. Sheffield Wednesday inflicted our first home league defeat of the season upon us for a second successive season yesterday. They started brightly and found it all too easy to come away with all three points as they had done last November when they won by the same score. Tuesday’s home win had given us something to build upon and had lifted us up temporarily into the top six. This abject performance shattered any hopes we might have entertained of turning the corner, of producing a run of good results, of installing some much-needed confidence into the team and of easing some of the pressures that are on our club. We have taken 13 points from our first 9 games of the season and sit uncomfortably in the bottom half of the table in 13th place. We had hoped to hit the ground running this season and to not leave ourselves with ground to make up on those teams who were occupying the automatic promotion places again. Instead of that we have the same number of points as we had after the first nine games of last season and that does not represent progress. Runs of poor performances and results happen to teams but to a club that is expected to seriously challenge for promotion a run such as this one is unacceptable, and it shows no obvious signs of ending any time soon. A win would have put us into the top six again and would have taken us within 2 points of the early league leaders, but we were not able to capitalise on their own awful result. This was our manager’s 100th game in charge of our club and this defeat will only place his future at the club under increasing doubt. We didn’t really get going yesterday other than for a few minutes between John McGinn’s sublime goal and The Owls scoring their winner during which time the rest of the team seemed to realise that he needed a little help. Things might have been different had Hourihane’s 64th minute goal bound shot not been flicked off the line by Pudil. We might then have somehow gone on to get a win that would have papered over the cracks that were so clear yesterday but instead their second goal ended any temporary hopes we held of a late comeback. My player ratings from a game in which we had far too many players having an off day and on which we failed to work effectively as a team are: Orjan Nyland – 6 – Beaten by Matias from the edge of the box for their opener and by Fletcher’s powerful header for their winner with the ball ending up in the right-hand corner of the net on both occasions. Saved a 62nd minute shot from Fletcher low to his right. Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Not near his best. James Chester- 6 – The cross for their winner passed over him to be met by Fletcher’s head. He must be finding that carrying our defence is becoming increasingly difficult even for him. Mile Jedinak – 4 – What did Axel do to be banished to the bench for the last two games? Mile’s place is in front of the defence not in the centre of it. He lacks pace and is not comfortable in this role. Opponents like Fletcher who was made to look like twice the player he now is yesterday are well aware of that and take advantage of it to our cost. Alan Hutton – 7 – Our best defender yesterday. Made a great challenge on Fletcher after he had run between Jedinak and himself to deny him a scoring opportunity. Albert Adomah – 5 – Substituted on 68 minutes having made little positive impression on the game. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Hit a shot from the edge of the area wide of the post on 33 minutes and another straight at Dawson on 58 minutes. He was unlucky not to put us in front when his goal bound 64th minute shot was flicked clear by Pudil. Reach reached a ball on the edge of the box before Conor was able to clear it and found Matias who hit their first into the net before Chester was able to slide in to get in a challenge. Jack Grealish – 5 – Started wide for some reason. We had players sitting on the bench who can fill the wide roles. Jack is clearly less than comfortable playing out wide and needs to play where he was so effective last season just behind the striker(s). Hit a 6th minute effort wide of the far post and another wide from just outside of the box on 52 minutes. Let a clearance run off him to Reach in the build up to their winner. John McGinn – 8 – MOTM – Hit a stunning volley from 30 yards on 53 minutes that went in off the underside of the bar and thudded into the right-hand corner of the net. His goal, performance level and determination shone out like a beacon on a gloomy night. Tammy Abraham – 6 – Lacked service and without it a goal poacher is seldom a scorer. Jonathan Kodjia – 6 – Passed the ball to Tammy a couple of times rather than attempting to go it alone as has been previously been his preferred option irrespective of having team mates in better positions. This was good to see and bodes well for the hopes of him building a good striking partnership with Abraham. Had an effort blocked on 59 minutes. Substitutes: Yannick Bolasie – 6 – Came on for Adomah on 68 minutes and made a couple of runs that showed that he should have started this one. Hit an 82nd minute that Hourihane scuffed wide when in a good position. Anwar El Ghazi – Replaced Kodjia on 78 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  14. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  15. Goals from Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie on their home debuts gave us a much-needed win last night. This was not a scintillating performance from us. Our visitors rarely threatened our brittle defence and we eased to a routine victory without looking particularly good. The win was comfortable enough and it was achieved without us having to hit our stride. We didn’t look fluent last night, and we have a team of individuals that have yet to become a team but when that does happen the rest of the league had better beware because we have some pretty good individuals. Last night’s win gives the team something to build upon and it has lifted us up to sixth in the table. That is not too shabby given our performances to date. Another win on Saturday could give the team an opportunity to put together a string of positive results that could in turn cement our place in the top six and install some much-needed confidence into them. We played 4-2-4 last night which was a good and unexpected decision. The Millers arrived at Villa Park looking to take a point. They didn’t really look like doing so once we went in front but until Bolasie headed home our second there was always a danger that they would steal a point with an equalizer against the run of play as Reading had done before them. One goal is never a comfortable lead and we really need to kick on once we go in front so that our games do not always go down to the wire. Wood was too close for comfort on 77 minutes with a header that went wide of the post, but our second goal thankfully made the game safe just 2 minutes later. This result will temporarily ease some of the pressure at Villa Park. The rare clean sheet will show our defence that it is not impossible to go through a game without conceding as will our two goals demonstrate that if we make the chances we have the players who can take them. We are not yet a well oiled smoothly running promotion machine, but we might yet in the fullness of time become one. My player ratings from a run of the mill win against The Millers are: Orjan Nyland – 6 – A quiet event free evening. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Did well on dropping back to a role that I consider that he is more suited to also chipped in with a pin point cross that resulted in our second. James Chester- 6 – Solid on those occasions that our defence was tested. Headed wide from a McGinn cross on 64 minutes. Mile Jedinak – 6 – A quiet night for our defence but he was commanding in the air and did well in this central defensive role that we insist in playing him in on this occasion. Headed an 81st minute Bolasie corner harmlessly wide. Will Mile be rested for Axel on Saturday if we choose to try a little squad rotation? Alan Hutton – 6 – Another reliable performance on the left. Anwar El Ghazi – 6 – Substituted on 73 minutes having given a decent enough display. Conor Hourihane – 7 – Earned his place with that free-kick at Blackburn and performed well on his merited return to our starting line-up. Hit a 45th minute free-kick wide of the post. Hit a 66th minute shot that Rodak kept out at his near post. Jack Grealish – 7 – Some welcome signs of a return to form last night. Could it be that he had needed some time to become familiar with having other players around him that can make things happen as well as himself? He is also not seeing as much of the ball as he was and may need time to become more accustomed to his current role. Nicely found by Kodjia but his 19th minute shot went past the far post and Abraham was just unable to reach it to turn it in. Curled a 72nd minute shot just wide of the far post. John McGinn – 8 – MOTM – A determined ball winner and he uses it so very well. Had an 87th minute shot from the edge of the box gathered by Rodak. Comfortably our most valuable player last night. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Looked sharp, pacey and keen. Scored our opener on 27 minutes. Grealish found Kodjia on the edge of the box who played a sweet ball past 2 defenders to Tammy who hit the ball past the keeper and into the corner of the net. He did some nice work prior to finding El Ghazi who hit the ball onto the netting on the top of the goal on 15 minutes. He looked very good and will get better. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Showed some nice touches and his partnership with Abraham looks to have some potential. Had a decent 1st minute cross pushed away by Rodak who also kept out his attempt to convert McGinn’s cross from close range 3 minutes later. Headed an 18th minute Grealish cross over the bar. Substitutes: Yannick Bolasie – 6 – Came on for El Ghazi on 73 minutes and sealed the win with a determined 82nd minute diving header from a nice Elmo cross. Looks ready for a start on Saturday. Albert Adomah – Replaced Kodjia on 81 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. James Bree - Replaced Abraham on 86 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating but it is nice to know he is still in contention for a place. Up the Villa!
  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. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  19. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  20. 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. One goal is often not enough and so it proved yesterday. Up until Reading’s late equalizer it had looked like we had done just enough to get a win and “just enough” appeared to be all that we had thought that we would need to do. Our defence is however porous, and we were not capable of closing out yesterday’s game. We have not managed to keep a clean sheet in the league so far this season. That is a feat that we achieved 16 times last season. Our defence, which was so well organised back then with John Terry in it is now crying out for reinforcement, but time is fast running out for us to bring players in. There was the usual late, late goal at Villa Park yesterday but this time it was our visitors who scored it. We are now four points worse off against the opponents that we have played this season when compared to last season’s results and that is how far we are behind the early pace setters Leeds and Boro. We cannot rely on making up ground lost early in the season on those teams that are in the automatic promotion places now. We need to close the gap between us quickly before it grows into a chasm. This was a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show. Our best display of this new season against Brentford was followed by this poor display. We still have our unbeaten record, but this draw feels like a defeat. We seemed to approach this game expecting to win it. We need to go at the throat of teams from start to end to earn a victory and not sit back waiting for it to happen. We regularly need to hit fourth gear rather than coast in second. Any team has a puncher’s chance of getting something from a game when there is only a goal in it. We may have had the possession, but we didn’t do enough with it. It is no good raising your game against the better teams in this division and dropping points against the rest. Three points is three points after all and at the final reckoning a win no matter who it came against will remain three points. That 3 points will go towards the final points total that we will need to achieve to finish in the top two. That needs to be our target as we know the play off lottery offers no guarantee of promotion. Reading will be happy with a point for their coming battle to remain in this division. They showed little ambition up front until we went a goal ahead but score they did as have every other side we have met in the league to date. We cannot be satisfied with a point. We dropped points last season in games like this one at Villa Park. We have got to start producing our best on a consistent basis against every team that we face this season because if we do not teams will punish us for not doing so. We cannot afford to take any opponent lightly in this league nor should we or we will risk facing another season in it. My player ratings from a game that brought us a disappointing third successive draw are: Orjan Nyland – 7 – We may have found a keeper after all. Blocked a close-range effort from a corner by Moore on 44 minutes and then saved a 46th minute Bacuna freekick at his left-hand post. Made a tremendous double save on 82 minutes from Baldock at close range and then from Meite who hit the rebound. Dived to his right and Baldock hit his disputed penalty into the centre of the goal for their late equalizer. Axel Tuanzebe – 6 – Another competent performance in what is unlikely to prove his most effective defensive position. James Chester- 6 – One rare error from him cost us dearly yesterday. James had looked a clear favourite to reach a ball into the box first in the 3rd Minute of stoppage time but was outpaced by Sims. Their substitute took the opportunity to crumple to the floor with time running out for his side after Chester had won the ball but our captain in going to ground unnecessarily gave the referee a decision to make and he gave the benefit of any doubt to them. James was otherwise his usual steady self on those occasions that our visitors ventured towards our goal. He was unlucky to see a 12th minute header thunder off the crossbar from a nice Elmo cross. Mile Jedinak – 6 – Allowed a Sims cross to go past him and only a terrific double save from Nyland prevented Reading from scoring as a result on 82 minutes. Otherwise gave a decent enough performance but this should not be accepted as being his long-term role. Alan Hutton – 6 – Gave his usual consistent level of performance. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Stooped to head home El Ghazi’s perfect cross on 51 minutes and had a good all-around game. Birkir Bjarnason – 7 – Made a good saving tackle on the edge of the box on 9 minutes winning the ball when an opponent was in a threatening position. Gave a very good solid performance throughout. Jack Grealish – 6 – Substituted at half time having picked up a dead leg. Hit an effort back across the face of the goal on 41 minutes. John McGinn – 7 – MOTM – Looked a class above. Used the ball well and kept very involved. Made an early run into the box but his 1st minute shot was held by Mannone. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – A promising debut. Looks a wide threat, comfortable on the ball and showed a few tricks. Hit a pin point cross for our goal. Made a nice run into the box on 11 minutes and his shot was deflected into the side netting off Mannone. Anwar made way for Albert on 67 minutes. Jonathan Kodjia – 5 –What a difference a couple of days can make. From a man of the match 2-goal performance in midweek to this sort of below par display again. Johnny Danger needs some sort of competition for his starting place and was sadly something less than dangerous yesterday. Did not have a great deal of service perhaps but he can do better than this. Flashed a shot over the bar on 62 minutes when others were better placed had he looked to find them. Lost the ball when looking to go it alone on 85 minutes when Hourihane was waiting unmarked inside the box. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 6 – Came on for Jack at half time and did well. We need to try to find a place for him in the starting line-up. His goals come in handy after all. Hit a shot from the edge of the box on 50 minutes that Mannone collected comfortably and was found by Adomah inside the box in the 69th minute but he hit his shot wide of the far post. Albert Adomah – 6 - Replaced El Ghazi on 67 minutes. Made a couple of decent runs and looked lively. Cut inside and hit a 73rd minute shot that was easily gathered by Mannone at the near post and then scuffed a shot 3 minutes later. Neil Taylor - Replaced Kodjia on 91 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  22. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  23. Another late, late goal at Villa Park averted a travesty of justice last night. It gave us the very least we had deserved from a game that we had dominated until our visitors belatedly came into it during the last quarter with us by then having apparently punched ourselves out. This was our best display of the season by some distance, but it had appeared until Kodjia’s second equalizer of the game that we would somehow emerge pointless from it. We have shown a never say die attitude already this season though and we managed to lift ourselves up from the canvas as time was fast running out to land a heavy blow that maintained our unbeaten record. We have now drawn our last three home games against The Bees and this point may prove vital at the end of the season when the promotion places are decided. Our visitors have not lost at Villa Park since 1946 and they have clearly become a bogey team to us. They have made an impressive start to the season and may well end it in the top six. Whether they do or do not, they will be unlikely to be more relieved than they were last night to have emerged with a point from any of their remaining fixtures. Our defence does currently remain a cause for concern. Maupay was left in space for their opener and had it not been for Nyland the visitors could have had more than two goals despite Villa having enjoyed the lion’s share of the game. We need to get back to last season when our defence was a strength rather than a weakness. Signing a left back and a central defender is likely to achieve that dare I suggest JT once again for the central defensive role? We started strongly, pegged them back in their own half for long periods and denied them the opportunity to put their own stamp onto the game. There were encouraging shades of our best home performances of last season about last night’s game. We now sit in fifth place with 8 points from our first four games. A win on Saturday will give our team which is steadily being reinforced something to build upon. Maupay’s first goal was against the run of play and he should not have been on the pitch by then having cynically stamped on McGinn to have scored their second which might have won it for them. Had it done so it would have been a case of twilight robbery. My player ratings from a game that our visitors are likely to have been more relieved to have taken a point from than disappointed to have not taken all three from are: Orjan Nyland – 7 – A much improved display. This game can give him the confidence he needs. Conceded two goals but he had no chance with the first and did well to turn a 71st minute Yennaris shot around his right-hand post before Watkins beat Tuanzebe on 82 minutes and hit a shot that Orjan parried which then fell to Maupay to force home for their second on the line. Kept them within range with crucial saves on 84 and 89 minutes when blocking a Yennaris header from 6 yards out and then a close range Maupay shot. Axel Tuanzebe – 6 – Substituted on 70 minutes. Did very well for a central defender who was playing as a full back and put in a couple of decent crosses. Did well to rob the ball away from Maupay on 11 minutes inside of the box. May well grow into this position but more likely to do so more easily and quickly in a central role. James Chester- 7 – Solid and dependable once again. Headed a McGinn free kick that took a deflection off a defender over. Mile Jedinak – 5 – A wayward backward header on 49 minutes from a couple of yards inside his own half fell to Maupay who under pressure from Chester as he ran forward was unable to get a shot in before Nyland came out to claim the ball at his feet. Otherwise did well enough in his extended outing as a holding midfield player playing as an emergency central defender. Headed a 30th minute McGinn corner back across the goal but nobody was near the goal line to put it in. Alan Hutton – 6 – Beaten to the ball on the line for their second. Alan was his usual reliable self. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Did well enough but he is playing too far forward for me. Glenn Whelan – 7 – Did well tidying up at the back. Gave a good solid performance last night. Jack Grealish – 8 – Was upended on a regular basis throughout the game as is too often the case. Nevertheless, Jack still showed his class and would have been able to do so more frequently had he had a modicum of protection from the match officials. Hit a 15th minute shot from the edge of the area that Bentley saved low to his right and had a shot blocked by him 4 minutes later. Jack picked up the ball and ran into the area on 56 minutes, but his cross was blocked by Bentley at the near post. John McGinn – 8 – Another fine display by our Scottish Iniesta. Played a nice one two with Adomah on the 2nd minute and stretched to hit his shot just over the bar. Combines very well with Jack. Albert Adomah – 6 – A better performance than of late. Couldn’t quite get a touch at the near post to a nice 19th minute Elmohamady cross. Jonathan Kodjia – 9 – MOTM – Two vital goals and gave his best display by a country mile since injury interrupted his career. Showed his strength and ability to shield the ball. McGinn played a lovely ball through to him on 36 minutes and he hit a fierce shot which Bentley saved having got himself into a shooting position on the edge of the box. Hit his first on 39 minutes beating Konsa on the edge of the box having been found by Adomah and cutting inside the box from the left before pulling the trigger and hitting the ball in between Bentley and his near post. Turned a nice 59th minute Adomah cross straight at Bentley. Added a second equalizer in the last minute of stoppage time. Elmo played a ball into the box that took a deflection off a defender’s head before Jonathan powered a header past Bentley and into the net. Substitutes: Andre Green – 5 – Came on for Tuanzebe in the 70th minute. Not his best 25 minutes in claret & blue but he will make bigger impressions on games this season and needs to continue to get regular game time albeit mostly now it seems from off the bench. Conor Hourihane - Replaced Whelan on 83 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. I would have him starting games. Rushian Hepburn-Murphy - Replaced Tuanzebe on 85 minutes. He was not on long enough to earn a rating either. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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.