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Found 92 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. Two late goals, the last of which was scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time, preserved Liverpool’s long unbeaten run. They also denied valiant Villa a reward that their whole-hearted display merited. A draw would have represented a fair enough result, but this defeat was more than harsh. By the way, where did those 5 minutes of second half stoppage time come from (he actually played 7)? When this stoppage time Brexit like extension was announced, it seemed to me that the referee was prepared to play on for as long as it took for Liverpool to get a winner. Once we had to endure Fergie time, is Klopp time now a thing? Villa gave everything they had yesterday. We defended like Springboks and to come out of this game with no points to show for it was so incredibly hard to take, for both players and fans alike. The fans were our twelfth man, the referee filled that role for Liverpool. Having tripped Marvelous and then immediately brought down McGinn for the free kick that produced our goal. Why had their 94th minute goal scorer Mane, not been booked before receiving his eventual 37th minute yellow card, for example? Liverpool did have the lion’s share of the possession and they kept going forward remorselessly until the last minute of prolonged stoppage time. Ultimately this was a heroic effort and a very harsh result, but you can’t really expect to survive by dropping too far back with half an hour plus stoppage time still to be played. The ball was played out of defence and into their half, before being quickly returned into the final third of our half all too often. Our players were understandably becoming increasingly tired as the game wore on and Liverpool do have a habit of getting late goals against their opponents. Nevertheless, the longer the game continued with our slender lead intact, the more hope grew that this would be the game when Liverpool’s late onslaught came to nothing, but it was not to be. One goal was hard enough to take but two was nothing short of inhumane! There was not to be the embarrassing capitulation that gift wrapped the points to Liverpool on their last visit to Villa Park on this occasion. This time they made a late smash & grab for them. They will have made their way back home relieved that their unbeaten record remains intact, knowing they had been in a real game this time and no doubt relieved and more than a little surprised to have won it. This was the sort of prestige fixture that last season’s promotion, gave us the opportunity to play once again. It is not a game to be in trepidation of, although currently it does represent a bit of a free hit for us. What we have proved now, is that we can compete again with the best. We also have the nucleus of a team that can settle into the Premier League and that could in time become accepted, once again as belonging in it. We didn’t take a point yesterday or from Manchester City, but we were not really embarrassed by either side. For a minimum of 45 minutes at Citeh and for much of this game, we made the two best sides in the country work very hard for what they got. If we approach that sort of form, now that those two games are behind us against the rest of the clubs that are destined to finish below them, then we can comfortably gather the points that we will need to ensure our safety. My player ratings from a game during which our players got scant reward for the immense effort that they put into it are: Tom Heaton – 8 – Made a nice 18th minute save from Saleh at the near post. Saved low at his near post twice from Wijnaldum and then Mane on 49 minutes. Tom also did so well to block a close-range goal bound 60th minute Mane header at the near post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Picked up an early knock that he gamely played on with, until his 69th minute substitution. Did well, particularly as he was clearly carrying a niggle. Bjorn Engels - 9 – Did well to clear a dangerous 36th minute Robertson ball into the box for a corner. He was in the right place at the right time so often yesterday. Tyrone Mings – 9 – MOTM – Looked every inch the captain yesterday, encouraging those around him in their endeavours and carrying out his own in an exemplary fashion. Did very well to block a glancing Mane header, that was heading towards the near post on 26 minutes. Matt Targett – 8 – Hit a nice 9th minute cross that was aimed for Wesley which ran past him into the path of Engles who really should have got his head to it, inside the 6-yard box. He was very solid at the back. Anwar El Ghazi – 8 – Might have given us a lead in the 1st minute when Wesley squared the ball to him and it somehow eluded both van Dijk and Mane on the edge of the area, but his shot was hit straight at Alisson. More involved in the game than he often is and did some tracking back, although Mane ran inside him to meet Robertson’s 87th minute cross, before heading the ball past Heaton at the far post. Marvelous Nakamba – 9 – Fully lived up to his name yesterday. Worked incredibly hard. Hit a splendid 78th minute ball from within his own half that found Trezeguet, who in turn played a nice cut back to find Hourihane inside the left of the box, which on another day might have produced a second goal. John McGinn – 9 – He didn’t stop working yesterday. He burst out of defence with pace, snapped at the feet of opponents and did the work of two men in the middle. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Looked very good at times, particularly when he was moving forward with the ball. Trezeguet - 9 – Ran himself to a standstill and then ran some more. Scored his first Villa goal to give us the lead that we held onto until so near to the end of this game on 21 minutes. McGinn floated a free kick that found him at the near post, from where he squeezed a shot into the net, past Allison’s right leg. Hit the air rather than the ball at the far post on 36 minutes when trying to volley a well-aimed ball from El Ghazi to him. Worked tirelessly in his own half and in the opposition’s one throughout. Wesley – 8 – This was much more like it. If he consistently chased, challenged and put himself about as much as he did in this game, then Wes would prove more than a handful for defenders, particularly as you don’t come up against the likes of van Dijk every week. It was particularly pleasing to see him going from one attempted challenge to another 5 times, closing opponents down each time just prior to his late substitution. He can feel aggrieved by numerous refereeing decisions that went against him during this match. Substitutes: Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 - Came on for the injured Guilbert on 69 minutes. Conor Hourihane – 6 - Replaced Douglas on 73 minutes. Allison closed him down at the near post and his attempted 78th minute cross was cleared by van Dijk, when a shot might just have given us a two-goal lead. Seemed to find it more difficult than he usually does to get into this game. Jonathan Kodjia – Replaced Wesley on 86 minutes. Might have got a head to, rather than swung a leg towards, the corner that Mane got his head to at the near post for their late, late winner. Not on long enough to get a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. Villa made 9 changes last night, but our Black Country visitors outdid us by making 11. This game was not therefore played at the level or intensity that we can expect when these two teams meet again in a week and a half. Wolves clearly demonstrated through their team selection, like Brighton before them, that this competition was not a priority for them. They paid the price for that decision and I rather hope Liverpool will play their kids in the next round as well! There was no real tempo to this game, particularly in the first half. Wolves played a big part in this, because both teams need to contribute towards a game for it to sparkle. The young side that Wolves selected lacked experienced players alongside them and it showed. This was a game that looking at the team sheets, we were expected to win. We did so, without needing to get out of second gear and we didn’t. We did what was necessary to win and that was not too much last night. This game was therefore some way off the blood and thunder that would normally be associated with a local derby, that was a cup tie to boot. That’s not our fault alone. It takes two to tango and although the game was a bit of a damp squib, we did win it and are now within touching distance of another potential Wembley appearance. The game looked a bit like a friendly, until they equalised, and we then quickly restored our goal advantage. A one-goal lead is a slender one, but it had always looked like being enough to take us into the last eight. It wasn’t to be a happy ending for visiting fans last night on their big day out. It wasn’t to be too much of a spectacle for us either, but victory was ours and that is what the record books will show. My player ratings from a game that proved that we have the greater squad strength of the two Premier League outfits are: Jed Steer – 6 – Pulled off a vital save from Cutrone on to keep us ahead. Stood little chance with their goal, Cutrone having ran between Conor and Kortney to meet Taylor Perry’s 54th minute cross, he then poked it inside the near post and past Jed. It was otherwise a quiet evening for our keeper. Ahmed Elmohamady – 7 – Captain for the night and his experience told at times. Got a fine touch at the near post on Lansbury’s 57th minute cross to give us what proved to be our winner. Ezri Konsa- 7 – Looked very composed. Kortney Hause – 7 – Easily won challenges in the air and he will have enjoyed this win. Neil Taylor – 4 – Almost took this game into penalties with an awful, casual, badly under hit attempted back pass that was pounced upon on the edge of the box by Cutrone. He looked destined to hit an undeserved second equaliser as he ran into the box, but Steer did very well to make ground towards him and block his shot with his legs. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Put us ahead on 28 minutes. Lansbury threaded a lovely ball past a defender and Anwar hit it with his right and the ball trickled in past Ruddy’s right hand for our opener. Hit an effort wide of the right-hand post from around 30 yards in first half stoppage time. Headed a 65th minute Elmo cross that Ruddy saved at the near post and was then unlucky when he hit a 70th minute Taylor cross that hit Bennett, which would otherwise have found the net. A decent enough showing, but he could have done even more against these opponents. Henri Lansbury – 7 – Started quietly but later imposed himself on the game and was involved in both of our goals. Headed an 80th minute Trezeguet cross wide of the far post, when he should really have been on target. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Hit a speculative 21st minute shot over the bar from around 25 yards. Lost possession too easily just inside his own half to Taylor Perry and that casual moment led to their equaliser. His quality otherwise stood out in the middle. Conor Hourihane – 6 – A fair display. Trezeguet - 6 – Hit a 62nd minute shot wide of the near post, having been found inside the box by Hourihane. Kept busy. Keinan Davis – 7 – MOTM – Held the ball up well once again, won the ball in the air and ran strongly with it. He does everything, other than really look like scoring. If he were able to add goals to his game, then we would have a £25m striker on our hands. Left the field having appeared to pull a hamstring on 49 minutes and we missed him up front. Substitutes: Jonathan Kodjia – 5 - Replaced Davis on 50 minutes. A welcome return to the first team following injury, but he will need to show more than this and to find his match fitness quickly, with Davis likely to be out for a period. John McGinn – Replaced Lansbury on 81 minutes. His coming on, demonstrated the comparative strengths of the two benches. Not on long enough to earn a rating, but he did gather an unwanted yellow card. Hit an 83rd minute shot just over, having seen an effort a minute earlier blocked. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. Targett applied a Matt finish in the dying seconds of this game to break the hearts of Brighton fans and players alike yesterday. His late, late winner sent us up into mid table above our visitors and prevented VAR from robbing us of another two points. Quite why VAR chose to overrule the match officials and cancel out Hourihane’s well hit 42nd minute goal is beyond me. It certainly was not a clear and obvious error by the match referee, to not rule that Wesley’s attempt to reach a cross from Guilbert at the far post, represented an illegal challenge on Ryan as he flapped at the ball. Yes, Wesley’s arm was raised, as is invariably the arm of anyone who tries to climb in the air to head the ball. To adjudge that to represent a foul on Ryan is taking protection of the goalkeeper, way too far. This decision left me wondering, how many of Andy Gray’s or Peter Withe’s headed goals VAR would have ruled out?’ Brighton started brightly yesterday and scored a 21st minute goal that we could see was coming, from a Gros free kick that was floated towards Webster on the left edge of the 6-yard box. The defender had unforgivingly been left unmarked and he proceeded to head the ball back across the face of the goal and into the far corner of the net. Having been reduced to 10 men on 35 minutes, our visitors still posed an occasional threat to us during the second half. They came into this game with confidence following a surprising, yet well-earned win against Spurs. Their performance yesterday, should probably have seen them coming away from Villa Park with at least a point, against a Villa side that had struggled to find the scintillating form, that had put Norwich to the sword before the international break. Our visitors made their long journey back to the South coast yesterday, having failed to register their first ever win at Villa Park and having been denied a point by our late winner. This was because for once, we were able to find a way of beating both 10-men and VAR. VAR really does need sorting out. We are in mid-table despite VAR, which again intervened as the players had been about to re-start the game. It had also done so in the first half of our last home game, when it cancelled out McGinn’s goal against Burnley, as the players lined up for the re-start. It is rapidly killing the spontaneity of goal celebrations. When the ball has crossed the line, fans at the game are now in fear of its intervention until the game has been re-started. Goal celebrations, which are such a joyous part of attending a game, are therefore now understandably becoming muted. Brighton had enjoyed the better of the game before Mooy’s sending off. Having escaped an early booking, he could have no grounds to complain that he had been harshly treated on collecting 2 yellow cards so soon. Perhaps he was still finding difficulty in coming to terms with England’s earlier convincing World Cup win against the Wallabies! Another 6 points would see us match the total number of points that we were able to accumulate during the whole of the last season that we spent in the Premier League. This like the Norwich game before it, could have been considered a potential 6-pointer. It certainly represents a welcome win, given that our next two league games are against Manchester City and Liverpool. We were not at our best yesterday, but we didn’t resort to hoofing the ball into the penalty area as time was running short on us and winning on your “off days” is a necessary habit to acquire for any successful football team. We stretched our unbeaten home run to four games yesterday, came back to win the game having been a goal behind and have now won our last two league games. These results have seen us go ahead of Manchester United in the league table. I must admit that I rather like seeing that again, it has been far too long since that was last the case! My player ratings from a game that left us singing “Sweet Caroline” again when the final whistle sounded are: Tom Heaton – 7 – Got down to stop a 26th minute Maupay shot at his left-hand post. Maupay then played a nice ball on for Connolly, whose 31st minute shot from right of the penalty spot was prevented from giving them a 2-goal lead by Tom’s left foot. He gathered another Maupay shot at the second attempt on 45 minutes and did well again when he saved a 66th minute Montoya shot low at his left-hand post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Hit a couple of nice crosses into the box, including the one that produced our equaliser. Bjorn Engels - 6 – Played his part in the centre of our defence. Tyrone Mings – 7 – A solid performance. Matt Targett – 7 – Scored our winner with the last kick of the game. He was found by a well weighted 94th minute ball from Jack and coolly hit our second from the left edge of the 6-yard box, past Ryan and into the far corner of the net. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – Had a 29th minute shot from the edge of the box blocked by a defender and hit a loose ball that had cannoned off Ryan wildly over the crossbar on 42 minutes. He really should have done so much better from only 6 yards out. He also headed a nice 67th minute Trezeguet cross harmlessly wide of the far post. Anwar can and needs to do better than this. Marvelous Nakamba – 6 – Left with a lot to do by himself in the middle yesterday. John McGinn – 6 – Some way off his usually very consistent best yesterday. Found the side netting with a shot on 37 minutes and had an on target shot blocked 3 minutes later. Hit a 65th minute shot over the bar, after Jack had pulled the ball back to him on the edge of the box. Jack Grealish – 9 – MOTM – Pulled the strings in our midfield yesterday and made good runs forward. Scored our equaliser and created our late winner. McGinn found Jack just outside the left of the box, he then played a superb ball between 2 defenders for Targett to hit our late winner. Jack had earlier started and finished the move that produced our equaliser in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time. He ran forward with the ball before finding Wesley near the edge of the box, who in turn played the ball out wide to Guilbert whose low cross eluded a defender and Ryan before being bundled home by our captain. Conor Hourihane - 8 – Wrongly given a booking on 19 minutes and thereby conceded the free-kick from which Brighton scored their increasingly likely goal, having made a perfectly fair tackle and won the ball. Unluckily hit the left post with a 23rd minute free kick from 30 yards out. Conor was even more unfortunate to have VAR cancel out what would otherwise have been a 42nd minute equaliser. Ryan had been unable to deal with a cross aimed towards the far post by Guilbert for Wesley, the ball ran to McGinn who played the ball to Conor, whose accurate shot beat the keeper and found the top left-hand corner of the net. He attempted to turn in a 51st minute Targett cross, but hit the ball directly at Ryan, who blocked it and El Ghazi failed to turn in the loose ball. We missed Conor’s midfield contribution following his 63rd minute substitution, which led to Brighton at least initially, having more of a say in the middle. Wesley – 4 – Hit a 53rd minute cross over the bar and struggled to make any impression against defenders who looked like extras from “Land of the Giants”. Substitutes: Trezeguet – 6 - Replaced Hourihane on 63 minutes and looked worthy of a start next time out. Douglas Luiz – Replaced El Ghazi on 76 minutes. Hit an 88th minute shot from outside of the box a couple of feet wide of the post, having been teed up by Jack. Not on quite long enough to gather a rating. Keinan Davis – Replaced Wesley on 76 minutes. Not given long enough to earn a rating. He did however, do very well to take a 93rd minute cross down on his chest, before turning powerfully back towards goal and then hitting a shot from a wide angle, that Ryan fingertipped wide of the far post for a corner. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. Points win safety and we are not gathering enough of them. It’s still early days in this season and we are not cut adrift yet, but we really need to get out of the habit of not holding onto winning positions. We had the lead twice yesterday, but we were twice pegged back and therefore failed to gather the three points that we so needed. As a result, we still find ourselves sitting uncomfortably in the bottom three. We now need to win our next home game against Brighton and to start picking up points from our away games, to begin to compensate for the points that we are dropping at home. We should aim to start doing that next week at Norwich, in what they may see as an early 6-pointer. Four points from these two games would see us average a point a game, which if maintained over the course of the season, should be enough to secure our safety. Villa started brightly yesterday. We had the best of the first 45 minutes, and we went in at half time, a goal to the good, despite VAR having ruled out one from McGinn’s on the 25th minute. Villa failed to really push on in the second half, frustratingly twice conceding equalisers. The second of which was a real sucker punch, that came within 2 minutes of our regaining the lead from the head rather than the hand of Rodriguez on this occasion. By the way, what really is the point of VAR, given the way that it is currently being used? Perhaps it is, to quote my friend Sinead, an abbreviation for “Villa Are Robbed”? It certainly does us no favours and creates a lot of uncertainty after the ball has hit the back of the net. It also impacts adversely on the spontaneity of the game. Yesterday we celebrated a 25th minute goal from McGinn only for it to be ruled out a couple of minutes later, after the goal celebrations had died down. Are we soon going to have to wait to celebrate a goal until VAR tells us that it is safe to do so? VAR also backs up the decision made by the on-field referee 99.9% of the time, as was the case again yesterday when it ignored a foul on the edge of the box on El Ghazi in the build-up to their first goal. It also rubber stamped the referee’s decision that a yellow, rather than a red card was adequate punishment for Rodriguez’s crude late challenge on Jack. It seems to me, that VAR is more concerned about supporting fellow officials than making the right decision. This was never going to be an easy game, there will be no easy games this season. Burnley are a scrappy side and they made this a scrappy game. They were adept when it came to time wasting and to making over-robust challenges, particularly on McGinn and Jack, that the referee was happy to be exceedingly lenient with. They however are, annoyingly effective, know how to grind out results and they left Villa Park yesterday with the point that they came for. On the positive side, we are looking so much more competitive on our return to the Premier League than we had been on our embarrassing exit from it. We also stretched our unbeaten home run to three games yesterday, although the last two of these have been draws. My player ratings from a game that left us still waiting for our second league win of the season are: Tom Heaton – 6 – Tom collected a 36th minute McNeil free kick low at his right-hand post. Was rooted to the spot when Wood headed home their second equaliser. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Looked good when moving forward as well as in defence. Bjorn Engels - 7 – Both Bjorn and Tyrone were given a thorough test by Burnley’s forwards. Tyrone Mings – 7 – Didn’t always look quite as comfortable as usual yesterday. Matt Targett – 7 – Nice to see him getting a start, typical of his and our luck that an injury led to him not being able to see out this game. We missed him up front and at the back, after his 62nd minute substitution. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – McGinn swept a lovely ball wide to Guilbert, who hit a 33rd minute cross that Anwar turned sweetly into the far corner of the net for our opener. Substituted having sustained an injury in the build up to their first goal. Marvelous Nakamba – 8 – Looked solid, reliable and kept busy throughout. I would like to see us try a midfield with him starting alongside Douglas, with John and Jack playing ahead of them. John McGinn – 9 – MOTM – Scored one, had one ruled out by that dastardly VAR and not even a succession of illegitimate challenges could stop him making a terrific impact upon this game. Headed a nice 3rd minute Targett cross over the bar. Side footed Trezeguet’s precise 79th minute cross inside the near post and through Pope with aplomb to give us the lead again. Jack Grealish – 7 – Looked noticeably more effective playing further forward yesterday. Hit a shot well over the bar on 9 minutes, after the ball had been played back to him on the edge of the box. Jack was denied by Pope who saved his well hit 45th minute shot from just outside of the box at his left-hand post. Wesley found him on 74 minutes but his shot from the centre edge of the box was hit harmlessly over. Conor Hourihane - 6 – Nice to see him back in the starting line-up. Struck the outside of the left-hand post with a nicely hit 13th minute free kick from just outside of the area. He was given offside eventually by VAR, having hit the cross that McGinn hit home on 25 minutes. Had a decent shot blocked by a defender by the near post in the 6th minute of second half stoppage time, after a corner had fallen to him. Wesley – 4 – I was thinking that this just might be one of those days when a striker does virtually nothing throughout a game, other than score. Sadly, it wasn’t! Substitutes: Neil Taylor – 4 - Came on for Targett on 62 minutes and the impression that he made on the game was not a positive one. Neil was badly mismatched as Rodriguez raced ahead and easily climbed above him to head home their first. Committed himself embarrassingly early, allowing Lowton the space and time to put over the cross that led to their second equaliser. Kortney would surely have been another viable option; had he been sitting on our bench yesterday. Trezeguet – 6 - Replaced El Ghazi on 70 minutes, I for one, had rather expected him to start. He hit a splendid old-fashioned winger’s cross from the line for McGinn, to claim an assist for our second goal. Keinan Davis – Replaced Wesley on 88 minutes. He holds the ball up well and brings others into play, but he also unfortunately makes Heskey look like a bit of a goal machine. Nevertheless, two out of three ain’t bad, as Meat Loaf once said, and he must be getting very close to a league start now. Keinan wasn’t given long enough to gather a rating yesterday. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. West Ham like Everton before them, arrived at Villa Park with some pundits talking about where an anticipated victory would leave them in the league table. The Hammers failed to leave with the three points, as had The Toffeemen, perhaps those pundits might start showing us a little bit of respect before too long. The point gained last night gives us 4 points from our first 5 games and a second successive clean sheet at home. This represents a satisfactory enough start to our season and takes us out of the relegation zone (Mind the gap Wolves!). What we now need to do is to build upon these last two home games and to stretch our unbeaten home record from two to four games. A minimum of four points and preferably all six, should be our target from our next two home games against Burnley and Brighton. It is important that we put together an unbeaten home run that will make visiting clubs aware that they are in for a battle, if they expect to leave Villa Park with anything. This team will get better as it becomes accustomed to playing alongside each other and playing in the Premier League. In the interim, we need to pick up points like this one to prevent us being left with a lot of ground to make up when we do click. West Ham will finish this season in the top half and are not a bad side, so at this stage of the season a point is not too disappointing, even when it was collected against a team that were down to 10 men from the 67th minute. We don’t seem to take much of an advantage from opponent’s being sent off and last night, was not to prove an exception. The second booking did seem harsh, but Mike Dean chose to give the benefit of the doubt, rather than a second yellow for simulation to Noble on 38 minutes when he went down inside the box. If only Kevin Friend had given the same benefit of doubt to Jack at Palace, we would now be on 5 points rather than 4. My player ratings from a game that reinforced the view that goals may prove hard to come by this year are: Tom Heaton – 6 – The quieter by some distance of the two keepers last night. Easily held a 7th minute shot from the edge of the box from Noble and a header from Taylor. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – He’s looking increasingly competent. Met a nice 33rd minute cross from Jack on the edge of the 6-yard box, but his mistimed header was easily collected by Fabianski. Bjorn Engels - 8 – MOTM – Assured, confident and has quickly developed a superb understanding with Tyrone. Faultless last night. Tyrone Mings – 8 – Made a good block on a 35th minute Noble cross and got another crucial block on a 73rd minute Haller shot inside of the box. What a partnership we now have at the centre of our defence. Neil Taylor – 6 – Reasonably solid at the back last night but will surely have a Targett on his back soon. Anwar El Ghazi – 5 – Responded petulantly when Mings berated him for not tracking Noble’s 35th minute run, moving his head towards Tyron’s face. There could only have been one winner, but he could perhaps show this sort of aggression when going for the ball in the other box, rather than when going for a colleague in his own. Looked a bit like a Joey Barton wannabee last night and VAR did look at this sorry incident, which might have earned him a red for the intent to butt. Fabianski was a determined first to a 40th minute Jota cross aimed for Anwar and left the intended recipient of the ball in a heap on his follow through. Jack had earlier played a nice 32nd minute ball to him inside the left-hand side of the box, but the ball was never quite brought under control and ran out of play. McGinn chipped a lovely ball to him that he chested down well on the edge of the box before hitting a shot that Fabianski gathered without undue concern. Marvelous Nakamba – 7 – Almost lived up to his name. A promising debut from a player who immediately looked at home as our deep lying midfielder. Could we potentially play him and Douglas, moving Jack and John a little further up? John McGinn – 7 – Hit a well struck 30-yard shot that unfortunately went straight into Fabianski’s clutches. He was found just inside the box by El Ghazi during the 1st minute of first half stoppage time. His shot took the slightest of deflections off Wesley, who was in an offside position before being kept out low at his right-hand post by Fabianski. Jack Grealish – 6 – Jota played a nice ball to Jack whose 51st minute cross was parried away at the near post by Fabianski, the loose ball was hit from just outside of the box by McGinn narrowly wide of the same post. Luiz played a nice 88th minute ball into the box that Jack stretched a leg to reach at the far post. He was only able to get a slight touch on it from 7-8 yards out, which sent the ball harmlessly wide. That had seemed to be the golden opportunity for a late winner, but I have the feeling that had he found the net, VAR might have found his toenail had strayed offside. It’s not quite happening for Jack just now is it? Jota - 6 – Ran out of steam and was substituted on 66 minutes. Hit a couple of decent crosses. Wesley – 4 – Some way below the standards he set himself with his last so impressive home performance. Headed a nice 13th minute cross from Jack over at the near post and then headed a 45th minute Jota cross tamely that Fabianski went down to his left to gather. That chance was later ruled offside by VAR. Went to ground all too easily and predictably when the ball fell towards him off a defender’s shoulder, after Davis had got a cheeky touch on El Ghazi’s 92nd minute corner. Didn’t have a lot of service but he can do better than this. Substitutes: Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 - Came on for Jota on 66 minutes, did what it says on the tin again. Douglas Luiz – Replaced Nakamba on 81 minutes. Not on quite long enough to gather a rating but stopped a dangerous looking run from Haller with a far from subtle, yet nevertheless important illegal challenge after 82 minutes. He might also have claimed an 88th minute assist when he found Jack near the far post, so he did show what we had missed in the short time he had available to do so. Keinan Davis – Replaced Guilbert on 85 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  14. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  15. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  16. The Toffeemen arrived at Villa Park expecting to go top of the league for 24 hours yesterday. They may have assumed they would win, but they were licked by the hungry Villa lion. We found over the previous three seasons, that you should never take a win for granted against any football club. Some Everton fans and perhaps some members of their team, made that mistake before last night’s game. A resilient performance from the boys in claret and blue, had them eating their words at the end of the game. Marco Silva and Tony Bellew clearly found defeat as hard to swallow as it was to accept last night. There is now just a point between the two clubs. Villa Park was a wall of sound and of celebration as we recorded our first win of this new season following our promotion. It has been three and a half long years since we last won a Premier League game. We have got the taste of victory back, it’s sweet, we like it and we want more! Everton started the game strongly as a previously unbeaten side would have been expected to, but they were unable to convert their possession into goals. We cut out the errors, that had cost us points in our previous two games and we battled hard for this morale boosting win. We also played some sweet football between scoring and the end of the first half. A clean sheet and two goals scored, gave us just what we needed from this game. What a difference that first goal made. It boosted our confidence and gave us belief. It also gave us something to hold onto and all credit to our players, who were very determined to cling onto this victory. Is anyone else suffering from the same permanent grin that they last had on their face after the playoff final? It’s so very good to be back and winning again. My player ratings from a game that produced post game rejoicing and noise, that was reminiscent of Wembley a couple of months ago are: Tom Heaton – 6 – Well protected by those in front of him. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Was found by Jack on 32 minutes and ran from just inside his own half, to the edge of their area before hitting a shot over the bar. Defended well and clearly likes to get forward. Another debut that was full of promise. His value must be near £20m now! Bjorn Engels - 8 – Did well to block a 32nd minute shot from Calvert-Lewin that was hit from just past the penalty spot, after Coleman had found the striker with a nice ball. He also got a partial block on Iwobi’s 71st minute shot, which made it a comfortable catch for Heaton. He looks so assured alongside Tyrone. Tyrone Mings – 8 – He wasn’t going to let a pre-match groin strain keep him out of this game, was he? Reacted well to block a Keane shot from six yards out, that was later ruled offside by VAR, after a 12th minute corner had fallen to him. Tyrone was first to react when Kean’s 83rd minute shot hit the right-hand post to avert the danger. Tyrone is the rock upon which our sound defence has been built upon. Neil Taylor – 6 – Solid enough at the back and was determined not to lose concentration due to the barracking he received from Everton fans. He remains somewhat less effective when he moves into the other half. Trezeguet – 6 – Unlucky to be booked on 84 minutes when Coleman took a frustrated and petulant swing at the ball and him after being awarded a free-kick. Worked hard and does a lot of it when the opposition have the ball. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Closed opponents down well and looked solid. John McGinn – 7 – He was here, there and, everywhere wasn’t he? John was found by another nice ball from Jota before hitting a low 25th minute cross from inside the left-hand side of the box for the waiting Wesley, that Pickford held onto at his near post. Jack Grealish – 7 – Was brought down inside his own half and his quickly taken free-kick began the move that led to the opening goal. Trezeguet played the ball back to him on the left-hand edge of the box, from where he looked to curl in a 45th minute shot that went a couple of yards past the far post. Gave a determined performance, chased and challenged for the ball when it was not at his feet. Jota - 8 – Guilbert played the ball to him in the 21st minute, but instead of playing the anticipated one-two he played a superb ball into the box, between two defenders for Wesley to claim a big assist for his goal. Substituted on 77 minutes having fully justified his selection and having hit some clever passes. Wesley – 8 – MOTM – Answered those (including myself) who had entertained some early doubts about him, with this tremendous performance. He hasn’t taken too long to settle, has he? Made a nicely timed run to meet Jota’s perfectly weighted pass into the box to him and coolly turned the ball past Pickford and into the left-hand corner of the net on 21 minutes. Raced purposefully onto another well hit ball from Jota 3 minutes later, running strongly past Mina, who recovered well to block his shot on goal. Held onto the ball well and was happy throughout to engage in battles for the ball with the uncompromising Mina and Keane. Substitutes: Anwar El Ghazi – 7 - Replaced Jota on 77 minutes and made a big impression on this game, in so little time. Wesley found him on 84 minutes, he stepped forward before hitting a shot from outside of the box, which Pickford pushed clear to his right. Jack played a clever ball to him on the right edge of the box, he then hit an 89th minute shot that deflected over the bar off Keane’s back. He went on to put the result beyond doubt on 95 minutes. Taylor cleared the ball from well inside his own half, Wesley picked the ball up before giving the ball to McGinn who in turn played the ball to Anwar inside of the box. He then ran past Andre Gomes and steered the ball past England’s number two’s dive, or should I say through it? Ahmed Elmohamady – Came on for Trezeguet on 86 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  17. We had given Bournemouth a two-goal start after just 12 minutes of this game, due to avoidable errors. You really can’t afford to do that in the Premier League. Mistakes will be punished more regularly than they were in the Championship and goals will be harder to come by. We will therefore need to minimise our error rate quickly, if we are to start gathering some much-needed points. It’s early days and we are making chances, but I am starting to wonder where our goals are going to come from. McGinn and Jack will chip in with some, as occasionally will others, but our forward players do not initially give me the impression that they will ensure that the net bulges on the regular basis that it will need to. How we could have used another striker for cover and to provide us with another alternative. We face a steep learning curve and our new signings, as well as some of our other players will need to try to adapt like fish to water to the demands of the Premier League, if we are to take points from our next 7 games. We will be facing the top two from last season following those games, so these games which are against teams (other than Arsenal) that we should have a good chance of taking points from, will be crucial to our season. We do not want to find ourselves with an early gap to make up, as doing so by putting together a winning run will be more difficult than it was last year. The same will also be the case, as yesterday demonstrated when it comes to coming back from behind. Twelve points from these games would be my realistic target. We can take comfort for now from how we have performed during our first two games. We will shortly become less comfortable, unless we can pick up some points, sooner rather than later. There will be no easy games this season. The teams that we will face like Bournemouth will not arrive at Villa Park in trepidation. They will at least initially target a game against us as one they should be getting something from and will not, unlike some clubs last season be content to just park the bus and hope to ride out the storm that is to come. After those first 12 minutes we did get a grip on yesterday’s game, but we had left ourselves with a mountain to climb. We made chances, but they also made a couple themselves. It took a moment of Brazilian magic to bring us back into the game, but we never looked convinced that the comeback was really on and so we tasted the first of what I trust will not be too many home defeats of the season. I don’t want to see many more sets of away fans celebrating a victory on our patch, it’s something that I have always found a bitter pill to swallow. My early thoughts on VAR? It doesn’t stop a referee being abysmal, as was the case yesterday. We might have had our chances of making a comeback enhanced, had yesterday’s referee had the bottle to show a merited second yellow card to Billing in the first half following blatant fouls on Jack and then McGinn, before he was withdrawn by Howe at half time, to avoid giving him another opportunity to do so. My player ratings from a game that rather dampened our spirits on the return of Premier League football to Villa Park and that gave the visitors their second successive 2-1 win at Villa Park are: Tom Heaton – 5 – For some inexplicable reason he tripped Wilson, who had run onto a 1st minute ball played into the box by Fraser to concede the penalty that produced their opener and that put us on the back foot. Wilson who was only about a yard or so from the line, had run well wide of the left-hand post and his touch would have most likely sent the ball beyond his reach in any case. King proceeded to send Heaton the wrong way from the spot. Tom was unlucky that a deflection took Harry Wilson’s shot out of his reach for their second, but he positioned himself well to save Fraser’s 82nd minute shot with his legs. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Hit some nice crosses and I would guess that his familiarity with playing with Trezeguet in front of him at international level, may have contributed to him retaining his first team place. No place for Guilbert even in the squad though? Bjorn Engels - 7 – Another encouraging performance alongside Tyrone. Tyrone Mings – 8 – MOTM - Unlucky to find himself on the losing side, against his former club following a pretty much faultless performance. Neil Taylor – 6 – Has reacted well to his first team place being under considerable threat. Had a 57th minute shot blocked by Cook when an Elmo cross fell to him and headed a ball from Jota on 80 minutes well wide. Might Targett nevertheless, come into contention for a start on Friday? Trezeguet – 6 – Showed that he doesn’t enjoy being on the losing side when he tried to rally both fans and his fellow players towards the end of the game. Tracked back well a couple of times and turned nicely on the edge of the box on 66 minutes before hitting a shot that was saved by Ramsdale at his left-hand post. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Looked increasingly promising following his decisive early error of judgement. He was not easily dispossessed, grew increasingly comfortable on the ball and hit a tremendous shot on 71 minutes from outside of the area into the top right-hand corner of the net, to set up what could have been a late comeback. He was in the middle of his own half when he chose to allow a 12th minute pass from Trezeguet to go through his legs, no doubt under the impression that the player behind him was another Villa player, rather than Harry Wilson. The losing playoff finalist gratefully accepted the gift and hit a powerful shot that took a deflection off Mings on the edge of the box, which led to the ball evading the diving Heaton’s reach and going in off the left-hand post for their second. I have a feeling that he may become an exceptional player. John McGinn – 7 – Had an 8th minute shot from outside the box tipped over the bar by Ramsdale, a 22nd minute shot from just inside the box also blocked by the keeper and hit the right-hand side netting with a shot on 42 minutes. Jack Grealish – 6 – Had a quiet first half. McGinn took a quick free kick which found Jack in space, he ran on before hitting a 53rd minute shot from the edge of the box just wide of the right-hand post. Claimed an assist when he played the ball back to Luiz from within the box to find him in space and to provide him with the opportunity to hit a goal on his debut. Got on the end of a well placed 63rd minute Elmo cross, but shouldered, rather than headed it from close range and the ball sailed well over the crossbar. Anwar El Ghazi - 5 – Failed to make any significant impression on this game. When he hit that first half free kick from the edge of the box harmlessly over, I’m sure I was not the only one thinking of how we were missing Connor’s dead ball prowess. Wesley – 5 – It’s early days, but he doesn’t look like a natural goal scorer to me. Hit a 26th minute shot from near the left-hand post that deflected off a defender and was pushed away for a corner by Ramsdale and had a shot blocked by a defender after Trezeguet had ran into the box and squared the ball for him. Substitutes: Jota – Replaced El Ghazi on 75 minutes. Didn’t make enough of an impression during the limited time that he had available to do so, to earn a rating. Keinan Davis – Came on for Trezeguet on 87 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  22. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  23. Its only half time, despite Bon Jovi’s confidence, but if we can hold on to what we’ve got at the Hawthorns on Tuesday night then we’ll make it to Wembley on 27th May. We take a one goal lead with us on Tuesday night and that didn’t really look very likely at half time, did it? Albion arrived yesterday, with avoiding defeat as their primary objective. Is Pulis providing Jimmy Shan with tactical advice as well as Michael Appleton? The first half looked like a carbon copy of the game they had won at Villa Park in February. They were solid at the back, worked hard, flooded the midfield and gave us very little space. Jack and John’s threat from the middle had been nullified by them during the first half. We had plenty of possession, but we had created very little of note with it and we gifted them the lead on 16 minutes to boot. What a time this would have been for the winning form that had gotten us into these playoffs to have deserted us. This Villa team are not beaten that easily though. The game was turned on its head by two goals in 4 minutes from us as we went into the last 15 minutes of normal time. Dwight Gayle’s 88th minute red card, when the referee had finally lost patience with him will result in their hot-headed, top scorer missing the second leg. That may yet prove as important to the outcome of this tie, as was the introduction from the bench of Conor Hourihane yesterday. We have seen a couple of Lazarus like semi-final comebacks over the past couple of days. Our own comeback deflated our visitor’s yesterday. The tie is not won yet, but we will not be as ineffective as we were in the first half again. Albion must also make it a more open game in search of a goal that would level the score. That will give us the space we were denied yesterday and the chance to put the game beyond them. The claret & blue relief was as clear at the final whistle, as was the disappointment that was etched on the faces of the whinging Albion players, staff and supporters. We must now finish the job on Tuesday evening. We are two wins away from promotion. It is high time that we left Wembley rejoicing a win, rather than having experienced a painful defeat. Do it for us Villa! My player ratings from a game that has left us, tantalisingly within touching distance of a second successive Wembley play off final appearance are: Jed Steer – 7 – Both he and Taylor went for the same ball on 11 minutes that neither got to. He made up for that communication breakdown seconds later, when he got his fingertips to help a Rodriguez shot from the edge of the box onto the crossbar, that would otherwise have produced a goal. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – He has rightly become an undisputed first choice, hasn’t he? Axel Tuanzebe - 7 – Another good display alongside Tyrone. Tyrone Mings – 7 – Solid at the back, although facing free-scoring opponents. Hit a 45th minute shot from the edge of the box that forced a save from Johnstone. Neil Taylor – 6 – Did well enough. Albert Adomah – 5 – Failed to make a real impression on this game, which was disappointing. Glenn Whelan – 5 – He has been immense in our midfield of late, but Glenn didn’t produce quite the same level of performance that he has been giving in recent weeks yesterday. Made a costly error that gave them an early lead, when he failed to control a pass back to him from Jack on 16 minutes, that Gayle proceeded to run onto before hitting a shot past Steer. John McGinn – 6 – Kept unusually quiet, but even the very best players don’t do it every week, like John they do it 99% of the time. I wouldn’t want to bet against him taking Tuesday’s game by the scruff of the neck and not letting it go. Jack Grealish – 7 – Didn’t make his usual impact upon the game during the first half but he still had a hand in both of our goals. Won a challenge on the edge of the box before hitting a 59th minute shot that Johnstone saved easily enough to his right. Ran into the right-hand side of the box before pulling the ball back to Hourihane on the edge of the box to claim an assist for our equaliser. Was moving towards the near post when Gibbs slid in to bring him down near the 6-yard box for our penalty Anwar El Ghazi - 6 – Hit a shot from the left-hand side of the box that took a deflection off Holgate before being held by Johnstone at the foot of the near post. Tammy Abraham – 7 – Left isolated and starved of service in the first half on his return to the team. Hit a first-time effort over the bar on 15 minutes from an Elmo cross. Made an increasingly significant impression on the game during the second half. Elmo played a ball down the line for him which he ran on with before cutting into the box, outpacing a defender and hitting a cross that Johnstone blocked low at the near post on 52 minutes. Nodded a 55th minute Taylor cross over and past the far post. Tammy was the coolest man in the ground when he put away his 79th minute penalty, sending Johnstone the wrong way and the ball into the right-hand corner of the net for our winner. Holgate was looking for any excuse to go down when Tammy jumped for a header inside the box and he went down dramatically to try to steal a late penalty for his shell-shocked side. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 8 – MOTM – Replaced Whelan on 67 minutes. His introduction led to Jack moving further forward and he made the difference yesterday. Conor was in space on the edge of the box when Grealish played the ball back to him on 75 minutes. His aim was true and his superbly hit left foot shot flashed into the left-hand corner of the net, with Johnstone just a spectator. Had earlier made an important 74th minute interception, stretching to reach a ball intended for the unmarked Murphy from Gayle. Andre Green – 6 - Came on for Adomah on 67 minutes and provided some pace. Jonathan Kodjia – Replaced El Ghazi on 91 minutes. Not on long enough to gain a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  24. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  25. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
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