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Found 116 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. A bitter blue nose rang Radio WM last night, after they had been denied a late winner and on hearing that we had scored one. He likened it to “Father Christmas, having not delivered your presents at Christmas!” I’m sure that Troy Deeney must have felt much the same at the final whistle, as we taunted him with, “Deeney, Deeney what’s the score?” He may have put them ahead, grinned and goaded us, in his inimitable manner, after scoring his usual goal against us. He wasn’t smirking at the end though! This was the second successive Villa goal, that had come in the dying seconds of second-half stoppage time at Villa Park. It has lifted us out of the bottom three. This was as encouraging a home win, as was the defeat in our last home game to Manchester City, demoralising Who would have thought that this game would really end so gloriously? We were after all, well below our best for much of the game. We had plenty of possession, but we didn’t really threaten to do anything with it in the first hour of the game. We lacked creativity in the middle and had no threat up front, in the continued absence of a striker. We were painfully short of both confidence and belief. Players were often afraid to make a mistake, so tended to play the easier ball, that went backwards rather than forward. The crowd sensed this and rather than get on their player’s backs, they encouraged them forward. The team responded to the urgings of their fans and gave everything that they had to give and then some more. The hard work they put in, was eventually rewarded with the goal that brought us level, with 22 minutes of normal time remaining. A point would be better than nothing, which for a long time had seemed, what we were likely to get. On the contrary, once we got one, we got more or at least we got another crucial, fabulous goal, that secured the three points that we had needed so desperately. Watford got what they deserved last night, nothing at all! They were so very negative, guilty of blatant time wasting at every opportunity and they made a succession of illegal challenges, to break up our momentum, that were treated far too lightly by the referee. However, it was the visitor’s negativity that eventually did for them. Had they pressed for another on going ahead, instead of being content to try to hold onto what they had, they might have added another that would probably have put the game beyond us. Had the referee also allowed extra minutes, rather than seconds at the end of the game for their time wasting, they might also have had the opportunity to look for a late equaliser. Instead, it is the visitors who trooped off the Villa Park pitch, sitting in the bottom three, rather than us! This result has given us something to build upon. It has somehow, made the likely points total that we need to ensure our PL survival, look much more attainable. It may have been one win and only three points, but that win may look immense at the end of the season. Another 13-15 points can put our relegation fears to an end and the sooner we can get them the better! That sort of points target would have looked a real mountain to climb, unless we had found those two wonderful goals last night, to prevent us from being second from bottom of the table today. My player ratings from a game that was never really in doubt…were: Pepe Reina – 7 – Such a good signing. His experience and reliability can prove invaluable in our relegation battle. Stood no chance with Deeney’s close range header, after he had run in between Guilbert and Konsa. Made a terrific treble save on 55 minutes. He first got an outstretched hand to a shot from Deulofeu at his near post and then saved with his legs after Deeney had pounced on the loose ball, before getting a hand to prevent the ball going into the top corner of the net off Mings, with Deeney close behind the defender. Frederic Guilbert – 5 – Made some decent tackles and looked convincing when he got forward. Ezri Konsa - 6 – Didn’t look too comfortable when playing the ball out of defence, in the first half. Allowed the ball to run onto Doucoure near the halfway line, who then found Deulofeu, who in turn ran into the left side of the area before hitting the side netting on 43 minutes. Trezuget pulled the ball back to him on 53 minutes and his shot from outside of the box, flew wide of the left post. Ezri hit a tremendous shot that produced our late winner. It was on target, Foster perhaps would have had a chance to have kept it out, had the ball not took a slight deflection off the prone Mings, but to credit the goal to Tyrone seems harsh on the lad. It seems he will have to be content with claiming a very, very big assist! Tyrone Mings – 7 – Blocked a 30th minute Pereyra shot from outside of the box, with his head, after the player had picked up a loose ball from Guilbert. Organised things at the back and got something on Konsa’s late shot to see himself credited with the winner, when on his back doing an interpretation of the “dying fly”. Reina’s last-minute free kick had fell to him and he had looked to have been brought down before Konsa hit the loose ball, but I have little confidence that the referee would have blown for a penalty, had we not scored. Kortney Hause – 6 – His strength is basic old-fashioned defending and he’s rather good at that, our present system places some additional demands upon him, that he will be working on in training. Matt Targett – 6 – Foster gathered a low 30th minute cross from him, low at his near post. His header from a 58th minute Guilbert cross unfortunately was straight at Foster. Jack found him inside the box and Foster did well to keep out his crisp shot from the left, which fell into the path of Douglas for our first. Danny Drinkwater - 3 – Showed some signs of improvement last night, although it would have been difficult to have looked any less effective than he had on his last home appearance. Made a couple of decent passes, didn’t hide from the ball, was clearly annoyed with himself, when things didn’t go right for him and there is a quality player there. He’s not surprisingly struggling for pace and to find the fitness needed to get from box to box. The boss has made a big call by deciding that we can afford to start him in games to get him match fit, given our present precarious situation. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 – Worked well and tried to get things moving up front. Hit a 60th minute shot over the bar. Marvelous Nakamba – MOTM – 7 – Back to his very best last night. Solid in the middle, won us possession and kept it. Jack Grealish – 7 – A lot of weight has been placed on his shoulders of late, as we have been relying on him both to create chances and to take them. He got a lot of close attention from opponents last night and did not receive too much by way of protection from the referee. He was often faced with two or three men on him, but he continued to push forward and got the reward that his hard endeavour deserved eventually. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – Didn’t get near to winning any of his aerial challenges, when the ball was played up to him in the air. He’s not Peter Withe and he’s no target man either, Anwar needed the ball to be played towards him at ground level, if he was to have any realistic hope of winning it, last night. Was more effective later in the game, admittedly having not done a lot positive before then. Tried to bend a shot into the far corner of the net on 31 minutes from the left of the box, but it went harmlessly over. Showed some tenacity to evade a challenge and get the ball to Jack, in the build up to our first. Substitutes: Douglas Luiz – 7 - Replaced Drinkwater after 56 minutes. Made a difference in the middle and scored our all-important equaliser on 68 minutes when he coolly hit the ball which had cannoned off Foster into the roof of the net. He then proceeded to jump into the Holte End crowd, in much the same way that Andy Gray used to climb the barrier behind the goal, on scoring. It was great to see such a jubilant celebration. Indiana Vassilev - Came on for Trezeguet after 77 minutes. Not on quite long enough to earn a rating but he showed promise. Headed a nice 86th minute Targett cross, wide at the near post. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  3. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  4. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  5. A late goal from the last kick of this sorry game, may have denied last season’s league champions a clean sheet, but it provided us with no consolation. It could not disguise the fact, that this was a grim return to the sort of humiliating non-performance’s, that we produced in the darkest days of season 2015-16! This was no less than shockingly embarrassing. We had started the game back in the bottom three, due to another win from a resurgent Watford earlier that day and at no time did we look capable of holding onto the point that would have taken us back above them. Manchester City ran through us at will. They started confidently and their confidence grew as it became clear that we were there for the taking. A league one or a league two team, would probably have shown more resistance and would have not capitulated as readily as we did yesterday. This defeat by a five-goal margin, could have been much worse. Six goals did not flatter the visitors and didn’t fully demonstrate the gulf in class between the two sides. It did however, effectively cost us the equivalent of 4 points, given the damage this thrashing did, to our previously comparatively healthy-looking goal difference. It also won’t have helped our recruitment process this month. We had the look of a sinking ship yesterday and players won’t be falling over themselves to join us after a display like this. Pepe Reina must have been looking for loopholes in his contract, after witnessing this debacle. We gave the visitors way too much space from the start. We didn’t press or challenge, stood back and just watched them play. We showed them far too much respect and they showed us no mercy. I had hoped before this game that we might produce something like the performance that we had given at Leicester in midweek. In the absence of McGinn and a striker of any description, it seemed unlikely that we could reproduce the sort of display that we gave, when unluckily losing to the champions elect two months ago. Instead we showed no belief and were no less than lambs to the slaughter. This game was lost at kick off, if not before. The visitors bossed the game all too easily and played the ball around as if we were not there, in the knowledge that goals were undoubtably coming. They are to good a team to fail to compete against. This was their attack versus our defence and there was only ever going to be one winner. We couldn’t string a couple of passes together for long periods and our midfield failed to make an impression on the game. Can we come back from this sort of demoralising performance? Well we won’t meet Manchester City again in the league this season and will meet Liverpool only once. Hopefully we will use this window to bring in at least a couple of forwards, so that we have an outlet up front and even a goal threat. Our remaining fixtures include games at Brighton, Bournemouth and West Ham. Watford visit Villa Park next and we really need to be winning games like these four, if we are to survive. Yesterday’s display does not encourage us to believe, but Southampton strung wins together after a 9-goal drubbing and Watford have now climbed above us, having looked done for, not long ago. We are only a point adrift of the next two clubs and are only three behind the next two, so we can but hope! My player ratings from a desperate, dispiriting game, are as follows: Orjan Nyland – 4 – Should have been able to get a hand to Aguero’s shot for their third on 28 minutes. Collected a 34th minute De Bruyne cross low at his near post. Aguero hit a 57th minute shot from the edge of the box into his hands and then having gifted possession back to the visitors with a poor throw, he collected Cancelo’s low cross at the near post. Stuck out a leg to block a 64th minute Silva shot at the near post and blocked a 70th minute deflected shot from the edge of the box from Cancelo Ahmed Elmohamady – 3 – Tried to shepherd the ball over the line, but Aguero was able to pull the ball back and this led to their second. Siva played the ball to his left to find Aguero inside the box and he wasn’t then able to put in a challenge before he hit the fifth, between Hause and Mings and past Nyland’s left hand. Ezri Konsa - 3 – Intercepted a 12th minute Cancelo cross that Jesus would otherwise have been likely to have turned in at the near post. His attempted 81st minute pass to Mings, was instead presented to Cancelo who in turn found Aguero, who proceeded to hit their final goal past Nyland. Tyrone Mings – 5 – Did well to keep out a 64th minute Jesus shot, that would otherwise have produced an earlier sixth for them. Kortney Hause – 3 – Should have been more determined to get a challenge in on Mahrez as he was about to hit home the opener. Neil Taylor – 3 – His 78th minute challenge on Jesus, deflected the ball wide of the near post for a corner. Danny Drinkwater - 2 – Thrown into this one having signed on loan only days earlier and been starved of fist team action for a couple of years. He therefore had some excuse for giving a less than effective performance. Substituted having got some much-needed game time after 79 minutes. Mahrez had went too easily past him on the edge of our box, before hitting their opener. He was then dispossessed by Silva, as he took a touch inside the area when trying to turn, who then set up Mahrez for their second. He was also unable to make any challenge on De Bruyne in the build up to the third and was outpaced by the same player, before he hit the cross for their fourth. Douglas Luiz – 3 – Substituted on 65 minutes. Left Aguero unhindered on the edge of the box; before he hit their third. Conor Hourihane – 2 – Made no impression on this game and his selection instead of the more defensive minded Marvelous was perhaps too adventurous. Jack Grealish – 5 – Picked up an unnecessary late booking for dissent, which could potentially rule him out of a vital future game. Anwar El Ghazi – 5 – Hit a 41st minute shot wide of the far post from just inside the left-hand edge of the box. Hit our 91st minute penalty into the back of the net, to the left of Ederson. Substitutes: Marvelous Nakamba – 5 - Replaced Douglas after 65 minutes and did well enough, on what was a very bad day for others. Trezeguet - 5 – MOTM - Came on for Hourihane on 71 minutes. Made a run into the box and his 86th minute shot was put out for a corner by Gundogan. He was then found inside the box by Jack and went past the same player, before being tripped by him to produce our penalty. Why on earth did VAR take a full minute to check, what was an obvious penalty? Henri Lansbury - Replaced Drinkwater after 79 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating Stay up 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. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  8. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  9. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  10. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  11. This game wasn’t a Christmas Cracker, but it’s the result that is the be all and end all, given our present precarious situation and we were the club that came away with the oh so precious points. This was our first belated taste of seasonal cheer and didn’t it go down well? We have taken six valuable points from the Canaries this season and now have our first double of the season in the bag as well. Yesterday’s win brought us within a point of West Ham and two behind both Brighton and Bournemouth. Anything less than a win, would have seen an uncomfortable gap start to develop between the bottom three and those clubs. Yesterday’s victory gives us a win and a defeat, from the first two of the critical three-games that will bring 2019 to a conclusion. We travel to a reinvigorated Watford tomorrow and need a minimum of a point and preferably all three, to maintain the healthy gap between the bottom two clubs and ourselves. One goal always seemed likely to win this one, if in fact there was even to be one. At half time, the game looked as if it might just as easily drift into a goalless draw, which would not have been enough for either club. The importance of this game between two clubs that were relegated together and then promoted together three years later, was clear for all to see yesterday. Neither side could afford to lose this 6-pointer and both teams were clearly determined to emerge the victors or at the very least with a share of the points. There wasn’t a lot to choose between the two teams yesterday. Norwich might claim to have had the better of it, they certainly had some clear opportunities, but it was to be Villa that found a lethal finish to secure the points. It was tough on the visitors, but as we have already found out this season, a good performance does not always result in a win or even a draw. We battled well to hold our lead, although we did tend to drop increasingly deep towards the end. This clean sheet has hopefully played a big part in bringing our recent poor run of results to an end, before it could do us irreparable damage. We are now half-way through this season, and we have 18 points from our 19 games. 36 points would be unlikely to keep us up in my opinion and a point a game might not prove quite enough this season, the way the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United are gifting points to teams that are around us. We may therefore need to find as many as 22 points from our remaining 19 matches to ensure our safety. Points from the teams that are around us is what we need, six from Watford to add to the six from Norwich would be nice. We are going to need some new blood next month, the odd unexpected win or two and perhaps VAR giving us something, rather than costing us for a change! My player ratings from a game that brought us three points that could well prove to be crucial at the end of this season, are: Tom Heaton – 8 – MOTM – Gathered a low shot from the edge of the box from Cantwell after 8 minutes. He was relieved when a 17th minute Byram header struck the bar, after the defender had evaded his marker Elmo. Did so very well to keep out a 51st minute Trybull header at his left-hand post, after he had evaded his marker Trezeguet. Made a crucial reaction save on 86 minutes to keep out a shot from Hernandez at his left-hand post. Those two exceptional second half saves, were of the quality that had kept Burnley up before he moved from them to us. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Injected some experience and a cool head into a defence, that had looked so shaky last time out. He also hits a decent cross or two. Ezri Konsa - 7 – He looked solid yesterday and alongside Kortney did well as a central pairing, when under a fair bit of pressure from the visitors. Did well to claim the ball from Pukki after the striker had ran into the box on 20 minutes. Headed a 75th minute corner wide of the far post. Kortney Hause – 7 – Wolves loss has been our gain. Did very well to get a touch on the ball, just as Pukki was shaping to hit it, after the striker had run inside the box and onto a ball from Buendia after 16 minutes. Both Konsa and himself, were running alongside Pukki and Heaton was moving towards the striker to close him down, before Kortney had made that crucial intervention. Matt Targett – 5 – This clean sheet can help his confidence return and that of the squad in general. Anwar El Ghazi – 4 – Looked to be on the verge of substitution twice in the first half as he sat despairingly on the turf, apparently putting the extent of his pain threshold to the test. He can drift out of games for periods, but also has occasional moments when he looks a threat and I guess that is what currently keeps him in the starting line-up more often, than not. Made two or three hasty clearances, that unnecessarily handed back possession in the second half. The ball went through his legs, as he attempted to turn a Trezeguet header from a 37th minute Elmo cross, inside the far post with his left foot. Marvelous Nakamba – 4 – Substituted on 56 minutes, having not for the first time of late not quite lived up to his first name. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Made an incredible clearance to deny Tetty a certain goal on 51 minutes, when he somehow stretched to divert his shot over the bar, from no more than a couple of feet from the goal line. Had earlier hit a low shot from the edge of the box, wide of the right post on 6 minutes and hit a 14th minute shot over, after a shot from Konsa had been deflected into his path off Wesley. Jack Grealish – 8 – Enjoyed the extra involvement that playing in the number 10 role gave him yesterday and stepped up to lead by example, with Tyrone and John unavailable to share that responsibility. Hit a 54th minute shot from the edge of the box that Krul saved to his right and claimed an assist for the winner. Trezeguet – 4 – He has a determination about him, but he failed to make any really significant positive impression upon this game. Wesley – 5 – Contributed to this result, with some decent work holding up the ball and some hard-running yesterday. At times, he can give the appearance of a decent striker outside of the box, but any confidence he might once have had inside it, is long gone despite encouragement from supporters, his goal drought continues and shows no prospect of ending in a constant flood of goals. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 7 - Replaced Naka after 56 minutes and hit our winner on 64 minutes. Conor played a one-two with Jack, who jinked into the box before returning the ball to Conor who hit a sweet shot past Krul and into the right-hand corner of the net. He just must start for me, if necessary, instead of one of our wide boys perhaps. Jota - Came on for Trezeguet on 84 minutes and was not on long enough to gather a rating. Henri Lansbury – Replaced El Ghazi after 92 minutes. Not on long enough to attract any rating. Stay up Villa and Happy New Year to all Villa Talkers! John Lewis
  12. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  13. We had an unwelcome visit from the ghost of relegations past yesterday. This was our fourth successive league defeat. Unsurprisingly that grim losing run has left us in the bottom three, facing a relegation fight and a possible Fulham-like immediate return to the Championship. In earlier games this season, we could blame VAR for some unjust decisions and rightly claim that we were not getting the points that some of our performances merited. In our last home game, we could point to the fact that we were up against a team in Leicester, who were on the crest of an unbeaten run and thus being outplayed in defeat against them, did not quite seem to be a harbinger of potential doom. The same cannot be claimed, after being outplayed by a team that started the day three points behind us and that won a game that both teams could not afford to lose, way too easily This crucial run of three games, that could set the tone for the rest of this season, could not have started any worse. Nine points from the games against the teams that occupied the relegation places, before yesterday’s abject defeat, could have pulled us clear of them. We must now get something from both of our next two games to prevent Norwich and Watford, pulling us back towards them. We went into this run of games already without Tyrone Mings, who is both inspirational and undoubtably, one of our three most consistent performers. Yesterday a cruel early injury, robbed us of a second of them. Captain Jack has now to lead a team that has fast grown bereft of confidence, to show a determination to compensate for the absence of their two teammates, in the next two vital games we have remaining this year. We started slowly again yesterday, as we had done against Liverpool, but this time it was our visitors that scored the crucial first goal. Our heads dropped all too readily following that opening goal. We badly missed John McGinn when injury robbed us of his strong running and competitive edge. I also wonder why we chose to replace him, after only 8 minutes, with a second holding midfield player in a game that we needed to win. Jack was on the periphery of things, wide on the left and surely, he then needed to be moved into the middle, where he would have had a greater involvement in the game. There was a distinct lack of Christmas cheer to be had at Villa Park for home supporters yesterday. Our visitors were of course happy to receive our gift of three points, but they had perhaps not quite been expecting to have them handed to them on a plate. It is said that it is better to give than to receive, few of us were of that opinion as we left the ground, after this game! My player ratings from a game that we need to put behind us and learn from are: Tom Heaton – 6 – Did well to get right hand to Long’s 21st minute shot from inside of the box, but the ball was pushed into the path of Ings for their opening goal. Prevented Ings from getting a hat-trick when he pushed his 84th minute shot to his left and was relieved when Hojbjerg blasted the resultant loose ball over. He then made a save low to his left from Hojbjerg 4 minutes later. Frederic Guilbert – 4 – Had a shot helped over the bar by McCarthy’s right-hand in the 3rd minute of first half stoppage time, having been found by Grealish on the edge of the box. Bjorn Engles - 4 – Looked a shadow of the player that played so convincingly alongside Mings in earlier games during this season. Was far too easily outpaced by Long, as he ran onto a pass from Redmond that led to their first. Kortney Hause – 5 – The best of our defenders during this one. Coolly chested a Long header down for Heaton to collect on the goal line, with Ings behind him on 26 minutes Matt Targett – 4 – Let Ings run past him as they both ran into the box for their first. Both full backs struggled at the back on Saturday. Anwar El Ghazi – 3 – McCarthy blocked his 15th minute attempt to turn in a Targett cross at the far post. Made a half-hearted at best challenge on Stephens, when marking him at the corner from which he headed their third. Anwar produced one of those infuriating displays yesterday, when he seemed to lack the determination to try to get into the game and to make a positive impression upon it. John McGinn – Substituted after only 8 minutes due to injury, not therefore on long enough to gather a rating. Douglas Luiz – 5 – Hit a 27th minute shot from the edge of the box wide of the left-hand post, having been found by Grealish. Conor Hourihane – 4 – We expect much more from him, but he was not alone in that yesterday. Jack Grealish – 7 – MOTM – Hit our consolation goal on 75 minutes and hit another shot from a similar spot in the 94th minute that moved in the air, which McCarthy pushed out for a corner. His fine goal was the one bright spot in a gloomy afternoon at Villa Park. He chested the ball down, which took one bounce before he hit a sweet shot from the edge of the box into the top right-hand corner. Wesley – 3 – Hit a 19th minute El Ghazi cross wide of the post, which was the way he was facing, rather than turn it towards goal and he was also unable to direct a 37th minute header from an El Ghazi cross towards goal. Headed a corner wide of the post from a 65th minute corner. He lacks confidence, wasn’t provided with a lot of service and didn’t go looking for the ball too often either. At times held the ball up and moved it around but he needs to make a bigger contribution in games like this, that tend to pass him by all too easily. The ball is not his friend on the ground or in the air, particularly when he is inside or near to the area and goals do not seem to be his forte. Substitutes: Marvelous Nakamba – 3 - Replaced McGinn after just 8 minutes. Another player who having shown outstanding early promise, currently is producing something other than marvellous displays. His awful touch on Redmond’s cross presented the ball to Ings for their third on 51 minutes and when the resultant loose ball fell to their striker on the edge of the 6-yard box, the result was all too inevitable. Jonathan Kodjia - 5 - Came on for Hourihane on 56 minutes and looked worthy of a start soon. Trezeguet – 5 - Replaced El Ghazi after 68 minutes. In the absence of Conor, he hit an 80th minute free kick from the left edge of the box that was gathered by McCarthy. Stay up Villa and Merry Christmas to all Villa Talkers! John Lewis
  14. Alan Hansen once said, “You can’t win anything with kids.” Last night proved, that you certainly don’t win cup quarter finals with them! Liverpool could have chosen to play a couple of their first team squad, who would not be needed for tonight’s exacting game against Monterrey last night. Those players could have added a bit of first team experience to last night’s youngsters and then flown out to Qatar today. They chose not to do so. They gave the extra cash that their mid-season trip would give them, priority over a cup competition that they have previously won eight times. By doing so, they undermined this cup competition and left their academy players facing the prospect of a demoralising defeat. Sprinkling their team with 2 or 3 first team squad members would have been unlikely to have won the game for them last night, but it would have made it look more of a match. As it was, the match lacked any real cup-tie atmosphere, the attendance was down on what it would otherwise have been and the result, if not the margin of victory seemed pretty much inevitable at the kick-off. Liverpool got what they deserved last night. An abrupt exit from the cup, their first defeat in 20 games and their heaviest ever League Cup defeat. This was a game that we were expected to win. Failing to do so, would have been an utter embarrassment. We made 10 changes ourselves from Saturday’s PL starting line-up, but this was literally a game of men against boys, no matter how much potential those boys may or may not have. We started hesitantly and it was against the run of play, when we opened the scoring on 14 minutes. There was an element of fortune in that goal and in the second that followed within 3 minutes, but once that 2-goal cushion had been established any contest that there might have been, was extinguished. Our young opponents fought gamely and didn’t let their heads drop, they also enjoyed plenty of possession and might well have scored one or more, had Nyland have not been so determined to keep them out. Having established a four-goal lead at half time, it seemed we were reluctant to press home our advantage in the second half. Perhaps, we had decided to not give the youngsters that had been put up before us as potential lambs to the slaughter, to that slaughter. Certainly, had we put away a couple more of the numerous opportunities that we created last night and moved from second into third gear more often, we might have had two, three or even four more goals last night. My player ratings from a game that left us just one tie from a third Wembley appearance in three seasons are: Orjan Nyland – 9 – MOTM – Top class last night. Made a one handed save at his near post from Elliott on 10 minutes and then blocked a shot from Kane at the same post with his left leg, following the resulting corner. Pushed a 26th minute shot from Christie-Davies over the bar and made a terrific one-handed reaction save to keep out a 54th minute Kane effort from the edge of the 6-yard box. Kept out a 67th minute header from Kane at the near post. Made a smart one handed save from Elliott on 85 minutes and then saved at his left-hand post from Clarkson’s follow up header. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 – Found by Jota and hit a 17th minute cross from the right-hand side of the box, which took a wicked deflection off a defender, that took the ball over Kelleher and into the net just inside the far post for our second goal. Ezri Konsa- 6 – A quiet evening. James Chester – 6 – So nice to see James back in the first team last night. Neil Taylor – 4 – Didn’t particularly look over comfortable against the opponents he came up against last night. Jota – 6 – Had a hand in our third and fourth goals. Henri Lansbury – 5 – Had a 76th minute shot from the edge of the box parried wide by Kelleher’s right hand. Douglas Luiz – 6 – A solid all-round performance. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Gave us the lead with a 14th minute free kick from the right-hand edge of the box. Kodjia didn’t quite get a touch on it, but his close-range presence, hampered Kelleher’s ability to commit to the goal bound cross. Trezeguet - 6 – He was the first player to look like he wanted to make an impression on this game for us after 10 minutes. Got into scoring positions, but didn’t find the net, having done so. Hit a 57th minute shot harmlessly wide of the far post and another 63rd minute shot from the left-hand corner of the box into Kelleher’s hands. Hourihane played a ball for him to run onto on 63 minutes, he touched the ball past the onrushing Kelleher, but it was hit too weakly from just inside of the box, giving a covering defender the time to get back and clear it before it was able to creep inside the far post. Diverted a 64th minute cross from Lansbury over the bar. Ran onto a 71st minute ball from Douglas, his shot from the edge of the area was blocked by Kelleher’s right foot. Was just unable to get on the end of Wesley’s 75th minute cross and failed to make the necessary contact with his head to an inviting 86th minute Elmo cross to the far post. Jonathan Kodjia – 7 – Played a role in Hourihane’s opener and added our second shortly afterwards. Jota played a nice ball for him to run onto, he ran inside the box and coolly side footed the ball past Kelleher’s outstretched left leg and into the corner of the net. Jota then brought the ball under control before finding Elmo on the right-hand of the box, his 45th minute cross was prodded home with his left foot from the edge of the 6-yard box. This was a real poacher’s goal and his goals made a case for a starting place on Saturday. He also made a well-timed run onto a ball from Lansbury and hit a 60th minute shot from the edge of the box, that was pushed past the far post by Kelleher’s left hand, before it was adjudged to have been marginally offside. Substitutes: Wesley – 6 - Replaced Kodjia on 73 minutes. Made an opportunity for Trezeguet and then scored our fifth on 92 minutes to respond to the challenge that Kodjia’s brace of goals had made to his starting spot. Made a nicely timed run onto a ball from Trezeguet, he ran into the box before calmly placing the ball past Kelleher and into the far corner of the net. This was an accomplished finish, that has brought a lengthy goal drought to an end and should give him some much-needed confidence. Kortney Hause – Replaced Chester on 77 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. 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. Leicester came to Villa Park on the back of 7 successive league wins. This had always looked like a bad time to be meeting them and so it proved. We were second best by some distance yesterday, but quite a few other teams would have been as well. We needed to be at our very best to get anything out of this game and we were some way off that. They have risen to second in the table and we now sit uncomfortably above 18th place, only on goal difference. There was to be no mistaking which team was which yesterday. Our season will not however, be defined by games like this one. It will be determined by our ability to put this game behind us and to win the winnable games, that we will face later this month. Sitting watching this one, was occasionally reminiscent of some of those excruciating home performances from the 2015/16 season. Let’s hope that fortress Villa Park will not be so easily taken again, by future visitors. We may be too close for comfort to the last of the three relegation places, but we are 4 and 6 points respectively above the bottom two, with a superior goal difference. There are also six teams who are currently above us, that are within 4 points of us. We are only a point off a point a game for the season. We need to avoid being unduly negative, things may well look a lot better in 2 – 3 weeks. A place outside of the bottom six, remains on! My player ratings from a game, prior to which fans and past players paid tribute to the late, great Ron Saunders are: Tom Heaton – 7 – MOTM - Dived at his near post to push out a 13th minute Maddison free kick. Came out of his box well to beat Iheanacho to an under hit 37th minute attempted back pass from Konsa. Kept out a close-range header from Soyuncu, whose run had not been picked up with his face. Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Calmly tapped the ball back to Heaton, after Evans had played the ball into the 6-yard box from the left, having met the ball played into the area after running behind his marker Wesley. He was marking Evans at a 49th minute corner but was prevented by Ndidi from covering the scorer’s run and VAR chose to ignore that. He shouldn’t be keeping Guilbert out of the starting line-up. Ezri Konsa - 5 – Did well to block a 3rd minute Maddison shot on the right-hand side of the 6-yard box. Unluckily tripped by Heaton as he ran into the box with Vardy, which gave the striker the time to have another go at turning the ball home for their first. Tyrone Mings – 5 – Brought down Ricardo on the right-hand edge of the box to earn himself a yellow card on 11 minutes, after his own poor first touch had presented his opponent with the ball. Really didn’t want to come off, with what looked like a pulled hamstring, but although it showed how much playing for us means to him, this injury couldn’t be run off. He was clearly prevented from closing down or chasing back by the injury, when they scored their first. Belatedly substituted on 23 minutes. We will miss his organisation, influence and his “nothing shall pass” attitude, if he is to be out for a few weeks. Matt Targett – 5 – Has looked better in his own half, as has the rest of the defence. Anwar El Ghazi – 6 – Really should have been on target, when he hit the bar after 11 minutes. Jack had switched the ball nicely to Targett on the edge of the box, his cross went behind McGinn and in front of Wesley to Anwar, who seemed surprised that it had reached him and wasted the opportunity to put us in front. He then headed or shouldered a 24th minute Grealish free kick over and onto the roof of the net. Wesley found him inside the box, but his 83rd minute shot was hit harmlessly wide of the near post. Gets into the right positions and often looks good until the very last moment. He needs to put a few more opportunities away. John McGinn – 5 – Like Jack not at his best, but he’s still as good, if not better than anyone else. John looks like he would benefit from a rest. The problem is that we can’t really afford to give him one and we can’t really afford not to give him one. Conor in for him on Saturday? Douglas Luiz – 5 – His 77th minute header was intended for Jack but was picked up by Praet who then played the ball that put Vardy clear for their fourth. Marvelous Nakamba – 5 – Not at his combative best yesterday. Jack Grealish – 6 – Gave us hope of a comeback when he scored in the 2nd minute of first half stoppage time. Konsa chested an attempted headed clearance down and Jack hit the ball from inside of the box into the far corner of the net, off the post. Became increasingly frustrated in the second half. Wesley – 4 – Not a lot of service, but not a lot of impact either and he provided no goal threat. Substitutes: Bjorn Engles – 6 - Replaced Mings on 23 minutes. Made a vital 32nd minute interception on a Vardy ball, that was intended for Iheanacho, but Bjorn did well to put it back to Heaton. Did the same 6 minutes later when he stretched to stop a ball from Maddison, putting Vardy clear. Trezeguet - 6 - Came on for Marvelous on 59 minutes. An Evans attempted clearance fell to him on the edge of the 6-yard box, but his 87th minute shot was hit well wide. Frederic Guilbert – Replaced the injured Targett after 78 minutes. Not on long enough to gain a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  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. This was a big, big, win for us last night. It brought us within a point of our visitors, and it took us to the top of the bottom six. It provided some much-needed breathing space between the clubs who occupy the three relegation places and our football club once again. It was a game that just might look like a bit of a 6-pointer, come the end of the season. It was an important game that we needed to win, against a team that will be likely to be involved in the relegation scrap at the business end of the season. It was a winnable game that we ended up winning rather comfortably. There was not too much to choose between the two teams during the first half hour, but two goals in 4 minutes opened a gap between the sides, that the visitors never really looked like closing. Newcastle really don’t much like their visits to Villa Park do they? They sang “We’re higher than you” near the end. They might not be able to sing that for too much longer. They may have lost Rafa, but they still have Mike Ashley and now have our former gaffer. They will take little solace from that, or from last night’s result and it will have been an awfully long trip back to Tyneside for them, will it not? Newcastle came for the point and by doing so, our former boss perhaps showed us a little too much respect for their supporter’s liking. We had lost our previous three games and they had been unbeaten in their last three after all, but form is temporary. Steve Bruce threw on Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle, in a late attempt to find a cutting edge. Rod Stewart, from whom Carroll bought his current house, is probably fitter more often at 74, than is the Geordie striker. He along with the player that the Baggies couldn’t afford to keep, couldn’t bring them back into this game. The two-goal margin did not flatter us, we made the opportunities to have won this by four or five. We didn’t concede a goal late on and kept a clean sheet, what’s not to like? The three points have taken us to 15th place in the PL and we are now as near to the top six as we are to the bottom three. We can now visit Old Trafford on Sunday, with more confidence than we have had for many a year. My player ratings from a game that took us a point ahead of my point a game season’s target are: Tom Heaton – 8 – Fernandez met a 43rd minute corner and his header bounced off the ground to Heaton’s left from 6 yards out. Tom did well to keep the ball out, making a sharp save to his left. Was called upon again on 47 minutes and did well to push a Saint-Maximin shot past the far post with an outstretched hand. Hayden hit a 59th minute shot straight at him, that he was able to reach above his head to save, after Douglas had been too easily dispossessed on the edge of the box. Held a 69th minute Carroll shot, which again went straight towards him, at the near post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Fernandez stretched to block his dangerous 90th minute cross at the near post with Wesley waiting hopefully behind him. He’s looking a real bargain. Ezri Konsa - 7 – Might have scored twice. Once for us with a 53rd minute downward header from a Grealish corner that Dubravka did well to keep out at his right and for them, when he sliced a 60th minute Saint-Maximin cross inches wide of the near post. He is looking increasingly comfortable. Tyrone Mings – 7 – Not quite as totally dominant as we have come to expect. Matt Targett – 7 – A solid and convincing display. Anwar El Ghazi – 7 – Failed to reach a 13th minute cross from Targett that just needed a touch. Jack made a powerful run towards the left edge of the box before being brought down by Fernandez. Hourihane hit the resultant 36th minute free kick with his usual accuracy into the 6-yard box, which Anwar was on hand to hit into the roof of the net. Almost added a second but was caught offside when running onto a 44th minute ball from McGinn. He found the net, but the last defender had not continued to cover his run, having instead turned to close in on McGinn and thus as he had not checked his run Anwar was clearly off. John McGinn – 7 – Dubravka saved low at his near post from him on the 76th minute after Jack had threaded the ball between 2 defenders for him. Ran strongly into the box, receiving a pass from Jack but his 93rd minute shot was hit wide of the far post. He then collected a long ball from Mings and shaved the left post with a 94th minute shot from outside of the area with the last kick of the game. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Jack rolled the ball across the edge of the box for him to hit a 29th minute shot that Dubravka did well to tip over the bar with one hand. Kept the ball well. Conor Hourihane – 9 – McGinn played a sweet ball for Jack from inside of the centre circle, but Yedlin pushed him from behind just inches from the edge of the box as he ran to meet it. Conor took the resultant 32nd minute free kick touching the ball to Jack, who teed the ball up for him, creating an angle from which he hit a superbly placed shot between the near post and Dubravka for our first goal. Hit an ambitious volley over the bar from an 86th minute Mings cross. Jack Grealish – MOTM - 9 – Ran the game and ran forward with great purpose throughout. His opponents paid a heavy price when twice resorting to bringing him down on the edge of the box, as our two goals resulted from free kicks given for fouls on Jack. He almost curled a 62nd minute shot inside the far post, having combined well with El Ghazi near the edge of the box. Hit a 69th minute shot along the turf that was easily collected by Dubravka. Wesley – 7 – Held the ball up well at times, kept busy and might have scored on 77 minutes when he met a perfect Hourihane cross, but his close-range attempted tap-in was blocked on the line by Dubravka. Substitutes: Henri Lansbury – Replaced Hourihane on 91 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Up the Villa! John Lewis
  23. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  24. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. The players' names will be added to the poll when a mod gets chance.
  25. 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
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