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Found 141 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. A mod will add the players to the poll later
  3. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later
  4. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later
  5. Villa gloriously clambered out of the relegation places last night, leaving Troy Deeney’s Watford and Bournemouth trailing behind them at the trap door. Our new-found goal machine, Mahmoud Trezeguet again scored our winner, his third goal in our last three games. Our Premier League survival is now in our own hands, we have taken it to the last day, so let us finish the job on Sunday! A courageous, hard working and determined team performance last night ended 22 years of hurt. Our first home win against the visitors since 1998 and Manchester City’s welcome earlier heavy win at Vicarage Road, has left us favourites to stay up. We also have found our smiles again! Watford would need an unlikely win at Arsenal and West Ham to beat us on Sunday to leapfrog us. Bournemouth would need both Watford and us to lose, as well as to win themselves at Everton to stay up. We just need to do no worse than these clubs do at the weekend. What had seemed a mission impossible a fortnight ago, is now on the verge of becoming a great escape. I can hear Steve McQueen revving his motor bike’s engine, as I write! Arsenal fresh from an FA Cup semi-final win at the weekend, were not at their absolute best last night. Previously this season, they would not have necessarily needed to have been to beat us. Last night was a different matter. They faced a resolute, heroic, and resilient Villa team, that had seen an opportunity to stay up against the odds and yearned to take it. Arsenal had the possession, but we had the all-important goal. Our resolute defence knew what they had to do, and they did it. Our midfield pressed and got in front of their opponents, at every opportunity. Arsenal have very clinical finishers, but our team battled to starve them of any decent service and got the result that their efforts merited, another clean sheet and a famous victory. Our opportunities to score were not plentiful, but we put one of our two clear chances away. They almost got a late point, but that would have been too cruel to have happened to us in successive games. Thankfully, the ball bounced to safety off the inside of the post, rather than into the net, with only 13 minutes of the 90 remaining and we were almost able to breathe again. What a stirring performance from the lads. They stood up to be counted when it really mattered. They followed their instructions to the letter and our management team also deserve credit for this result and their game management. Against the odds, although many of us feared that getting out of the mess that we had gotten ourselves into, might prove to be beyond us, we stand on the brink of safety today. Let us grab this chance with both hands and make sure that we do not find ourselves in this situation again any time soon, if ever. The last couple of weeks has produced quite a reversal of fortune for clubs at the bottom. Let us hope that Sunday does not put us on the verge of a visit to A & E again and that we can survive without too much cause for concern. We do not want to be doing a Dustin Hoffman and asking, “is it safe?” from behind the sofa in the closing minutes on Sunday. The plump lady cleared her throat and left Villa Park last night. She was headed for Troy Denney’s house and was then due to visit the South coast at the weekend. My player ratings from a game, that will have caused great angst from Bournemouth to Watford, as well as in Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, and Small Heath, are: Pepe Reina – 7 – Nketiah jumped in front of Mings to head a 77th minute corner towards the far post. Fortunately, the ball bounced off the inside of the post towards Pepe, who grasped at the ball in relief and then smothered it on the ground. Surprisingly, Pepe had a quiet night, thanks to the “they must not pass” attitude of the players in front of him. He did, however, offer them both assurance and organisation last night. Ahmed Elmohamady – 6 - Substituted after 25 minutes, having gamely but unsuccessfully been unable to run off an earlier injury. Ezri Konsa – 8 - MOTM – Had a very solid game and he kept a lot cooler, than those of us who were watching did. Looked to have an old head on young shoulders last night and was not in any way overawed by the quality of the strikers, that he was up against. He can develop into a tremendous buy. Tyrone Mings – 7 – A 54th minute ball played into the box from Nketiah, evaded his attempted flick at it and the ball ran onto Aubameyang, whose shot on the turn was well blocked by Konsa on the edge of the 6-yard box. Otherwise, he marshalled the defence well and dealt with their forwards very well alongside Ezri. Matt Targett – 7 – Matt was another vital cog in our impressive newly designed defensive engine last night. John McGinn - 7 – Headed a 7th minute Elmo cross well over from near the penalty spot. Jack found him on the edge of the box after 78 minutes and his firm shot was blocked by Martinez and then cleared to safety by Tierney. Getting nearer and nearer to his best with each game, which is so nice to see and so vital to us. Douglas Luiz – 8 – Did not put a foot wrong throughout. He will play in the PL next season. With us! Conor Hourihane – 6 – Worked hard for the cause. Jack Grealish – 8 – Flashed a shot a couple of feet over the upright on 45 minutes, after Trez had fed him just inside their half on the left and he had run on to the edge of their box. Made some nice runs and got into their half regularly. This was so much nearer to the Jack, that we have grown accustomed to seeing in our shirt. He is going nowhere in the window, not even round to see his pal Ross! Mahmoud Trezeguet – 8 – Met a 42nd minute Grealish ball into the box but was unable to get enough pace on his header from around 12 yards and Martinez gathered the ball comfortably. Hit our winner on 27 minutes, to send us all into ecstasy. Hourihane’s out swinging corner got a slight touch at the near post from Mings and fell to him level with the far corner of the 6-yard box, around 12 yards from goal. He then proceeded to drill the ball low and inside of the near post with what was a quality finish. Mbwana Samatta – 6 – Outnumbered by the visitor’s central defenders, worked hard, but lacked service and does not pose the potent goal threat that we had hoped he would, yet. Substitutes: Frederic Guilbert – 7 - Replaced Elmo after 25 minutes, in his first restart appearance and proved to be a very adequate replacement. McGinn headed a half clearance back into the box on 56 minutes, Konsa attempted to chest it down and the ball ran off a defender, to Frederic whose shot, was deflected for a corner off the same defender. I like his will to win and his competitive edge. Keinan Davis – 5 - Came on for Samatta on 72 minutes. Missed a golden opportunity to give us a late two-goal cushion on 75 minutes, but unlike El Ghazi at Everton, it did not cost us the win that it could all so easily have done. Grealish made a powerful run from well inside his own half and played a sweet ball for Keinan, who ran onto it on the edge of the box. Having taken it into the box, he then screwed his shot past Martinez but also wide of the far post. This was a chance that needed to be taken and although the rest of his game can often be impressive, he does also need to be able to take clear chances like these, more often than not. Marvelous Nakamba – Replaced Hourihane on 73 minutes. Not on quite long enough to earn a rating. Henri Lansbury - Replaced McGinn in the third minute of first half stoppage time. Not on long enough to merit a rating, but he was on long enough to be on the winning side against his former club. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  6. Dare we dream, that Villa could now go on to rise like a Phoenix from the flames? Our first win following the restart and our first league win since January, has at least given us back a little hope. Norwich were predictably relegated following another defeat, this time against fellow relegation strugglers West Ham on Saturday. But who would have guessed that the three teams above them would all win this weekend, as well? Watford and Bournemouth came back from behind thanks to two penalties and a Leicester team that are in freefall, respectively. We are therefore as we were, after this weekend. The positive for us is, that had we not won, we would have now been cut adrift. This was so much better. We probably shaded the first half, but our attack had continued to look punch less, as it had proved to be, in our last three goalless games. Our opening goal came in the fourth minute of first half stoppage time and it gave the players, a much-needed shot of confidence, to take with them into the dressing room. We proceeded to dominate the second half, against a Palace side that thankfully did not offer too much resistance. We added a well-merited second on 59 minutes, which gave us a valuable two goal cushion, that provided some breathing space, when the visitors came more into the game, during what would otherwise have been a tense last 15 minutes. Our confidence flowed back, with that second goal and we moved forward with purpose, I have not seen us do that for a long, long time! Should the very worst still happen, at least we won a game again yesterday and we had a smile on our faces once again on Sunday evening. We have shown we are not quite prepared to go down meekly and without putting up any fight. A little bit like our former striker Benteke, was not yesterday! It may prove to be too little too late, but the players showed some fight and belief yesterday at long last. Let them do the same at Everton and then again against Arsenal. These are two teams, who might just be on the beach when we play them, we can but hope. The same may be the case for West Ham on the last day, or we may face them in a winner takes all game. If we have managed to get the points that would still give us something to play for on that last day, then I suspect that we would be up for it and that they would be worried. VAR again played a part yesterday and twice overturned the referee’s decision. Palace had a goal disallowed after just 7 minutes, when Sakho turned the ball in, with the top of his arm, rather than with his shoulder. It again intervened on 46 minutes to deny us a penalty award, after Jack had rather theatrically, gone to ground, having trodden on van Aanholt’s foot as he ran past him, rather than having been brought down by him. Shades of a recent penalty awarded against us there! For once, I think VAR got things right yesterday. It still owes us though! Our under-pressure manager’s plans were scuppered before kick-off, when Kortney Hause had to be pulled out of the game, following the warm-up. That led to Elmo coming in and Ezri moving into the centre. We then also lost Neil Taylor after 37 minutes, but Targett proved up to the job. Those changes worked out rather well though, given we managed a rare and most welcome clean sheet and both Elmo and Targett, offer us something in the opponent’s half. We will need to win one and draw two, probably win two and quite possibly draw the other one, or win every one of our last three games, to avoid the drop. We cannot afford to lose games now and we really need a win on Thursday, to bring ourselves within a point, of both Watford and West Ham, by the time they meet the following day. It will not be easy, but it is not impossible. A run of three wins would do it, and we did win ten on the trot at the end of last season, after all! My player ratings from a game, that gave us our first win on a Sunday since 2014, are: Pepe Reina – 7 – Made a double save from Benteke on 42 minutes. The first with his legs at the near post from a shot from the edge of the 6-yard box and the second, from the rebound, a dive to his right to save comfortably. Gathered a sharp shot from Ayew, at the second attempt on 43 minutes. Saved a Benteke shot from the right-hand side of the box, at his near post a minute after we had gone ahead. Blocked a 75th minute van Aanholt shot on the edge of the 6-yard box with his right foot, at his left-hand post. This is the Pepe that we want to see! Ahmed Elmohamady - 6 – Did well and hit some nice crosses. Ezri Konsa – 6 – So unlucky not to have added a second on 58 minutes. Elmo nodded on Jack’s corner at the edge of the 6-yard box and it fell to Ezri, he got his foot to it before a defender, but it hit the fortunate Guaita on his goal line and bounced to safety. Benteke did not seem to get on with him. Tyrone Mings – 6 – A solid and error free performance. Neil Taylor – 6 – Did well to move across and beat Benteke to the ball, on the edge of the box, before prodding it back to Reyna on 19 minutes. Substituted on 37 minutes, having picked up an early knock. John McGinn - 5 – Showed more signs that he may soon be back to his best, he is not there yet though. Douglas Luiz – 7 – Another very good display. Conor Hourihane – 7 – Played a one-two with Jack, before hitting a 3rd minute shot that was blocked by Ward on the edge of the box, deflecting it past the left-hand post. Curled a 58th minute free kick from the edge of the box around the wall, which Guaita pushed around his left-hand post for a corner. Had a 63rd minute shot from outside of the box, pushed wide of his left-hand post by Guaita, at full stretch. A welcome return to the team and to form. We need his dead ball delivery and his eye for goal. Jack Grealish – 6 – Had a 38th minute volley from a nicely floated Elmo cross, kept out by Guaita at his near post and hit a 63rd minute shot from the edge of the box, that Guaita easily gathered in the centre of his goal. An improvement on his recent performances. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 7 – MOTM – Gave us our two goals, say no more! Hourihane hit a free-kick from the left, it flicked Ward’s head on its way to Trez, who had drifted unmarked to the far post and he threaded the ball through the gap between Guaita and a defender, to give us the vital opening goal, in the 4th minute of first half stoppage time. Hourihane headed a Ward header out of the box back into it and it seemed to take a slight touch off Elmo on its way through to Trez, who coolly slotted the ball past Guaita, who had advanced to the edge of the 6-yard box, for our 59th minute second. Missed an opportunity to claim a hat-trick on 86 minutes, when Targett’s fine cross, eluded him. Mbwana Samatta – 5 – Appeared to duck under the ball, as it made its way past him towards Sakho’s arm, whose 7th minute “goal” was chalked off by VAR. Missed a good chance when he failed to direct his header from a sweet 31st minute Elmo cross, which flew over the crossbar. Played a nice ball from the half-way line, down the right flank for Trezeguet to run onto, but his 61st minute shot was gathered at the near post by Guaita. Substitutes: Matt Targett – 6 - Replaced Taylor after 37 minutes. Hit a superb 86th minute cross into the box from a quickly taken Douglas free kick, that only needed a touch, but Trezeguet and then Davis behind him, failed to get a foot to it. Marvelous Nakamba – Came on for Hourihane on 80 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating. Keinan Davis – Replaced Samatta on 80 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating either. Anwar El Ghazi - Replaced Trezeguet on 88 minutes. Not on long enough to merit a rating. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  7. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later
  8. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later
  9. We took the game to our visitors during the first quarter of last night’s game. Manchester United had looked below par and we had shaded the early minutes. With a little luck, we might even have gone ahead after 25 minutes when a Trezeguet shot struck the post, but a minute later, a referee’s poor decision, gifted the visitors their 13th penalty of the season and with it the game. Martial aimed a ball towards Fernandez on the edge of the box, it took a touch off Hause and Konsa stuck out a leg to try to intercept. Bruno jumped up and got his right foot onto the ball, and tried to turn, but his foot landed on Ezri’s shin. He then fell in a heap and cynically claimed a penalty. Referee Moss could not wait to give it, there was not a moment’s hesitation. The decision went to VAR, why bother? A referee’s decision is invariably supported by the official at Stockley Park and so it proved again with Graham Scott on this occasion. The decision was wrong, it was not a penalty, was it a clear and obvious error? Is anything in VAR’s opinion? Solskjaer said “I think it’s a penalty” but he would say that wouldn’t he? The Premier League match centre had a different opinion, telling MOTD “It was the wrong decision. It should have been overturned by VAR but wasn't and should actually have been a foul on Konsa”. How will that that help us at the end of the season? The decision proved costly for us last night, whether we would have got a result or not at the end of the day, is open to question. One thing that is for certain, is that we would have had a better chance, had a penalty not been wrongly awarded and had it not then been decided, not to correct that hasty decision. Another is that VAR has not been our friend this season! Clubs at the foot of the table do not often have their fair share of luck, other than in the case of Bournemouth last night. Villa certainly did not last night. We hit the post, within a minute had a penalty wrongly awarded against us and then conceded a second with the last kick of first half stoppage time, but the game was all but over by then. Once we go behind that is it and that was sadly again the case last night. Manchester United are winning games for fun currently. They did not need the help of the referee or Stockley Park, but they got it. They played much of the game at walking pace, but they were dominant and could easily have won this by an embarrassing margin. Villa started brightly enough but were so deflated by going behind, and the players heads soon dropped. At the end we looked like a team that have accepted relegation. Rather than to try to get back into the game, we seemed to focus on damage limitation immediately, possibly because the players themselves, accept that the chances of us scoring one, let alone two goals were close to zero. Defeat always seemed inevitable before the game, but we seemed too ready to accept this, once we had gone behind, due to an appalling decision by the referee, which was rubber stamped by VAR. This game was done after 27 minutes and it made painful watching after that. Sunday’s game with Palace will now determine whether our season will be done by this weekend. This really is a must win game, if we are to have any slender chance of taking our relegation struggle to the last game. As things stand, each game brings us slowly, but surely nearer to the drop and we seem to be going down without a fight, in empty grounds that lack any sort of match atmosphere. Still at least the integrity of the game has been preserved! My player ratings from a game that has left the stout lady clearing her throat, is: Pepe Reina – 6 – Sent the wrong way from the spot by Fernandes on 27 minutes and had no chance of getting to Greenwood’s powerful shot into the left-hand corner of his net, from the edge of the box. Pepe was also unsighted for their third, when Pogba curled a shot from the edge of the box into the right-hand corner of his net. Gathered a 35th minute Martial shot from the edge of the area, low to his left and then pushed a Greenwood shot from the edge of the box to his left and Taylor cleared the loose ball. Stopped Rashford adding a fourth on 94 minutes, saving his shot with his right foot. Ezri Konsa - 6 – Had a good game, one of the few. Kortney Hause – 6 – A solid display. Tyrone Mings – 4 – Lacked concentration when a Pogba ball into the box, went through his legs on 12 minutes. Picked up a clearance inside their half and was then outbattled by Martial, which led to their second, ran back quickly but could do nothing to prevent the goal. Needs to iron out these lapses, which can prove so costly and that so detract from his otherwise solid work. Neil Taylor – 6 – Did well to get back and take the ball off Martial near the 6-yard box on 57minutes, as he was about to pull the trigger. Anwar El Ghazi - 3 – Hit a wayward first half shot from outside of the box that went well wide of the left post, he was again very disappointing. John McGinn – 4 – Trezeguet played the ball to him on 54 minutes, but his shot from outside of the box was easily gathered by de Gea. Showed a couple of signs that he might be soon able to regain some of his earlier season form. Oh, how we need him to do so quickly! Douglas Luiz – 7 – MOTM – The one player that looked like he was not in any way overawed by the team that he was facing. Jack Grealish – 4 – Misjudged a nice 18th minute cross from Konsa, which found him on the far edge of the 6-yard box, but he hit his first time shot over the bar. Could have done more to close down Pogba, who had been left unmarked on the edge of the box, when he took a touch from the corner before hitting their third. Drifted too deep and played too wide to have the influence that we needed him to have last night. We have come to expect a lot more than we have been getting from Jack since restart. It does not help that opponent’s know that he is our only threat, but his performances of late will not keep us up and they will not tempt prospective new employers to make offers, that his current football club would consider acceptable, either. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 6 – Did at least chase after the ball, make the odd challenge, and look up for it. He was unlucky to see his 25th minute shot hit the post, rather than the back of the net. Having dispossessed Pogba, he ran to the edge of the area before curling a shot past de Gea that struck his left-hand post. Mbwana Samatta – 5 – Lacked service, support, and his earlier sharpness. Substitutes: Conor Hourihane – 4 - Replaced El Ghazi after 58 minutes. Had an 82nd minute shot blocked by Williams, after Douglas had squared the ball back to him at the far post, made no telling impression on the game during the time he was on. Marvelous Nakamba – 4 - Came on for McGinn on 59 minutes with a view to keeping the score to three, I assume. Currently a shadow of the player, that we were impressed by during his early games. Keinan Davis – 5 – Replaced Konsa on 59 minutes. How he and we, need him to find the net on Sunday. Indiana Vassilev - Replaced Davis on 84 minutes. Not on long enough to earn a rating in another brief appearance. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  10. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later.
  11. Wolves last managed a league double against us in 1963. That they were able to do it again, so easily this afternoon, was nothing short of embarrassing. There was not a lot between the two sides during the first quarter, but the visitors became increasingly dangerous in the second and winning this game, was far too easy for them during the second half, when they were able to sit back and see the game out. We did not look like scoring at any time and one goal is usually more than enough to give our opponents three points, so it proved today. We did not create anything, we did not have any cutting edge or movement up front, dead balls were often miscued, and what crosses there were, did not trouble the Wolves defence at all. Our defence does look stronger of late, but a clean sheet is a rarity for us, and it always seemed inevitable that we would concede at least one goal today. Two points from four games since the restart is clearly relegation form. Things would look even more bleak, if the teams that are around us were not treading water too. We cannot rely on our fellow strugglers continuing to be quite so obliging. Four games coming in such quick succession, was always going to be a real test for our squad. One thing that today demonstrated, is that we do not have the sort of squad from which, you can pluck players to be able to rest our regular first team starters and still expect to win games. We may not be mathematically down yet, but with only six games remaining and with Liverpool, and then Manchester United up next, we do look like we are going to need an awful lot of points from our last four games, to make any sort of fight of it. We have missed the encouragement of the fans at our three home games since the restart. What ever happened to the passion of the Villa team that beat both Everton and Newcastle 2-0 at Villa Park last year? Our realistic target at the start of this season was 17th place, it is now looking increasingly likely that we will not achieve that target. I am beginning to wonder if we might have done much the same this season, had we not replaced the bulk of the team that got us promotion last year. After all they did play as a team. As things stand, I would be more than happy, if we still had something to play for on the last day of the season! My player ratings from a game that increased our relegation fears and left PL safety slowly ebbing away from us, are: Orjan Nyland – 3 – He once again demonstrated on the rare occasions he was tested, that he always has a mistake in him. Made an awful error on 42 minutes, that so very nearly gave Wolves a first half lead out of nothing. He shaped to throw the ball to the left, but somehow it slipped out of his hand straight to Jota on the edge of the box. Fortunately, Jota was as shocked as everyone else and hit a rushed shot from the edge of the box over the bar. Gathered a 19th minute Jimenez header at the near post at the second attempt. Beaten from the edge of the box by a Dendonker shot into the left-hand corner of his net on 62 minutes. How we are missing Steer and the assurance of Heaton. Ezri Konsa - 5 – Did well enough again in this role. Kortney Hause – 6 – Did well alongside Tyrone in the centre of defence but looked something less than a threat when in the other box. Tyrone Mings – 6 – Solid at the back. Matt Targett – Substituted on 11 minutes, having tweaked a hamstring in making a simple side footed pass. Not on long enough to merit any rating. Marvelous Nakamba - 4 – Either side of the first half drinks break, the ball bounced off him for an opponent to run clear to the right-hand edge of the box, fortunately we were not punished on those occasions. Sadly, some way off being “marvellous” again today. Conor Hourihane – 4 – Not even his dead balls were up to scratch today. Douglas Luiz – 7 – MOTM – He did not do anything wrong and looks increasingly a comfortable PL player. Hit a shot a couple of yards wide of the post on the hour mark. Jack Grealish – 6 – If anyone was going to get us anything out of this game, it was going to be Jack. He was unable to do it against a well organised outfit. Had a low 37th minute shot from the edge of the box saved by Patricio, who was otherwise mainly a spectator. Mbwana Samatta – 5 – Did not look particularly sharp today, I was hoping to see more energy from him and for him play off Davis, which rarely looked like happening. Keinan Davis – 6 – Worked hard and did hold the ball up at times. Playing with another striker made no positive impact on our longstanding lack of a goal threat, but they lacked any decent service today. Substitutes: Neil Taylor – 5 - Replaced Targett after 11 minutes. Did better than many of us, might have anticipated. John McGinn – 5 - Came on for Hourihane on 60 minutes. Time is running out for him to make a positive late contribution to our season, following his long absence. Ahmed Elmohamady – 5 – Replaced Konsa on the hour. Did what we have come to expect well enough. Mahmoud Trezeguet – Replaced Marvelous on 82 minutes. Not on long enough to earn any rating. Anwar El Ghazi - Replaced Davis on 82 minutes. Did he touch the ball? Not on long enough to earn a rating, in any case. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  12. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later.
  13. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later.
  14. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong. A mod will add the players to the poll later.
  15. Their two goals may have had varying slices of luck about them, but they dominated this game from start to finish. We have got to be more positive from now, we probably would have been ripped apart yesterday, had we tried to take the game to our visitors. Instead, we appeared to bank on getting a second successive clean sheet within a week and perhaps even scoring a goal against the run of play, ourselves. We achieved the second of those two objectives when Hause scored on 43 minutes. The chances of our team, which have conceded the most goals in the Premier League, achieving the first objective yesterday, was always slim to none. We put men behind the ball, but it was too easy for the visitors and we only succeeded in delaying the inevitable for an hour, at the end of the day. At half time, some of us dared to dream for a moment, that we might beat a top four team for the first time, since we beat yesterday’s visitors in 2014. Reality soon kicked in though. The ball hitting the back of our net during the second half looked inevitable. The longer we could keep them out, the better our chances, would be of just conceding one goal and of hanging on grimly to a precious point. Things were going to plan for an hour and then in two painful minutes, our cunning plan was left in tatters. Dean surprisingly fielded an unchanged team yesterday. The new rule which allows two extra substitutes, was seen to work well for Chelsea yesterday. Had they only been able to have brought on 3 substitutes, they might not have made a double substitution as early as they did, on 55 minutes and within 5 minutes one of those substitutes had brought them level. The ruling helps the big sides and does nothing positive for the rest. Just look at the options that they had on their bench, compared to the ones that were available to us. A goal was always going to come for Chelsea yesterday. Unfortunately, like the Clapham omnibus, you wait an hour for one and then two come together. We just sat back and invited them forward. They had 74% possession, 19 shots to our 8 and 10 corners to our two. There are lies, dammed lies and statistics. Yesterday the stats showed there was only ever going to be one winner and it was not going to be us. At half time we were outside of the bottom three, will we be able to get ourselves out of it again this season and if we do, can we keep outside it? To have any chance of doing both, we will need to win a couple of games and to gather around 10 points from our remaining 8 games. Games will start running out fast now. We could really do with winning on Wednesday, but we will need to play for a win, and we face a team that won 3-0 yesterday, which will have given our next opponents confidence. Hopefully, our former manager, will choose to play for a draw! My player ratings from a game that would have left the crowd restless very soon after the start, had there been one, are: Orjan Nyland – 5 – Saved with his right hand on 20 minutes, from a Mount shot which was hit from just outside of the box. Pushed out a 31st minute Mount cross at his near post. Fumbled a 32nd minute Kovacic shot from just outside of the box and having failed to catch it, gathered the loose ball at the second attempt. Pulisic was unmarked at the far post when he somehow hit Azpilicueta’s 60th minute cross in the space between Nyland and the crossbar. He was left static on the line, when Giroud turned inside the box and hit a 62nd minute shot that deflected off Hourihane, past Mings behind him (who might otherwise have blocked it) and into the net for their winner. Touched an 84th minute Willian shot from outside of the area over the bar. Ezri Konsa - 5 – Doing as well as can reasonably be expected in his present role. Kortney Hause – 6 – MOTM – Put us ahead against the run of play (to put it mildly) after 43 minutes. Douglas hit a nice ball towards the far post that he stretched a foot to reach, Arrizabalaga blocked it at close range, but Kortney reacted quickly to hit the ball into the far side of the net. Could not quite get over the ball when he headed a 68th minute free kick, that Grealish had flighted into the box over the bar. Tyrone Mings – 6 – Had a solid game in the centre of a defence that was under constant pressure. Matt Targett – 4 – Too many crosses came into the box from his side of the field yesterday. Anwar El Ghazi - 4 – Hit a 32nd minute shot from outside of the penalty area that Arrizabalaga parried at his right-hand post. Anwar was again disappointing. His starting place should be in jeopardy by now, but no-one has consistently impressed in a wide role this season. Perhaps, we should take a leaf out of Sir Alf’s book and try being wingless? John McGinn – 4 – We needed John to hit the ground running, with hindsight that was never likely to happen following a six-month absence. John could still make the difference in the games that are to come, but he again ran out of steam today and was unable to play the all action role that he played so well at the beginning of this season and last. Could not get enough on his 34th minute header on a nice cross from El Ghazi that drifted well wide of the far post. Douglas Luiz – 6 – He is looking increasingly like the player that we had hoped that we had signed, since the restart. If only he could add a couple of those tremendous goals that he scored earlier this season, to what is a quickly improving midfield contribution. Jack Grealish – 5 – He really needs to play in the centre, where he will be more involved. We are currently wasting him; he is not a wide player! He is the player, that is most likely to unlock a defence, but he does not look likely to do that, too often currently. He can do much more than this. Chelsea appeared to be under instruction, to take turns to bring him down, during the game. Conor Hourihane – 4 – Quite a drop in his performance from what he produced on Sunday, but if we were going to attempt to play like this, then surely Marvelous would have been the right choice from the start. Keinan Davis – 5 – Put himself about, but he needs someone playing alongside him if we are to score the goals that we need to. I would have started Samatta, in a game like this myself. Substitutes: Mbwana Samatta – 5 - Replaced Davis after 57 minutes. Needs to start games now. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 - Came on for El Ghazi again, this time a minute later, on 70 minutes. Was not able to make any positive impact during the time that he had on the pitch. Marvelous Nakamba – 5 - Replaced Hourihane on 70 minutes and did not make a noticeable difference when added to our non-existent midfield. Jota - Replaced the usually irreplaceable John McGinn on 87 minutes. He was not on long enough to earn a rating, but he did have a late opportunity to steal us a point, with his first touch of the game on 87 minutes. Mings hit a free kick from just inside his own half, that Samatta headed into the box and Jota hit the ball inches wide of the far post. Stay up Villa! John Lewis
  16. Your ratings and reactions please. Keep it respectful even if you know everyone else is wrong.
  17. We know that VAR is loath to overrule a referee’s decision. Yesterday, showed that it is equally reluctant to overrule a goal line decision, that has been made by Hawk-Eye! Let us have a look at the positives. We kept a rare clean sheet; we took a point that might just prove to be the one that keeps us up at the end of the season and we did not get beaten by a team that many made favourites before kick-off yesterday. The negatives are that a point might not prove to be enough at the end of the day, we did not really look like scoring ourselves too often, we have a problem between the sticks and we are still in the bottom three. The “goal that never was” will be the only talking point for neutrals following this game. What a tragedy that a combination of a Hawk-Eye malfunction, the referee’s usual aversion to viewing an incident using the touchline camera and VAR’s resolute determination not to overrule a decision reached by a match referee, combined to deny Sheffield United yesterday. Before yesterday’s game, VAR had been fast running out of time, to begin to even out the incorrect decisions that had already cost us points, over the course of this disrupted season. It is about time, that we benefited from one of the many dubious decisions, that have been made so far this season. In my view, we are probably owed a couple more, to prevent such decisions having had a significantly negative influence on our relegation struggle. Something that was proved beyond doubt yesterday, was that fans really are vital to making a football match what it is. Without us there is no atmosphere and there is a lack of encouragement for the players. Yesterday’s game was reminiscent of park’s football, the tinned crowd murmur that Sky gave us, in no way matched the vibrance of a packed Villa Park and I gave up on it after a couple of minutes. Should Sheffield United now be awarded a point or even two? I do not recall the same question being asked when we were on the wrong end of earlier decisions. Should we have allowed Sheffield United to score an unopposed goal, as Leeds did for us at the end of last season? That decision cost Leeds nothing. They were already in the playoffs and automatic promotion was unattainable, but doing so yesterday, could ultimately have seen us relegated, so most definitely the answer is no. The referee’s decision is final, after all. Some will claim that the decision will disadvantage our fellow relegation strugglers, well previous decisions that went against us, worked to their advantage and they cannot have it both ways! We were the better team yesterday and we gave a better performance than we had done in the league games that we had played, just before the season was interrupted. Both teams were clearly lacking in match sharpness, hopefully we may therefore have a slight fitness edge when we play Chelsea at the weekend, as we now have a game behind us. Dean made a couple of surprising team selections yesterday. He explained that he was rewarding those players that had looked brightest in training during the past couple of weeks. There will also be a need to not overwork players during what will be a hectic run of games in the coming weeks. We looked more solid at the back yesterday and we created the lion’s share of what few chances there were. We have stopped the rot of 5 successive defeats, that we had suffered before the restart and we are now within a point of safety, although our goal difference is inferior to those clubs who are currently directly above us. The point we got yesterday was much better than nothing, but Sheffield United had looked beatable yesterday and we will need slightly more than an average of a point a game from our remaining games, if we are to make it to safety. My player ratings from a game, before which we remembered those lives lost to Covid-19 to date and players demonstrated their support for the Black Lives Matter campaign by taking a knee, were: Orjan Nyland – 4 – His susceptibility in the air has long been a cause for concern and it will have been gleefully noted by our future opponents yesterday. He so nearly gifted them a goal that would have badly deflated us, if not cost us the game on 42 minutes. Norwood aimed a free kick from the left towards the angle, between the bar and the far post. Nyland fumbled the ball and went backwards over the line, with Davis an immovable object standing at the post, thus preventing him being able to fully stretch out his arms to try to keep the ball on the right side of the line. This error will have left him lacking in confidence, fortunately it did not cost us a goal, but it may well cost him his starting place. Ezri Konsa - 6 – Surprising to see Ezri popping up here, rather than Elmo or Guilbert. Did well though. Kortney Hause – 5 – A 35th minute Hourihane corner found him at the near post, but it hit him, rather than was headed by him and the ball went harmlessly wide. Hit a very lackadaisical ball across the edge of the penalty area on 70 minutes into no man’s land, which was picked up by McBurnie. He found Lundstram, whose shot from inside the box flashed wide of the post Tyrone Mings – 6 – Not quite at his best yet, but he did his bit in holding this new-look defence together. Had claims for a penalty when his shirt was grabbed, and he was pushed out of reach of the ball. Matt Targett – 6 – A solid defensive display. Anwar El Ghazi - 5 – Jack hit a lovely ball to him and he proceeded to hit a 58th minute cross that just needed a touch, but the ball had passed Davis, before he had stretched his leg out. Had a shout for a penalty when there was contact on the edge of the box, but he does tend to throw himself to the ground and that does not always encourage referees to make penalty decisions, if you are wearing our shirt, at least. John McGinn – 6 – After six months absence this was a very welcome return, but John was unsurprisingly, rather ring rusty yesterday. The 76 minutes that he played, will see him nearer to his best, come the weekend. Got a decent header to a 17th minute Grealish free kick that was gathered by Henderson. Jack also found him on the edge of the box on 60 minutes, but Henderson pushed his shot past his left-hand post, easily enough. Worked himself into the ground for the cause. Douglas Luiz – 6 – A good solid performance. Jack Grealish – 7 – Opponents were once again, given licence to bring down Jack, without any fear of seeing a yellow card, as a result. Played a role in most of our better moments and will hopefully get back up to full speed shortly. Conor Hourihane – 6 – Had a 6th minute shot from about 8 yards saved by Henderson at his near post. Good delivery with that left foot as always and was more involved than he has been in some other games. Keinan Davis – 7 – MOTM - He put himself about up front and unsettled their defenders. He does so many good things, but he needs the confidence that a goal will give him. I had thought on hearing he would be starting, that he would be playing alongside Samatta rather than instead of him. Nevertheless, this was a good display by Keinan. Should have done better on 11 minutes, when Hause headed a Grealish corner at the far post, back across the goalmouth. Keinan headed the ball over the bar from close range when under pressure from a defender. So unlucky, when he chested down a nice ball from Targett on the edge of the area and then hit a 52nd minute shot that Henderson kept out at his near post, with his outstretched right hand. Substitutes: Mbwana Samatta – 5 - Replaced Davis after 69 minutes. He did not have the time to make a mark on this game, but he has goals in him and therefore needs to start games like these, in my opinion. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 - Came on for El Ghazi on 69 minutes. Did not make a significant positive impression on the game, during the time he had available to do so. Marvelous Nakamba – Replaced McGinn on 76 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating. Ahmed Elmohamady - Replaced Konsa on 76 minutes. He was also not on long enough to earn a rating. Stay up 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. Another late goal won it at Villa Park yesterday, but this time the boot was on the other foot and the late winner left us devastated, rather than ecstatic. This was a good game and we shouldn’t forget that Villa made a big contribution to that. A point would have been well deserved and it would have seen us, view the game much differently at the final whistle. As it was two stoppage time goals, at the end of both halves, did for us. How did we come to be a goal down at half time, having dominated the first quarter of the game and having had the best of the first half? Tyrone’s tonsillitis couldn’t have struck him down earlier during the winter break could it? How did Spurs not have a player booked, when we had two of our players shown a yellow card? When will VAR begin to give us decisions, rather than conspire to rob us of crucial points? VAR did something that it is normally very loath to do yesterday, it chose to overturn a referee’s decision. It was brought in to prevent clear and obvious errors. It took over a minute to find a reason to award Spurs their penalty at the end of the first half, that in real time neither the crowd, the players nor the match officials, considered was a clear or an obvious penalty. VAR is fast running out of time to even out its decisions over the course of the season, to prevent it being seen to have had a significantly negative influence on our relegation struggle. The point that we had in our possession, as the game went into the last minute of stoppage time, might well have proved crucial at the end of the season, we now have to hope that dropping it doesn’t come back to haunt us in May. On the bright side, we are still outside the bottom three and will hopefully have Tyrone back for the next game and McGinn back, in around a month. We will win games if we play like this and can tighten things up at the back. To quote Jose, “I think they did not deserve to lose” and I agree with him. Spurs are a top side and we had them on the ropes early on. Had it not been for a late error we might have claimed a point. Four more wins could keep us up and I’m not yet quite convinced that is beyond us. Our defence had always looked susceptible to being hit on the break yesterday and so it painfully proved. We really can’t afford to be without our big hitters. We are already trying to cope without John McGinn and our already fragile defence looks incredibly shaky without Mings, who organises our defence so well and is so often what holds it together. Let’s not be too harsh on the player who came into the side in his place and was asked to fill his role yesterday. He did make the challenge that VAR chose to award a penalty for and it was his late lackadaisical mistake, that resulted in the late winner that so cruelly robbed us of the point that our overall performance had deserved. Let’s not forget that he also scored our equaliser though and we will need him, in games that are to come. My player ratings from a game that was entertaining for the neutral, but had a devastating end for us was: Pepe Reina – 8 – MOTM – Pepe was so unlucky to have ended up on the losing side yesterday, having kept us in the game until the last minute. Stood no chance with their first, third and was so unlucky with their second, when having dived to his right to save Son’s penalty, the striker was first to the rebound. Saved low at his near post from Bergwijn after 59 minutes and dived to his right 2 minutes later to keep out a Song effort. He parried a 70th minute cross at his near post from Aurier, after he had made his run behind Targett and saved a 86th minute shot from Son with his legs, to spare Baston’s blushes, before diving low to his left to save a 92nd minute shot from inside the box from Lo Celso. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Made a well-timed 48th minute challenge on Bergwijn, who had run from inside his own half into our box, as he was about to shoot. Ezri Konsa - 5 – Ran back to challenge Dele Alli, after he had run onto a ball that had gone through him and Reina then did the rest, coming out to block his 73rd minute shot. Bjorn Engels– 5 – He experienced the highs and the very lows of football yesterday. Bjorn finally scored and was credited with his first Villa goal, when he got up well to head Jack’s 53rd minute corner into the right-hand corner of the net. He had earlier conceded a penalty, when he chased back into the box to challenge Bergwijn, who had run onto a 43rd minute long ball from the half-way line, having left our defenders in his wake. He then made the late schoolboy error that cost us the point, that we had fought so hard to win, when he looked to control a nothing ball played towards him in the middle of the park, rather than just hoof it forward. The ball ran agonisingly under his foot and allowed Son to run clear to score their third. He also blocked a 41st minute Bergwijn shot with his body, that VAR spent a full minute looking at, in the hope that it had struck his hand! Kortney Hause – 6 – The best of our three central defenders last night. Did well to get back to block Dele Alli’s 15th minute shot on the edge of the 6-yard box, after El Ghazi’s loose under hit back pass, which had been intended for him, was picked up by the midfielder. Got in another block on the 34th minute, as Moura was about to pull the trigger at the near post and blocked a 41st minute Dele Alli shot, when positioned inside the 6-yard box. Got under a 58th minute Targett corner and his header therefore sailed well over the bar. Matt Targett – 7 – Made a well-timed 27th minute challenge on Aurier, as he was about to cross at the near post. Looked good last night and was our best defender, for me. Anwar El Ghazi - 7 – Hit a 4th minute free kick harmlessly over the bar from around 30 yards. Picked up Reina’s kick on the half-way line and ran purposely forward before hitting the 9th minute cross that Alderweireld turned in to give us the lead, under pressure from Samatta, behind him. Hit a powerful shot from outside of the box, that moved late and that Lloris saved with his hand, and then with his face on 37 minutes. Headed a bouncing ball, from a mistimed header from Engles, that Lloris easily clung onto on 64minutes. Danny Drinkwater – 5 – Unsurprisingly, given his lack of matches he’s still not up to pace yet. He is showing some signs of improvement, but can we afford the time it may take to bring him up to speed, given our present predicament? Douglas Luiz – 7 – Looked very good at times yesterday. Jack made a nice 18th minute run from just inside our half into the box, before finding him in the centre of the area unmarked, but his attempt on goal was blocked by Davies. What a difference another goal would have made then! Jack Grealish – 8 – Given little to no protection by referee Atkinson, who contented himself with telling his opponents how many times they had upended Jack, rather than giving them a yellow card. Made a run into the box and his 10th minute shot was deflected wide of the near post off Dier, ran into the box again a minute later and hit a shot just wide of the far post from the edge of the box. England’s midfield can’t do without him and nor can we. Mbwana Samatta – 8 – Was a thorn in the side of the Tottenham defence from the 1st minute until his 83rd minute substitution. Kept working tirelessly throughout. Headed a 22nd minute El Ghazi cross wide of the near post. Did well to chest down a 51st minute cross for El Ghazi, who shot straight at Lloris. His presence did much to unsettle Alderweireld, when he scored his own goal and he worked very well as a lone striker. He has hit the ground running. Substitutes: Marvelous Nakamba – 7 - Replaced Drinkwater after 60 minutes. He won the ball well and was determined last night. Must start the next game, in my opinion. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 5 - Came on for El Ghazi on 70 minutes. Didn’t make any significant contribution during the time he was on the field. Borja Baston – Replaced Samatta on 83 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating on his debut or to make any positive impression. Stay up 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. Brendan Rodgers had gone 32 cup games unbeaten until last night. The last time a team that he had been managing was knocked out of a cup competition was five long years ago. That defeat also came at the semi-final stage and it was Aston Villa that delivered that knock-out blow as well! This was a proper cup tie. A game that demonstrated that despite its detractors, the League Cup remains a major domestic honour, that both fans and players still obviously care about winning. Both teams went toe to toe during this game, as they had done in the first leg. There was very little to choose between the two sides over both legs and it may have been decided by penalties, had we not again hit another terrific late winner. The disparity that currently exists between the two clubs in the league table was not as evident last night, as it had been at the same venue in the league only last month. The best team won last night. Our players fought like lions to defeat those pesky foxes and it would have been too cruel on them to have ended up on the losing side last night. Brendan Rodgers may choose to bleat on about a penalty appeal being turned down, but it went to VAR and not for the first time this season, VAR chose to support a decision made by the match officials. Such decisions have cost us already this season and the ball was hit very hard from a very short distance before hitting our player’s hand. A VAR decision went our way for once yesterday, that decision was final, and it was simply marvellous! We now have a deserved trip to Wembley to look forward to, but in the interim we need to turn our full attention to our coming league games. The confidence we will take from our cup run can be taken to Bournemouth at the weekend. Dean Smith’s teams tend to have a strong second half of the season and history is hopefully about to repeat itself. Last night will live long in our memories. We have secured a fifth Wembley appearance in five years. This was not an easy win and we didn’t start as favourites, the same will be the case on 1st March. We will walk up Wembley Way in our claret and blue with hope, rather than in trepidation before the final. Our boys will get stuck in and as a club we are not unfamiliar with cup finals. Our opponents can underestimate us, if they so wish. Bring on those Mancunians, either of them! My player ratings from a game that was decided by a late goal that was made in Egypt were: Orjan Nyland – 9 – MOTM – Orjan has made his two best performances in a Villa shirt in this semi-final. The chap waving the Norwegian flag which bore his name upon it before the game, foretold that he would give a MOTM performance! Blocked a 2nd minute shot from Iheanacho at the near post and then made a terrific save to turn Maddison’s 5th minute shot from inside of the box past the left-hand post. Made another top drawer save from the same player, stretching out his left hand to divert his shot from outside of the box, past the same post for a corner. Made a world class save, when he managed to get his fingertips to a 34th minute Tielemans shot from the edge of the box and help it up onto the crossbar. Stood no chance when Iheanacho hit his third goal against us this season, when he was left unmarked to convert a 72nd minute Barnes cross at the far post. Frederic Guilbert – 7 – Determined, solid and hard tackling. Ezri Konsa - 7 – Was unable to keep his 69th minute header from a Targett corner down, having made a run to the far post and the ball therefore flew over the bar. He will be a threat in opponent’s boxes in future games. Solid enough alongside Tyrone at the back. Tyrone Mings – 9 – Marshalled our defensive line, was strong in the challenge and made his usual timely important blocks. Did particularly well to divert a 78th minute Maddison cross over the bar with Iheanacho waiting for the ball to run onto him. Kortney Hause – 7 – Another competent and reliable display. Matt Targett – 9 – Matt was positive, made very good forward runs and was solid at the back last night. He works well with and enjoys a good understanding with Jack. Grealish played the ball into the left-hand side of the box for him and his 4th minute cross was blocked by the outstretched leg of Schmeichel. Hit our first on 12 minutes. Guilbert won a challenge, found Douglas in the centre circle, who in turn found Jack in space. Jack ran into the box and did well to cleverly play the ball behind him, to Matt who had made a great run into the box. He then hit a powerful shot from the left, past Schmeichel and into the far corner of the net. It had a strikingly similarity to his shot against Watford that produced a goal for Douglas. Anwar El Ghazi - 7 – Back where he belongs and performs best, having been filling in up front due to our recent lack of forward options. Hit a nice 15th minute free kick from around 30 yards, just over the bar. Soyuncu headed his 44th minute cross over the bar, with Jack on the edge of the 6-yard box waiting to get on the end of it. Douglas Luiz – 8 – Looked worth every penny that we paid last night, and he will get better. Marvelous Nakamba – 8 – Lived up to his surname, won the ball at will, worked tirelessly and made a couple of decent passes to boot. Jack Grealish – 9 – Played an excellent ball to Guilbert, who had started his run just too early and although Samatta turned home the resulting 26th minute cross, it had already been correctly flagged offside. Worked a shooting opportunity inside the box with 3 defenders around him after Targett had played the ball into him, but his shot was just wide of the left post. Hit a dangerous 63rd minute cross into the box that Chilwell dived to head out for a corner with Guilbert behind him, having made a good run. Mbwana Samatta – 7 – A promising debut. It was asking a lot of him to come into a game like this one after such a short time at the club and to lead the line. He provided opposition defenders with a striker to worry about at last. He also got into the right place at the right time a couple of times and can be putting those sorts of chances away before too long. Picked up a loose ball and played it wide to Targett; who then played a one-two with Jack before hitting a 38th minute cross, that our new striker was just unable to turn towards goal. Jack played a perfect ball into the box from a central position that just needed a touch from Samatta, at the end of his well-timed 64th minute run. He was inches away from connecting with it and the ball went just wide of the left-hand post. Worked hard and was understandably tiring when substituted on 67 minutes. Substitutes: Keinan Davis – 7 - Replaced Samatta after 67 minutes, making a very welcome return from injury. Keinan made a positive impression during the time that he had on the field to do so. He looked lively and was a handful for tiring defenders. Made a terrific strong run into the box on 87 minutes. Mahmoud Trezeguet – 7 - Came on for El Ghazi after 77 minutes and scored our late winner on 93 minutes. Elmo floated a curling cross into the box, which he made a splendid run onto, before hitting the inviting ball past Schmeichel and into the far corner of the net. Had earlier ran onto a ball played through 2 defenders by Davis, ran inside the box and had his 82nd minute shot gathered by Schmeichel at his near post. Ahmed Elmohamady – Came on for Guilbert on 84 minutes. Not on long enough to gather a rating, but he was on long enough to hit the sublime cross, that resulted in our glorious winner and gave him the assist. Win the cup Villa! John Lewis
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