Talk Tactics – Can Aston Villa Afford To Be As Sloppy In Future?

Talk Tactics Can Aston Villa Afford To Be As Sloppy

Against Reading, Aston Villa were… poor. Not only were they poor, but their attacks were somewhat predictable, repeatedly involving lumping balls forwards on to the head or chest of striker Christian Benteke.

Villa did, of course, win the match and that is, in a sense, all that matters. However, this was, in part, down to just how woeful the opposition were. I’ve heard from some fans that their belief is that Villa made Reading look woeful but this is simply not the case, as much as people may want to believe it. Of course I was glad for the win, but we mustn’t get carried away or consider that kind of performance one we wish to see every week.

In the eventuality that a team makes another team look awful, the statistics will generally put a massive gulf in key figures such as pass completion or tackles made illustrating the created gulf between the two teams. Let’s start with passing.

If you can’t pass properly, how will you score?

If we look at the pass completion rates for Villa, they were at a fairly average 75%. Top teams, or teams who are putting on a great performance have pass completion rates of over 90%. An average quality team pass completion rate would be anywhere between 70 to 80%. Anything between 80% and 90% could be considered good.

Reading, by comparison, managed just 66% pass completion. Whilst Villa were 9% ahead of the opposition when it came to passing, neither team was passing in a particularly effective manner. In fact, anyone who went to the game and says anything besides that both teams’ passing was average at best needs a free eye test. I recommend the ones at Tesco.

Moving from passes to other key statistics, neither team completed crosses effectively. Villa attempted 29 completing 11 (37.9% completion), whilst Reading attempted 25 completing just 7 (28% completion). Again, these statistics show that the game was scrappy, and unlikely to have been a high scoring affair when viewed in the context of other key performance indicators As we all know, we won by a solitary goal.

Villa, perhaps surprisingly, attempted only 56 long passes, completing 29 of them. Proportionately this indicates a better relative number of short passes vs long passes, though over a third of passes were either backwards or square, illustrating a regularly non-penetrating game barring long balls.

Don’t get me wrong, passes can’t all go forward if a team wants to retain possession, but there needs to be more to moving forward than punts upfield.

Now whilst the statistics do indicate that the game was a poor one, there is a common knowledge that beating teams when playing poorly is a sign of a good team. To Villa’s credit, their persistence was rewarded, though only really after Stephen Ireland had taken to the pitch, acting as the link up player between Villa’s back and front.

Defending – not much better than passing

We all know there are far more statistics involved in a game than just passes and crosses, and I’ll get into them now. In the defensive statistics, Villa attempted 22 tackles completing 15 giving a 68.2% completion rate. Reading attempted 10 completing 3 giving an easy-to-work-out 30% completion rate.

In other defensive areas, neither team were particularly effective at clearances (normal or headed) or aerial duels. The ball was high a lot of the time, accounting for the total of 98 aerial duels for the ball (and 70 attempted headed clearances) but completion rates were poor further illustrating a distinctly average-at-best performance.

The worst passers of the ball were Brad Guzan, Enda Stevens, Andreas Weimann, Marc Albrighton, and Christian Benteke, all five of which had sub-70% completion rates, though Guzan’s was mostly due to his long punt balls up the pitch that did not reach Benteke – Guzan’s completion rate was a woeful 44%. However, Albrighton’s was even worse at 38%, whereas the other three mentioned were in the 60-70% range.

Conversely, the best passers of the ball for Villa were Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Westwood, both of whom had 85% or more completion statistics – Brett Holman was marginally behind with 84% completion.


It is difficult to say whether Villa were lucky, were playing a poor team, or were doing the best that the youngest every Premier League back four could have hoped for, but the fact remains that we won the game – after games where the football was good but with no end result, I’ll take three points. However, the team must do better against Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City if they are to continue to win points – another performance at the level of the Reading game will not go unpunished.

Villa must play better and more effectively at Loftus Road at the weekend or the result may well be different, and the club from B6 will be desperate to put some more distance between them and QPR. We will find out soon enough what team will emerge this weekend.

About the Author

Avatar of Matt Turvey

Matt TurveyMatt is the owner of, and chief writer for, Aston Villa Life. He is also a weekly columnist for the Wolverhampton Express & Star, appearing in the 247 pullout the Monday after Aston Villa play, and every Thursday as a blogger on their website. He has previously been featured as a writer on Football365 and Life's A Pitch, and was a regular pundit for Sports Tonight TV on Sky.View all posts by Matt Turvey →

  1. The DroydThe Droyd29-11-2012

    Matt – Good write up.

    If we are to get anything out of the QPR and Stoke games (which we desperately need to), then the team has to change. Stephen Ireland must start and I think El-Hamadi must too.

    Bannan is the obvious choice for the drop. That would leave an absence of dead ball specialists. Not that Bannan is particularly good at them, we just don’t appear to have an alternative.

    We also desperately need Vlaar back to replace Baker. Chris Herd would be a better alternative too. Does anyone know what has happened to him? Is he injured?

    Any ideas how long Bennett is out for?

  2. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil29-11-2012

    Interesting yet again Matt

    Did we deserve it,I neither know nor care.After 43 years of suppport I`ve had too many 94th minute defeats to remember,I just take a win thanks very much.If winning ugly helps us survive I`ll take that.
    Regarding the persistent use of high balls to Benteke,I believe PL was attempting to expose their centre halves.He really is a horses for courses manager isn`t he?He adapts the line up and tactics according to the opposition.
    I think we`ll lose at QPR.Why?We are Aston Villa this is what we do,when a team has a barren run they come up against us,bingo.Ditto goalscorers.Goal drought fellas?Well we`ve got Villa fill yer boots.Diego Forlan etc,the list is endless.
    Not being negative for the sake of it,but I`ve seen it all before so many times.

  3. NigelNigel29-11-2012

    Hi all. Checked it out for a while before jumping in. I like what I see here. Nice job, Matt. Plenty to say but as to this article I will say this: There are lies, damn lies, and then there are statistics. In order for those numbers to mean anything at all they have to be broken down into more meaningful data e.g. Gabby may have a high completed pass ratio but it is only relevant when compared to others who attempted similar passes. Not bagging on Gabby (he has done a bang up job lately), just making a point. To drive that point home, anyone who thinks that Reading only made 3 successful tackles in that game has a very narrow definition of the word ‘tackle’.

    Bill Shankly said that the essence of football is the giving and taking of passes. That, in a nutshell encapsulates what football is all about because if you can’t do that you are lost. In order to do it you not only need the required skill set but you also need to be aware of the tactical requirements to make it happen and be in the right place at the right time which requires the necessary vision and determination.

    Lambert has got a heck of a job on his hands! Come on you Lions!

  4. Liam ScahillLiam Scahill29-11-2012

    Welcome Nigel,

    An excellent honest assessment Matt, I apologise to people for coming across as negative yesterday but I really think we need to take things in perspective after a truly dreadful performance in football terms the other night. We got the win and I’m delighted we did but the performance levels will have to increase dramatically for the weekend, if I was a Reading fan I’d be disgusted that I wasn’t heading back south with at least a point.

    Young team plenty of graft and guile but the suggested potential of some individuals in the team I’m not so sure, I really hope I’m wrong but when you say compare Sandro & Dembele to Westwood & Bannan the gap in class is out of sight. Maybe that comparison is unfair but so is life and football you get no points for having a young team and a low wage bill.

  5. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil29-11-2012


    Stats can be revealing and helpful for coaches for identifying strenghts and weaknesses,but in pro sports its results.I looked randomly at last nights games.L`pool dominated Spurs 12 corners to Spurs 1.1 corner for a home team???????????
    However Spurs got the 3 points,so my point is they are interesting and absorbing but baffling too.Too much analysis and you feel like you`ve watched a game in Frem`s company.
    Welcome aboard Nigel.
    BTW what happened to our French Villan Ollie?

  6. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil29-11-2012


    Stats can be revealing and helpful for coaches for identifying strenghts and weaknesses,but in pro sports its results.I looked randomly at last nights games.L`pool dominated Spurs 12 corners to Spurs 1.1 corner for a home team???????????
    However Spurs got the 3 points,so my point is they are interesting and absorbing but baffling too.Too much analysis and you feel like you`ve watched a game in Frem`s company.
    Welcome aboard Nigel.
    BTW what happened to our French Villan Ollie?COYVB.

  7. The DroydThe Droyd29-11-2012

    Welcome Nigel. Excellent post which I agree with entirely.

  8. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil29-11-2012

    Sir S.
    Good morning,no need to apolgise,just write how you feel,otherwise there is no point.
    We all acknowledge we were pretty dire,but at this stage of our development,the ends justify the means and we needed the points.I`ll be happy if you point out how dire we were in London on saturday,as long as we head home with the win.

    I am under no illusions about the task PL has and he has gambled,or I would put it another way,he has backed his instincts and judgement in the market.Players come and go,but a football club is like a bus stop,people get on and off.Lowton and co will serve their purpose,and for the next stage of our development we will see a better class of player acquired with each window.
    Sounds ruthless?Yes but it`s pro sport PL isn`t there to be liked but to suceedPersonally as I`ve written since august when he went into the market,give me gambles on the Westwoods of this world rather than the Benayouns of the league on £90 grand a week
    When these players have served a purpose they leave,and as they are young we will benefit financially.

  9. Ben SpareyBen Sparey29-11-2012

    Hello lifers,

    good article Matt, some interesting points.

    Against Reading, coming up from the championship, they have played 40 or so games defending long balls & we did go very much route one and did not appear to have a back up plan, as much of a handfull as Betneke is, teams are soon going to realise that from goal kicks ect, they need to double up on him, we need a plan B because I was convinced that Teusdays game was going to end with us conceeding late on. There were a few positives to take from the game though, we were persistent, we kept going & didnt let our heads drop and like you said, we had the youngest back four in Premier league history, to keep another clean sheet, keeping that in mind has to be a plus??

    Onto our upcoming fixtures, I agree with B6, if we play against QPR the way we did Vs Reading, we will come unstuck, but I dont think this will be the case, we did well to get something out of teusdays game and PL will no doubt make the team awear of this, if we turn up ready for A’rrys revalution, we can take something from Loftus road.

    I wont bemoan teusdays performance, or lack of one, as I am a great believer in beating the teams around you in the table boads well for team spirit and confidence & to do so when not particlaury playing well is the hall mark of a good side, we are getting there slowly but surely in my humble opinion, there will be ups, downs, dismall displays and games where we look unplayable, its going to be one of those seasons, but it will click sooner rather than later!

  10. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    Looking at the stats can show certain things but not the whole story.

    How many passes where misplaced due to pressure?

    Of the Shots on target how many where effort down the keepers throat you nan could catch? ie No threat.

    Do we want comments like “Possession is more important than goals” coming out of our managers mouth?

    It’s not just about having the ball it about how you use it… side ways passes are useful if you’re dragging players out of positions. Long balls are useful if you know your man will win the ball more than not.

    Both teams knew the importance around the game, and yes while their is clear improvements that could be made I do feel most of our game plan was about disrupting Norwich on the flanks and pushing them back whilst hitting Benteke early to expose there weak CB’s. And they had the same plan with Roberts vs Clark and Baker.

    Would i rather have 65% of play or a 4 or 5 clear cut chances a games?

    I have no objection to saying that there are improvements needed, but the player are becoming more street wise, Westwood is a very clever little player nothing spectacular but great awareness and a good organiser/communicator.

    I honestly do feel Lambert is begining to break the back of the problem and we are now on an upward trend… however there will be blips on the way.

    People slagged of the Arsenal draw… and many pundits said Arsenal where not there usual selves… I disagree I don’t think we gave any of them the time they are usually afforded, we stood up the pitch got in there faces and most importantly stood up, we didn’t give them any easy chances to get past a play by diving in… This I believe went a long way to closing down the options for Arsenal. We did the same at City until they scored and then we had to open up and try and get one back… Then the lines man got in on the act… end of story.

    There are subtle differences in the way we set up each game, where the midfield starts on the field… how far our defence stand up and how and where Benteke is asked to play…

    These all effect our opposition and we need to credit that we do have influence on the game… Arsenal let Reading play for 45 minutes… they payed, we made them scrap and came out on top.

    There are lots of different ways of winning a football match… the important thing is goals… and in Benteke we can score one anytime.

  11. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    Norwich??? Reading I mean…. Norwich on the brain… can’t wait to tank them in the cup… it’s ours this year… ;)

  12. Liam ScahillLiam Scahill29-11-2012

    Cheers B6 just don’t want to be a Victor Meldrew Villa fan. The effort & application is there I see that for sure, if Lambert does keep us up which I think he will its a great achievement with this squad of players. The media are giving praise already to Arry with his great escape project but I think Lambert keeping our current squad out of trouble is a greater achievement considering the cost cutting and lack of experience in our ranks, now I don’t rate QPR I think they are pathetic to be honest but the task of getting Villa back to where they belong is Mammoth and deserves maybe even a noble prize for services to humanity.

  13. southwestvillansouthwestvillan29-11-2012

    Welcome Nigel to the AVL family.

    Matt i go along with B62B, i do not give a monkeys at the moment how we get results as long as we do, its a known fact that when you are down there in the s**t then things have a tendency to go against you, well lets take all the luck we can get because believe me we are going to need it.


  14. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    Sandro & Dembele to Westwood & Bannan

    When you also consider the price tags and wages associated with these I don’t think it’s a fair comparison…

    Also consider if we could bring these player in to Villa… Spurs or Villa… hmmm… we are where we are…

    Constructive criticism no one minds… constant negativity if somewhat irritating… thing are moving forward. The way we defend in packs, the way we break down attacks, the work ethic… this is all stuff we’ve not seen at Villa in 3 seasons and massive improvements on what we’ve seen before.

  15. southwestvillansouthwestvillan29-11-2012

    Quite enjoyed reading this just to put me in a better mood.,,10265~2994664,00.html

    Just hope the link works, fecking technophobe.


  16. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    I do though agree with most, that when Ireland came on it transformed the midfield and finally Westwood has a player clever enough to find him self space up the field… Holman for all his hard work has a tendency to run behind players and his first touch is about as good as mine… Ireland for me has to start no matter the team we play, he and Westwood give the ball and find space they are always available for the pass which is so nice to see from the players hiding we had last season…

  17. southwestvillansouthwestvillan29-11-2012

    Not sure if that link works but if not jog on over to the main Villa site and read the write up to the U19s 5-1 win against Sporting Lisbon last night, certainly cheered me up.


  18. Liam ScahillLiam Scahill29-11-2012

    So when Bannan & Westwood face opposition of this calibre Graham it is unfair? We are where we are which is the premier league if the players ain’t good enough no about of sometimes unwarranted praise will make them any better & can be as harmful as negativity.

  19. The DroydThe Droyd29-11-2012

    It would be fantastic if Lambert signs someone that is capable of scoring from free kicks. When was the last time we scored one of those? Ashley Young?

    We need a dead ball specialist and we need to become one of the better teams at attacking and defending set pieces.

    If we could achieve that then it would mask our general mediocrity.

  20. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    Sir Scat… not many of the players in the EPL are as good as Dembele or Sandro in their respective positions… that doesn’t mean they can’t play EPL football?

    Personally I do think if players aren’t full of trick and flick or a power house people do fail to see what they bring to the game… Westwood is being much underrated by many Villans… he’s not flinging 40 ard passes everywhere or break peoples legs but what he is doing is organising the midfield, making him self available for the ball and being a reliable base to build from… You can only pass to those available and if there is no options to hit up the pitch should we launch it in to an area like we used to or move the ball around until there is?

    Cattermole or Westwood?

    Gardner or Bannan?

    fairer comparisions….

  21. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil29-11-2012


    I though Zog would be our free kick specialist,but that hasn`t happened.

    Graham,those are better comparisons.I wrote yesterday every team needs a “bread & butter” player in MF.They do a lot of work off the ball,are always available and keep it simple.Under preaaure a team needs this.Westwood IMO is crafty and makes the right angle to receive and always makes himself available.

  22. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    B6… I am going to get a bee in my bonnet if people keep slating the kid he’s a more mobile Petrov. Westwood has the discipline in his game and awareness that allows other players to make forward runs… If people can’t see the difference he has made in our midfield since taking over the anchor from Karim then I don’t know what you’re watching.

  23. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012

    Welcome to the site Nigel – hope you enjoy your time here.

  24. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    Not overly sure on Herd but I know his application has been erratic at times.

  25. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    There was certainly a logic to the high balls, but they didn’t come off very regularly and you could sense at the ground that things were going to get ugly if we didn’t put one away.

    As you say, thankfully we did and I will take that – points are points are points.

  26. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    With Westwood reported to be on just £10k a week, you can see that there is certainly value in the team.

    Whether the gamble will pay off, we will see.


    The definition of a tackle by Opta is an opposition played displacing a player who has the ball in their possession – with the amount of missed passes in that game, many of the lost balls would have not been counted as “tackles” in stats terms but rather incomplete passes and possession concessions.

  27. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    Ollie has been tied up at work – he will be doing the match preview Saturday.

  28. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    As you say, it is about progress.

    MON bought the same level of player repeatedly, whereas Lambert appears to be building things up incrementally – I say appears as it is too early to know.

    Do I feel happier under Lambert’s guidance than O’Neill’s from a long term perspective? Absolutely, but Lambert has to produce over the course of his contract.

  29. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    Like you imply – points are what is important at this stage.

    Had I not been a season ticket holder and only just gone to that game, I would have found a seat at £47 where I sat as awful value, but I will take more 1-0 wins if it means progress longer term.

  30. The DroydThe Droyd29-11-2012

    “Cattermole or Westwood?

    Gardner or Bannan?

    fairer comparisions….”

    Graham – Definitely closer in terms of class.

    For your comparison, my view is that Cattermole and Gardner as a pair are unquestionably superior to Bannan and Westwood. And also as individual players, Cattermole is better than Westwood and Gardner is better than Bannan.

    I think Westwood is OK but no more than that. You seem to rate him very highly.

    Matt – I’ve heard that although we have addressed the wage bill in terms of overpaid experienced players, we haven’t really learned our lesson in paying over the odds. Herd for instance is on £25,000 a week. Some of these players that have come through the academy are paid rather handsomely in relation to their limited ability.

  31. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    The Arsenal game was a mess because of the pitch – I don’t think anyone can argue with that.

    As for stats and their analyses, you are right that there are no definitive certainties that a long pass is good or bad etc, they must be taken in context.

    Long passes can be effective but when they are not reaching their target and result in conceded possession, they can hardly be ranked as effective.

  32. steamersteamer29-11-2012

    Firstly hello Nigel, if your first post is an example then you will be well worth reading, obviously a student of the game.
    I haven’t seen much of Westwood to be honest, but up to now i would say Graham is on the nail, he seems very intelligent and fills holes all over the MF. Graham mentioned covering other peoples forward runs, AW makes them too, I suppose you could call him functional but whats wrong with that ? PL was a functional player, i don’t think he did badly in his playing career, Ray Wilkins, sorry don’t get me started…..

    Droyd, B6,
    Of all the players, i’d have thought Ireland would have had the invention around the box to take free kicks but he never seems to get on the ball, Vlaar doesn’t mind having a dig, why not let him take them ? or they could play that paper, scissors thing.

    Jasons gone too ?

  33. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    I can just see you now – shall I have custom AVL flat caps to go with the Meldrew look ;)

  34. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012

    PS agree on Ireland Graham – apart from Charlie (who has been too erratic), Ireland is a class apart from most of our squad.

  35. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    droyd, we all have our own tastes in players. To me Cattermole is a loose cannon… someone i wouldn’t trust in the middle of the park…. Westwood is far better on the ball.

    Gardner is a direct player, Bannan has more about his game and can create…

    I see that each players has desirable attributes but as a package I think Bannan and Westwood trump Gardner and Cattermole in every department except for thugishness and physicality.

    I understand the concerns for some muscle, I’ve called out for it my self at times… but there is a time and a place and muscle is completely different to being a thug.

    Westwood will never steal the show, if you’re not watching him rarely will you notice him do anything exciting… but if you actually watch him you will see how much he does. Always talking, always free for the ball… it gives options he creates gaps, he moves players around off the ball…. just watch him he is a smart player.

    Re Wages;
    As i understand it academy players have contracts that go up as they make first team appearances…

  36. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    Hopefully Jason will be back this week but his grandfather died Monday last week so he missed his slot.

    Will see how he is when I catch up with him later.

  37. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012

    Westwood is a solid player – no frills but solid. In fact, he himself said that was how he played when he first joined.

    We need players who just get the job done. Is Westwood as exciting as Ireland or Benteke? No, but he is just as important to the team in my opinion.

    As for playing sideways or backward passes, they are necessary to retain possession when used in context – I would rather play 10 backwards passes in a 50 pass move if we score than keep on trying to play forward at all costs.

  38. The DroydThe Droyd29-11-2012

    Graham – Yes Cattermole is a total thug. That has it’s merits and downsides. He has a great engine and can impose himself. He can pass simply but doesn’t have the range of others. His red card record is appalling.

    Gardner is more of an all round midfielder. Not brilliant at anything but pretty good at everything. Scores goals as well. Shame he is a Bluenose shitbag as he would make a good signing.

    I’m not going to talk about the downsides of Bannan and Westwood any further as I have made my feelings known on that already. It’s still early days for Westwood but I think this is make or break season for Bannan. He has a lot to do to convince.

  39. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012

    PS Graham,

    Thanks for your email about the article you have written – it may go up tomorrow if Jason is unavailable, otherwise it will be on Sunday.

  40. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    Matt… Expecting a reaction lol… #whingingaboutwhingebags

  41. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012


    I had a brief read through it and it is you at your antagonising best mate ;)

  42. HaggisHaggis29-11-2012

    Afternoon Gents. Talking about Gardner does anyone know what is going on with Gary, is he still injured or has he gone out on loan.

    Regarding the weekend match I think we should have a bit more experience and this is my team ( hopefully if fit )

    I honestly think Bent will play in this game whether starting or off the bench Weiman to swap with either Bent or Holmann. I would also like to see Herd, carruthers or even Burke play as there confidence from the Lisbon win could really help us.

  43. B6toBrasilB6toBrasil29-11-2012

    If PL wnts to “get at”QPR then he must target the keeper Cesar he is a clown,although I think Green played at S`Land tuesday,don`t rate either.
    Benteke should give Anton F.a rough ride.

    Steamer Wilkins was nicknamed “The Crab” wasn`t he for his tendency to go sideways?
    Man U,Milan,Rangers.
    Never spectacular but these type of players are necessary.Frustrating to play with though
    seeing players of lesser ability than yourself,as you glided around the sunday leagues in Brum a la Bobby Moore.

  44. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    Haggis Gary Gardner is out injured until March the last i heard… and then it’ll be a month at least before he’s ready to return to full training…

    I do think GG would have established himself next to Westwood this season… giving us this size and physicality many are calling out for along with his ability.

    I would be scared of Hoilett. He is a danger to us.

    Think we’ll Lambert asking Gabby and Weimann to possibly play higher than Benteke this game and ask Benteke to get in the box late and generally be a bully on their DM who will have his attentions diverted from Ireland…. The QPR Fullbacks can’t defend and they play like they’ve never met their CB’s… if Weimann and Gabby can get in no mans land we will take QPR to the cleaners… if ‘Arry sorts that problem out within a week I’ll eat my hat.

    The difficulty will be maintaining a position up the pitch for us to slide those balls for Gabby and Weimann. Fingers cross Vlaar is back… Cisse won’t fancy it, he never does against strong defenders.

  45. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    Lowton Vlaar Clark Stevens
    —Ireland ———-Bannan
    —–Gabby Weimann

  46. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012

    Yes Haggis – Gardner is still out with his injury.

  47. runtingsruntings29-11-2012

    Hi Matt and all

    We have been picking the bones out of every kick , pass and tackle and the information is relivent and useful however i think we are sometimes to quick to judge a bunch of young players that are in the 1st season together and most of which are in there 1st prem season.
    I think our approach to the last game was compleatly different from the approach against the gunners, the two teams played each other recently and Reading banged in 4 so are they really a team we should be able to walk over without batting an eyelid at this stage ?
    My main point thou is it is easy to make a judgement on how good a player is when they are young , in a new team, in a new league but it isnt as easy as we may think to be right about how good they will become as good young players tend to improve when given the right platform to do so as our pretty much whole team is at the moment so what you see before you now is highly unlikely to be what you get in 12 to 18months time for example.
    As a good example Rio F was 18 at the back for west ham with nice passing and rediculous defending at times , 4yrs later he was one of the best defender even players in the world.
    Cahill was at Clarks level when he left as was ridgewell now one is a decent prem player and one is international class

  48. Liam ScahillLiam Scahill29-11-2012

    Well said runtingz but many players are never premier league class or future internationals and from what I’ve seen of Bannan & Westwood which is very little I’m astounded at the amount of fuss & praise they get especially Westwood a mediocre midfielder like Darren Gibson is far better than him. I agree Matt the wages are acceptable and great value but I’m sticking with my Victor Meldrew prediction :) that he will be nothing more than a average squad player in the future and to date has offered nothing as Ricky Tomlinson says organisation my arse :)

  49. runtingsruntings29-11-2012

    I’ll put that down as you buying me a nice bottle of brandy when westwood gets his 1st cap then :)

  50. Liam ScahillLiam Scahill29-11-2012

    A cap of cough medicine maybe ;-)

  51. Graham O'GaraGraham O'Gara29-11-2012

    Organisation my arse…. lol….

    Jock Stein would have something to say about that…lol

    “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society

  52. Liam ScahillLiam Scahill29-11-2012

    I rather Ricky than Jock :-)

  53. Alan DidionAlan Didion29-11-2012


    I haven’t been thrilled with Bannan’s corners either this year (let alone his dreadful free kicks), but I believe Westwood was actually the trigger man on the Benteke game winner vs. Reading. So he’s already ahead of a whole host of past Villans. :)

    Free kicks, I have no idea who should take them. I haven’t seen one with an even vaguely positive result yet.

  54. Finland VillandFinland Villand29-11-2012

    Hello everybody! Greetings from Finland. First time here. I have supported Villa for 41 years now. This is a good site ja i have enjoyed reading your articles and comments!
    Have to say i´m not Peter Enckelman´s relative!

  55. The DroydThe Droyd29-11-2012

    I’m a bit miffed that we don’t seem to have any injury information coming out of the club.

    This young team is doing the best it can but it is in desperate need of some of the injured players returning.

    Does anyone have a clue when N’Zogbia, Herd, Dunne or Bennett are going to be ready to play any 1st team football?

  56. The DroydThe Droyd29-11-2012

    Or Vlaar for that matter?

  57. Finland VillandFinland Villand29-11-2012

    What do you think about N´Zogbias future in the club after he is fit?

  58. Ian GibsonIan Gibson29-11-2012

    Hello Finland Villand :-) Filling up nicely Matt, I can only assume they are all related to you. :-)
    I mentioned late last night that Villa`s month from hell wasn`t as bad as it seemed. Of the 20 teams in the PL, Villa`s November record was better than 12 of them. Not bad.

  59. Ian GibsonIan Gibson29-11-2012

    Hey Finland,
    Hockey and cold weather-two things we have in common. If we get bored we can always talk about Mikka Kiprusov.
    Actually, N`Zogbia is fit but he has dribbled into the front closet at home and is having trouble getting out.

  60. steamersteamer29-11-2012

    Obviously you saw me play then.
    Mike Basset was a better manager than McKnob.
    I first saw Gary Shaw playing for Coleshill Town, you could tell he was class then but when he stepped up to Villa it was obvious he was top draw, great shame about his injuries and the fact that we had a dumb f**k like Bobby Robson as England manager otherwise, like Brian Little, he would have been a good international player. Gordon Cowans was another, who screamed “top player” when you saw him as a lad, they don’t come along often but those three were always destined to play a big part in the history of AVFC.

  61. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012

    A welcome to the site for you Finland – I hope you enjoy your time on here!

  62. Matt TurveyMatt Turvey29-11-2012

    You know me Ian – I always have friends and family who live in every country just for the purpose of filling the site up, hey? ;)

  63. Finland VillandFinland Villand29-11-2012

    IG Hey! Hockey and cold weather, yes! but lets hope we dont get bored. Miikka Kiprusov is a good goalie but i think present situation at villa park gives us something more interesting to write!
    N’Zogbias in the closet……..oh no. Is Dunne there also?

  64. Ian GibsonIan Gibson29-11-2012

    I think so as his big butt is hanging out the doors.

  65. Alan DidionAlan Didion29-11-2012

    Greetings Finland,

    I went to university in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the States and the locals were all of Finnish extraction. Like Ian above, the loval Finns and I had hockey and drinking in common. It was too cold for anything else.

  66. bibulusbibulus29-11-2012

    More fans of hockey and drinking – tremendous. What does this say about the site?
    Just wanted to agree with those such as runtingz and ian in particular that the younger centre half’s have ample time to learn more of their trade and improve massively though like steamer agree with it being easier for offensive players to shine early in their careers.
    Also yes chicago i too believe it was westwood who delivered the set piece goal – just had to double check we actually scored from a set piece then (and i was only 20 rows back from it!)