Good lord…Aston Villa find themselves in virtually uncharted territory following Tuesday night’s victory to continue our perfect 2018. Five wins in five, I think, thanks to Robert Snodgrass’s 90th-minute winner in what Blades fans will almost certainly consider a smash-and-grab. But Villans won’t care a bit how the 1-0 win over Sheffield United came about. All that counts is that it did.

The Good
Rather obvious: another win, another clean sheet, another three points. Which is obviously all you can ask for in any outing, home or away. Fifth consecutive win for the first time in 20 years. A bit of luck. Some great saves. And a team that didn’t cave or stop trying to find a winner.

Robert Snodgrass continued his emergence as a goal-scoring contributor, cutting in from the right to curl a fantastic shot inside the far post. Villa were delirious, the supporters went mental, and Sheffield were shattered.

For me, what really counted, though, was simply finding a way to win. So many matches turn on an individual moment of brilliance. And Villa should and do have players capable of producing them. That we somehow managed to keep a victory within reach—even though the long layoff seemed to have bogged the side down a bit—was truly encouraging as well. Individual moments don’t matter very much when you’re down two- or three-nil.

The Bad
As stated, Villa weren’t sharp. They did have energy and desire, and kept at it, but the Blades certainly had the better chances, and more of them. Jack Grealish was limited in influence, Conor Hourihane seemed a bit lost, and Birkir Bjarnason and Sam Johnstone being the standout players pretty much tell you the game wasn’t going our way. The woodwork came to our rescue early, though, and it turned out to be a sign of how the night was going to go for Sheffield. They’d come out to win, but it just didn’t seem to be on the cards.

The Ugly
I’m not really seeing anything, to be honest. The stats weren’t great, we probably should’ve lost. But we didn’t. So, no ugly. Or beautiful ugly. I dunno.

Final Verdict
Villa are finally looking up for it week-in week-out, and the largely settled side is coming together as a team. We all know we won’t look great every time out. We all know that finding a way and will to win in spite of that is critical.

It’s also critical that the goal-scoring burden has been distributed. Largely reliant on individual moments from Jonathan Kodjia last season, Villa are now getting goals from more players. Sometimes this adds up to five on the day. Sometimes just one. But you’re a lot harder to beat when you have more than one credible threat. Adomah can score from the left (though he seems to have been relegated to more of a supporting role of late). Hogan can suddenly do it up front in the middle, and Snodgrass is now contributing from the right. So, try to mark out the in-form man and maybe you’re just picking your poison. Teams seem wise to Grealish’s inside cut and curler, but it draws attention. And if Jack starts finding the mark…well, that’s a lot of scoring threats to account for. And with Hourihane and even Bjarnason chipping in, there seems to be at least one goal in the side on any given day.

Further back, Bjarnason has been a bit of a revelation at DM, and perhaps the footballing gods finally smiled on us when what seemed like more adversity was in fact a silver lining. Largely forgotten, the Icelander stepped in when Whelan was felled by the flu and Jedinak had yet another niggle. And just like Uncle Albert, he’s made the most of the opportunity. While Bruce may not have come to certain decisions fully on his own, he’s been smart enough to stick with what’s working. And Bjarnason has been working well enough that even highly touted Axel Tuanzebe didn’t get the debut he’d seemingly been guaranteed. Faster and more mobile now at the DM position, Villa have a very hard-working midfielder who’s making life easier on the back four, as well as those looking to get forward with less fear of being caught out. If Tuanzebe is an upgrade, well, I like the sound of that.

There are a number of other things I could point out, but I’ll just leave it alone for the most part. I’m getting happier by the week, and I think it’s good for all of us that Steve Bruce is less and less the focus. Naturally we’ll lose again, or drop points from a winning position. But we’re truly up in the mix now as we’re playing well enough against the sides around us to stay there. If Villa can remain focused and take care of business against the league’s lesser lights, games like Tuesday’s will ultimately be the difference.

Over to you.

Comments 60

  1. Excellent summary of the match John.
    You are right in that we need every player on the pitch to chip in with goals if only to keep the opposition mystified as to which one to mark.

    At the moment they concentrate on Adomah, Grealish and Snodgrass and try to close out JT and Chester at set pieces. Potentially this might leave the door open for one of the rest to pinch a goal.
    This should come from the midfield.

    I feel a lot happier today than I did a week or so ago but, as you say, we will lose the odd game that we should have won before mid-May

  2. Clive,

    Good to see you back! I wonder why you were unhappy a week ago, but I’ll let that go … that’s now history!


    Yes, a good summary. We did ‘steal’ that match but we did also keep them out of the penalty area for most of the second half – though we nearly came unstuck on one or two occasions. Johnstone is good isn’t here, in keeping shots out.

    Am a bit unhappy that Albert has to now just plod down the wing. He seems to have lost something and it may well call for Green’s return. Well, the future’s Green anyway so let him have his head, I say.

  3. good post,,, firstly we need to win the next 2 or 3 games just to keep it going,,,,
    few points that i picked up,,,
    onoma looked a bit suspect defending when he came on,,, and adoma looks like he has lost a bit of fizz recently,
    hogan not supplied with anything decent,, and there not picking up his runs grealish impeticular
    hurihane was a bit anonymous at times,,, and they had many chances,,, two of which beat the keeper,,,
    snodgrasses goal papered over what really was an ineffective performance and we need to work out how to change it when games happen like against united
    and corners,,,, again we nearly concede another from a corner,,, need to be better on these
    3 points though really really important,, keeps the ball rolling andkeeps the pressure on derby and cardif

  4. Thanks JC just about how I saw the whole shebang. In tight games we have that quality to pinch one if we can keep pushing forward and not settle and sit back Thors quick turnaround helps enormously. I think this is where Grabban will fit in with that quick counter style, not sure he’s a grafter though to continue the pressing we have seen. We have also become dangerous at corners all of a sudden with them being whipped in, Grabban could provide a few goals there, if we had connected with a few of those on tues then who knows, Sheffield defended well though.

    There nothing wrong in us swapping out some like for likes to provides rest but we actually had a longer rest than normal this week and some looked worse off. I think it was more Sheff utds pressing, I do think Ohare instead of Onamah has to become a option and wheelan has to give way on the bench too now for Green, that bench looked very matey and Grabben will be sat on it too next game what then?

    JL- what happened to that Karma? 😉

  5. Thanks for the accurate reporting, JC.
    I enjoyed watching the highlights Clive sent. The team has learned to win tight games. Great to see JG not giving up on helping out defensively.

  6. MK

    The bench did betray SB’s motives. It was very defensive in make up wasn’t it. Seems he was quite happy to take a point. Don’t know much about Grabban except as you say he’ll take up a place on the bench to the detriment of our youth lads.

    The Blades worked very hard for each other and it was no surprise that their energy levels would ease during the 2nd half. Their players visibly wilted when Snoddy scored.

    Next up the Brewers. They will park the bus so as in previous type games an early goal will help greatly. We need to be on our A game for this match or we’ll catch a cold. Hope they get enough points to stay up but not this weekend mind.

  7. its no easy place to go to brammell lane. was never going to have it our own way.

    I fear Fulham. they have brought very well last night, mitrovic and Christie 2 excellent signings and they are on fire at the moment, hitting form at the right time.

    They are my favs to go up via playoffs.

    we need 2nd!

  8. Just picked up the following comment from a Blades blog site:

    Hutton was his usual knob-ish self; feigning injuries but then kicking people when it suited him. How has he had a career at top level for so long is beyond me? An awful schitt house player.

    Love it!! Hutton had already gone up in my esteem with his performances at LB. Now he’s gone up even more as he’s peeing off the opposition fans.

  9. Cheers, all…

    Plug: Hutton’s one I’d hate to play against. He’s reined in some of his more outrageous challenges, but he does have a nasty side and I wouldn’t cross him.

  10. JL,

    Johnstone is a very good shot stopper. He’s young, obviously, and would love it if we could get back up and sign him permanently. He’ll grow into the other bits of keeping he’s not as strong at yet.

  11. Dave,

    I’d have to watch again (was in a very distracting environment), so I’m not sure why, as you rightly point out, we weren’t doing what we had been. Was it more us or them responsible for that?

  12. Hoping Grabban can hit the ground running…maybe he’s just insurance in the end. If he needs a big man, then maybe there’s a double switch when we need a change with him and Davis coming on.

  13. MK: “what happened to that Karma? “

    Please look back and re-read what I said! 😉

    I was talking about the degree of difficulty Villa have always had against the Blades … they’ve traditionally given us a tough time. And on Tuesday I think we had another tough time. I think we only had two shots on goal the entire match and they came very close to winning, a long time before Snoddy struck.

    So, the karma was and is still there in my book.

  14. JC- Don’t know if you noticed but when the goal went in thor was the furthest man forward, he made a run into the box from deep. I wonder whether a combo of him and jedinak or him and Axle might emerge?

    Grabban is a funny one if he needs a foil to play off, suggests he won’t win many headers and going on the bench what chance him and Davis will be on it at the same time?

  15. JL- I don’t need to re-read it JL and thats a cop out if ever I heard one 😉

    I cannot see how a fixture between two clubs can have Karma when it could involve the Karma of two entirely new sets of people playing, managing and maybe even at director level and even fans, besides that our results have been pretty good against them since the 70’s, I suppose it depends on how Karma comes about and is supposed to work? on that I have no Knowledge so I bow to your wisdom on that.

  16. Good summary JC,

    The interesting thing when the Jedi came on, was that he signalled to Thor, that he push further forward, so it was to put pressure on the “Blades” rather than sit and defend.

    Grabban coming in, is probably as much to do with JG, in case he is injured, or needs to be subbed, as Lewis is comfortable playing a no10 role, as well. Bruce probably feels that O’Hare is ok, but not quite ready for some of the rough and tumble, and also does not want to risk injury to him. Perhaps the reason behind some of the loan players, is to avoid injury to our own, hence the use of Onomah.

    I get the feeling Dr Tony is more interested in offloading as many players as he can, so that in the summer, if we have won promotion, we can build a Premiership side worthy of the new Aston Villa, at the same time, taking into account the crop of very bright potential we have in our under 23’s.

  17. mark

    sounds strange but bogey sides do exist theres lots of instances where so and so hasn’t won at such and such ground for years. like you say even though in all that time players etc have come and gone.

    think I read the other week man city haven’t won at anfield for 40 years!

  18. Mark, Paul…

    Good point about Bjarnason. I didn’t see Jedi telling him to get forward. Very interesting sub, then, and hats off to SB. Probably not quite what Sheffield would have expected…

  19. paul

    defo. they are very keen for the u23 to progress.

    think the doc said month or so again he was thinking how good it will be to see them in the prem!

    re assuring keith said they are planning summer already, prem or championship scenerios.

    if still in champ id imagine a fair few u23 being about

  20. MK: “I cannot see how a fixture between two clubs can have Karma when it could involve the Karma of two entirely new sets of people playing, managing …”

    Then perhaps a real study of the word karma and what it really means might help?

    I think you’ll find that ‘us lot’ (Westerners) believe it means something that it doesn’t. Like ‘yoga’.

    As I said before, the Blades have traditionally given us a lot of trouble. Fact. And if you don’t want me to use the word ‘karma’ to describe as the cause then so be it. I’m not fussed. 😉

  21. So, you think you’ve been naughty eh. Hanging out with stormy Daniels?

    Charlie Brown oozes karma. Nothing but a word to keep the weak believing in good luck

  22. Ian
    I don’t know about Stormy Daniels, but Karma isn’t a thing, but a descriptive term for the coming together of many, many causes & conditions in the present, which manifest as individual or group patterns.
    Luck or coincidence doesn’t come into it, & ‘It’ doesn’t ‘make’ anybody do or believe anything that they haven’t the tendency, pattern or propensity for, despite what we would like to believe to make us feel better.
    If one has a propensity to be a footballer for instance [or anything else], one has a choice.
    Whether this choice is based on wisdom, stupidity, ignorance, greed, cravings or a mixture of all of them being influenced by the events of the moment, is where motives come from, which then create causes & conditions in time to further muddy the water by giving the illusion of control in the personal & shared experience we call the present.
    That’s why it’s called the American Dream I suppose.
    Family Guy is a good example.

  23. Stormy Daniels is an adult movie actor who had a supposed fling with Trump right after his son was born in 2006.
    John said he was naughty. I just put two and two together. 🙂

    I always thought that karma was future good fortune arising from present good behaviour. Sort of a self generated “pay it forward”

  24. Ian- My mate wife really does believe in Karma and follows a Japanese religion but they are Going through divorce and naturally as she’s spiritual the bad Karmas all his 🙂

    I have terrible Karma with the lottery

  25. Ian: “I always thought that karma was future good fortune arising from present good behaviour. Sort of a self generated “pay it forward”

    I’m afraid you’re illustrating what I said above about “us lot” not understanding these philosophical terms properly. Like most things they tend to get misinterpreted as they go through the “Chinese Whispers” process.

    The definition of ‘karma’ is pretty well as IanG gave it, but to get the total meaning actually means practising the philosophy – then it’s full meaning makes sense.

  26. The question: When was the last time we won 5 straight wins?

    Here it is. c/o Vital Villa and Rob Bishop, and it was also the last time we won 6 and then 7 on the trot!

    1989-90 (under GT)
    Tue Dec 26 Division 1 Man United Home Won 3-0 (Olney, Gage, Platt)
    Sat Dec 30 Division 1 Arsenal Home Won 2-1 (Mountfield, Platt) (Adams)
    Mon Jan 1 Division 1 Chelsea Away Won 3-0 (Daley, Gage, Platt)
    Sat Jan 13 Division 1 Charlton Ath Away Won 2-0 (Mountfield, OG)
    Sat Jan 20 Division 1 Sthampton Home Won 2-1 (Daley, Gage) (Cockerill)
    Sat Feb 10 Division 1 Sheff Weds Home Won 1-0 (Platt)
    Wed Feb 21 Division 1 Spurs Away Won 2-0 (Ormondroyd, Platt)

    Read more:

  27. Mark
    ‘My mate wife really does believe in Karma and follows a Japanese religion but they are Going through divorce and naturally as she’s spiritual the bad Karmas all his ‘

    Always the same isn’t it.

    Yes been watching msnbc cable news today, playing up isn’t she [the stormy], on Jimmy Kimmel
    Hard to say what actually is going to sink the orange titanic here

  28. Ian
    For light relief on your continent I recommend steve bell cartoons of trump in the on line guardian at:https: // www. theguardian. com/profile/stevebell, & laughter always makes pain more bearable.

  29. Ian
    Mind you, there was one usa art gallery that refused to give Trump a Goya I think it was, that he requested for his use, & offered a used working solid gold toilet instead.
    Proof that there’s still life there somewhere.

  30. JL- Don’t know much about Karma as I said but I have heard of the Akashi Records? which I thought is a repository of your acts and how they played out on an emotional level thats why I wonder about a fixture having a life of its own as such. No I’m not uncomfortable with it either so carry on 😉

  31. I said “Here it is. c/o Vital Villa and Rob Bishop, and it was also the last time we won 6 and then 7 on the trot!”

    I misled you a bit … the last time we had five straight wins was in early 1998 under John Gregory.

    *Then* we go back to 1989-90 for the last time we had 6 and then 7 on the trot.

    In 1974-75 we finished the promotion season with 8 straight wins.

  32. MK: “thats why I wonder about a fixture having a life of its own as such”

    Related to the individual it can be interpreted as such, but we know that everything that takes place is inter-related, so therefore there is cumulative karma which determines evolution or devolution.

    That’s why it’s important to keep positive, to influence evolution. And the more positive the better.

  33. Grabban unlikely to be in the squad tomorrow due to fitness issues. Can’t see SB changing the team but there is surely going to be changes on the bench. Against the Brewers we are not going to need so many defensive players and it should have an attacking look to it.

    If he does change the team he might swap Hourinhane for AT. Then again he might not. We need an early goal.

  34. JL- thanks for that explanation, I like the idea we can evolve or Devolve certainly could do with some positive environment and farming changes.

    Burton have beaten a few of their relegation rivals and got a draw at Brentford and a 1-0 loss at Derby. They got Hammered at Fulham 6-0 last away game indeed lost their last 4 so we should see some goals tomorrow and add to the -33 goal difference they have, 51 away from ours at 18

    Its a 3-0 from me Hogan Grealish and JT

  35. What’s happening….

    A whole day has passed, and not a single comment…..has the world ended, or is everyone still in dreamland with Vila winning 5 on the trot.

  36. pp i,m here. u timed that well!

    Evening all, Malt Friday’s rolled around quick!

    I see the ” Karma Police” are in townm “no alarms and no surprises”, please!

    I Bumped in to my friend Glen Morangie, a hour or 2 ago, he’s in town after meeting up with 4-5 coors light! Good friends to help the steam outm afer a randon work week!

    The moods defo better on here in the last week, thats good to see, we all want villa to be pissing all over everyone else, (footbal wise, not like trump and russian hookers! lol ) ala barcalona, maybe in the future it could happen, there’s been flippant talk of moving parliemnt to brum in sky news this week Maybe the good Dt xia and his 2nd cities, companies and comonwealth games plans that Keith wyness alluded to are the real deal.

    Speaking of Keith did anyone see the fooking hilarious amazon alexis/ lewis grabban twitter video he did! man that was funny!

    Currently watching the brizzle bolt-on game , its ok, but not much to write home about. Brizzle look like they shot their load beating the manc utd, in the lemondade cup, (and obviously after we tonked them 5-0 ). They appear to be struggling to stay in the race. looks 0-0 to me.

    Prediction for tomorow villa 3-0 against burton , i’ll go with what the consensus was on Radio wm.

    i have to say with regards to Brucie, he’s may now have got his ” bonus” with agnew arriving , arf arf !

    Tonight was another night to teach the lil uns about music. i did start with the Best of The Doors, but fook me bolton 1-0 brizzle losing !

  37. rogermuffin
    Yeah now it’s Cardiff’s turn to implode, especially as they have a game in hand.
    Can’t see Derby doing that just yet, but there’s always hope.
    3-0 why not go with the flow
    Karma police? Where are they playing?

  38. What’s all this stuff about Karma? Has JL been talking about the Vedic Sutras?
    I’m looking forward to the Burton game. Hopefully for us the other teams around falter. Good to see the good vibes on here.

  39. Hi Trinity
    ‘What’s all this stuff about Karma?’

    Mostly fashion if you ask me mate, as JL said, that you have to experience it to really understand it [probably not a popular thing to say], & it’s like me using sailboats as a fashionable subject when I have no understanding of how to sail & that I’ve never experienced sailing.
    You wouldn’t want me writing an instruction manual on sailing, a disaster in the making.

    Looking forward to the game also, & interesting to see if they wake up before half time in this match.
    I would imaging that SB will have wound them up so they spring out of the trap.
    The staff will have learnt a lot by the way that they sometimes need to be treated like children as a group, without the ability to self motivate so much as a group, even if many are not like that individually.
    With the fixtures in Feb & march, we have the opportunity to really rack up the points & Goal Difference at crucial times, while the others except wolves have quite a few more hurdles at awkward times .
    The longer we keep this winning run going & an unbeaten run, the more pressure goes back to Derby & Cardiff, & Bristol City are fading fast currently.
    Wolves seem to already to have gone past that hurdle & are out on their own, so lets hope that we beat them at VP & that they become complacent, as that would put the cat amongst the pigeons.

  40. IanG: “as JL said, that you have to experience [karma] to really understand it [probably not a popular thing to say]”

    Better to say it as it is in my view! 😉

    “The staff will have learnt a lot by the way that they sometimes need to be treated like children as a group, without the ability to self motivate so much as a group, even if many are not like that individually.

    Hear, hear! It’s certainly been a lot more heartening to see the determination these past few weeks to keep on playing to the final whistle. It almost wants me to belt out that wonderful old theme song “Keep Right On To The End Of The Road!” … except that it’s owned by our Blews friends! But their “End” (and karma!) is somewhat different to Villa’s!

  41. Was chatting to a Stoke fan friend of mine yesterday who’s ‘enjoying’ not losing under Lambert.
    He described his style as “binary football”
    I asked what that was. . . . . “0-0 1-0 0-1 1-1”

    Remember what that was like?

    I guess if it keeps them in the premiership he’ll have done his job though.

  42. Nigel Clough is coming in for a lot of stick after saying that our bench would beat them, the way they’re playing.
    I guess with today and the game against Derby being the ‘games of the season’ for most of their fans, he’s just trying to take the pressure off a bit

    In their other ‘derby’ game they held out till the 81st minute and nearly won it just prior to that.

    Yes of course we ‘should’ win today but they’ll be hardworking and organised and we’ll probably need a ‘Snoddy special’ type goal again. Be good if it happened early in the game though!

    Oh . . . . and of course there’s the Darren Bent homecoming debut to think about too!

  43. I think it will be a case of if we get one we will get more as long as we don’t leave it to late. I don’t care if they pack the defence we have the players (especially Grealish) to drive at the defence if pact or find the right delivery. I would like to see Ohare involved or RHM (but unlikely to) for that reason both nippy and able to take players on in a pact area.

    Typical of Bolton to win 1-0 last night they are no pushovers at the moment and especially at home, a potential banana skin for all the teams at the top just like Millwall away.

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