Big game. No Jack. Other players fit. Let’s see how Smith adapts to this one.

I’d like to see BB starting instead of Whelan or Jedi, but I’ve no idea about his fitnesss levels. Beyond that, team sort of picks itself.

Over to you.

Comments 102

  1. 4 hours plus before the kick-off

    It’s pretty mild in Brum and I suppose a cloud of uncertainty about what’s to happen today.

    It’s really a match that Villa need to win to keep well in touch with the top, but if it’s a draw I’ll not be too surprised. I certainly don’t expect Leeds to win it.

  2. Robbo

    Yeah a few well placed people reckon axel is back at Utd getting treatment. Maybe rumours but one equally well placed person said he hasn’t heard anything but if so reckons bree will play. Smith a big fan. Jack looks like a while, club just don’t want to say!

  3. Looking forward to today’s big game. I think Villa need to win this game, not from a mathmatical view but for the psychological benefits having drawn a few on the trot.
    Sounds like Jack won’t be back for 6-9 weeks. BB has been cleared for the match, but yes, lack of match fitness, especially at this stage of the season will probably tell.
    I’m normally wrong, but I’ll go for Villa 3-2.

  4. Tough one to call, we have to much going on on the injury table and smiths to savvy to ever admit defeat publicly. I’m going to leave out the predictions as we are unlikely to know the team before 12.30. Tough game to be weakened in but thats the way the cookie crumbles.

  5. JC- Quick one about Global warming, in geological terms we should be in an ice age, there are theories that mankinds cutting and burning of trees plus agriculture has interfered with that cycle preventing it. May even be that even so we nearly went into one before we started burning coal over wood in homes, the time lines is around 1750 the little ice age, caused by volcanic action.

    Tricky part if true is which poison do you want? ice or floods? what is Earths Normal? for a very long time the seas were much higher until this cycle of ice ages hit, maybe because CO2 had gotten to low, Its a very complex picture and either direction will have problems.

  6. Well, no Tuanzebe, & codger swapped instead of EG.
    Bree in & Revan on the bench for the defence
    And Davis & the viking on the bench, along with Albert

  7. Just looks like sensible use of the known fit players, what it will turn out like is anyones I’d take that draw but we may just have one of those days when the chances are taken.

  8. so far so good, Kodjia on it and their left back is a late change, we look like scoring every time we get in their box, that just hasn’t been often 🙂

  9. Smith needs to sign 4 new defenders and soon.

    Elmowankady is totally incompetent, along with Hutton. 7 goals in 3 games and plenty more to follow every single time they step onto the field

    Anyway, have a great Christmas everyone

  10. The Match

    Leeds tactic was obviously to spoil any football of ours and then play their own football.

    I don’t actually rate them very highly, but we were just not man enough to cope with them, especially with no-one able to control the play and the defence as it is.

    As I said a few weeks ago, we were then to be tested against Albion and Leeds and we have failed against both, though to be noted that both sides have played it rough.

    Despite what JC says, we are short of players who can control a match, and against the likes of sides like this to be short of short players is going to our downfall unless it can be rectified in January.

  11. Elphick is also a calamitous defender who will ship plenty of goals. Villa will be lucky to make the top 6.

    As I said when Smith took over, it will take at least 2 transfer windows to form a reasonable squad.

    Villa have no backbone in the middle of the park that can resist a team that wake up and press hard as Leeds did. I agree with J.L. that Leeds were mediocre, as were Norwich when we played them in a similar match of blunders.

    This is the poorest EFL for 2 seasons and Villa still can’t make an impression.

  12. Cheer up chaps its not like we didn’t know about our weak points, at least we have started using our strengths. We have just played a sequence of 8 games against teams that are above us and lost 1! I’d have taken that in November considering where we were, and lets face it we deserved more.

    Plenty to play for over the next two months and when we face the top teams again we should be stronger. Leeds and Norwich have now got a similar run as we have just had.

    Maybe a step to far last couple of games without Jack and others not being fit to cover etc plus same defensive probs hoping for 6 points before new keeper comes in and whatever else the window brings.

    Anyhow happy xmas everyone onwards to the Swansea game and lets hope we get Jack back in soon.

  13. MK,

    Au contraire, some people on here have previously been bigging up the Villa team, lauding its classic play and being full of expectancy against even the “mighty” Leeds.

    But it’s been proved that with a couple of key players out we are not in a very good shape. But I agree that Smith is likely to get it sorted with a couple of astute signings and the return of Elphick won’t be a bad thing.

    Whether we will make the play-offs now is a moot point, but at least we can give it a try, and if we win our next 2 games this week the mood will change completely. However, I expect two more draws, or a win and a draw at best.

  14. JL- Bigging them up quite rightly when justified, we have always known that we have few defenders and that smith is performing a balancing act until he gets his own players in. So I can’t see anything for you to claim victory for JL 😉

  15. Disappointed but not lost heart ,we have shown we can score goals under Smith, so when he gets a couple defenders to go with keeper maybe we won’t need to score 3/4 goals per match,because in fairness it’s the usual culprits that’s giving away goal after goal

  16. JG
    We need the midfield sorting without Jack as well. but the defence is light weight.
    We need 2 full backs, as that seems to be where the problems are when the going gets tough, as well as cover for the CBs.
    Elmo is not the future, with 3 goals coming from his mistakes in the last 2 games, any more than Hutton.
    Bree will learn a lot from this match, especially as he is a full back not a CB, but he has a future if he progresses.
    The miles of space we gave them on the wings was embarrassing, but Nyland played well.
    Now the hard work begins

  17. Excellent start by Villa, but it was not to last, as we should have tightened up for the second half with a great 2 goal cushion, but perhaps not Dean’s way, and it cost us.

    Leeds never stopped and continued to fight and got their rewards, but we will be better, and have a decent squad to rely on.

    Great to see Brian Little in the Aston Tavern afterwards signing his book!!

  18. James

    Yeah pretty sure. Very good source who is sure. 3 month each out.

    Can’t help feeling a bit down over smith not playing o hara and playing welen. Feels like he is going against himself? You look at Breslau at Leeds just keeps playing how he wants and chucks kids in.

  19. MK: “So I can’t see anything for you to claim victory for JL”

    That actually is not a pleasant comment. The last thing I have on my mind is about any personal victory. I only try to look at what is, not what we think it might be. Smith’s situation is clearly a work in progress, but some seemed to think that the Messiah had arrived and that glory was around the corner. But it’s not quite so.

    I hope for Villa’s success as much as any fan, but I’m also ready to accept what the CEO said – that there’s no assumption of promotion this season. And I rather suspect that we may well miss it, though if it is achieved I’ll be as chuffed as anyone. Except I’d rather see us go up as champions.

  20. MK,

    In fact I very much admire Smith’s approach and his demeanour. The manager obviously has the capability of going far and I do hope that he achieves that with Villa.

    But there is work to be done, and bringing in new players doesn’t always work straight away. Hence my doubt about promotion this time. Half the season has already gone and we’re halfway in the table. That’s a lot to make up.

  21. MArk, I agree completely that we shouldn’t be too downhearted about today . . . . . even though it’s tough even to type that when a decent result has been snatched from us at the death.
    I was wanting us to slow things down the way Leeds were and accept one point, but that’s not Dean Smith’s way and I can’t help have a grudging respect for him having that approach to the game.

  22. I reckon the constant criticism of both full backs is overdone and boring.
    Both Elmo and Hutton had off days today but if you’re going to criticise the full backs every time a goal is scored from the wings then every single full back in every single division in every single country is going to be criticised
    The fact is that a high proportion of goals come from the wings.
    It doesn’t mean that every full back is rubbish.

    Look . . . . I’m not saying that either of our full backs is a world beater by any means but criticising them every time a goal comes from their wing is just lazy thinking.

  23. R0bb0,

    Elmo was dreadful for the first goal. Leeds lad walked past him as if he didn’t exist. It has to be said.

    I blame Nyland for 2nd. He should have come off his line. El Ghazi was a disaster. I don’t think he could have played worse. I’m surprised Albert didn’t get a 20 min run out. At least he can run with the ball and hold it up.

    On a positive I thought Whelan had a great game. Surprised he was taken off. Tammy is a stud, by far our best player. I would like to see Keinan/Hogan play #9 with Tammy and Bolasie on the wings.

    And surely we have an u23 full back that deserves a chance

  24. Gary Cahill just turned 33. We should bring him in on a 2 year contract. How about Victor Moses and Danny Drinkwater as well. All 3 are allowed to leave in Jan

  25. Villamd . . . agreeing with everything you said there.

    One other comment on fullbacks. Dean smith’s style of play is going to leave us more exposed in defence so if we want this style of play . . . and I think we all do, then there’s going to be the occasional rough with the smooth.
    We should still look for improvements in some positions but if it’s In the full back positions let’s not pretend that we won’t still be seeing goals being conceded from our wings.

  26. Andrew
    It was all over fb last night about axle and Jack being out,plenty people in the know,bit of a s**tter having to replace 2 of better players never mind 2 fb a ch and a defensive sort of midfielder cause as well as Whelan did today gives nothing going forwards

  27. I also like Evertons defensive midfielder – Beni Baningime. He’s not going to get a game for Everton so might as well loan him out. I’ve a feeling with our Spanish scout that it will be 2-3 players from abroad. Jan is not a time to sign foreign players as it takes too long to settle.

    Great to hear DS say new goalie has great distribution with BOTH feet. When is the last time we had a great goalie? I think Norwich will flip yet and we’ll get 2nd. Leeds will win it with an average team.

    If anyone follows NFL, my Baltimore Ravens are coming good at the right time. 5-1 record from last 6 games after a poor start.

  28. R0bb0,

    Agreed, with the way DS wants to play our fb’s will get attacked. That’s why I feel we should have 2 young lads that can run in those positions. Just let them support our wingers. Our new goalie will make a huge difference. Just watch the back 5 get better. It’ll be like what Liverpool’s new goalie has done.

    For me Bree is not going to make it. I used to be a big fan of Elmo, but he’s too old. Hutton is fine for backup.

  29. James Gill,

    I’m not a Whelan fan either, but he was decent today. I hope Jack injury is not that bad. He’s the one player that can hold up the ball and draw a foul…..slow down the game when we’re winning

  30. What a choker – but I must say Whelan had a good game up to the point where his old legs started to complain, along with a few moaners on here.
    I was thinking that 2-0 at half-time was not enough and that 2-2 would have been a fair result and then Elmo lost the plot. We have to accept that our players are human and mistakes happen even if they cost us.
    The next post-window months will show how we shape up and, let’s face it, we were not seriously expecting to go up this season.
    Sorting out a longer term-deal with Tammy, integrating the new keeper and getting some strength into the defence would be the way forward – but what do I know?

  31. Clive- I don’t think anyone was expecting much after our start to the season but the possibility remains as the league is wide open. Smith has had 11 games and ten of those teams are in the present top 12, we have lost to the present top two and in both games should of at least shared the points. Thats a hell of a run when compared to the early season games and only 5 points off the play offs.

    Myself I would like smith to have had two seasons sorting us out before promotion but would take it for the financials even if it means we come back down with parachute money and progress that way.

    Your right players make mistakes and that leads to goals but rarely have I seen so many basic errors made. Neither elmo nor Hutton know how to face up to a winger, there body angle is all wrong. Twice yesterday Wheelan who is slow as showed them how to do it.

    I’m hoping this keeper can have a big influence in a peter schmeichel kind of way, One thing I know about Smith is his preference for players with the right attitude above any attribute, so the players that come in may be of greater effect than we think. First thing he has to do is form a spine for the team which we sorely lack.

    Unfortunately the news about Jack and Tuenzabe might scupper top two chances, most auto promoted teams have a strong contingent that play 35-40 games and those two players needed to be in there.

  32. On why we missed Jack and Tuanzebe, Jack is obvious as someone said earlier he buys us time and gives us many chances at set pieces and often demands more than one players attention, also has a very good engine on him. mostly though he’s a ball carrier and bloody good at it.

    Tuanzebe is missed because he gives us pace at the back and is reasonable in the air and cool on the ball. A big miss for us though is his ball carrying skills into midfield which often sets up our attacks, with Wheelan at DM and no Tuanzebe we lacked a vital component to our game.

    It will be tough to replace these two with similar, they are both fairly unique.

  33. MK: “Neither elmo nor Hutton know how to face up to a winger”

    Though I agree that Elmo is fallible, I think yesterday he was in nervous mode. He was standing off Clarke (the scorer of the first) clearly because he didn’t want to give away a penalty as he did last week. For the third goal he could have back-headed out for a corner or towards the byline, so I can only assume he was not in a right frame of mind to do what he did.

    As for Hutton I disagree somewhat. I still have that memory of he skilfully playing Adama out of the game vs Boro in the play-offs. He deserved great praise i.m.o. for that and does pretty well on the whole. He gave Elmo quite a bit of stick for that first goal yesterday. What he said to Elmo for the second he presented Leeds I’d hate to imagine!

  34. I think the whole team was standing off too much, which led to the 3rd goal.
    If we are supposed to defend as a team, I don’t think that means standing off as a team.
    It shows our lack of coherent depth, & it’s going to take some time.
    But we’re going in the right direction.

  35. JL- 1st half we went narrow and coped quite well with leeds, second half they made changes and overloaded the FB’s which we didn’t cope with. Elmo just isn’t very physical and can be positionally poor like Hutton who is at least Physical. Hutton could easily have gave away two pens yesterday though. I hope the new Keeper and hopefully a quality CB and maybe Elphick back will make our six yard box less of a free for all.

    I agree with IanG second half we just were not in their faces, There may be reasons for that such as we were probably playing the fittest team in the league, Belsa is well known for 3 times day training etc. We maybe just could not keep it up and with our ball carriers missing we had little respite.

  36. MK,

    Don’t really agree. The reality is that Leeds played spoiling tactics – as Fulham did in the play-off final – especially in the second-half.

    They got away with a lot as Dean Smith indicated.

    Not saying that Villa played well – they didn’t.

  37. JL- Don’t really agree with which bit? They certainly did commit many professional fouls yesterday and that helps when you are potentially about to go 3-0 down. Saddens me that the ref saw fit to allow it to rumble on all game, certainly wasn’t the reason why we lost though, just a contributor.

    Leeds have been on the high tempo path with Belsa since the summer, they are also younger generally so makes sense that they are more adapted than us.

  38. Hmmmmm…… this is a Belsa quote from earlier in the season 🙂

    “I prefer to lose rather than cheat or play tricks,” he answered, diplomatically avoiding a choice.

    “I prefer beautiful football to over-pragmatic football. Playing well brings you closer to triumph. I don’t think we can claim playing badly is a way to win.”

  39. This is well worth a read about Belsa who Steamer wanted a few seasons back, there are similarities to Smith in him and their philosophies. Read into him when he got mentioned with Leeds and he hasn’t disappointed so far.

    “Playing the Bielsa way involves expressive, offensive football that forces your opponent to surrender possession as quickly as possible. His sides are determined to press from the start, either pressuring from the front forwards or when the opposition enter the middle third of the pitch. Players will man-mark high up the pitch and adapt their formation to stifle each opponent. Bielsa taught his Bilbao players how to synchronise their movement and out-run their oppositions.

    The Argentine prefers a combination of relentless pressing, tireless workrate and intelligent positioning. Essentially his sides are set up to operate at a maximum defensive and offensive intensity, adopting a system that has brought about electrifying football at pace. His players are expected to outrun their opponents and constantly interchange with each other, completing fluid passing combinations as they progress further up the pitch.”

  40. MK,

    It all sounds like a lot of tosh to me. Talking of beautiful football but in practice based on spoiling tactics which you call “professional fouls”.

    Sorry, outright pushing and pulling tactics to stop a player getting through is not the way football should be played.

    It makes the above quotes belong to a coach of a different era – that’s not what I saw yesterday, (in getting the ball off their oppo0nents) and if we regularly started playing like that I’d disown Villa and put football completely behind me. It’s bad enough as it is in the pettiness and other goings-on.

    It has a big NO from me and indeed reminds me of the game Revie’s teams played.

  41. Still getting over the big downer that happened yesterday. Our back line needs an injection of pace. If the holding midfielder is slow as well, then we’re going to struggle to prevent goals that hurt us. But the team does have goals in it. So times are exciting these days.

    I think P2 is a bridge too far this season. I was pleased to see Bree in as Tuanzebe’s replacement but Jack and Axel will be big misses. In the second half yesterday, tracking back by Codger and Bolasie wained and the FB’s were exposed. Leeds played in triangles with one touch passing until they could release their wingers who had field days. Their wingers also tracked back right up to the end.

    The play offs are still up for grabs. Let’s get 3 points next game to steady the ship. We may need to score 3 to be sure though.

  42. The biggest loss of the day yesterday was definitely Tuanzebe, who has developed into a colossus at the back, and has already been mentioned, his ability to carry the ball upfield and his distribution.
    Yesterday, without him, was just a step too far. It is unfortunate that We had no one to call on, like JT or Collins, and can’t really understand why JT did not keep his player registration for this season. Collins to be fair was injured the other day, and ruled out for several weeks, so he tore up his contract and gave it back to Dean Smith with an apology, fair play to the guy.

    Whelan had a good game yesterday, but how much better would we have coped if Bjarnason had been fit to start the game. The El Ghazzi substitution was a complete disaster, and I am sure Kodjia would have scored the opportunity that fell to Hogan towards the death. Dean, I feel has been unlucky with some of his substitutions lately.

  43. Pp
    Commentators where biased yesterday, yes Whelan was clear penalty but the Hutton stuff was 6 of 1 half a dozen of the other
    Kodja was hit late early on didn’t even get a free,which if he had it would have been at least a yellow card for Leeds fb,blonde lad committed foul after foul including a dive yet it was 87 min before booking, bar the Whelan incidents we are not getting rub of green decisions wise

  44. JG,

    “Love for Hutton”? – a little OTT I think!

    In the latter part of last season Hutton was more substantial as he had a defence around him that he clearly felt comfortable with. But at times even now he still does some very good things – particularly first half when he made sure their attackers were not going to be given fee shots.


    I didn’t like Revie’s teams with the likes of Hunter in it. Bremner too could be a bit OTT.

  45. Blimey that lot were powder puffs compared to Revies team, yes leeds cheated at times yesterday (2-3 blatant pull backs) but I don’t think it was at a level greater than many other teams we have faced who have blatantly kicked and hacked at our players.

    Belsa’s another manager that has come in and in one window transformed a team so fair play to him. Leeds play some very nice possession based football and have great movement, I think they are the only team under smith I have seen to have the ball more than us, nearly 66%. That means they were not kicking us while they had it 🙂 they also have the second best defensive record and we still put 2 past them with half a team 😉

  46. MK,

    Yes, well if cheating is part of their game then they lose any credit they otherwise would have obtained, as far as I’m concerned. I agree that their forward play always promised something and was worthy of admiration, but if the attacks are based on questionable play then thumbs down from me.

    We lacked a strong defence and got what we deserved by presenting them with what they got. That at the end of the day was the difference – at least 2 of their 3 goals should not have happened, but it’s our fault they did.

  47. Been traveling over Christmas, so no post-match, comments, or replies.

    But, I wanted to pop on while I have a chance to say I hope everyone’s having a very happy Christmas!

    (I should be able get a new page up sometime before kick-off.)

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