It’s been another quiet week at Villa Park as the window starts to close and none of the rumored deals are happening yet. So, Villa will host Ipswich Town having the usual suspects to choose from.

And there are a couple of interesting game day choices, namely that Glenn Whelan comes back into the side and Andre Green doesn’t make the bench. I really don’t know about that, but given Smith’s comments about tightening up and shipping soft goals, maybe he wanted to make room for Mile Jedinak, and figures Whelan might up his game, chew his gum harder and do a bit more pointing.

Anyway, I’m running behind, so we’ll get to the meat of things after the match. Most of the topics have been covered in the comments during the week, but we’ll see how things look after the result and performance today.

Villa really do need a win, but as I’ve said, in looking at the side and how much performances have dropped off since Jack and Axel were injured, I’m just not at all sure anymore that Villa really do want to go up. With Jack’s return nearing, though, a win today would help us hold or make up a little ground, and then we just have to see whether a run can be made. Any signings will help clarify the intent and thinking of Compass & Co.


Comments 102

  1. Whelan’s inclusion may not enthuse anyone but what are the other options? Bjarnason was poor last week and Jedinak is not the most dynamic of players either against a team that we should be beating. Lansbury isn’t fit again yet is he, so without bringing someone into an unfamiliar position it’s hard to see what else DS could do

  2. r0bb0 – ‘it’s hard to see what else DS could do’
    Yes, the squad is taking time to change some habits as well, it’s how long they will take to come together.

  3. r0bb0,

    To be fair, Whelan had a good half.

    Options? There aren’t many. You either persist with BB, or go for a bigger change by playing O’Hare.

    But Whelan’s shown good positional awareness (which he’s always had), and has been able to disrupt things and help retain possession. So, he is doing what Smith was hoping for the side.

  4. JC “Options? There aren’t many. You either persist with BB, or go for a bigger change by playing O’Hare.”
    I think O’Hare is off on loan to Carlisle isn’t he?
    I think that Bjarnason has tended to do better when coming on as a substitute with indignant fire in his belly rather than asking him to play from the start.
    Maybe we’ll get another chance to judge that theory this afternoon!

  5. IanG “They aren’t far off having the game confidence where they could click.
    Hope it happens against Reading.”

    We’ve seen in earlier games that they CAN click, albeit with Jack and Tuanzebe in the side.
    It would be fantastic if they were able to click ‘without’ those two.

  6. r0bb0, IanG…

    That’s the trick, clicking without them. But if Jack is close to being back (and he’ll take a little bit to get back in stride), then maybe they won’t have to. Would be nice if they could, and today there were good stretches. McGinn had his most influential outing for a while.

  7. And I really have to commend Tammy’s work rate and commitment. He was everywhere, seems to be able to run all day.

    Some of the guys were looking a bit leggy, and I have to wonder, as Smith and all of us have been, about the average age thing, and whether it’s showing in terms of being able to keep up the level of intensity over a season.

    They did it on the good run, and of course Jack was there for that, Axel, too (whose absence has been pronounced much more so in terms of the poor goals, imo), but I’m just wondering about that.

    Complementary to that is if we’re not holding and tiring other teams out, beating their pressure, etc., we do a lot more running simply because we’re trying to win it back more in terms of total times, as well as in frequency. We get it, turn it over, there’s none of that resting with the ball.

  8. That was 4231 which I liked from Deano. Nice win that it takes some pressure off. Soooo much work to do though. Long road ahead. Would love to see some goals from open play going forward playing nice footy. We are set piece kings! Can’t see top 6 happening. We are just not good enough and defensively poor.

  9. IanG,

    Today’s match is one where I’d agree with JL’s use of ‘profligate’. There were good chances from open play, and none were taken.

    I’d actually say 4 or 5-1 would’ve been about right.

  10. Iana,

    Always a pleasure. Though lately I’ve not been keeping things as fresh as I’d like.

    Still, the excellent comments usually cover most everything.

  11. Excellent down-to-earth comments from everyone. Great.

    I’ve only seen the brief highlights so far but it does seem that some chances weren’t taken as a result of unclinical shooting, but also that their keeper did a good job for them.

  12. Andrew,

    Funny thing is, the playoffs are still entirely within reach. I can definitely see it happening, but we have to get our best squad back (which sounds pretty obvious). If we can with enough time to spare, we might just sweep through the playoffs.

    That run up until Albion…We could easily beat anyone playing like that.

  13. Ianng

    Ipswich had more possession but was all around there penalty box.

    Villa was back pushing much higher up forcing Ipswich back.


    I just don’t see the top 6 or 7 collapsing. There berry consistent and settled. They have a game in hand so probably be 7 points gap again.

  14. First win since Boxing Day and we did more pressing up top than of late. Great to get back winning but… was only the rock bottom team and this time 2 goals was enough…..just.

    As JC says, it should have been 4 or 5 and then the team relaxes and turns on the style. We all know that 2-0 is a dangerous scoreline and so it was.

    Don’t know about anyone else (except Andrew) but I’m not thinking about the playoffs. As things stand we are mid table.

  15. There’s still a chance of playoffs but for the meantime let’s celebrate climbing back to the position of sixth best team in the midlands.

  16. The next match is the focus yes, but not to acknowledge that the top 5 is not only possible but likely if we click a bit more, is a little broody imo.

  17. Andrew
    Having seen the extended highlights, I understand what you said about being camped in their half for large chunks of the game.

    Even if the majority of their possession seemed to be in their half, due to the profligacy in front of goal, we still gave the ball away too much, & our passing was too variable

    Even if we have been in the doldrums since xmas, the fact that the pressing from the front has improved again is significant, with McGinn leading the charge.

    We also now have the opportunity to go on a run against the lesser teams, & we are very capable of beating the baggies & others of the top teams, so rather than having a depressed view like a small heath supporter, optimism is not over the top imo..

    McGinn playing well as 10 may have been what we have been looking for since Jack’s injury, which would augur well for when he’s back, which will be soon.

    And we don’t know what the transfer market will bring in the next week.

  18. Injuries

    The latest injury revelation about Green seems to cause no surprise nor comment, and perhaps I can see why as we seem to be plagued by injuries to useful players. It’s almost a normality. Not only the double loss of Jack and Axel but also Lansbury and now Green, and also that to Lyden.

    The strange thing to my mind is why has Bikir not stepped up to the opportunity offered by the midfield injuries. El Ghazi also seems not to be quite there. At least the Jedi is now back to help provide some solidity.

  19. IanG: “We also now have the opportunity to go on a run against the lesser teams…”

    Ahem, there could not have been a more “lesser” team than Ipswich – they’re bottom of the division!!

    Although clearly we could have scored more, the reality is that we could have said that about a lot of our matches this season. We seem to lack a killer touch.

    Oh … and Ipswich managed to score their first away goal in 9 hours – against us!!

  20. JL
    The rise usually starts at the bottom

    As for Green, apparently it’s a minor injury, which is unlucky for him.

    As for BB, yes he seems to have missed a trick, but it also could be the team mix & stop start.
    The transfer market needs to help us, as we need at least a couple of players
    Who knows…

  21. JL
    ‘Ipswich managed to score their first away goal in 9 hours – against us!!’

    And what a great shot out of the blue it was, it deserved a goal.
    They didn’t manage a normal goal, so I’m not upset about it.
    More annoyed over us not quite clicking in front of goal, but it is often fine margins linked with energy & mental directness whether something comes together.

  22. JL
    ‘Ahem, there could not have been a more “lesser” team than Ipswich – they’re bottom of the division!!’

    Good place to start a run then, only way is up!!

  23. IanG: “As for Green, apparently it’s a minor injury, which is unlucky for him.”

    Yes, but the point is that he’s out for a few weeks according to Smith, minor or not.

    I’ve been really looking forward to that feller blossoming after the promise last season before injury.

    The other point is that we’re lacking players – apart from McGinn and Abraham – who can drive us to success against our opponents (whether they’re “lesser” or not) and at the same time able to counter the vagaries of our defence.

    We really do have to overcome our profligacy (whether truly wasting clear chances or not getting on target) but we may well just ‘click’ one day.

  24. John L – I agree with today’s comments from you viz:
    ‘The other point is that we’re lacking players – apart from McGinn and Abraham – who can drive us to success against our opponents (whether they’re “lesser” or not) and at the same time able to counter the vagaries of our defence.’ Suggests that in the absence of any success in the rapidly closing window we would not have the resources to mount a successful re-entry into the upper echelon.

    ‘We really do have to overcome our profligacy (whether truly wasting clear chances or not getting on target) but we may well just ‘click’ one day.’ We live in hope that this will be the case as we can not rely on retaining a loanee of Tammy’s calibre as demonstrated in the case of our loanee keeper.

    Let’s hope this all gets sorted out before we ‘entertain’ Sheffield Wednesday later in the year!!

  25. Had a very busy weekend and have not forgotten about Villa, but until now, have not had time to blog.

    Arrived in Brum on Friday, did my bit at Heartlands Hospital, then went to Hall Green, stayed overnight and enjoyed a few beers watching the cup game, before doing my usual the following day, and enjoying a couple of pints of Mad Goose and a curry in the good old Aston Tavern!

    Was not sure about Dean’s team selection, but as already has been mentioned, Whelan had a pretty good game, McGinn was outstanding, and just needs to take the odd second to focus at times, and he will be a great player, not only winning the ball, but scoring a few goals too, as he had plenty of chances, which he failed to use clinically, blasting them all well wide of the target.

    Hourihane is much the same, not making sure that his shots count, and finding the right pass.

    Taylor did not have a great game, but he did exceptionally well on one occasion, and saved us from disaster, when he ran across and made a first class interception, or the Ipswich winger would have been clear with a certain chance of scoring.

    The number of chances Tammy had was unbelievable, and he should have had at least a hat trick and taken the ball home, but hey ho! we won, and that is something to be very grateful for.

    Their goal was a cracker, and difficult for Kalinic to save, but at that distance should he have done better!

    Their goalkeeper’s handling was sometimes suspect, and I think we should have exploited it more, with him spilling it on one occasion, but as usual, no Hogan’s in the box to clean up!

    I am sure if we attacked the box in better numbers we could achieve more, but we tend to be stood off more, which is why we have not scored many in recent matches, which then alleviates the defence.

    We had some really good periods in the game, but when Ipswich started to press us, we still looked uncomfortable, and Chester had another awful game. He needs to be rested and get fit again. On the whole Elphick had a very good game, and outshone Chester. Hutton had a fairly average game, with El Ghazi showing some good signs, but a long way to go. Adomah had a poor game, and is no where near his best.

    Agree that on the day McGinn and Tammy were outstanding for effort, and the biggest contributors to us winning the game. Sad that only Elphick stands out in defence, and I just wonder how we are going to survive, if we do not bring in some fresh blood before the window closes.

    ON Bjarnason, I am disappointed that he has not had a proper run in his more favoured position as a defensive mid, instead of being used as an attacking mid, as he was last game, when he was obviously out of match practice.

    Jedinak’s short appearance was ok, and he will probably feature against Reading, and do a good job in his usual role in front of the back four.

    Villa fans have never been so glad to hear that final whistle..!!

  26. We had the same problem with Bruce at one time JC.

    We were getting way too many injuries, which indicates that players are not warming up and warming down properly, or that the practice games are too intense…Remember Kojak and the broken leg from Clark…

  27. I am becoming a little concerned about what exactly Dean Smith and the board intend. Having had to pull back players from Bruce’s loan outs, now it seems that we are doing the same again, having already loaned out RHM, O’Hare on his way, and now we are willing to let Hogan go too, as well as being willing to sell Bjarnason and anyone else who can be tempted away.

    I am getting the feeling, with promotion unlikely that we are cutting our costs to the bone to meet FFP, while risking a very depleted squad to compete in the Championship. I just hope that we can stay injury free when we get our most important players back. Fortunately, we probably have enough points to survive in the Championship, whatever happens, and that is what the board is now relying on until the summer clear out of most of our players.

  28. PP
    A reminder that it is a contact sport, & one can get injuries after warming up or down.
    The individual human body’s reaction to stimuli is not an exact science.
    Being a contact sport there is a need for intense practice matches, as it’s as much to do with the mind as the body, & it is applying what has been put in place in training through repetition.

  29. JC,

    I was alluding more to the fact that (forgetting the defence for the moment!) the injuries we’ve had in the last couple of months seem to relate more to the issues of (1) applying the presser and (2) providing better cover for the defence – of having midfielders that could carry out those requirements.

    I in fact think that Lansbury could have helped a great deal in those departments and Dean seemed to like him too.

  30. We have signed a great young winger Jaden Philogene-Bidace, from the Pro-Direct Academy, age 17 years old, for the Under 18’s.

    Mings is apparently close to a done deal, and could be our first real signing of the window that makes a difference. Will have a better understanding with Elphick…!!!

  31. FFP for us is acting like the laws of physics. And as Scottie said…..ya canna change the laws of physics Jim.

    Just 8 months back we were in dire straits and looking forward to a relegation battle with our kids. But Dr X pulled a rabbit out of the hat and Compass have navigated us forward introducing attacking football and discarding Spud along the way.

    So I’m relaxed and looking forward a younger team rebuild. Some of our fat cats are running out of time. I think the horizon is bright

  32. Plug
    ‘Some of our fat cats are running out of time. I think the horizon is bright’

    A Law of physics?
    I hope it goes across the board.

  33. PP
    Yes, but unfortunately it’s not our signing, which is what we need to happen in the next 24 hours if at all.

    Personally I have no interest in where Hogan has gone on loan, just that he gets some game time & we beat S United.
    Hogan has been a loyal servant of the club, & it’s sad that it hasn’t worked for him so gar.

    Transfers in appears to be a lottery, & as has been said, January is a difficult window.

  34. I think you are right IanG on both posts..!!!

    Mings is the only one I can see getting over the line, anything else will be a bonus….

    An impressive show by Wolves again tonight…They could really be a force to be reckoned with in the Premier league next season, especially with the richest corporation in China behind them..!!

  35. a mobile dm would be fantastic,

    Mings I remember being very impressed with at Ipswich, but has been injured a lot and hardly played.

    Think he is more a cb now? him and house too samey?

    Id really like to see 2 new flying full backs the most.

  36. OUTS so far:

    Scott Hogan to Sheffield Utd
    Corey Blackett-Taylor loan to Walsall
    Jacob Bedeaux sold to Scunthorpe

    Maybe Bree to Ipswich…


    Tyrone Mings confirmed

  37. Following the Interviews with Smith and Mings, it would appear that he may go straight into the team to replace Chester, partnering his old Captain, Tommy Elphick and Chester will be able to get some recovery time.

  38. PP
    Yes Chester needs rest & recuperation, & I can see him & Mings being the main pairing, & Elphik & Hause being the cover.
    I hope it goes through

  39. Jake Doyle-Hayes signed for Cambridge Utd on loan, not many youngsters left to loan out now..!!

    Our reserves will now be made up of whoever is left out of the first team squad and the under 18’s.

  40. Looks like we intend signing Guilbert from Caen for £4.4 million and possibly Scott McKenna for £8million and loaning them both back for the rest of the season.

  41. Apparently we’ve also just got Tom Carroll on loan from Swansea at the death. I think this is quite a decent signing, creative midfield cover for Jack at least.

  42. vivavilla
    Well what a strange twist.
    First we have apparently signed Fer from Swansea late on, only for the Dutchman to morph into the ex spurs player Tom Caroll [also with a right to buy], also from Swansea.

    Caroll is possibly a better bet for Deano to improve.
    Glad to see the best of the kids go out on loan.

    The team appears now to be less vulnerable & more balanced, so I’m looking forward to Saturday even more.

  43. Hello folks hope your all doing well.

    IanG- unfortunately I’m nowhere warm mate posting just stopped being fun.

    Interesting window in which we may or may not have missed a few. It looks to me that we are preparing for the eventuality of not going up while giving ourselves an opportunity to do so this season.

    Clearly we don’t want to spend loads in Jan when there is a massive clear out coming either way. Players have been loaned out that won’t get much
    pitch time or need experience in preparation for the summer I’d assume.

    The players coming in? Mings has pace, skill, is mobile and was once touted as JT’s replacement, Carrol is good on the ball while being adept at getting the team moving forward, typical Smith players and you would assume have the right mentality. These two will hopefully fill the void left by Jack and Tuanzabe injuries. I think its likely Smith will Play Carrol with Hourihane in a 4213 until Jack returns.

    As for our recent woes I don’t think its entirely down to not putting chances away (any team can claim that), we are right up there (3rd) with expected goals from our chances created. If we were able to be more accurate then we would have solved something no football team ever has and would be scoring for fun.

    Like the Injuries claim you have to look at football as a whole, many teams have worse injury problems than us just not always to their most influential players. The answer is better chances score more Goals or in our case giving away incredibly good chances concedes them, the aim is to make any chance a half chance when defending, we lay them on a plate recently.

    Luck has a part to play but in reality we don’t get numbers in the Box as often without Jack playing and we are slow at the back so won’t push up stopping the press. Hopefully the loans will fix that or until the duo return improve things in their own right. The rest will be fixed in time when half the squad leaves.

    take care and enjoy the revival catch you later 🙂

  44. Mark
    I think we’re all pretty much in agreement over the window apart from football morphing into Quiditch.

    Nice to hear from you, do pop in!
    On the issue of fun, I’ve decided a long time ago that to be a Villa supporter you’ve got to be a bit of a masochist.
    Yes an interesting window, in as much that a change of direction has started, thankfully, & it’s been a long time.
    But we will see.

    Jesus appears to be proficient at walking on water, in comparison to the last few years, which is refreshing.

    I hope Oxfordshire has not vanished under the snow, keep warm mate.

  45. Hi MK,

    Great to see you, as I have been feeling a little lonely here lately, and held back on my usual commenting. It would be great if we could stir some more life back here.

    I am reasonably happy with the business that Villa have done, as they have not gone crazy, and filled the holes they needed to, at the same time planning for next season.

    A nice touch of Smiths to loan Scott Hogan out to give him the chance of a career with Sheffield Utd, as Chris Wilder has been after him for some time, and could make the Premiership at the end of the day.

    Tom Carroll seems to be an astute move, as MK has said, as well as Sherwood saying that he had great potential. He certainly could make a big difference alongside Hourihane and be the player we need.

    Looking forward now to tomorrow and the team that Dean will put out to play Reading.

  46. MK,

    Hello, you must be not working with the weather as it is!

    Just to comment that no-one said that “its entirely down to not putting chances away”. The *main* comment I was making was that if more shots were on target then there’d be more chance of scoring! Sounds simplistic, but that’s a basic that all the experts seemed to gloss over.

    That is, if you’re not playing as well as before (because of injuries or whatever) you then need to look at what are the things that can be adjusted to get results. Apart from the last match v lowly Ipswich we’ve been putting shots all over the place.

    Anyhow, PP seems to be anxious to get into wild and woolly chat rather than sticking to fundamentals so I wish you two the greatest of happiness together!!!!

  47. Just seen this comment about Tom Carroll:
    “A most definite confidence player, though. He needs an arm-round-the-shoulder approach and struggles a tad when the crowd occasionally got on his back.“
    Thank goodness Villa fans are always supportive of their players eh?

  48. Hi JL, No I have to work in the cold come rain or shine.

    Can’t resist answering this comment so you’ll have to bare with my wild and wooly ways.

    ” The *main* comment I was making was that if more shots were on target then there’d be more chance of scoring! Sounds simplistic, but that’s a basic that all the experts seemed to gloss over.”

    that depends a lot on who you are calling an expert.

    Last game against Ipswich Villa managed 23 shots 13 on target 2 goals. If you look at the stats shots on goal vary every game, some games you might have 10 but score 1 sometimes 4 and score 4. That comes down to the quality of the chance. Of course having 20 shots on goal would be fantastic and likely give more goals/quality chances “maybe” but doesn’t account for the opposition getting in the way.

    Leeds for example had 7 shots on goal to our 2 and won 3-2, against forest we had 12 and they had 5 ended 5-5, at Preston we both had 5 on goal ended 1-1.

    If all it came down to was more shots on goal then most games should be yielding large amounts of goals if they have lots of shots on target but they generally don’t throughout football. Lets look at the definition of “shots on goal”

    “Shot on goal definition, a shot that enters the goal or would have entered the goal if it had not been blocked by the goalkeeper or another defensive player.”

    So shots on goal can be a speculative shot from anywhere that started on target when it left the shooting player. Tammy’s conversion rate at present is 24%, better than Mo Salah last season not surprising as he gets pretty much all our quality chances. Nobody else in the team comes close to him for quality chances although I’m sure he didn’t have all 13 shots on target against Ipswich, so the team had a lot of speculative shots. its about getting into positions more often that afford good chances. Apart from Tammy Villa as a team have stopped doing that while giving away quality chances galore all season.

    Anyway your right on one thing it sounds simplistic because it is 🙂

    Still I will leave you to read this and theres a link to most recent “Experimental 361 attack breakdowns” in there to worth a look.

    Have fun with your fundamentals and enjoy the game

  49. Morning all
    Mark that was a masterful piece with a lot of simple truth [always takes a lot of words when I do it].
    Mind you we were always told not to complicate things, as everything [including football] is essentially simple, but not simplistic.

    It’s nice but freezing today, so the grounds will be very hard, & I hope there’s no injuries.
    In the west mid we’ve got the radio on WM at least.

    I’m going through the wood like nobody’s business.
    Paul do you use the fire?
    It must be freezing where you are, my son lives in Leominster & he says it’s freezing [as usual].

    You got a lot of snow in Oxon Mark?
    Bugger all here.

    Better than BC where Ian is, mind you definite snow all the time is easier than stop start like here, but the wind chill must be bad there.

    I remember Bodmin moor in the winter when I lived in North Cornwall, the weather is the same every year.

    There were a 100 of them stuck on the moor last night.
    I think we’re heading for extinction if people have forgotten basics, like winter/Bodmin Moor/bad weather.

    Interesting to see what the team will be.
    Stay warm all.

  50. Well the kids are out of the Youth Cup.
    They were down to 10 men early in the game, & lost, with the score 0 – 2.
    Ramsey got a straight red for a bad tackle.

  51. Frem
    I thought there would be more than 1 change for someone who’s essentially injured,

    Kalinic, Hutton, Elphick, Mings, Taylor, Whelan, Hourihane, McGinn, Adomah, El Ghazi, Abraham.

    Subs: Steer, Hause, Elmohamady, Jedinak, Carroll, Kodjia, Davis.

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