And then there were five. With 41 played, sixth-placed Bristol City come to Villa Park in a big late-season clash for both clubs. Do Villa keep on winning? Is it time for the bubble to burst?

It’s hard to pick against Villa at the moment. But I’ve just seen the team sheet, and I don’t see Grealish on it, never mind Hause. Apparently Jack’s ill. So If Villa are to win today, someone’s going to have to step up besides Mile, and you’d probably put your money on McGinn, the way he’s been playing.

Depending on results, a draw wouldn’t be the worst thing, but the five-point gap between us and Boro could be down to just two by day’s end if we lose and they beat Hull at home. That said, streaks are funny things. They either make you invincible (witness the improbable 10-man comeback against Rotherham midweek and the injury-time winner at Hillsborough), or they start to carry a weight of expectations. No one would predict Villa would win out, the odds are just too far against it, and a loss or draw can reset the clock. But the clock’s ticking, and it would be a lot better to beat the Robbins and see the streak end after than for us to come up short today.

So, maybe fate has decided to make this run-in even more interesting than it already was. We’ll see what Dean and the players can pull out of the hat. They’d started to play better without Jack a couple games before his return, and you’d like to think there’d be a desire to show they can win without him. But it’s a big loss, and I was already worried just for Jedinak coming into the side. If we can get a result without the club’s talisman, we may well be unstoppable at this point. Streaks are funny things.

Steer; Elmohamady, Tuanzebe, Jedinak, Taylor, Whelan, Hourihane, McGinn, El Ghazi, Adomah, Abraham.

Subs: Lansbury, Ramsey, Green, Davis, Sarkic, Bjarnason, Hutton

Over to you.


Comments 112

  1. JC- I suppose this has just been one long extended pre-season for our Squad with the learning curve so hopefully they should show better cohesion. Looking for the likes of Green and Adomah to make an impact off the bench and maybe even Ramsey.

  2. Ha…Yeah, it has been something like that, Mark. We’ll see what they’ve learned.

    My fear is that we won’t hold the ball well and the back line won’t be up to stopping as much as they have. But, there’s always tenacity and belief.

  3. As I said the other day there are not many survivors for both sides from last seasons 5-0 , its almost a clean slate. Jedinak played that day but not in defence

  4. Yeah, Mark. It’s all “nearly”…But apart from that passage (Weimann offside), looking fairly good.

    Some miscommunications for sure, but also some nice long diagonals and running at them.

  5. Yeah, we’re doing well enough, need that breakthrough. Another yard, we’d have had a penalty. Conor sails it over, but his delivery has been good otherwise.

  6. Expecting a bit of Voodoo second half from Smith, what do reckon JC? hard to judge from listening what to change, I think maybe Green for a bit of pace but on which wing?

  7. If I was going to get mystic its made for Adomah to score a winner in traditional ex player fashion, Weimanns already scored his and it was ruled out 🙂

  8. 4 games left after today. A point might be ok.

    Bolton, Millwall, Norwich, Leeds – never can tell, but I think we could only expect 7 pts max from those

    Fingers crossed for the second half

  9. Mark…Not sure I’d change much just yet. We’ve made chances, look more dangerous. Maybe a bit leggy as the half wore on. Need to come out after the break like we did midweek.

    Get a lead, might well be enough. I could see AEG winning a penalty if they keep getting it to him. Seems up for it today.

  10. VillaMD

    Not bad at all. Lots of confidence, pressing, moving it. McGinn, AEG, Hourihane have all really stepped up today. Dean’s done a lot with this squad.

  11. What a match. Should easily have been 6-1. Whelan was great. AEG mom in my view. So many great performances. Alex is sooo solid. Hope Mings only got one game suspension??

  12. Boro, Derby and Brizzle battling for six as it stands were 4 off WBA

    Mings and jack back for Bolton, Jedinak proved able enough with Tuenzabe well done to him.

  13. Iana

    Funny one. Hanging on a bit there after Bristol pulled one back, but always going forward looking for another. Like Mark says, could’ve been 10-1.

    Huge effort, everyone playing hard the full 90. Really a credit to the side and Smith.

  14. And I think if Mings or Hause had been in, wouldn’t have looked quite so dodgy at the back. Mile did well enough, credit to him, but Axel, Mings, Hause are all better with the ball, quicker, bigger. Actual CBs.

  15. JC- yes, just shows you what being drilled in the position can do rather than being thrown in. Nice to be able to praise without feeling like your getting carried away.

    Tough ask to catch west brom with their fixtures was hoping PNE would beat them.

  16. Mark…

    Think we’re finally seeing the fruits of all Dean’s coaching. Flying, attacking, fitness is excellent. He’s changed the mentality of the club, never mind giving us better football.

    Just loved AEG’s intent, Hourihane flying into the box, McGinn grabbing things by the scruff. Elmo and Taylor looking better. Whelan. It’s remarkable.

  17. Be fun to catch WBA, but I guess we’ll end up four and five regardless, so still playing each other as it stands. Hope the Hand of Rod provides a little motivation for the boys.

    But right now, I think we’re firmly back to not fearing anyone. Fully fit, will be really interesting against Leeds and Norwich. Might not be a true test if they’ve clinched, but we’ll want to keep the confidence and momentum going.

  18. In shows the confidence in the squad. AEG and Taylor linked up great down the left. Davis was also very good. He’ll be an important player to allow Tammy to come off early in games.

    Leeds all over Wednesday. Westwood keeping them in the game. JC, Mark – what are ur Villa player ratings? I think AEG, Whelan, McGinn, Taylor and Axel all have a case for mom.

    Thought Lansbury got stuck in well when he came on. This has to be the most exciting time to be a Villa fan since the Paul McGrath days. Am I getting carried away? Hell ya, and I don’t care. We’ve suffered for long enough. I’m milking ever second of this run

  19. Massive win. Fabulous performance. Exhilarating. Don’t know how Hourihane hasn’t taken home the match ball. My MOM was their keeper who had a blinder.

    Without Mings, Jack, Hause and Codger. This team is showing much promise. The ale will taste good tonight. Not for the first time, I’m stoked.

  20. Axel’s pace is exciting. He must be one of the fastest footballers in England. He has improved so much, it would be great to have him and Mings next season. It will be hard for Jack to get back in on Friday – can u really drop Hourihane?

  21. First time we’ve managed to get up to the game for a few weeks and when we heard Grealish was outbid have been happy with the draw.
    Glad the manager and players didn’t have that attitude.
    They were superb. . . . really really good. VillaMD, you’re not getting carried away; we’re playing some really good creative and hard working football. Bristol looked a good team at times but we were so much better. How we only scored two I don’t know. Their keeper made 3 great saves and we spurned 3 superb chances that immediately spring to mind and I thought we should have had a penalty too.
    To look SO good without Jack and Mings was fantastic.
    Absolutely buzzing . . . . . buzzing!

  22. VillaMD- great to have those headaches, even Davis has given Smith another option, from what I saw his hold up plays better than Tammy, good as he got a knock.

  23. Someone asked for MOM nominations. He’s not been my favourite player but today I’d go for El Ghazi. He just didn’t look like losing he ball, his marker must have hated the game today, he just never got the measure of the man. Whelan was good again. . . . McGinn . . . well it hardly needs saying! Jedinak was solid and Axel a huge asset. Can’t comment on Steer as he had so little to do. . . did he have to make a save?
    El Mohamady looked confident and it was great to see Davis slot in so easily.
    Oh . . . and the crowd . . . . back to the good old days. Full of confidence, in great voice, supportive . . . what a good time to be a Villa fan

  24. How did they end up with 11 men on the pitch and a full complement of trainers on the bench. What a chippy little man Lee Johnson is. Excellent coach but a bit of an arse too. . . permanently in the officials ears and his players took their lead from him.
    They were outplayed today though . A good side, thoroughly outplayed by a much better team on the day.

    And now I’ll breathe

  25. MK – That link explains the situation in detail. But DS (and the players themselves) will stay focused. It’s impossible for all 3 challengers (BC, Derby, Boro) to win their remaining ties. To threaten Villa from here would need 2 of them to win all remaining games. Still think that is unlikely and I think we will collect more points yet.

  26. VillaMD,

    You know, I’ve never really done ratings…Somehow just doesn’t add up for me. But I will do a post-match and use a lot of words to get to an 8.5. 😉

  27. Oh, forgot to mention Taylor . . . . is he the same player I was watching last time I was at a game?
    I used to feel nervous when the ball came to him but not a bit of it today.
    He was excellent!

  28. JC. Yes, ElGhazi is starting to show his potential now. He has a touch of arrogance and petulance about him which hasn’t endeared him too me in the past as he hasn’t backed it up with performances to justify the attitude. . . . today he did!

  29. Still the best source for views on Villa here.
    Thanks to all of you who post !
    Looks like the players are having as much fun as the fans with Dean Smith setting the tone.
    Just so good to hear the entire park singing.
    Even the accountant is happy !

  30. Well, what a great game of football. Really entertaining to watch and be part of, as the atmosphere on the Holte was electric, and the excitement when the second goal went in just boiled over with everyone hugging everyone else!!

    Villa were outstanding today, even without their talisman, which was important too. The voodoo is broken. Villa can win without Jack or Mings, and against a very in form team.

    I can understand the frustration from Lee Johnson and his team, as the Andi Weimann effort was a peach of a goal at a crucial time, and it was almost unbelievable that it was offside.

    Apart from Adomah, I felt that the whole team deserved at least an 8 out of ten, and Axel, McGinn, Taylor and El Ghazi were worth a 9.

    Davis as already stated showed some really amazing hold up play and recovery, and now I expect to see more of him before the end of the season, and it was good to see Lansbury making his play for the team.

    The next matches cannot come to soon…!!!

  31. Just listened to one of the Bristol players. He complained about the disallowed goal and our penalty. He felt these decisions cost them the game! Really? I must have been watching a different match. Nice comments PP and R0bb0. Must have been amazing and also in the pubs after 😉

  32. VillaMD,

    Thanks for the YouTube clip. I am just a few rows further back from where this filmed, and it is great to see a little bit of the fantastic atmosphere on the Holte End.

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