It all started off very well for Villa when Tyrone Mings found John McGinn with a beautiful ball over the top, and McGinn very cooly took his chance to put Villa ahead in the ninth minute. But a tired side eventually ended up shipping late goals after a lot of one-way traffic, and finished, fairly, on the wrong end of a 1-3 scoreline. Definitely a wake-up call to everyone involved, but not a disaster by any means.

The Good
Mings to McGinn and McGinn’s finish. Superb. Mings and Engels at the back. They dealt with an awful lot, and Mings was very unlucky to redirect the ball into the net. Didn’t go down as an own-goal, but Heaton might’ve gotten to it otherwise. Good game plan from Smith initially, forcing Pochettino to change things round in the second, one which held Spurs in check for the first half. Trezeguet had a decent debut. Heaton had a couple of excellent saves, particularly from the free kick. That was top drawer. Besides the goal, McGinn had a good, combative game throughout. And overall, the team showed a lot of resilience.

The Bad
Well, never nice to ship three, and never nice to be under the cosh for so long. Lost the battle in midfield, were wasteful in possession, and were guilty of dwelling too long on the ball. Wesley had a rough introduction and was very isolated. His touch let him down, and he was getting frustrated. We couldn’t match Spurs’ ball-winning intensity. Whether by design or not, Grealish had to come back very deep a lot. This is where we hope Luiz and Marvelous will make a difference, giving Jack and John stronger backing and allowing them to have more impact further upfield.

As Smith said pitch-side after the game, you chase that much, you get tired. And he pointed to us trying to get up and score every time we did get it back instead of settling things down and working smarter to hold the ball. But where Poch changed things round, we didn’t really, and I think Dean will learn from that.

The Ugly
Well, I’m going to go with the scoreline. Not that it wasn’t deserved, in the end, but it could’ve well ended up 1-1 or 1-2 with a little more luck and a little more nous.

Final Verdict
Perhaps a strange bit of decision-making from Dean Smith on the starting lineup, but obviously he went with cohesion and consistency. And most everyone acquitted themselves fairly reasonably given the quality of opposition. It was a conservative game plan and approach, and obviously broke down in the end. Kodjia probably could’ve come on earlier, as he looked livelier and was trying to contribute more at both ends than Wesley. Likewise Luiz.

But Villa were set up well to begin with, and frustrated Spurs without giving much away in terms of chances. It was a different story in the second half, with Pochettino adjusting to get attacking players out wide and stretch Villa’s back line. And of course when you can bring on a player like Christian Eriksen to change things late, well, he showed his class.

As I said above, and as Smith pointed out, Spurs’ physicality was telling in the end. They just kept pressing, winning virtually all the 50-50s, and Villa kept falling back. You could see fatigue in the late goals, and also a bit of poor decision-making. Grealish obviously thought he had more time on the edge of the box to bring it out, and probably should’ve tried to play Trezeguet through earlier on the break. It really could’ve been 0-2 to us at that point.

But he wasn’t the only player guilty of not quite being ready for the pace and intensity. Many times we got caught in possession and had our pockets picked. And, to be honest, I thought there was a fair degree of hesitancy, with players preferring to play it safe rather than take a chance and really bear down on the ball. We didn’t press much, which also seemed to have a bit of design behind it. They’d never admit it, but I think they were often more concerned about making mistakes and thinking too much. It’s been a very pressure-filled buildup, and it wouldn’t be realistic to think it wouldn’t have an effect. They’ll be glad to have that behind them. And they won’t feel bad about having led for 70 minutes.

And we really shouldn’t forget that Spurs have a lot of quality, pace, and strength. They’ve scored a lot of goals against some of Europe’s top sides. They’ve been building for a long time, are very well managed, and are very well acquainted with playing the game at the highest levels. They even had a much tougher preseason slate. Villa just have no way of matching that experience. Spurs also simply played very well on the day. They’ve got something to prove. 

I also often say you learn more from a defeat than a win, and I think that was definitely true today. A result would’ve been fantastic, but Villa got a lesson they needed. It should show in training, preparation, and players’ mentalities. They’re not going to have their way for long periods the way many of them are used to. The Championship is rough and tumble, but there just aren’t the same levels of physicality and quality. This is why I’ve said in the face of all the optimism that I’ll be very happy with 17th this year.

But…we’re not going to be playing sides like that every week.

So, a rough introduction, and probably a good lesson for Dean, as well as well as the players. This is why we signed Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba, to get a bit more pace, strength, and quality in midfield. I like Conor, but he’s not up to being the anchor of a PL midfield, at least not against a team with that much quality. And I don’t know that we’re going to keep seeing Taylor and Elmohamady. El Ghazi is going to learn he can’t take on players with the same expectations of beating them or just running past them that he had last year. Smith might find himself adjusting things more during the course of games than he’s had to.

There’s a way this team is made to play, and they didn’t really get, or give themselves, much chance to do it. That’s where the adjustments will be, in-game and in between.

In the end, far too early to pass any judgment except perhaps for the fact that Mings and Engels held up very well, and Heaton does look the part. The debrief will be interesting for everyone else. But Smith didn’t seem too concerned speaking after the game, and that will be a big thing. He doesn’t get too high, doesn’t get too low. There’ll be a good week of preparation, probably some players having a long look in the mirror, and we’ll expect better against Bournemouth.

Over to you.

Comments 73

  1. r0bb0,

    “JC Dean Smith doesn’t like his players showing frustration so he’ll need to learn quickly.
    Wesley will get much better service and be more involved in games to come so hopefully he’ll then start to show the qualities that the club saw in him.”

    Agreed. Villa dropping back didn’t do him any favors. Was a funny game, perhaps because Villa were surprised to find themselves with an early lead. Might well have influenced a lot of thinking, but it did leave Wes isolated, and they were really right up his back every time the ball came to him.

    I thought he started to get the hang of it late on, but bringing Kodjia on wasn’t the worst idea. He did run around a bit more.

  2. From the last thread:

    I don’t think that we sat back deliberately, but with the pressure they absolutely ran themselves into the ground, which contributed to the last 2 goals.
    Out of pressure come mistakes.
    The spuds just manipulated the space better than we did, & pressed better.
    But it was when Ericson came on when we were knackered to the point of making silly mistakes, that led to the last 2 goals.

    Other than that, the players new to the EPL now know the differences in the tempo in the play, which affected everything, especially when to exert energy.

    It is an understanding that can only come through experience, where they are all learning as a team.
    The same goes for Norwich, but with SU, I’d be a little more concerned, but they know their limitations.
    Also the subs may have come on a little too late, when the cohesion had gone,

    I certainly don’t think the reality is as bad as PW is saying, as we lost to the losing champions league finalist, as Norwich did to the winner.
    But I agree that we really need a CF, & another winger if I’m being greedy, but maybe in January.
    As far as Wesley is concerned, it’s a little too early to bury him, as he is never a lone forward, but he must not have been training just to be left to be stranded & outnumbered, with hopeful service mostly.
    He will toughen up or disappear.

  3. IanG,

    Can’t disagree with any of that. I was a little surprised at the lack of pressure on our part…might have been strategic to start, but like you say, we were knackered at the end.

  4. No guilbert and targett. I’m still perplexed!!! Wtf. Remarkable show of faith, new fbs more time to settle? Didn’t want to knock there confidence away to Spurs? Tbf Taylor was steady. Thought bringing treauguet off early a bad sub. El ghazi just doesn’t do it for me. Wes annoyed me first half but better second. Engles, mings, Heaton superb. Could keep us up. But was praying for extra quality up top and on the wing in the window. I hope it doesn’t kill us. No option on bench to change game massive worry.

  5. Another thought:
    I think that the Championship gives teams some bad habits, which were brutally shown up in the game, as in the Norwich game.
    There really are two leagues in the EPL, so not a disaster, but a necessary learning experience.

  6. But away to Spurs isn’t going to define us. Lots to learn. Can’t be sloppy on the ball or dwell (jack). I know when Ericsson came on changed it but also Conor off for us. The mid emptied. Hope it’s just because Spurs had the ball that we tired. Why does every team seem more stronger and fitter!! May need nakambas legs and guile in the middle. Can jack play out on the left? Mid 3 of nakamba mcguinn and luiz?

  7. H&V,

    It was a conservative approach from Dean, and tbh, I do think there was damage control somewhere in mind. Not that Elmo and Taylor are necessarily your number-one picks for that.

    I think there was also cohesion and continuity in mind. Experience. Probably a nod to last season’s efforts (Dean said after that “three of the four back line had only allowed 11 goals in 15 games” or some such last year). Could well have had a mind to not throw Guilbert and Targett’s straight into it.

    Likewise, Hourihane. I saw the teamsheet, thought “that’s a bit lightweight, but you never know.” I think (or maybe just hope) that Marvelous and Luiz will make a difference. Which I keep saying. We’ll need some more bite and guile out there in the middle.

    I think we’ll need to be a little smarter, too. Rushing, turning it over, trying to break. Applaud the spirit, but we needed to take some of the air out of the game, bring more players into it further up the pitch. It left all the danger men getting the ball rather deep for the most part, and Spurs were working very hard to keep us from getting a foothold. Like I say, Jack and others were surprised, I think, that they were being tracked from behind so relentlessly.

    But overall, I think Dean was just happy to get that one out of the way. He knows we’re very much a work in progress.

  8. H&V…

    Jack certainly play wide left, and that’s probably the way you get Luiz and Nakamba on at the same time.

    But…one of the issues for me is that when Jack and/or McGinn have to come so deep *and* be the players to take it forward, well, you lose your link. So if either Luiz or Nakamba can handle more, like winning the ball, carrying it out, etc., then we can bring Jota/Trezeguet/and AEG into it more. Everyone had a lot of ground to cover.

    We did a lot of chasing by the time the wheels came off…First half, commentators were praising our fitness, all the defending, discipline, then end-to-end runs.

    I think a lot of what we saw is that our midfield is not that physical. Spurs had better ball-winners.

  9. IanG,

    “I think that the Championship gives teams some bad habits”.

    Most certainly does. Villa got used to having their way, being able to wrest control, then have more quality in possession. Like you say, two different leagues, so we’ll look more like ourselves outside the top 6.

    And Jack has shown he’ll buckle down. He wants that England place, won’t be at all pleased about today. I’m sure a large chunk of the week will be spent getting everyone to move it quicker and smarter. He’s used to being able to carry it across midfield and let us set up camp. Wasn’t being given that luxury today. He’ll have to adapt.

  10. Engels and Mings are quality. We knew Mings would be great, but Engels – wow, what a bonus. Playing alongside Mings every week will make him better and better. Heaton class as well, and SJM had one of his best games in a long time.

    I’m not worried about the result. Spurs look stronger and will be a tougher challenge to Man C and Pool this year. Wesley will need time. It’s not easy for a foreign striker to settle. It may be November before he finds his feet. Pity we did not also sign Maupay.

    Our players are young and will learn fast. Jack was good today, but got caught on the ball a couple of times. I’m sure he’ll cut that out. Hourihane was good in the 1st half, but looked knackered in the 2nd. Kodger didn’t look match fit, it would have been ideal to bring Davis on at 70mins.

    If we can keep that level of play up and have a few players improve, then I think we’ll easily stay safe

  11. Jake Doyle Hayes played 90 mins for Cheltenham in their 4-1 win. Hopefully he can get 40 games under his belt. He’s going to be 21 years in December, so time to step up

  12. That’s an accurate summation of events JC.

    I was proud of the boys yesterday. Given the massive difference in each team’s development time, we came within 5 minutes of a result. Gutted we never made it but I think we’ll be OK this season. This young team will get better for sure.

    We won’t be relegated if we get 12 wins, maybe even 10 will be enough as there will be draws along the way. But I believe everyone at VP is aiming much higher than survival, so exciting times ahead.

  13. Super summary JC,

    Have now come down to reality after yesterday. I disagree with some comments, as I was happy with Dean’s starting eleven, with Elmo doing a great job along with Taylor. It was important that he was able to start with Trezeguet, already having a good understanding with him, and it showed, as Trez hit the ground running, playing well right up to the time he was substituted. He also did well after changing wings with El Ghazi, who struggled.

    The Jota substitution was not good, would have preferred to see Lansbury as a holding mid fielder and allow Jack to play higher up the pitch, and once Hourihane was gone and Jack dropped deeper, we were on a hiding to nothing, with players who had become overrun.

    Big lesson for the team and Dean, but has already been said an important learning curve, and we will get better.Luiz and Marvellous can all add to the future of the team. For me, Targett has still got to improve to make the team, and if Guilbert plays, then he has to have a stong winger to help back up.

  14. PP
    Disconcerting, I seem to be agreeing with you again.
    Jota was on after the backwards withdrawal, & was the right player at the wrong time.

  15. Sorry if Dean plays Elmo,Taylor and Conor he will only be our pl manager for a short time
    Our set completely wrong ,any matches I have watched you need to be physically strong to compete we weren’Tony way to get new boys ready is by playing,spurs could have got 6 easily

  16. Was wondering about the composition of the bench, Plug. I can see where Lansbury might’ve been considered more experienced/safer than another new signing to bring on in midfield. But I’ve not run across anything about whether Marvelous was carrying a knock.

  17. Hi Folks heres my thoughts for what its worth.

    Clearly DS set up to play a solid back line and grow into the game. The aim to draw Spuds into the centre and hit them on the break by using the pace of Trez or hitting Wes early as poss and the likes of McGinn getting up around him and past him. Thats fine when you are fresh and full of energy but when you have been under the cosh for 70 mins it gets hard to make those runs. What we lacked was that DM that won the ball quickly and moved it quicker. Wesley was to often overcrowded when the ball arrived. The goal kind of scuppered the plan in a way and Mings more or less stated that.

    The full back choices appeared to be mainly about who knows who, Mings was got at against Leipzig with Targett going forward. Guilbert was injured so maybe not the only reason. Clearly we were not intending to push them on today and be patient for our chances and we may of scored to early. We did miss one or two very good chances too to go 2-0 with Spurs having most of their chances shut down and pulled wide.

    when Spurs went wide after the break it set up the classic counter scenario which we failed to take advantage of with some poor passing and setting off leaving the man in possession with the spurs midfield on him. Jota I felt was meant to alleviate this by helping us keep the ball and move it on but only succeeded in putting more pressure on the back line, like many he was overwhelmed physically looking to the ref for protection that was never going to come. I did think we were short changed on that front quite a lot but hey we are not the big team at this point, refs do that.

    By the time Luis arrived there was nobody out there to play with and the midfield had dissolved. Spurs second was lucky in the way the ball fell to Kane though. Kodjia ran about alright but to zero effect, for someone with fresh legs he looked languid. Maybe we had no game changer on the bench but in all honesty he would need a team to play with anyway, ours was worn out.

    Plenty to be happy about, The Keeper and CB’s looked class while the full backs at least did a good job mostly while offering little going forward, lets be honest though we couldn’t get our attacking players up the pitch much let alone the defence.

    The takeaway for me is that a DM will come in and we will have to improve on the ball and push up the pitch when the younger FB’s return. Next two games at home will see us have a go and give us a much better idea of or chances, we are a work in progress though. Parting thought? I wish Davis or Hogan had been on the bench either of them offer pace and grit Kodjia just is not made for.

  18. Still gutted about the result, really. I hate losing who ever it’s against. It’s even more painful after you’ve held on for so long. Certainly positives though. Need to beat Bournemouth and Everton though just so we can relax knowing we’ve got the first wins.

    I do worry about our lack of options up top and and wide though. We have no depth. Would like Sturridge as a free

  19. On Wes, he will be a very frustrating player. He has ability but needs to get use to centre backs pushing him about. Push back

  20. And Hourihane can’t start DM anymore. Luiz on Saturday please

    And Targett and Guilbert will start against teams when we want to do the attacking i think

  21. I worry that much about our lack of attacking depth and quality that i think it see us struggle/ go down. We have 3 strikers and wingers l. It’s not enough. Davis and Kodj aren’t prem quality

  22. frem

    exactly my thoughts on deadline day.

    Good window and nexccessary but failed at the last hurdle. so short in attack and options to change game from bench. Massive ask to get wes and treezugeut and jota to hit the ground running.

    Surly guilbert and jota and target will start sat.

  23. PP,

    Not the worst line of thinking on the starters…was always going to be a bit rough on the team starting out since none of them have played together in the PL. There’s getting used to each other and getting used to the league.

  24. JG,

    Doubt we’ll see the same combination…defo didn’t sign Luiz and Marvelous to have them riding the bench, and Targett’s played in the league before.

  25. Frem (good to see you) and H&V…

    Up front is the only real area of concern for me…It’s a big burden on Wes. As I’ve said, sure Deano is looking for the scoring to be spread, and would’ve been a good example had Trezeguet converted along with SJM.

    But it would be a big plus to have a different kind of striker to bring on or start, depending.

  26. There’s no doubt the second half on Saturday was a cold water moment for the team but lets look a couple of things before we start speculating on relegation , Dean smith being replaced and the players we bought not being good enough.
    In the first half villa cut Spurs open three times not with half chances but with genuine opportunities . They took one of those chances , the second one was a tap in for Wesley had Trezeguet looked up and centred , and the third one was also gift wrapped, had Grealish let the ball go earlier onto Trezeguets right foot. These are the margins in the premiership , and from their reactions so far i think this has not been lost on the players or the manager.

    Can we please refrain from the chicken little narrative until we’ve seen them play at least a couple of games. I thought there were more positives than negatives in Saturdays game when you consider the context and I trust this team and its management to learn .

  27. Fair comments, prox.

    fwiw, don’t think there’s anything to *worry* about, especially when it comes to Smith or the players. A touch more depth up front would be nice, because it’s always nice to be able to really change things up.

    But I think there’s a lot to work with. And for me, I’ve not set my sights any higher than 17th. Doesn’t mean we can’t do better than that by any means, but as long as we stay up we can continue to build, and all will be well for a long time.

    Saturday was always going to be tough, and there’s a lot to be taken from it.

  28. Just watched the highlights Prox and was thinking similar, unfortunately we have had a lot in recent years to moan at and a brief return to winning every week and a bit of glory and an exciting summer. I think people are in hair trigger mode still.

    Seen so many offering Dean Smith advice on the prem and how he needs to approach it recently you’d think he doesn’t own a TV and a sky box, let alone seen umpteen hours of in depth analysis, Failing that he can ask JT 🙂

  29. I want smith to stay even if we go down. Great summary from r Kelly. Talks about being physical a lot which is interesting. I just want to know the side for sat! Has to be the full backs and luiz in surly. Bit more pace and adventure.

  30. Prox
    No complaints over new players,seen enough of old ones to they don’t cut in pl,as for houirane in a midfield 3 doesn’t work seen him for Eire v Gibraltar

  31. Good old purslow, he gave as good as he got top man for a posh bloke.

    JG- I know we had hoped that most of the old team would disappear but that would leave us bereft of any Prem experience. we played 3 over 30’s on sat with a lot of just that and it wasn’t their fault we lost imo. Considering we have spent £140m (which is not a lot mate in the scheme of things) we didn’t have much room for much else at this point. I think Conor will end up further forward as replacement for Jack and John with the odd start.

    H&V- 1st thing I thought watching spurs was Christ they are a big team, I’m hoping that all the prem teams haven’t brought in massive players with skill but I doubt it. I don’t think City are like that but I might be mistaken.

  32. Mark
    It all comes down to referees wanting to justify their income & their importance.
    So nothing’s changed there then.
    All the laws of the game appear to have either been changed or ignored in this instance.
    SJM was crouching as usual, & this big lump falls on him backwards & knocks him off the ball to the ground.
    The Var ref was erring on the side of the highest profile club & the home team, so he passed the buck.
    So normal then…
    VAR seems like it’s going to be just as big a problem as the match referees, with interpretation being more important than the laws of the game.

  33. JG
    the players are all we’ve got mate, so someone obviously currently disagrees aka Hourehane, & as Prox said, “Can we please refrain from the chicken little narrative until we’ve seen them play at least a couple of games.”
    We should have a better idea of the direction & makeup of the team after the Everton game.

    Mark – you may be right about H’han becoming a backup for Grealish.
    I was thinking the same for Marvelous & Lansbury as backup for SJM

  34. Matk
    There was a significant foul where the ref was looking the opposite way anticipating early for what comes next when SJM [I think] was floored by an afters foul.
    VAR should also be for when the ref doesn’t see significant fouls, & the VAR, the ref & the linesmen purport to be a team, but for whose benefit, the referees or for applying the rules of the game?
    There seems to be a lot of positioning so they’re not responsible.
    It’s a mishmash ruled by committee.
    It works seamlessly in Rugby, where the Linesman can tell the ref to check it, & the video ref can communicate with the match ref, & between them they clearly go by the letter of the law, & work as one referee entity.
    That isn’t like VAR, where the importance of money is king

  35. I’m only taking the positives from the Spurs game, didn’t have my hopes up before the game just wanted to see us challenging instead of participating, the goal weirdly to say came to early and given the quality of the opposition it was almost inevitable that they’d take one of their chances, however we gave a good account of ourselves and our rivals for mid-table obscurity will do no better.

    Bournemouth is the type of game that we need to be taking all three points from and I expect as mentioned above some change in first team personnel given we are at home and Bournemouth couldn’t put away Sheffield in their opener.

    Agree with the points of view above that, we appear lightweight upfront in terms of options but when Wesley looked isolated and at times prone to being bullied by the Spurs defence, I expect he’ll have learnt a lot on what is expected of him, if he comes away with 14/15 goals this season, I’ll be happy as I can see goals coming from across the midfield, we’ve always struggled to score in the prem as memory serves me even during the good times (i.e. we’ve never really had an Alan Shearer type player).

    Onward Villa soldiers

  36. someone on twitter made a great point. do we need to stop playing 433?
    Put a side out –
    Heaton
    Guilbert engle mings target
    Luiz
    Grealish Nakamba McGuinn
    Wesley Trezeguet

    Not a bad shout at all. toughens the mid up, threat up top and 2 cms allows jack and mcguinn to roam still. full backs push on

  37. Lots of good comments…

    I was really surprised about the penalty call, as well. Seems a very clear and clumsy foul that would be given anywhere else on the pitch. Maybe that goes our way at Villa Park, don’t know that anyone had the courage to give it at Spurs. I’m not necessarily prone to think there’s a conspiracy (so perhaps I’m naive), but I do think officials are hugely influenced by crowds.

  38. IanG- theres a word for Var so far , Wank. The player that got knocked over was Grealish and he didn’t look happy and the ref didn’t give a flying. I was thinking Var is only one letter from Vlar and he wasn’t consistent either.

    Some fans are already making Bournemouth a season indicator, ca-rumba.

    H&V – I assume DS has assembled the team with more than one formation in mind, for instance we played 451 against spurs 🙂

  39. JC- pen at the start of the second half with Harry’s team losing already? I don’t see how it went to Var let alone got turned down, I think we will see a lot of that until they realise we are rich now.

  40. H&V,

    When Smith admitted he might’ve done some things differently, I’m wondering at least about tactical changes. I can understand the logic of structuring the bench to allow for the sort of lineup that you saw suggested. He obviously brought Luiz on, but that’s a tough spot to make your debut.

    Not sure I see Deano going to anything like that in the very near term, but given what we saw, we might well expect to see Marvelous and Luiz on the pitch at the same time against certain opponents. Like I’ve said, I don’t think Hourihane will remain a starter for long, think he’ll get used like he was when Whelan was getting the nod.

  41. I think Hourihane is better further up the pitch than as a DM but he seems determined to take advantage of being a prem player with Villa and that can only benefit the whole as he will take his chances when he gets them.

    I don’t think Hourihane has don’t anything particularly wrong other than be in a team that has McGinn and Grealish as front footed midfielders and even McGinn likes to get stuck into the dirty work.

  42. DarrenO- when you look at that midfield none of them are particularly defensive, Jack used to be the worst but now isn’t, McGinn enthusiastic but to aggressive at times and Conor has learnt and improved, his biggest fault is getting the ball moving quickly, in fact they all suffer from that hence the two specialists I think. Conor somehow has ended up as the best passer, assist and goal scorer but deemed inferior to Both Jack and McGinn.

  43. Anybody fancy this against the Cherries:

    3-2-4-1

    Heaton

    Engels, Mings, House

    Luiz, Marvel man

    Guilbert, Jack, SJM, Trez

    Wes

    Subs: Steer, Konsa, Targett, Jota, Hourihane, Davies, El Gassy/Lansbury

  44. Ian g
    The midfield 3 of last week didn’t set championship alight,for me they need a bit more steel push Jack into front 3 ,then any 3 from marvellous mcginn houriane and Luis

  45. Hi Plug ,
    That setup looks narrow to me , we ain’t playing spurs again . I’d go for same goalie & back 4 again apart from possibly Guilbert for Elmo . Luiz , Mcginn ,Grealish ,Jota , trez/El ghazi , Wesley .

    I think that for all the expectation , Grealish has yet to fully convince me still . The trio of Grealish , Wesley and El ghazi were a little too precious for me on Saturday i.e. If the ref does’nt determine something a foul then its not a f**king foul ! Histrionics does’nt suddenly magic it into a free kick , just get on your feet and get back to work.

    If the DM position is solid then I would say that Hourihane , Jota or lansbury could effectively do the same job as Grealish with the added bonus of Hourihane being our best sniper from deadball situations .

  46. For me, the key thing Deano has been after is fluidity. The midfielders and ‘wingers’ we have are all comfortable on the ball, have their own strengths, but generally can move it around, beat a man or make a quick pass, help retain possession in some fashion.

    I’ve always liked Conor, and always preferred him as a starter out of the players we had before the summer. Like people are pointing out, he does the simple things well, works hard, has quality from a dead ball, and gets up and scores. He does a lot, just isn’t necessarily flashy. The one thing he’s not is a ball carrier or a ball winner.

    So, Luiz and perhaps Nakamba are better suited at the base in many ways. Stuff we all assume. And of course we haven’t seen hardly anything from the new boys.

    I just think it’ll be horses for courses, unless Luiz or Nakamba does everything Conor does, but with better defensive attributes.

  47. With Jack, I think the only thing really missing from his game…Well, let me rephrase that. He can be hesitant to get the ball to a runner or to take shots himself. If he’s going to mature as a player, realize his potential, that’s the next step.

    I could speculate all day about whether he’s worried about missing a through ball and having it come right back, or whether it’s because he’s reluctant to look bad. Likewise with shooting.

    When I look at all the work he’s done getting stronger and fitter, how much more ground he covers, how deep he comes to pick it up…He’s definitely got a sense of responsibility. What I wonder is whether he feels too much responsibility. I say that because since he doesn’t go for glory as often as one might expect, I don’t think it’s a case of ego.

    What I always have to remind myself of is that because of injuries, the ‘new’, grown-up Grealish (following the surgery) doesn’t really have that many games under his belt. And he hasn’t played that many games with a talented cast of players around him who are truly comfortable on the ball. And he hasn’t played any matches with a strong, mobile, athletic DM behind him.

    I love Conor, but he’s not really a DM. Deano figured out a way to get the best out of Whelan for the run-in, sidelined Jedinak. We had Birkir in occasionally, and Lansbury was always hurt. The back four as often as not has been a makeshift shambles. Only got better in January, and Jack was still out. We were struggling until the two matches before his return, and then he comes back and we win 10.

    So I can see where a certain freedom/abandon/fearlessness might be lacking in Jack’s play. If he has the proper platform (how much did Eriksen have to track back, try to tackle/defend and bring the ball up from the edge of the penalty box?), then we’ll have a much better idea what’s really in his locker.

  48. John- It’s a great point on Grealish. I’ve always thought the same. Alot of the time he should just have a pop, but doesn’t.

  49. I see Tammy is copping some flak from the Chelski fans for missing his penalty in mid week. Hmmm, we know his goals from chances ratio ain’t great so he may suffer some more. But I like his work rate and he did put away the penalty that mattered against the yam yams and an ex Villa keeper no less.

    Can’t wait for tomorrow,

  50. Plug,

    That was tough on Tammy. I knew from his eyes as he prepared to take the kick he was going to miss. A bit unlucky, Adrian did a nice job sweeping out his leg, and going down the middle can be a cheeky and fairly good tactic. But…also seems to point to perhaps a certain lack of confidence, letting the pressure get to him, not going for a corner or higher up.

    I thought the chance he missed went he directed it across the goal, missing the far post, looked a lot like the sorts of chances he missed with us. Not a tragic miss, but one a truly clinical striker gets on target.

  51. Well the big boys over here have done it again. last season they dropped covering the EFL Championship and the Champions League. This year they have dropped the Prem too!! Dont know about Ian, but for me I’m done with Bell and Rogers, dropping TSN and Sportsnet Channels, only Curling and Baseball they seem to care about. Just signed up with DZONE they are covering all the above for $20 a month, and i can get the games on my I-pad if I’m out as long there is WI-FI. Thats most anywhere in Canada, all our malls, Coffee Shops and McD’s have free WI-FI. I’ll not be going back to TSN or Sportsnet they have one good year out of the Raptors and think they can cr*p over all the Soccer fans!!!
    Anyway that’s off my chest, i did manage to get the Spurs game on a US NBC station, thought we did great for first hour, but they ripped us apart once we started to flag a little. All the lads that were saying looking forward to some better officiating this year must have forgotten how much London and Manchester get the rub of the doubtful calls, nothing has changed while we were away from what I witnessed. I didn’t see a single call go our way unless there was absolutely no way it could go to Spurs. If we can some points on the board we may get a few calls our way, but even Wolves are not getting them and they had a great first year back.
    Hopefully 3 points tomorrow with a win of at least two goal advantage to give the lads some confidence.

  52. Proxopera. Have to agree with you about last week’s histrionics. Watching the video in the previous posting reminded me of how embarrassed I used to feel by Ashley Young’s antics and how we don’t want to go back there.
    Dean Smith doesn’t like it either and has already told Wesley that he’ll have to toughen up. I’ll be surprised if it happens to the same degree today,

  53. Anyone else see that Micah Richards says he had offers from various clubs and wanted to leave but Keith Wyness persuaded him to stay because of his positive impact on the dressing room.
    Does anyone believe this?
    A club in financial difficulty spurned the chance to save around £4m over 2 years because Richards was so good for dressing room morale??
    We could have hired the Chuckle Brothers for a bit of pre-match dressing room entertainment before every game and saved millions if it really was all about having a happy dressing room.
    . . . Sounds like b*****ks to me.

  54. rObB0,

    I cracked open a six pack on 1st July in celebration of Turpin’s first day of no longer stealing from our club. I see he has moved on to stealing from the media now.

  55. R0bb0, reckon Richard’s must have been dreaming, doesn’t have to know reality anymore.

    Massive game today. Hope Guilbert and Luiz start. Trez and Jota on the wings. Davis on the bench since Kodger is out for 2 weeks. A scrappy 1-0 is fine by me. Don’t care how we play, result is all that matters

  56. Canadian V, u need to move down south. We get to see every game here for every team. Way overload. I still pay for espn+ to watch the championship. Something about the purity of the championship got into my blood 🙂

  57. Jack, I think he’s hitting the weights and he’s not used to the extra few pounds he’s carrying. He’s defo faster, but it has come at the detriment of his stamina until his body acclimatises. I can’t judge him on one game away at Spurs either in which we mostly defended. If anything it showed his defensive play is way better.

    Expecting better things from Wes today.

  58. JG- Marv?nothing other than no pre-season I suspect, Luis in as more of a schemer but we saw when smith came in last year he kept things tight with no really big changes bar the way we played.

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