Villa got a midweek pick-me-up with a dominating run-out against Brighton’s young B team. A win is a win, always good, and it was nice to see Jota, Hourihane, and Grealish back in the goals. Watching the highlights, it was easy to imagine us running away with the Championship this year. 

But it’s not going to happen. Instead, some are starting to have a hard time imagining Villa not rejoining the Championship. 

We know the story up to now…mistakes, bad officiating, naïveté, adaptation. They all add up to just four points and a spot in the drop zone. 

So, to say today’s game is a big one would be an understatement. Villa need confidence. They need three points. They need to feel like maybe the tide can turn. 

Me, I think it can. But it’s down to the players. If we were in sight of beating Arsenal away, then they should be thinking they can beat Burnley at Villa Park. They should be taking a deep breath, reflecting on how close they’ve been at times, and realizing one solid 90 can reignite the season’s optimism and put a lot of regrets to the side. 

Wouldn’t hurt taking a little pressure off, either. City and Liverpool loom, and while we can’t just capitulate, we have to be realistic and assume the games against Burnley, Norwich, and Brighton’s A team could be season-defining. Build some points and belief, and maybe we go into tougher games with the world’s best having something besides fear in our throats. The upside is that the rest of the so-called big six aren’t quite as intimidating (or good) as they have been, so there are points available (as we saw at The Emirates) that we might not have expected. 

But that’s the future. Today it’s Burnley at Villa Park. One game at a time. And however it happens, three points, please. 

Team news: Deano’s switching it up. Hourihane and Nakamba both in, along with Matt Targett. We’ll see how they line up.

Heaton, Guibert, Engels, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, Hourihane, Grealish, McGinn, El Ghazi, Wesley.

Over to you. 

Comments 57

  1. so good so far, Jack is left and drifting, ElGhazi right and same, having Conor in there just works for us and Marv is becoming my favourite player, a steal.

    I thought pushing Jack up into the front three and using Conor would work glad DS got my email 🙂

  2. Finally got to see a whole game.
    2-2 is a bit of a disappointment. They need to sort themselves out around the 50-65 minute mark. I expect that will come.

  3. Maybe they should ride the bike at half time to keep the body ticking over. You can feel lumpy after a rest and find it hard to get going again.

  4. Mail ratings again summarise Wesley as ineffective. I’m no fan of Davies but he can’t do any worse than the other carthorse so why not give him a go.

    Funny how Taylor is involved with goals conceded again. He’s sh1t my friends.

  5. I saw a lot to tell me we’ll be okay.

    But Taylor is a liability, in the end, and it might be time to give Davis a start.

    Unfortunately, if Targett’s done his hamstring again, which it looked like, then it’ll be Taylor for a while.

  6. I like DS but how many games has he left, there’s enough talent in the squad but can’t defend and crumble very disappointing
    We really need to get wins and points on the board
    I think he will get the bullet if we’re still in the bottom three mid October, that’s what this league is about

  7. Shocking,smith is starting to resemble spud with his arrogance picking players not capable of playing in premier league Taylor elmo,last 3 games playing v 10 man hammers 1 point,10 man gunners no points ,1 point at home to Burnley who don’t like travelling like Bournemouth earlier in season,I m gutted again

  8. Ooohhhhh Villa

    So worried about us. Something just doesn’t seem right. How we collapse when going in front. Are the players happy with life at Villa? Are they all fully behind Smith?

    This constant not winning games is only going to make things more unsettled. The players. The board. Our owners won’t sit back if we are bottom after the next couple of games, which we might well be

    Tge requirement looks poor. We left our selfs with Taylor as a left back, one striker who’s useless and only 3 so called wingers

  9. Gutted as I am with another 2 points shelled, I still believe we are not that far away from being quite good. It’s tough getting our noses in front twice only to still cough up the win. Grrrrr.

    If Targett is out, maybe we should try House at LB. Plenty to think about. But I have vivid memories of Spud’s turgid 0-0’s at VP haunting me and what’s on offer now is miles better. Our three games in the last week have produced 7 goals. The problem is the 6 we shipped.

    I will also say SJM is as good as anything I’ve seen in midfield in the Prem this season. Value of 60 million is a joke when Maguire cost 86 million for an average defender. Spud’s lone success in the market for which I’m currently exceedingly grateful.

  10. Toon 0-1 down already which is good.

    Away to Norwich for us next week. I would play Davis up top and bring Chester in for Engels. Also agree with comments of Hause at LB. At least that way 3 of the back 4 are used to each other.

    6 points from the next 2 games will put us well on track. We’re more than capable if we cut out the mistakes

  11. Aargh. So frustrating. As others have said, we’re so close but can’t carry on giving away more points than any other team in the Premiership.
    It feels very different from previous seasons though, in that we’ve shown that we’re ‘capable’ of competing with just about anyone in the division. We don’t yet have a Benteke or Abraham’s up front but there’s still time for it to click. Luckily there are plenty of goals in other parts of the team and provided we stay in touch I can see the owners splashing out in january.
    Let’s face it, we’ve not had the rub of the green so far and those extra 2 points aren’t that many, but would have made things ‘feel’ quite different.
    It’s worth also noting that so far we’ve played 6 out of the top 10 sides and the one team we’ve played in the bottom half of the table we’ve beaten.

  12. Back home after another day out in Birmingham at Villa Park, preceeded by the usual visit to the Aston Tavern for the compulsary pints of Mad Goose to wash down their curry!!

    Well it was a great afternoon on the Holte End cheering on the team, dishing the referee, and taking in the atmosphere. For the neutral, a great game of football with goals, excitement and the usual arguments over Martin Atkinson’s decisions on VAR. Cannot blame John Moss for those decisions.

    It really was a killer with John McGinn’s goal, the instant celebrations and joy after such a great opener. John Moss had given it, as there was no flag from the linesman, only then the call from VAR, talk about frustration, a come down. It really was hard to take, but the decision, using VAR was right, and there is little to argue with. Fortunately, it ,eant that the boys fought harder, and we determined to score, and once again, what a great goal from El Ghazi!

    Sad to see Targett go off injured again, and I must agree with everyone, Hause must now come in or if ready, then Chester with Mings moving to LB. Mings and El Ghazi on the left flank could make a huge difference. Once again for me, McGinn was MOM, and just hope that we can hang on to him in the January window, as teams above will be willing to pay whatever we ask!!
    The boys never gave up, but we still have a long way to go. Burnley may only be an average side, but they have all been playing together for a very long time, and it showed with Jack Cork, Westwood and Lowton all showing their understanding with each other, and Lowton’s crosses always our undoing.

    We will improve and there is still time, but we must also learn toi take the chances offered. Jack played well, but squandered two great chances, which he should have put away. He needs to take a leaf out of McGinn’s book. Nakamba is getting better, but away to go, and Wesley neeeds to be stronger, and Dean hopes by giving him the minutes he will do, otherwise, I am sure Davis would be ahead of him. Trezeguet showing some nice touches and will come good. Comments from some on whether Heaton should have come and claimed the ball, but for me, ENgels and Guilbert should have done better, as Taylor was nowhere near to close Lowton down before he crossed. Such naive defending.

    Maybe we should have signed Randolph from Middlesboro, who is one of the finest young goalkeepers, and at least a fully experienced striker. I am sure come January it will be on the cards.

  13. Having watched the Wai Ayes getting stuffed, I feel more reassured as we don’t have their problems. Spud’s lack of tactical nous is already under fire by their fans. Social media vitriol makes our cabbage lob look very amicable indeed.

    We are probably the worst affected team by the joke called VAR. I would happily bin it before it ruins our great sport. It’s used against us when we don’t want it and non existant when we do need it.

  14. So I ask myself. Who’s shoes would I prefer to be in?

    Watford? Manager already replaced. Clearly problems. Some heavy defeats. Troy Deeney at CF? Nah thanks.

    Newcastle? Ashley soaking the club dry. Spud on a 3 year contract. A squad of overpaid prima donnas. Nah thanks.

    Brighton? Lightweight squad without depth. Struggling to score goals. Graham Potter from Solihull. Nah thanks.

    Sheff Utd? A bit like Leeds, players thrashed to run and run. Time and injuries must surely catch up with them. Nah thanks.

    Naarwich City? Useful outfit. What happens when Pukki’s goals dry up or he gets injured. The team will be Farked. Nah thanks.

    Crystal Palace? Zaha wants away. Current league position is false. They won’t be able to keep relying on Frauds to collect points. Nah thanks.

    Mighty Villa? Front foot footie. Goals from multiple positions. Young team that will only improve. SJM and Jack in the middle. Any day over the previous lot.

  15. Nice positive summary Plug… Just hope you are right. A lot I agree with, but have a little more faith in the “Blades”, but they will have atime of struggle.
    Must say Micah Richards showed his true colours last night in the summary, after the Leicester game, admitting how players heads drop and give up, as he admitted to doing, when playing for Villa against Leicester, when we were winning 2-0, but Vardy helped to turn it round, and Richards couldn’t cope with him..!!!

  16. I think it would be great to have Hause’s extra height but I think he’d get done in this league at LB, might be wrong but.

    I think considering the defending by us second half its a bit rich to land it all in Taylors lap, so much that should of happened before he was asked to bail us out. He’s not great but neither is our defending at times.

    PP- when Lowton gets the ball Jack was closest to him and fails to close him down, he stops and lets Taylor sprint out in a rush, ok Taylor gets sold and Lowton fakes to cross but Jack could of easily forced him wide or prevented the cross.

    Wes just might be due a sit on the bench, we are creating little for him nor playing through him at home.

    Norwich will be a very open game.

  17. Been away for a long weekend with the missus.

    Great set of observations, as per.

    I totally get the comments about Wes. And could well be time to give him a chance watching it all with Davis starting.

    Also agree about seeing a different LB. can’t say I think Mings should be out there, or that Chester should supplant Engels…but I do think Taylor is a liability. He’s not ‘terrible’, but things did change when Targett went off. Not just down to that, but if we’re saying we want Jack further up, he can’t be covering Taylor and doing his thing 70 yards up. Taylor doesn’t do enough in the attacking phase to warrant that.

    Anyway, will have some thoughts up tomorrow evening.

    And PP, wouldn’t mind having you write some match reviews. Same goes for the rest of you…really good thoughts.

  18. MK,

    Agree with you about Jack and Lowton. Engels was poor on Saturday, and I think Chester may well replace him, and Mings move to left back. It would be the sensible thing to do, and the closest to where we were last season as a back four.
    Wesley does need to sit on the bench and watch Davis, and Wesley may be better coming on as an impact player at about 60 minutes, if we need him.
    Targett did look ok for the time he was on the pich, but we are not getting any time out of him, and I just hope he is not going to a £14 million sick note, as we have had enough of those.

    Very kind JC to ask, I will always give input and give a review of what I see, so maybe I could have a shot.

    Saturday in brief:

    Good and the Great:
    John McGinn and his terrorizing of the Burnley defence, ably supported by Grealish and El Ghazi.

    THe bad:
    Jack’s failure to control the ball when faced with a great opportunity, the poor defending in the six yard box. Woods and Rodrigeuz terrorized us.

    The Ugly,

    Loss of Targett so early on and the pain of VAR…..!!!

  19. JC- I think the game changed straight away after the break rather than when Taylor came on, there had been a few chances down that side by then. We all know he’s not the solution but worse than playing a CB there? I’m doubtful. The other observation I have is after the half did Jack an SJM swap? certainly jack was all over the pitch and Mcginn disappeared until the goal then disappeared again.

  20. MK,

    They didn’t come out strong, no. And I’m sure Dyche gave his side some reminders. And of course you don’t see much 4-4-2 with two big strikers like that. As always, would do me good to watch a replay…So hard not to get caught up in the moment.

    Taylor’s just an issue. Is a CB the answer? Probably not in terms of mobility, and I’ve not really seen Dean disposed to try it. Though there are some pretty good-sized FBs in the league. I’m thinking it was always the case that Targett was meant to replace Taylor, but Dean was giving it some time. He gets his chance…and maybe he shouldn’t have played twice in the same week. Them going down that side was probably always going to be an adjustment with Targett getting forward.

    I don’t know that they swapped, JG and SJM, but again, would have to watch to see if Burnley did something different or we were just overloading certain areas at times.

  21. And one thing I will say about Jack is that he’s not a great ‘defender’. He’ll chase, he’s blocked a helluva lot of shots, but ironically, he’s not that great staying with a dribbler. He’ll get turned or play off.

  22. JC- I am only pointing out the potential swap as I think Conor went out right mid too and McGinn popped up far left to score while jack was out right combining with Trez for the goal. Maybe a ploy to take the pressure off McGinn who’d been kicked to death and to return Conor to his favoured side.

    PP- Even if they went to 433 why should we change? they played a spoiling game 1st half and attacked in the second regardless of shape we didn’t cope well. Points more and more to a lack of know how in the team to me.

  23. Some interesting comments from Dean Smith, he feels its down to composure which I would call experience and the failure to kill games off with a second goal. Considering the chance we produce we certainly haven’t been clinical enough. On the 1st goal he saw it as a fluke cross from a man sliding into a tackle and the second he said contained 6 mistakes any one of which could of prevented the goal.

  24. MK…

    Yeah, could well be. Like I say, would have to watch again to really see the pattern, whether it was more a case of fluidity, or something we persisted with for a while. But you’re right, not where he’s usually at. Would make sense to get him matched up/lost in the shuffle somewhere else.

  25. Just general, but watching the highlights, for all the scrappiness and loss of initiative, I didn’t really see that much from Burnley. We rebounded nicely, just got caught out on the equalizer. Engels doesn’t quite get in front, was there and not far off—pretty inch-perfect ball, in the end.

  26. MK,

    I’ve seen a lot of that this year, the way the ball ends up squirting out for the cross for Burnley’s first. Two guys out there, somehow neither comes away with the ball, and it just comes out perfectly to somehow sweep at it. I’m guessing we were flatfooted as no one expected the cross to come through.

    But what I mean in general, is that we either get in each other’s way, or somehow in what looks to be a dead end for the opponent the ball falls to them.

  27. Have seen all the games so far on DZN, well worth the 20 a month. I have to say we have not looked as bad as results would show, I really hope they don’t pull the trigger to early, it’s a learning curve and at least the footie ain’t boring. Anyway it’s alright for guys you haven’t got hide your faces for weeks as your Rugby team doesn’t suck the big one like ours. We put up a fantastic result again in the world cup, we held the All Blacks to a mere 63 points, wow, that’s only a hundred or so put past us in two games. Anyway it’s the Canary Yellows the weekend and Dean at least has played them before and might have a better clue how to set up against them.

  28. Canadian,

    “I have to say we have not looked as bad as results would show, I really hope they don’t pull the trigger to early…”

    Exactly. I’ve just put a match review up, so sorry to hide your comment, but I’ll carry it over as a starting point.

    And I don’t think Smith’s going anywhere.

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