It seems an eternity since we lost to Wolves, and while I always welcome the football back, I wish this one didn’t feel quite so important. Is it? Well, it is pretty big.

We’ve got the normal business with Steve Bruce returning and wanting to prove the new owners and supporters wrong. Probably Dean Smith, too. We’ve got Villa needing a win.

Tonight, I think it simply comes down to who wants it more, and there could be a host of reasons to spur us on. Villa wanting to rebound from the desultory day at Molineux. Villa wanting to give Smith a vote of confidence. Villa wanting to put a touch more distance between themselves and the drop zone. All of the above.

With Grealish back and Smith’s record against Bruce, there’s reason for optimism. You hate to see matches with this much pressure early on, but then the Premier League is all about pressure. You have to win at home, steal points on the road, and win the six-pointers against the teams around you. Villa are basically in a mini-league at this point, and we’ll want to put pressure not only on Norwich, Southampton and Watford, but get Newcastle, Everton, and West Ham feeling nervy, as well.

The points spread is still very tight from 11 on down. And while the immediate run of fixtures following the barcodes looks a bit daunting, I’ll say again that our past performances against certain clubs leave some room for optimism as far as nicking a point or two along the way. It’s really the following stretch with Sheffield, Norwich, Southampton and Watford up to and over the holidays that will define the first half of the season and tell us what sort of fight we’ve got on our hands.

So, let’s get out there, get three, and allow ourselves to breathe a little easier as we prepare for a United side that’s there to be had.

Over to you.

Comments 44

  1. Thanks JC- Newcastle play 3 at the back and most of their goals have been scored by the defence and by set piece, Clarke is their top scorer with two in a 75% success rate of shots.

    They have a Brazilian up top too and he cost a lot more than Wesley but has 1 goal and one assist in 12 games, Bruce signed a winger too and he has one assist. His best signing is a LB on loan with 1 goal and 2 assists. As you can see is they are not prolific up front or midfield, our signings and team look positively prolific with at least 7 players with two goals mins and upwards to Jack with 4 goals and 4 assists.

    If that doesn’t highlight the two managers approaches then nothing will. I think Jack and McGinn are going to give them a hard game tonight and continue Dean Smiths winning ways over Bruce.

  2. Decent enough. Controlled, measured, made the possession tell.

    Very much a Steve Bruce approach from the barcodes. Good to break that down.

    Nice save from Heaton, as well.

  3. Good tactics by Smith, no Nakamba as we don’t need him with stay home Bruce. How hourihane gets dropped I’ll never know , he’s not the greatest all round mid but he’s so bloody accurate.

  4. He’s definitely gotten it right to start with, MK.

    Conor’s in a tough spot. Like you say, he fits a game like this. His success rate is pretty high.

    Need to be a bit better here. Acting a bit headless, atm.

  5. A good win but they should have put the screws to Newcastle at the beginning of the 2nd half.
    MOTM? Grealish. He drew the fouls, orchestrated the first goal, and made the opposition a 1/2 second slow in coverage.
    Looks good on Brucey. Where were the cabbages?
    They have it in them to be top half of the table and will be there.

    They’re not far away the middle of the table is clogged and a few wins in a row will see them move up quick.
    Smith started a bit slow last year and when Grealish came back and everyone on the same page they were the toast of the town.

  6. You have to laugh, MK. They don’t see the matches, but have an opinion anyway. That was Jack, simple as.

    Glad it was on TV though, and everyone got to see and hear.

  7. He’s a helluva player, ViilaMD. And he can only get better.

    Yes, good night from Heaton and Konsa, And a lot of good work from others. McGinn always seems off the boil following international duty. Where, tbf, he has been great.

  8. He’s a helluva player, ViilaMD. And he can only get better. He actually just needs to be a little bit less selfish.

    And yes, good night from Heaton and Konsa, and a lot of good work from others. McGinn always seems off the boil following international duty. Where, tbf, he has been great. But it takes something out of him.

  9. JC- Yeah McGinn has been putting in flat performances for us for some time, even his shooting is lack lustre. Talking of which I’d like our players to show some variation in their shooting, far to many try to curl the ball in, Conor is the only one with it all in that department.

    While I’m on the shooting trail I also think our heading department at set pieces is fairly non existent. Such a shame when the Jack & Conor combination sets up so many good opportunities. Oh for a Peter Withe or Andy Gray in Jan.

    The defence was fairly solid against a frontline with no shooting boots and Heaton did what he had to. Guilbert did very well especially as that winger was tricky if toothless ultimately.

    I thought Wesley played really well in his link up role but missed a sitter, I can’t complain though as the bloke just does not get any service for most of the match. Once he lays the ball off he is virtually left out of the play.

    All in all a satisfying 3 points from Bruce and without Nakamba and Trez playing a part. Both are likely to play against Manure. 13 games in we look like we are starting to form something decent while having put goals past some of the leagues best defences on the way.

  10. Hi Iana nice to see you- I think we will get 9- 12 points in the remainder of the year so a min of 23 points to take into the new year. Thats over half way to where we will need to be on recent years, not bad. Next 3-4 games are all tough, a few surprises will be most welcome.

  11. massive win. best luiz has played and very impressed with konsa. very compossed andassured….a lot like tuanzabe.

    Good thing is we have a fair few decent players so if one doesn’t play well the other will. Mings looked abit nervy last night and was mcguinns worse game I reckon.

  12. H and V – Luis is ok going forward and playing as that deep playmaker for me but thats if he has loads of time, last night he was caught a few times when Newcastle pressed higher up second half and his defensive abilities are way less than his pre-signing info suggested, probably due to the league he was in. Surprised he didn’t get pulled for Nakamba around 70. Also seems way slower than he was billed too. Like Wes he is young and will improve given time and support. Both full backs have improved in the last few games, Guilbert has become more disciplined.

  13. A good win for Villa in the end, managing to keep their early lead from set pieces.

    Some good displays from all areas of the team, but against better opposition, we surely would have been punished, as we have in previous games. There were just so many times that we had the opportunity to put the game to bed, but failed, with Jack, Wesley and McGinn leaving their shooting boots in the changing rooms.

    Was very impressed again with Konsa, Luiz and everyone, although as has already been said McGinn and Mings were not at their best.

    The clean sheet was very important, but a lot was to do with the failings on the Toon attack.

  14. Good thoughts, and nice to see you, Iana.

    PP: yeah, better attacks would’ve converted something. But. That’s the mini-league we’re in. It’s generally teams that have trouble scoring at this level that go down. Genius insight, I know, but it’s either that or having a really porous defense.

    5-2 or 5-3 Villa would probably have been a fair result if everyone had finished the good chances.

  15. Huge, huge result for us. A rocking VP under lights is fabulous. I’m still stoked. We should have won by a wider margin. But things are looking promising. Didn’t think much of the opposition though.

  16. Deano has the Indian sign on Spud. Schools his sides every time. The Wai Aye blogs are spitting vipers. They think Villa is a team they should be having a go at. But that’s not Spud’s way. Defensive first, second and third.

    And it was immediately after an international break. Spud’s record on those occasions are abysmal as we know only too well. Now bring on Man Ure.

  17. Looking forward to the United game, and hoping that we can fair better than the “Blades”, but United have some great young and hungry talent, so our defence will need to be 110% on the ball, Manure scoring three in seven minutes was a disaster for the “Blades”. We really need to step up to the plate in the second half of games, especially away from home.

  18. I think that as Newcastle tend to sit back and have had trouble all season with scoring up top that we played it right, no Nakamba made it a bit hairy for the CB’s to deal with at times so his return against United will help. In this league you either try to score and accumulate the odd win against the better sides or you try to defend but that means when you concede your stuffed. The way we play means that the pressure we are put under dictates whether we are attacking or counter attacking, defending as yet as such does not come into it as a game plan.

    JC- Carragher at least said Jack is one of those players that just seems to have time, like the game slows down which means he is quality, haven’t seen any other player in this league to compare. Thats not to say he is more effective than others just a one off talent but one thats worth using.

  19. Much better last night all over field,especially with bruce coming back with his wound up side,
    Didn’t like smith choice of team to start with but then it’s nice to see horses for courses,not same old every week
    Mk if you had been at Ireland match last week you would have seen a completely different conor

  20. Plug…

    It was vintage Bruce. That why I was laughing at his comments. “Too passive”. That’s exactly the way Villa looked all too often under him. Not a bad man, but like you and others are saying, he always plays the same way and somehow manages to bemoan the results and performances that will inevitably come from his tactics.

  21. PP,

    United will be more than a little interesting. I’d be attacking Jones all day. Had a nightmare against Sheffield, Ghazi could give him fits if he’s on his game, and that might well yield some good opportunities for SJM and Wes.

  22. MK,

    I’d agree with him. The game does slow down for Jack. Plays with his head up, knows he can wriggle away from pressure or get the foul, and it was interesting seeing Newcastle players just giving him space later on when he went to carry it.

    I liked that he was looking to shoot more last night. Wish that curler had found the top corner. But if he keeps doing that, he’ll get more goals and much more attention/credit. Think he feels the responsibility to not be selfish and instead set others up, doesn’t want a move to end with him missing a shot.

  23. JG,

    It has been good to see Dean tinkering a bit, but with purpose. Keeps the players hungry and involved. And it’s easy to forget how few games Targett, Engels/Konsa, Guilbert, Luiz, Nakamba, Wes and Trez have had playing together in any combination.

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