In recent years (which adds up to a big chunk of a lot of our lives, I’m sure), Old Trafford’s not been a joyful place for Villa. And United have been somewhat resistant to giving us anything anywhere. I think it’s something like 1 win, 4 draws, and 19 losses for us in the Premier League era. But they’re a bit miserable up in Manchester these days, the team’s wobbly, Ole’s on the hot seat…and we’ve really got nothing to lose.

So today, I think this is going to be all about mentality. If Villa believe, and play within themselves, they can come away with something. The side have to encouraged by outings against Liverpool and the like, and given yesterday’s results, it should be clear to them that with a little more composure, a little less naïveté, and 90 minutes of effort they’ll be in this one and could finally get over the hump when it comes to playing the top teams.

The team sheet’s been released, and both Ezri Konsa and Conor Hourihane have deservedly retained their places. Elsewhere, no changes. And I think that’s just about right. Scott McTominay isn’t going to make this one for United, so we’ll see Fred, Perreira, Rashford, James, Mata, and Martial looking to break us down. Sadly, there’ll be no Phil Jones to pick on, and Axel isn’t starting.

Targett and Guilbert will obviously have their hands full. But you could say that most any week. Luiz is obviously going to be hugely important as well. Villa will also require the full measure of SJM’s graft and Jack’s guile. But that’s true most any week. And I think the pair might well enjoy the chance to shine on the big stage. McGinn’s got his Scotland place, and Jack still has a point to prove.

So I think the lads’ll be up for this one, and might just be getting a little tired of certain narratives, close calls, and gutting results.

Starting XI
Heaton, Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Luiz, Hourihane, McGinn, Grealish, El Ghazi, Wesley.

COYVB and over to you.

Comments 41

  1. PW,

    No, they don’t deserve to be level. And a shame it bounced off Heaton, as I think it was spinning away.

    That said, at 1-1, it’ll keep Villa’s attention, and we’ve been playing well after the goal. But yeah, we should be 1-0 at the break.

  2. Yes, at least we didn’t concede late goals. Fundamental problem is that we have no cutting edge up front to score when we’re on top. Both Newcastle goals were from set pieces and set pieces were poor today. Wesley again looked ineffective. Need to defend basics better. McGinn needs to urgently refind his form.
    I would have taken a point at 4:30…strikers urgently required in January

  3. At least Wes worked really hard off the ball, and did a bit better holding up. It did help us disrupt them and play further up.

    That said, no real look-ins, and so unfortunate to get the assist on United’s second.

  4. I know Dean’s sticking with it, and you see why at times, but I’m still thinking about Jack as a false 9.

    Jota will do better playing into Wesley, I think, and losing El Ghazi early was a blow.

    But. We need to at least have a second, different option for a striker. We can’t bring anyone on to really change the attack.

  5. Happy to get a point at old Trafford, but should have been 3,don’t know why smith did use marvellous to steady us up McGinn was out on his feet needs a rest,also conor shocking from set pieces today

  6. JC- I thought Wes did ok, worked hard and gave us a platform, to me the problem lies in the fact we appear to create bugger all for him nor seem to attempt to. I can’t see how DS can be happy with that fact unless its by design. At least he gets on with it and works hard, most strikers would not be happy with the level of service. Funny you should mention false nines I was thinking Wes plays like false nine almost.

    McGinn seems to have gone backwards and is now more a DM than Luis who at least can spray the ball about.

    No Guilbert or ElGhazi for next match

  7. MK,

    Agreed, he ran hard, had some good hold-up play, won some headers…it’s more about having a different way of going about it to change things up.

    And it’s also true we don’t get the ball to him much.

    McGinn, no idea what’s going on with him. Maybe it’s by design to be deeper, and he did have a couple moments where he looked much more like himself. But still not what we’re used to seeing.

  8. Solid point. Let’s be honest we will never beat united..

    Jack is a baller

    If Ghazi injury is bad we are in trouble. We lack wingers as it is

    Apparently Wesley was good.
    But look at the goal we had disallowed. He can’t ever sort his feet out

  9. The disallowed goal really annoyed me…I know the rule, but I can’t possibly believe its spirit is supposed to include a player’s lower calf in the air while the rest of his body, mass, and weight are across the line and he’s running the opposite way. You might well call it for someone having his hair flying out behind him.

    Of course there’ve been untold decisions where they’ve measured it down to a fingernail. Seems to me that a portion of the torso and a leg fully across and planted is closer to what it should mean. This is kind of hair-splitting and idiotic ‘precision’ is not good for the game.

  10. Well I’m happy with a point. I can see improvement every game for the most part and the mistakes and lapse of concentration are becoming less frequent. For the most part we are picking flies. You have to give some credit to opposing players when things don’t turn out right for us. It’s their job after all. It’s a game of wits as well as skill. We can see it in Grealish, he’s two steps ahead. For the most part it seems villa can run with the big boys but eventually lose out as their experience let’s them down.

  11. The Mings and Trezeguet goals showed why VAR has taken out the fun from scoring. Exhilaration immediately dampened and hoping that nothing comes from the check, what a sad state.

    Villa played well, the most confident they have played at Old Trafford since MON’s time. I still think the way we play, we dont have the energy for the full 90 minutes. Having said that, we moved the ball better in the first half, god ManU are poor right now.

    Guilbert misses the next match, so Elmo will come back in. Hope Tammy stays out. UTV

  12. Ian,

    Mings did look way offside when he met the ball, but he was at least a foot, maybe two, behind the defender on the other side of the wall who was playing him on. I think it was Trezeguet just behind him, and I’m not sure if he was onside. Think he was, but very happy Mings just exploded through and got to it first to remove any doubt.

  13. Villalore,

    United were definitely better in the second, playing it much more quickly. They’re pretty young overall, the side they put out, but still have quite a bit of talent on the field. We’ll see what they look like when they get players back. They seem to have the same failing as us: A lot of mental lapses, inconsistency, periods where they just don’t play to their strengths. I think they’ll grow into it as long as they’re still behind Ole. Not that I want them to, but…

    Guilbert will be a miss, at least Elmo’s a veteran. I think Fred and Targett have both improved each week. The formation and the number of players we get forward always means we’re going to have spaces down the flanks, but they’re getting better once they’re back in defensive positions, and Targett has been really good in the offensive third. Gets involved with important touches, interceptions, etc., much more than Taylor. And that was a lovely assist. Starting to see more of the potential we paid for each week.

    The players are asked to cover a lot of ground. I can only think that Dean doesn’t want to upset the cohesion late on, and figures that if they run like that for 90 each week they’ll get used to it. But, like above, I’d have thought maybe Nakamba for Luiz, as well as Lansbury for Hourihane.

  14. The main failing I’m seeing defensively is that we don’t quite push out enough toward the central midfielders pulling the strings for the opponent. They’re able to create chances, especially later in games. We just don’t close down and put them off enough.

  15. Ian,

    Offside today: If your breath somehow goes past the last man, you’re offside. Never mind an arm, a hand, a finger, a dangling calf. It really should be where the body mass is in relation to the defender. So many of these would never have been called in the past, they’re so so close.

  16. In Canadian football as in hockey and American football VAR is in use as well. The CFL the coach is allowed a set number of challenges to the play and VAR is used to check. If the coach is wrong the team is penalized. Same in hockey. If they did that in football perhaps VAR wouldn’t be used nearly as much as it is right now. Who would want to challenge a close goal and then be penalized right afterward?

  17. Manure are the youngest squad in the league average age is under 25 Villa about 26.

    Beginning to see progression from us as Smiths coaching sinks in, follows a similar pattern to last season in my eyes. Hopefully that means come January we really start to put runs together. Be nice to be safe and have a cup final to celebrate with wouldn’t it 🙂

  18. Fcuk var not helping, had a row with its fan today I said mata handed the ball when he jumped up to block free,he said hands behind his back I said yes but mata was scared of getting hit with the ball so he turned around when he jump so his hands weren’t in natural position, if you score a goal when the ball hits any part of hand/arm its disallowed so why was pen not given

  19. Still only 3 points of 18th, even when there are some awful teams below us. It’s to close.

    We simply haven’t won enough games, because various reasons. It might come back to haunt us

    January we need striker and a winger.

  20. Frem – 6th place is only 8 points off of the bottom three and we are 5 points off of them for various reasons. 12 teams are between 8-2 points off the bottom three at present, its to early to panic, it has to be said though we are doing this with a team assembled this season an touted as the next Fulham who had about 8 points by now. Have a look at there season and it might help you sleep at night 🙂–19_Fulham_F.C._season

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