Fresh on the heels of a relatively successful visit to Old Trafford, Villa head to Stamford Bridge to see if they can get more points off another big side. Could be tough with Chelsea losing to West Ham at the weekend, as they’ll obviously be looking for a response.

But if, as Dean Smith says, Villa can keep their organization and concentration, it would be quite a statement to follow up the 2-2 draw with United by getting something from this match. For me, I’m wondering how much gas we have in our tank after the end-to-end game Saturday. Also a shame we’ll be without Ghazi and Guilbert. Ahmed Elmohamady will have a test on his hands with Christian Pulisic, and it’s all-change down the right flank.

Jota has made the bench, finally, and it’ll be really interesting to see—either tonight or perhaps Sunday against Leicester—what he looks like now that he’s had the hernia dealt with. He seemed to understand Wesley’s game, and could be important in getting him going again. For his part, Wesley had a good outing against United, doing much more pressing, which really helped the team. Sadly he had an assist the other way, but otherwise, it was a solid performance.

Super John McGinn again didn’t seem his usual self Saturday, so I’m hoping we see the full version tonight. Jack had a fantastic match, of course, and if he can build on that, well…I think that’s pretty much where Villa’s fortunes hinge.

Doesn’t mean all the other stuff isn’t important. It is. Since I’m getting this up just after the team sheet came out, we’ve got the answer as to whether Dean might revert to the Luiz and Nakamba 4-2-3-1, or if he’ll be encouraged to keep Conor in the side. Luiz does make way for Nakamba to go 4-3-3, and Conor starts again. He wasn’t as good on the ball Saturday as he was against Newcastle, but he did the other things well enough. Here’s hoping he’s got the killer ball in him tonight. Konsa has also kept his place.

On the other side, Tammy apparently has passed his late fitness test and I certainly hope he doesn’t come back to haunt us.

So, here we are, the middle of a tough stretch, and we’ve got something to work from. Like all of us, I’m more than curious to see how we fair having gone to a famous and ill-fated ground (for Villa) and leaving thinking we could’ve done better than a point.

Starting XI
Heaton; Elmohamady; Konsa; Mings; Targett; Nakamba; Hourihane; McGinn; Grealish; Wesley; Trezeguet.

Lansbury; Taylor; Engels; Jota; Luiz; Nyland; Kodjia


Over to you.

Comments 54

  1. Odd half…seemed a bit half-hearted, and, yes, lots of errors.

    But then we seemed to find our footing, press harder, and find another gear.

    Funny with Elmo, because I was bemoaning the lack of attacking impetus we’d have from Guilbert, and then he gets the assist.

  2. I’d love a point but my goodness we lack quality. Chelsea sticking close to Grealish and we have no other outlet or ball carrier.

    How poor must Kodjia be to be on the bench versus the lumbering oaf Wesley?

  3. PW,

    With Kodjia, I just think it’s work rate and the role. Wes has found it hard going, but connected well with Grealish on the goalscoring move, for example.

    Overall? Young as Chelsea are, they’ve had a deep stable of players, and you still have Kante, Willian, Azpilicueta. They provide a reasonable, experienced base.

    For us, I think it’s more confidence than lack of quality. The side isn’t as naturally talented as Chelsea, and they need to force their way into things. They started doing that and it got better.

  4. We continually make basic bad decisions when not clearing the ball first time. First time ball control is poor from all except Grealish

    That is what is poor quality John.

    McGinn has gone right off the boil.

  5. All I mean Paul is that when I see us play like this, I think it’s about the players staying within themselves. A number seem to play like they feel ‘rushed’ mentally. That’s the bad touches, etc.

    But, to your point, composure is an element of overall quality.

  6. Too many not at the races,kinda good start starting to unravel, no natural wide midfielders making our gulls backs overrun,our setpieces shocking,mcginn so far off the boil yet plays 90 mins every game

  7. JG
    Agree about McGinn but lack of alternatives throughout the squad mean that poor players are under no pressure for their places. Wesley must the shittest player on history to have never been dropped

  8. :-/ well, I could have been outside shovelling snow.
    They got spanked today. Beaten at every turn. 2-1 was a compliment to Heaton.

  9. Wesley is too slow and cumbersome. He needs to use his large body to command space, put players on their backside, make them think twice about getting run over.

  10. Chelsea are a good side and they have better players than us.

    Our defence is looking ponderous – time to bring Engels back in

    Heaton is fantastic.

    Luiz looked good when he came on

    McGinn is tired – he will come good again

    Jack is awesome

    Elmo looked good last night

    Target cannot defend

    We need another striker up front.

    I found Dean Smith’s comments interesting about Wesley. Agreed, he is young, from Brasil and learning is trade in the Premier League. However, we needed the finished article to compete and stay in the league. I wonder if we had another striker lined up in the Summer and we couldn’t get the deal over the line.

    We are in desperate need of a quality forward – and he needs to be signed Jan 1st.

    We can beat Leicester at home.


  11. well not too bad for me. away trips to utd and Chelsea in space of 4 days just a stretch too far for us. But 1 point and goal difference still ok is ok for me. Our season will be defined after the blades game when we finally have a run of nice looking fixtures! Its really been a daunting run lately. If we can come out of it not in the bottom 3 will of done ok.

  12. OK, whilst my luck is in. Agree with lifers comments about our strengths and shortcomings. Chelsea away was a game too far 3 days after Old Trafford away.

  13. Not the greatest but not the worst either, 1st time I have watched Chelsea and they are a good young side. We did play some good stuff around their penalty area at times though and their keeper made one cracking save.

    One thing I have noticed is we are less organised and less capable in the air without Engels, I expect to see him on Sunday. Again Where is mcGinn?

  14. No surprise, Silva’s gone.
    These management changes are going to make most of those those teams harder to beat later in the season.
    Mark -every time I go to post something lately, you’ve posted it first, thanks for saving me the effort mate, I appreciate it.

  15. Looks ominous as the reality will mean we are unlikely to get 9 points from the Christmas games.

    Need a goal-scorer in January and a lot of luck with injuries and suspensions

  16. I do think the striker issue is the most pressing. Another winger might be tough (not saying we couldn’t improve) with Ghazi, Trez, and Jota all vying for time with Jack up front, now.

    Anyway, I get Wesley’s role, and he’s done a better job with pressure, and providing a connection/combination for Grealish. He had a couple good moments gaining possession and switching play quickly and accurately. There’s a decent-enough player in there, but it’s a long learning curve.

    Regardless, we need a smaller, faster striker in the Luiz, Aguero, Defoe mode. Need to be able to change things up, give defenses something else to cope with.

  17. Oh dear. Everton won, so me thinks the pressure is building rapidly on us now. A bad week of strange results so maybe Leicester will have an off-day tomorrow?

    I like the new manager bounce effect….Smith out anyone :-). Just kidding as there is no bounce effect possible at Villa because the squad isn’t good enough. With Everton, you know that they are better than their position, with us you know we will be clinging on until the final game

  18. PW
    Agree with the first paragraph, but the second appears to be your glass is half empty syndrome.
    Hope you’re not one of those who never buy a round.

  19. With great sadness I heard the news about Ron Saunders. My thoughts are with his family and friends,

    He was the best manager Villa had in my lifetime by a distance. Lost for words at the moment.

  20. Yes RIP Ron Saunders, I’m fortunate to have seen his time at Villa.

    Blimey so that point at Man utd who have now beaten spurs and Man city was in vain then?

    Heres how I see it, we are at home today and it will be tough but by no means are we without hope, we have done ok there. We have lost to Bournemouth early on and Liverpool but only by one goal, in fact we have only lost by two goals once and 3 once at spurs and City twice all season.

    Looking at away games you have to realise that we have played 7 of the top ten away from home, this is probably a good thing as we could of come away and probably should of come away with some points from those games. This is with a team in its infancy. We now have less hard away games and fairly reasonable home form with a settled side to look forward to.

    Yes we could do with a striker, it appears we only have one at the club at present, I would defo bring RHM back even O’hare just for variety, Green anyone? Otherwise the club needs to spend in Jan or go for a loan or two. The only other way we can improve is to defend better and keep the ball better, both are possible.

    After this game its Sheff utd, southampton, Norwich ,Watford, Burnley if that doesn’t give us 23ish points by then we nothing will.

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