Well, here we are. The games are becoming more and more must-win. Since the festive fixtures didn’t deliver the breathing room we would’ve wanted, and Watford’s resurgence under Nigel Pearson has not been helpful, we’re really right up against it. But with a win tonight, we’ll have done ourselves a huge favor.

Sadly, we do not have our new striker, Mbwana Samatta available, and Smith has opted not to start Vassilev. A lot of supporters thought he might get the nod. My guess is that we’ll see him at some point, though (assuming he’s on the bench, can’t get the full team sheet to come up). If nothing else, he provides a lot of energy. More so than, say, Jonathan Kodjia, who Smith was pretty blunt about when asked about his departure.

Anyway, no surprises in the starting XI, though I might’ve thought Luiz’s efforts could’ve merited him a return. But it’s Drinkwater’s experience Smith is going to rely on.

Reina, Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Hause, Targett, Drinkwater, Nakamba, Trezeguet, Grealish, El Ghazi.

Subs: Nyland, Chester, Elmohamady, Luiz, Hourihane, Lansbury, Vassilev

As both Mings and Hause have said right along with Dean Smith, it’s about bringing more fight to the full 90. Let’s see if they’ve got it.


Comments 92

  1. What? Hause played his guts out and put some great tackles in, ok he ain’t beckenbauer and guess what lads we only went and won happy days bring on Bournemouth with our new strikers you miserable lot 🙂


    Great end to the game and we thoroughly deserved to win the game.

    We looked much better when Dougie came on.

    Great goal from Konsa

    Mings was a warrior

    Grealish kept driving at their defence.

    Some great tackles and interventions from Hause and Konsa

    And now we have a Striker to look forward to.


  3. We have actually won 7 games this season. Which is the same as Tottenham and more than Arsenal.

    It makes you think. And we have suffered from huge injuries to key players.

    We are not as bad as we think we are.

    I am so happy we have won. Delighted. Great drama at the end of the game.

    3 points against Bournemouth and we can start looking up the table.

  4. Fantastic result, coming from behind, no less.

    That could kickstart things.

    And talent-wise, I don’t think we’re that bad. I had to go out, couldn’t see the second half (of course), but we were much more combative and quicker in the 1st half, at least. Were definitely playing with more purpose and confidence.

    Dunno how the second went, but we go two, and that’s saying something.

  5. How the hell do you sleep after that! Insane. Nothing but positive tonight. Got smashed 6-1 and I’ve seen teams take a long while to recover from those score lines. No strikers. 2 massive relegation games. Both times went 1 down and we get 4 points. Incredible from all. Deano your a genius.

  6. Special mention to targett. A lot of villans don’t rate him. But I love him! Was great tonight. Such a cultured left peg. And always forward thinking.New system suits him. Just give him a target to pick out!

  7. Well a rough display but huge 3 points

    Hause needs dropping and Trez. They are cr*p

    We need wingers on this month, not just strikers. We have no supply what so ever apart from Jack

  8. Frem. A rough display?? We absolutely dominated the game had over 580 passes and 16 attempts on goal. Playing without a recognised striker. Jack was kicked all over Villa Park and Watford’s time wasting was a disgrace.

    I find it difficult to understand when people pick out individuals like Hause who absolute raised his game in the second half. We won the game and should saviour the victory. That’s 4 points from two crucial games.

    And then you listen to pundits including LeTissier who claims Watford deserved a point. WTF. Utter nonsense.

    We move onto the next game and we should have two new forwards to choose from


  9. I was amazed there were so few cards the ref let so much go, Watford are a big physical side and we stood up to them. Bit of a coming of age for us maybe. Jack looked out on his feet they really trebled up on him at times. And most of all we p*ssed on deeneys chips.

    One thought apart from we have done ok without a striker (so why the moaning?) is didn’t our winning run have a fair few last minute winners? or am I getting to excited

    RichardS- I challenge you to say something positive about our lesser players , here’s a start Nakamba , great teeth .

  10. Mark

    Nakamba battled extremely well.

    Dougie was ace when became on and his reaction to scoring was Epic. Loved the fact he jumped into the crowd. A great moment

    Target put some quality balls into to the box

    AEG is not a striker but has done his best

    And I do like Freddy G – kept going and has pace.

    Trez kept going.

    The team passed the ball and stuck to the plan.

    I would rather watch Villa play than the bruiser ball that Watford play including Shrek Deaney.

    Reina has been great

    A few more quality additions and the return of McGinn to look forward to

    Let’s make Villa Park a fortress and support the team to guarantee our safety

    We can beat Bournemouth and kick on

  11. Brave statement from smith based on his history but brave.

    “I have said teams of mine usually finish the season better and I am expecting a better points haul over the second half of the season.

  12. The morning after and I’m still stoked. It was a night of bonuses:

    1st Bonus: We put 3 points in the bag.

    2nd Bonus: One of our immediate relegation prospects lost.

    3rd Bonus: There’s no coming back from a 95th minute winner.

    4th Bonus: VP detonated followed by mass wild pandemonium.

    5th Bonus: Deeney throwing up all the way home.

  13. Frem,
    I think you may have football based Munchausens!
    Just enjoy the win because there will be more disappointment coming but hopefully we will have plenty to keep us happy as well.
    Otherwise, what’s the point?

  14. Prox – indeed what would be the point unless your into self flagellation 🙂

    Speaking of points against our peers plug that’s 7 in 3 games against the also rans .

  15. On another note how bad are the teams we have taken points off of? It’s been frustrating watching other team’s getting those leg up results by being hard to beat and dogged we are now doing that at least .

  16. god good yes if you don’t enjoy nights like last night may as well quit footy! the perfect night. last min winner in a must win game.

    We are no more than alive though. Need a winger striker and a cm and beat borunmouth then hope is back

  17. H&v is that despite 7 points in 4 games without those players ? 🙂

    I hope the new striker does not disappoint, at least elghazi is getting used to playing there lads in case lol

  18. Great result, but it was hard to listen to until the goal at the end.
    What came across strongly on the radio was the referee.
    As far as I could tell he decided to change the rules of the game, & not bother to blow up for fouls by the away team unless he couldn’t get out of it.
    Compared to the the usual control freakery it was the difference between chalk & cheese, & in fact it was so marked as to be odd.
    Also changing over to the DAB match at the sty in the middle of the action didn’t help.
    Watching the clips, it was a great swan dive into the crowd, Luiz is starting to like it here.

  19. What a night!!

    It was oh Such a Night, it really was…..or so the words of the Elvis song go. and it really was such a night which had everything with Villa playing well and the “Deeney” struck, and for a moment the mood changed, but the crowd stayed behind the team, and they continued to play and fight.

    Yes there were mistakes made, but Hause probably had his best game, playing the ball with his left peg and reaching his man time and again. Drinkwater was more involved, an d will eventually come good, and is willing to fight.

    Trezeguet was a menace the whole of the time he was on the pitch, and many felt he should have stayed and El Ghazi should have been subbed. Once again Reina was outstanding, playing out from goal, and becoming a centre back in the second half as we pressed for the winner after Douglas Luiz’s great equalizer!

    What a dive into the Holte End that was! Worth the yellow card. To be fair, many complained about the ref, but he let the game flow, and played the advantage on many occasions. Even better, there was no VAR..!!

    On 90 minutes the crowd were heading for the exits, but the play was so intense, on the Holte End, everyone just froze on the steps, and remained there until that explosive moment in the 95th minute, when the ball hit the back of the net, and everyone was hugging each other, jumping up and down, screaming and shouting, to the extent that people were getting knocked over, and some idiot smashed a seat.
    I would not have missed that moment for the world, and makes my trips to Villa Park worthwhile.

    I take my hat of to Dean and the team for a great result, and now the battle starts in earnest, bring it on. Now looking forward to the Cup next Tuesday!!!

  20. N.B.

    Every player deserved praise for the way they played, and stuck to the task in hand, including Guilbert and Targett, who both stretched themselves last night, and Mings goes without saying, and Konsa came into his own, joining in the battle up front, when he felt he could.

    The first time I have seen Villa try to overrun the opposition, and it worked.

  21. IanG ref was from Mixed Martial Arts I think but thankfully he didn’t send Mings off when the ball struck his hand, seen it happen before. Some of the contact was unbelievable then Villa decided to give it back but still Watford kept bashing them about and ended only two yellow a side shown and a submission.

  22. Mark
    Yeah but what about the ignoring of somewhat clear penalty shouts, it doesn’t really balance up ever that way.
    The problem with Atkinson is that if he carries on like this, it is likely to
    provoke bad tackles, someone will get needlessly injured, & to me Watford are bad enough already, without support from the ref.
    I wasn’t aware that letting the game flow meant that the team that does the bad tackles then get to keep the ball & attack the team that’s been fouled.

    Anyway, yeah no VAR, but the positive was that we stood up to a bullying team, won & sent Deeney home unhappy

  23. Thought it was a great performance, delivered up under massive pressure.

    More combative
    Playing quicker
    Players turning and looking upfield
    Players knowing where their next pass was
    Far higher percentage of good decisions

    We’ve seen the plaudits for Nakamba, and probably his best game for us. Hause still had some clunkers, but also started threading through some nice passes. Reina, Luiz, etc.

    In short, a really good response building on the second half at Brighton. Had we lost, I think I’d have feared the worst. But that really could be a season-defining victory. The players could see the blueprint, and with that extra effort, fighting to the end, and playing as if they had nothing to lose, you could see the belief returning.

  24. It was a bloody brilliant game. So entertaining and I am still buzzing from the result.

    And now we have a forward to look forward to.

    Reina was an astute signing. He looks super cool/composed and he is as assured as Mings on the ball.

    One more centre forward would be an excellent window.

    The guy from AC Milan would be unreal or an emotional return for Benteke.

  25. Mark

    We are 6th in the form guide. Amazing going. But we do need those players in…. There is a reason we are fighting relegation!

    I can’t see us going for Tekkers or palace letting him come to us.

  26. Burnley have beaten foxes and Utd back to back. How absolutely unbelievable and bloody irritating. Fair play though. I mean there cr*p! Crappy little ground, squad and style of footy. I can’t stand dyche either. Oh well not a bad set of results overall. Just have to concentrate on our selves. Everyone saying 40 to stay up. I think it will be less

  27. H&V- I think barring a miracle this season struggle was on the cards.

    West Ham have to play Liverpool and city twice each over next 4 games.

    I think we have a chance to get points from manure arsenal and spurs at our place, the league is subpar this season for me only Liverpool , Leicester and Sheffield have impressed maybe wolves and Southampton revival deserve a mention. Long way to go. 11 wins plus some draws should do it .

  28. Sorry MK, I thought you meant 11 out of the 14 games remaining, not as a target : )

    Article in the Mail today about why Engels is not playing, I feel he is better than Konsa (who apart from the goal looked nervy). Hause was definitely ahead, especially in the second half.

  29. I think we need a basic four wins and three draws to be reasonably certain of staying up, and hopefully, we can now achieve that over the remaining 14 games.

    I am sure the win over Watford is the boost we need, and nice to know from Konsa that he, and the team were incensed with Deeney baying the Villa fans after his goal, that it inspired them to find that extra will to win the game!

    I have always felt that if you incense someone enough, they will respond, hence, I don’t believe in winding up ex players when they return, it only makes them more determined to win.

    Still a lot of names being put forward as another striker to join us. Piatek is still fairly strong, Mehdi Taremi is the latest hot news, a very good Iranian, playing with Rio Ave.

  30. One of Pearson’s tricks has been exposed. Having noted that Mings had been booked in the first half, they obviously discussed the matter at half time. The trick being to kick the ball at Mings arm and get him sent off.

    They carried out his orders exactly and kicked the ball at his arm from close range. The ruse was betrayed by the number of Watford players who reacted angrily at the ref.

    Well done Atkinson for spotting the deliberate cheat and ignoring it.

  31. Welcome to VP Mbwana Samatta and also Louie Barry. Louie is another Villa fan as is his family. If Samatta hits the onion bag in his first outing, he’ll be up and running with the fans.

  32. Hmmm Wonder why we bought Sammatta?

    Samatta by numbers
    3 headed goals in 6 Champions League appearances against Salzburg twice and Liverpool.
    9 headed goals in the last 17 games he’s scored in for Racing Club Genk
    10 out of his 22 goals during the 2018/19 season for Genk were headers.
    Of his 76 goals in 191 appearances for Blauw-Wit, 22 of them were scored with his bonce.

    Aston Villa by numbers
    Successful crosses into the penalty area, top six
    Manchester City 58

    Aston Villa 46

    Chelsea 42

    Burnley 40

    Liverpool 40

    Everton 37

    Total attempted crosses, top six

    Manchester City (609), Everton (555), Chelsea (539), Sheffield United (523), Liverpool (516), Aston Villa (507)

    Attempted crosses per 90 minutes, top three

    Manchester City (21.75), Liverpool (19.92), Everton (17.2), Villa (16.75)


  33. PP- I doubt it Mate, Smith played him in the champs, he said he never got his fitness up to the standard of the league, especially with no pre-season and constant injury, I suppose his mom could of kissed it better.

  34. I see its not a given that Samatta will start on tues against Leicester, apparently he has been on a winter Break so hasn’t played since boxing day, Smith says he’s fit but will he risk him from the start or sub him in?

  35. Don’t rate him from that Video Mark. I remember thinking WTF when we bought Carlos Sanchez. There was a montage of his best bits for club and country and all he did was foul the opposition! Usually by late tackling from behind .

  36. While on the subject, Wesley’s best bits clip in hindsight summed him up very well I.e. Strong and good with holding and linking. No real aerial attacking presence and no significant shooting prowess.
    Finally, Piateks goal celebrations are all you need to see to gauge his character. No thanks .

  37. Prox- I agree on wesley, I don’t know why people expected so much from him so soon as he’d stepped up a league. Clearly it was all about him being a focal point to bring others into play for Smith and at 6 goals was at least half way to where I thought he’d maximally get. I did think he would have more assists though. Piateks at £30m? can’t see it happening but him and Samagoal could be formidable.

  38. Hi all, quick thought on why Samatta will be good:

    – he’s 27 years, perfect age vs signing a 20 year old
    – he’s a celeb in his country so he’s used to pressure
    – has pace and an eye for goal
    – at 8.5M, we all know that we haven’t signed Harry Kane, so fans have lower expectations
    – it’s great that he played for 4 months, then had 3 week break. He should be fresh.
    – Villa are now a better team, management better know our strengths.
    – Kenian is back training and will be a huge help to Samatta if we need 2 strikers to chase a game

    I can’t stop watching the Douglas Luiz goal celebration. By far the best that Ive ever seen. The Konza celebration was also class, the way all the players joined in.

    It might be my foolishness, but I feel like we have a really happy squad and it looks like the players like each other. This can only bode well for our future under DS and the owners

  39. Saw o’Hare play last 22 mins against Blues in FA cup. He was the best player on the pitch. He played as #10, fast and clever one touch passing. Also hit one great 30 yard pass. Good at running, got taken out one time when he broke clean through. He missed a sitter at the end, he took his eyes off the ball.

    Anyway, looks so similar to Jack. Looks like we have a ready made replacement, although there is only one Jack. Will be interesting to see if o’Hare can keep improving at the top level

  40. VillaMD,

    Don’t think it’s foolishness. I think it is a happy squad, and I don’t think Dean ever lost them.

    Of course, may well be the case they’re happier playing 3-4-3, feel it suits them better. Might explain some things. Credit to Dean for switching it. Perhaps he could’ve done sooner, though it did require Mings to be fit. It’s been dodgy at times, but looks like Konsa and Hause are growing into it.

    Dean says his squads improve in the 2nd half of the season, and I’m sure that has something to do with the fact he’s always had to make do with turnover. And this was turnover personified. But they seem a bit more comfortable, and they’re fighting. They keep fighting, they’ll stay up. If Samatta proves a McGinn-like revelation, we’ll be more than alright.

    Drinkwater getting match fit won’t hurt either. That’s a lot of rust to shake off and minutes to make up. But he seems to know where’s supposed to be.

  41. JC- The 343 may be a red herring, it is an even more attacking formation than 433 rather than defensive. Mings has been the Difference for me, his presence has lifted the side, if 343 was better defensively then why the 6-1 drubbing? If anything it helps that our non defensive FB’s can stay further up-field and choke the midfield, pushing the three forwards up-field too leading to a better press.

    Whatever it is we appear to have at least steadied the ship.

  42. MK…

    I do think the FBs bit is the big difference (which I know sounds sort of obvious), because it clearly suits Guilbert and Targett much better, and like you say, pushes things up by design (for the press and attack). My guess is that everyone feels a little less exposed, and it compacts the areas where Trez and Ghazi/Grealish have to contest things down the wings.

    Absolutely agree, Mings is invaluable. Lifted us instantly when he first arrived, and he’s the only way we can get three CBs on the pitch with range and mobility and have some intelligence and grit. He’s marshaled Hause and Konsa, and gives everyone the sense someone’s got their back. His recovery speed is pretty remarkable. K&H aren’t bad there, either, they’re still just very green. Don’t think you can play three with Engels…which is why he’s been at the beach, apparently.

    City was a perfect example of being too scared to win one-on-one battles with players that can embarrass you. So we played off and got turned into training cones. You have to try and bully a side like that. You can’t let them play. And we don’t (or at least didn’t) have the nerve (or players, really) to get in their faces.

    Basically what you’re saying…3-4-3, 4-3-3, didn’t matter. 4-6-0 wouldn’t have mattered if we were just going to watch them.

  43. Smith on Samatta starting, I was surprised to see its an either or with Davis. Whatever he does I’m sure it will be wrong 🙂

    “It feels good. The balancing act now is whether to start him or not. Them four games without him we’ve won two, drew one and lost to Manchester City. They’ve made a good fist of it, the lads who aren’t classed as recognised strikers. The team have worked hard without a striker. I’ve got to work out whether it’s best to start Ally or Keinan or keep with the players that have been getting the results and the performances.”

  44. There’s comedy everywhere.
    Here’s Deano with a classic.

    “It’s probably been difficult for the opposition as well to probably work on what we’re trying to do to be fair.”

  45. Is Sturridge worth a punt at £4 million, or thereabouts? I am sure it could make a difference, as long as he can stay fit and be used as a super sub.

    Fascinated by the love in between Klupp and Adama Traore, and what a signing he would be for Liverpool !

  46. PP- Just shows you its best not to write youngsters off, sometimes its the right coach that can bring them on, maybe even the right players around them. You can’t help but feel Jack would be stellar elsewhere at the moment but so glad he’s not.

  47. Agreed MK,

    Off to Birmingham shortly, in readiness for tonight’s match.

    Hoping to see the same desire we showed against Watford.

    Still rumours on Sturridge and Wanyama, while Hogan may be off on loan to the Blue noses!

  48. A friend of mine had a business meeting with one of the Villa 1st team coaches yesterday – straight up.

    Apparently the only striker we are bidding on is Slamani. Nobody else – that’s who Smith wants

  49. Traore…You could see the talent. He just needed time to adjust and mature, and I guess we decided we didn’t have it. Now those runs aren’t going into cul-de-sacs. They’re going straight through teams.

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