The window’s come and gone, and Villa’s business has left many scratching their heads. Me, don’t think it’s that complicated. Some things I would’ve loved to have happened, but in seeing things play out, it’s clear they just weren’t on the cards financially. Shame Samatta couldn’t connect in the thrilling Leicester victory, as I think that would’ve changed the color of the lenses in a few spectacles.

So, yeah…There’s been football while we’ve all chased links and been up and down the January roller coaster. Prior to January, a terrible run with 1-4, 0-2, and 1-3 defeats to Leicester, Sheffield United, and Southampton. Beat Norwich 1-0, then lost to Watford 0-3. Looked a bit bleak, as that was shaping up to the be season-defining stretch. Southampton, of course, have completely turned things around.

And then we’ve clawed our way back by beating Burnley 2-1, drawing with Brighton 1-1, and beating Watford 2-1. Tucked in there amidst scratching our way back to 16th, have been the 1-1 draw and 2-1 victory over Leicester.

So, just when it looked darkest, Villa have managed to find some fight and get results. Seems to have started in the second half against Brighton, and continued from there. Yeah, we got smashed by City (who smashed Watford 6-0 in that cup final last year), but we’ve rebounded. So I don’t know what lessons were learned. Players were what? Humiliated and aware they couldn’t go on like that? Realized down 0-1 at Brighton the next week that they truly had nothing to lose so might as well make a fist of it?

Dunno. But we’ve seen fight. We’ve seen Nakamba and Luiz find a next level. We’ve seen tactical fouls and some brilliant goalkeeping. Injury-time goals and Grealish elegance. More than one lovely and telling final ball. More leadership from Mings, and growing comfort in the 3-4-3. And maybe we learned in the second leg of the Carabao semis that we didn’t need to just let teams play around us. That we could have some say.

Now Bournemouth. No need to tell anyone how many favors we can do ourselves coming away with all three. And really, what we’re all hoping is that after losing the lead against Leicester and showing the fight and belief to find a 93rd-minute winner instead of conceding, that Villa may have turned a corner, psychologically. For the first time back in the Premier League, we didn’t find a way to bottle it when we edged in front of a better team.

With the team news, we can see Luiz has reclaimed his spot, Drinkwater doesn’t make the bench, and Trez will once again make way for new boy Samatta. So, the side that beat Leicester, bar hero Nyland.

Right now, we’re in control of our destiny, if only just. We’d still like results around us to go our way to ease us on, but win and draw, and we can stay clear.

Starting XI
Reina, Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Hause, Targett, Nakamba, Luiz, Grealish, Samatta, El Ghazi

Subs
Nyland, Hourihane, Elmohamady, Trezeguet, Davis, Engels, Lansbury

So come on lads. Build on the semifinal breakthrough and show us what you’ve got.

Over to you.

Comments 107

  1. Well the window has closed and the scouring of blogs, news scraps and people in the know has ended with a very stringent spend by Villa. In fact with all the loans going out, Villa have probably just about broken even, excluding the purchase of Samatta.
    Yes I am disappointed we did not get Bowen, and would have preferred us to spend £22million on him rather than Wesley back in the summer, but I am not the person making decisions, or the manager. I was a little surprised listening to Dean Smith not being able to get his head round the price of players, and that he still has to adjust to being a Premiership coach buying players rather than a championship manager.
    Looking forward to the game and how the boys perform, but having seen the new recruits in the flesh playing against Leicester and Watford, I am hopeful for the future.
    Reina will be a huge bonus, just hope is able to match Nyland’s display against Leicester, when he plays today, and if Samatta gets up and among it up front with Jack and Anwar, we can hopefully come away with the points.

    Pleased that Luiz and Nkamba are given another chance today, ahead of Drinkwater.

  2. Need a big response.

    Looks like a hangover from cup win. Have to step it up. There are chances to be had, Ramsdale lucky that didn’t go in there at the end.

  3. Dear oh dear Villa

    Two calamitous goals

    They want it more than us

    NYLAND has the game of his life midweek and gets dropped

    Drinky not even on the bench

    We dont add any real quality in the window and we are 2-0 at half time

    Our away form is dreadful

  4. We committed suicide in January. We didn’t do anything to make us better. We didn’t sign creative players

    We rely on Jack and that’s it

    I hate tk say it guys, but we wjll go down

  5. Well, they’re at home, and definitely all over scrapping the win, RichardS.

    I really thought we’d come through, starting to play our stuff, looking fine, then just cr*p in box, and the ball really hasn’t bounced our way but a couple times, but some of that’s down to them.

    Let’s see what we’ve got. We’re due for something off a corner, for example, and we’ve seen better 2nds, by and large. Really wish we’d just kept it to one, of course. Didn’t have a good feeling on that last set piece.

  6. Looks like Engels coming on to start the second. Konsa out. Wonder if he picked up a knock. We’ll see if that changes the formation. Doesn’t look like it.

  7. Sorry to say, but I would have swapped 3 points today for that Leicester win! That 1st half comes right out of our last relegation season.

  8. Me, too, jbd…

    Just sloppy and outworked. Dunno if was the exertions or what, but just not hungry or sharp enough today.

    I really have no idea why we have such trouble just kicking the damn ball out of the box.

  9. Didn’t see any of this one, and perhaps that is the best. At least other teams keeping us in with a shout, Everton, Brighton, Liverpool and Newcastle.

    Smith really needs to start getting things right, chopping and changing isn’t good, and it appears that Reina was very poor. Hopefully we can do better against Spurs at home, but a draw will not be enough.

  10. Poor result today. We played like a pub team in the first half. They wanted it more than us. We gave away really poor free kicks in dangerous areas for their goals.

    Reina should have done better with gone second. After the heroic performance from Nyland he should have started today.

    Good to see Samatta up and running.

    I real kick in the teeth after recent performances. That is the Premiership. Our away record is absolutely shocking. Smith needs to work something out when we play away.

  11. Well don’t blame me for the loss, but in our company league I went for a 2-1 loss for Villa today (and remember I’ve been accused of being one of the happy clapper types).
    I just felt that the midweek exertions and euphoria would leave us a bit short today and so it proved. . . . particularly in the first half.
    We could have had a couple of penalties and they should have been down to 9 players (the referee bottled it) but although today is gutting, it isn’t the end of the world.
    Remember that the fans of the other teams in the bottom 6 will be feeling just as anxious as us, and odds are that at least one of the teams just above us will be sucked into the fray over the next couple of months.
    Any talk of replacing the manager is really silly now . It’s not going to happen and just saps positivity from the club exactly when we need it most.

  12. Delighted to see Samatta score. I bet they were celebrating it in Tanzania!
    It’s nice to see a player getting himself into goal scoring positions. He’s already missed a couple of chances and the fact that he’s had a ‘chance’ to score at least 3 goals in his first two games against premiership opposition is really positive.

  13. The buffoon Smith is blaming the ball boys and the officials. The same official that incorrectly sent off the opposition player.

    Horse, Luiz, Nakamba and Ghazi are s**t

  14. Bournemouth were more street wise than us. More Nasty in the middle. We do struggle playing out from the back. Touched on it midweek against foxes. Even when they rush to clear it it goes to there midfield. We just aimless hoof it! Very lucky with other results today keeps us out bottom 3. But it’s hard now to see us get the points to stay up.

  15. Grealish needs to be more central we may start playing through him then and not hoofing aimless. He demands the ball. Engels in too as he seems better playing it out the back. Hope Deano try’s it. El ghazi and trez too hot and cold. Prob put Elmo in for guilbert too. He seems to of game of the boil so rest him up. Plus Elmo has good crosses for front 2

  16. It would be very welcome if we are safe before the last game . . . I’m sure the players won’t want to rely on a win away against West Ham in the last game of the season.

  17. r0bb0,

    Agreed. I think they’ll be disappointed in themselves, and also just one of those days where it doesn’t quite happen. The shot through Ramsdale’s legs is every bit as likely to go in as not. So of course it doesn’t and goes to safely away. Same as the save he made with his leg, I think. A couple good looks in on headers besides Samatta’s, get under and they go over. Jack could’ve had three on the day, only needed one.

    Not saying we deserved the win, but there were moments where it could’ve changed and the margins were just off.

  18. H&V: Jack in the middle…

    You know, I’d been thinking that, but I think it’s the case that he finds himself in more space out wide. He’ll certainly carry and move to the middle, move all over, but I think he’s easier to surround and account for if his area is truly central. And wide, he pulls teams over and the back door should be open.

    Guilbert gets a chance backpost, poor connection. If Luiz is more alert, he’s got a golden chance he can’t miss. And should’ve been Luiz instead of Nakamba with those two efforts in space from outside the box.

    Anyway…I think that’s why they keep shading him there. He really does prefer coming across left to right.

  19. H&V,

    I think the weakness in our back three is Hause. He panics, simple as, and just whacks a lot of aimless, thoughtless balls. Konsa is still hesitant, doesn’t quite come out hard enough, and Mings can get too clever. They all play themselves into trouble at some point.

    Seems like teams are sussing out Hause’s problems getting a meaningful outlet upfield.

    That said, Hause and Konsa….very inexperienced at this level. Good athletes, I think, and suited to the system, but they feel the pressure, and the right passes just aren’t automatic for them yet.

  20. And playing long balls out is part of the pattern of play. They’re just not good long balls put into areas where we can run onto them, and at least get established upfield. Most all end up being turnovers and catching the rest of the team out.

  21. PW,

    Don’t know I’d say the selections are baffling…same side that beat Leicester.

    With Nyland…He’s clearly played very, very well of late. Reina was always brought in to be the number one, yet Nyland has definitely made a case for himself.

    We were told about a calf strain for the cup tie, but I think Nyland was always going to start that one, pretty typical that your #2 gets the cup games, and I would think he’d get the call for the final. Maybe not, but he’ll have earned it.

    Reina did have a couple turnovers, and maybe he could’ve done better and held on to the save leading to the second goal. But there wasn’t a lot else for him to do. And Heaton’s no giant, either.

  22. Watching highlights of Super Jack Grealish – we really are witnessing one of the Super Stars of the Premier League. This kid is destined to play for one of the European Elite sides.

    It really is a shame that the board couldn’t get their act together and invest in one quality new player in the window to help Jack out with creative responsibilities.

    Our midfield was dreadful today. Marvellous is terrible on the ball – panicks under pressure and gives the ball away.

    Dougie is silky but was bullied today.

    Drinkwater didn’t even make the bench today. I was shocked to learn that he has only played 200 mins of PL football prior to joining us in 2 years. And we are paying him 110k pw.

    Jack will leave this summer for sure.

  23. Just seen the amazing stat that today’s goal was our first headed goal of the season.
    We have some decent crossers of the ball so let’s hope Samatta can open up a whole new channel of goals for us . . . . .
    And give defences something extra to worry about.

  24. RichardS, if we stay up it should relieve a bit of the FFP pressure and enable ourviwners to invest a bit more.
    My guess is that Jack will stay with us for as long as he can see progression. He’s still young so with progressive owners he has time to help Villa to be one of those top teams.

  25. Robbie. I do hope you are right. Staying up is going to be the challenge. We desperately need McGinn back in the team and hopefully Davis can stay fit.

    However if Barcelona can bid 85m for Richalson – it makes you think how much Barcelona or Real Madrid would bid for Jack?

  26. Missed the game but saw the highlights, brave goal by Samatta and the way he ripped the ball from their player to restart shows he’s attitude is spot on. Not entirely surprised after the semi heroics but surprised DD didn’t feature. We know have a break so fitness etc can be worked on for some. Not despondent we are not going to win every battle from now until season end, this season has shown that so far. The final might see MCGinn back for the run in and hoping for 2 points or a surprise 3 or 4 from the next two games. Midfield is where smith will be looking to improve I’d guess onwards and upwards

  27. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!HAPPYCLAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    We aren’t in the bottom three. Just turned on the TV and computer for the first time since 5:10 pm yesterday. Sneaked a look at the league table to see how bad the damage was and WE AREN’T IN THE BOTTOM THREE. WetSpam had gone and drawn when I wasn’t looking.

    Top six here we come. HAPPYCLAP HAPPYCLAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. No need, they have done all that for me………………………..and the walls are so soft and warm, no one can hear me HAPPYCLAPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. It was a damaging loss. The Cherries have taken 6 points off us and I reckon we’ve handed it to them on a silver platter.

    I’d hoped the midweek result would have given the team a lift. But instead they looked knackered. We were not at the races compared to the opposition who ran their nuts off. The only bright spot for me was our CF scoring with a HEADER. Whatever next?

    So that’s my weekend ruined. So gutted. It will take several days to recover.

  30. No way are Burnley going down. That’s one team you can write off. We are absolutely f**ked. We are done. Down. Yesterday was a huge defeat, and January an absolute disaster. We didn’t add quality and will be relegated because of it #avfc

  31. We all know as villa fans it’s going to last day at West Ham away. When do we do things simple!

    I want to see Davis and Engels starting and super John mcguinn back asap. Our mid is missing him so bad.

  32. Frem I hear you and I’m upset too. But West Ham fans will be reeling too. 3-1 up and Watford fans. 2 up against ten men and lost! Both have tricky fixtures. But buckle up as there’s going to be plenty unexpected results happy times and bad times to come

  33. H&V,

    Yeah, results, context…Not a great day, no, but like you say, we’re not the only ones struggling for consistency or survival, and there are other sides who’ve bottled it the same as we have.

  34. Just listened to jacks 6 best moments and number three hit home. It was winning the play offs as in his words he knew he would never put a villa shirt on again. When asked what he wanted for 2020 he said an England call up, the least he deserves. The commentator said not Villa staying up? He basically said that in his mind that’s a given.

  35. MK, That’s an interesting read on FFP. I agree with almost all of it. Except we signed 5 players in the window not 4. The writer has forgotten Barry. I do believe though that we are right on the limit of FFP and this curtailed our spending.

    He reckons our wage bill for this season is 93m. This figure I doubt. Twenty players on 50K/week gives 52m. Whilst there are other salaries to pay, the players will be the lions share. And there is no mention of the current value of the team. Huge progress has been made on this front by Compass.

    Are we staying up? As Jack says, it’s a given. Hope he’s right.

  36. Good results today. Palace still not out of it. Come on Man C and Sheff U tomorrow.

    Brighton are a poor team, not sure why their fans think they’re better than under Hughton. West Ham have a nightmare schedule for 7 of their next 8 games.

    We’ve a tough run-in, but we have 2 decent goalies, Mings and Grealish. Hopefully that is enough. Ive a feeling Borja may be quality for us with Samatta just behind him for the knock downs

  37. Last year 35 points was enough to stay up. So in theory we need 3 wins, a draw, and 9 defeats.

    At this point in our new season I’m happy to take those odds. Plus factors

    Reina is not as good in goal as Nyland, but he’s an extra outfielder his release of the ball is so great. I’m stll in shock at how fast he reacts for a counter attack

    Our back 3 are solid with Mings.

    DD has to deliver or his career will go further backwards

    Grealish is a true leader

    We’ve had 6 months together as a team

    Would love to see Kenian fit. Hopefully his injury is not serious as he’s a super star in my view

  38. villaMD- not sure we need 9 defeats and are you suggesting Reina would of shipped 10 against city 😉
    I agree mate its still all to play for and we do have some quality that counts, I hope McGinn comes back on fire.

  39. The weekend results have been in our favour. Still outside the bottom 3 due to West Ham’s game at Man City being postponed. That’s a result as the atrocious weather would be a great leveller. West Ham might just have lost their best chance of getting something out of Pep.

  40. Seems all of the Sunday newspapers are full of stories about Jack having some form of agreement to join Man Ure in the summer. Not very welcome, when our captain is all over the back pages, and we are fighting a relegation battle.

    Does he know something we don’t. Is Poch taking over at Old Trafford? Has he told them to secure the signing of Jack? I wouldn’t jump into joining Man Ure if I was Jack (or Poch for that matter). The Glazers borrowed that much money to buy the club that interest payments are bleeding them dry. There are better options than OT for both of them.

  41. And if Man Ure are hoping to get him for 60m, they need to think again. MaGuire set the bar at 84m. If a shire horse costs 84m then a thoroughbred is much more expensive than that.

  42. Plug,

    Have to admit I’m not sure what to make of those reports. I find it more than strange that something would be getting put in place now, between windows. Makes no sense, and as you say, wouldn’t be helpful for the club right now in any way. Would not seem to be in line with Jack’s previous behavior, like when the move to Spurs and all that was whirling around.

  43. MK – yeah, what a bonus if SJM comes back before the end of season

    Plug – I would not believe the back pages. They need headlines to sell papers. Most articles are fiction. If Jack leaves I can see him going to Man C. Most likely Man U will get a new manager in the summer who will want to bring in his own players. They also have a #10 in Fernandes.

    Just checked Bournemouth run in. They’ll be lucky to pick up any points!

  44. Looking at the crystal ball as it were, if the bottom 6 all got a similar points total, we’d be safe.
    As VMD said, Bournemouth are up against it.
    Then you can add West Ham to that, especially their next 7 games.
    I’ve got a suspicion that their fate will be sealed by our last game in may.
    If we do what we’re capable of we should be ok, but I’d really like us to beat newcastle, the spuds, the arses, sheffield united & chelsea.
    I also think we’ll beat Crystal Palace at Villa Park.
    So please keep your Private Fraser impersonations to a minimum:]

  45. IanG- Bruce once said the players are not doing what I told them, apparently that was nothing other than play. I think he is before his time, in the future coaches will be less hands on and stay at home.

  46. Sort of amazing how briefly Ritchie summed up Pulis and Bruce.

    “Don’t be going forward and crossing the ball. Not how we play.”

    “Let’s play.”

    At least Pulis was more detailed in his instructions. And we sit and wonder what players are being told.

  47. What’s really frightening JC is how much these “coaches” get paid for saying “Let’s play” on the training ground and at the weekly presser saying “we’ll be there or thereabouts once we batten down the hatches”.

  48. To be fair to Bruce he’s no coach he is a man manager and has connections etc. The uplift when he eventually employed a coach makes a whole lot of sense now.

  49. According to our local rag, Compass have put in another 17m at Companies House. No doubt it’s all needed to cash flow the project until the first TV payments arrive at the season’s end.

    We need to get something from our game against Spurs on Sunday. Three points would be extremely handy.

  50. My buddy is a die hard Toon and said this season is by far the worst football he has ever seen Newcastle play. I guess it shows that a good footballer is not always a good manager – Dave oLeary and Roy Keane being Villa examples.

    Crazy stats from Kelly and Wrightie – last 20 games we’ve played against top 6 have yielded 0 wins, 2 draws ans 18 losses. I always feel stats are there to be broken.

    Pity Kenian is out again. Lad is quality. Really looking to a good performance from the lads and nick a 1-0 win

  51. Good to see Hogan scoring. If he keeps this up we could easily get 10M for him in the Summer. It’s a shame we didn’t offload Jota in Jan, what a liability signing that was.

    Jake Doyle-Hayes doing amazing things at Cheltenham. Will be great to have him back for preseason

  52. I am sick and tired of hearing about Jack Grealish leaving for Man UTD. Especially when it is coming from the most boring man in football Alan Smith who has said that Jack has outgrown the club.

    In my opinion Jack Grealish is the best player in the Premier League. He is certainly the strongest as he is carrying the club and the hopes of 43k+Villa Fans every week.

    I have immensely enjoyed watching Villa back in the season and it always going to be a roller coaster ride.

    We should be sitting comfortably in mid table but this league is extremely tough and injuries were extremely cruel.

    We should be planning on new players for next season. I do wish they would remove the responsibilities of Susso because we need to purchase a better quality of player for next season to avoid another season like this. Smarter recruitment last Summer would have seen us in a much better position.

    Expect another exodus of players this summer – lets all pray we can keep Jack and buy some better players to try and achieve top six next year.

  53. It always makes me wonder when I see people (including myself) questioning the quality of players we have scouted.

    For one what is the measure we are using? whats success? cups? league position ? ease on the eye? I can imagine that for the clubs in this league its survival and retention of the prem wedge overall.

    So would the club for instance take 17th place for the next 50 years if offered? unlikely but it is a financial success and preferable to the drop. Would the fans take that over say several relegation seasons? a tough one as each season brings hope.

    So what is a prem quality player? westwood scored today for instance should we tempt him back? for me there is something exciting about a player attempting to make the grade and in all honesty with 25 points then most of the prem do not have prem level players or we would be smashed very time. Even the actually good teams don’t win 10 nil every game.

    Sheff utd certainly don’t have prem quality at 1st glance but are showing how its done, Norwich also have quality players but are struggling, we have a bit of a mixed bag but on our day can look decent enough. so whats the difference? lots of clubs seem to have it sussed but then hit a ceiling, they dig up decent players for peanuts and sell yet find more but then it only takes a couple of lean years to f**k up. Southampton, Bournemouth, Burnley, Watford are all examples while Sheffield are the latest success for pennies club.

    I think what Villa are trying to do is emulate that while retaining their stars, presumably we will sell the lesser players rather than the best until we don’t have to and the Reserves become the main supply. Unfortunately it all has to start somewhere, starting it in the prem is a blessing money wise but a curse and short sharp shock also. It appears a gamble but its actually not its necessity. We could replace Susso as RichardS suggests like we did O’reilly only to find he actually dug up some gems.

    What I am saying I think is it would have been impossible to become Sheff Utd overnight by buying 15 cheap players even if they were all the right ones, some things take time.

  54. Serious armchair critics eh!
    How boring.
    The only experience of football management most experts have has gone long ago, & in the case of supporter experts, usually none.

  55. Let’s hope we beat Spurs on Sunday. I met Mourniho at an event when he was at Man UTD. He is an arrogant human being. Would love Villa to take all 3 points. I believe if Villa Park is rocking and Jack is on song we can beat Spurs. We are going to have to take points off the teams in the top half of the table at home if we are going to stay in the PL

    And I have managed to secure 3 Cup Final tickets today in Club Wembley. Happy Days

  56. IanG- right on Que Norwich lose 1-0 to Liverpool. You would think there would be a finite amount of Prem players but much to my surprise they keep turning up from non prem clubs and pretending.

    RichardS- enjoy the final mate and yes I think a jack and Samatta combo might just sink spurs. Samatta’s 1st league start at Villa Park hope he’s up to speed and raring to go.

  57. Thx Mark – I’m so over the moon about the final. You don’t experience many Wembley days as a Football Fan so I am delighted to be taking my boys for a fun day out.

    We can get at Spurs down our left side with Jack and Target. We should target Aurier – he is a disaster in the making.

    Samatta has to be clinical on Sunday.

    We just need to cut out the silly mistakes – and keep our intensity for 90 mins.

    My wife and father in law are Spurs Fans so it should be interesting in my house after the game!!!

  58. Frem- its been a long winter break for you mate knowing the clubs dead, It only takes a good performance though and the weathers cr*p today so we might turn up. Jack will be crucial as per and Samatta is down to be a legend in my tea leaves 😉

  59. Frem – Spurs have not been in great form of late – they ship goals and their away form is like ours – garbage

    Villa need the support of the fans today – a rousing atmosphere cab really help the team.

    Spurs have individual talent for sure and we need to play intense football for 90 mins.

    We are where we are. The transfer window has gone.

    Let’s get the ball out wide to Target and the greatest footballer the Premier League has ever seen – Super Jack Grealish.

    We have to be clinical in front of goal and hope Reina and mighty Mings can keep it together at the back.

    I am expecting a Villa win today – why?

    Because we have to win.

  60. Aston Villa (3-4-3): Reina; Hause, Konsa, Engels; Guilbert, Douglas Luiz, Drinkwater, Targett; El Ghazi, Samatta, Grealish

    Subs: Nyland, Elmohamady, Taylor, Nakamba, Hourihane, Trezeguet, Baston

    Tottenham Hotspur (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies; Dier, Winks; Bergwijn, Alli, Son; Lucas Moura

    Subs: Gazzaniga, Vertonghen, Tangana, Skipp, Ndombele, Lo Celso, Fernandes

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