Another day, another cup final, or semifinal, or something. Regardless, another couple hours of hell. The life of a Villan.

Most everyone thinks 7 out of the 9 points remaining will be the minimum necessary to secure survival. Never know, but it’s hard to argue with. So if you were a betting man, you’d say Everton is a must-win. Me, I’m not a betting man, and I’d say Everton is a must-win.

Then Villa need some things to go their way, first and foremost being West Ham beating Watford tomorrow. On paper, Watford have the toughest run-in, and since we play the Hammers on the last day, we’d probably like to see them safe. No guarantee of a result, but better than facing a possible winner-take-all relegation final.

The interesting thing is Bournemouth, who probably have the easiest run-in. Sitting a point above us with one more game played as of now, they’re two better on goal differential, having nicked a goal back off City in a credible performance.

So, win and we leapfrog them, with our differential guaranteed to improve. Draw, it doesn’t get any worse, but we’re really pressing our luck. So, even if six points might just do it, it’s better we get at least seven. Or nine. And in all this math, while Brighton have looked safe, they could conceivably get pulled right back in it.

Normally you’d look at this stage of the season and think mid-table teams could already be on holiday. Everton haven’t been great in the restart, for example. And in this strange mini-season comprised of all sorts of inconsistencies with any season past, it’s doubly hard to know. Players have had a break, of course, but normally they’d actually be on holiday now. And most probably don’t want to be out there any longer if they’re safe and/or the European spots are decided.

But you never know who’s playing for their place or whatever other motivation they may have. So, Arsenal, for example. If I’m doing the math right, they’ve all but missed out on 5th (barring a historic barrage of goals and a complete United collapse), so they’ve only got the cup to play for and a bit of pride.

So do we pull for them to upend City at the weekend, or is better to face them with all hopes dashed? I have no real idea. I think it might be better if they win in overtime, and have the cup to focus on, influencing selection and rotation. Then again, that could only harden their resolve to play well and keep their form. It could also give them a hangover. I’d also like to think we’re simply due to get something off one of the big clubs. We’ve been oh-so-close more than once. Think about the point we gave away against Spurs on Engel’s miscue and various other late concessions. Wouldn’t mind having one or two of those on the board right now.

You just never know, in other words. Don’t think any of us had West Ham taking all three against Chelsea.

What we do know is that we need to beat Everton for any of the rest to matter.

That being the case, I think, as I almost always do, that the game simply comes down to who wants it more. On paper, that’s easy. And if Villa show the same fight as they put up against Palace, you’d fancy our chances.

I like the fact that Dean has had the team spending more time together, creating more togetherness and a bit of a siege mentality. I like that Trezeguet finally scored. That any attacker finally scored. I like the fact that Jack apparently wants a goal or two himself. I’ve been saying a number of players are due. Maybe this is the point when the dam bursts—or at least cracks a bit.

Me, I think it’s a no-brainer that Villa start the same XI as last time. I know McGinn is still a bit off the pace, so maybe you look to swap him out earlier. Otherwise, no changes, go again.

It’s going to be excruciating, but as many have said, as long as Compass don’t lose interest, going down might not be the worst thing to happen. We’re still going to have our hands full trying to hang on to Jack and Luiz, maybe even Mings, if we do stay up, and would already need to strengthen with them. If they go, a second, consolidation season in PL will turn into another rebuild and probably a repeat of what we’ve seen this year.

Anyway, here we are, once again. While our fate isn’t entirely in our hands, shortening the odds and putting pressure on others is.

Over to you.

Comments 121

  1. It’s two huge games

    Tonight we need the win.
    And then omorrow we need West Ham to beat Watford.

    Watford have arsenal and City after so won’t get anything

    So we need to win tonight, and either draw our last 2 or win 1 to stay up

    So we should be cheering on West ham tomorrow if we win tonight

  2. Frem- I thought that was to upbeat for you then I scrolled down 🙂

    Hopefully if it goes well tonight then a hard game on Saturday with some injuries for the Arse, With two days less rest than us it might get us over the hill.

  3. Another load of rubbish to add to the covid list, apparently we can’t use single occupancy Cryo chambers for recovery, they go as low as -160 how tough is this virus??

  4. I wonder if Smith will attack air defend our must win game?

    Like the full backs with elmo and targett.

    Will be solid in the championship

  5. 4-3-3: Reina; Elmohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Hourihane; Trezeguet, Samatta, Grealish.

    Subs: Nyland, Guilbert, Kesler, Lansbury, Jota, El Ghazi, Davis, Vassilev, Nakamba.

    Talking of FB’s Frem Kaine Kesler is a 17 year old RB who can play on the wing

  6. Just started, but I think we’ll attack, Frem.

    The defending we do will be up to how good we are at winning the ball, and how Everton play. Genius, I know, but…

  7. Hourihane’s done alright, I think…Set-piece delivery hasn’t been good, but he’s been available and covering lots of ground.

    Can see Davis and Ghazi coming on later. Not sure whether Dean will put Guilbert on at any point. Curious about that knee, whether he’s there for emergency cover.

    Jota would be very late, I’d think, unless we’re chasing. Trez isn’t exactly a ball-winner, but he’s more of nuisance, at least, tracking back.

  8. He needs Dvais on to hold a ball up

    And we need Trez off because he’s just absolutely s**t. Would like to see Ghaizi and Fred on the wing

  9. He also does that simple outlet job, Frem. Reads Jack and SJM well, seems to understand Luiz. He’s in the right places. But yeah, we do want something more on the set pieces.

    Davis for hold-up, certainly. I think with Elmo and quick in-swingers, Smith’s looking to get the ball on Ally’s head. Had a good chance at Palace, another, tougher one this evening. But I’m sure we’ll see Keinan at some point.

  10. Give over frem Hourihane has done ok along with the rest of midfield. Trez is always headless, Id only put Jota on if Everton have to tie their legs together and hop around. 🙂

    So far so good need jack to be brave and take the ball in the box As much as possible

  11. We are so s**t

    We need to win and Smith gets us playing like we mid table

    Hate him

    Go 2 up front you Steve Bruce double

  12. On to the Arsenal game then, can’t believe you lot are moaning, I’m gutted but that was a decent performance, I’ll leave you lot to slag the team and manager off enjoy 🙂

  13. That was heartbreaking, luck has not been our friend. ffs, Walcott scoring with a looping header. El Ghazi’s miss cost us, trezeguet would have gotten that. Ifs and buts, let’s go Arsenal…

  14. Well Mark, my observations do concern Deano. Just 2 subs used all night!! FFS!!! Bournemouth last night used 5. Man City used 5. Everton used 5. The time to get fresh legs in the middle was immediately after Konsa scored. Nakamba, Lansbury, Guilbert could all have given the midfield a stimulus when needed and bring off the knackered SJM and Hourihane.

    Instead we did nothing, tired legs dropped deeper like they have done all season and the inevitable happens. Deano looked like he didn’t know what to do. So he puts on El Gassy. Like he’s done so many times. And got nowhere so many times.

  15. Smith is clueless. Let’s be honest

    Davis improved is massively, should have been on at half time. We were better when Ghaizi came in to. Trez was dire as usual and keeps him way to long

    We concede late again and can’t secure goals

    All season the same over and over. Smith out

  16. Plug
    All season long same story ,now we fcuked jack what big club is going to spend big on him when all he does is moan,he should be on here instead prancing about the field,Luis one really good player but give Smith time he will knock that out of him,17goals conceded in last 15 mins countless points dropped it’s a sin we are in this position,all because we stick with smith

  17. Yet another Smith masterclass on how not to manage a game……the guy should have gone after the Watford away game……it just one disaster after another…..NSWE need to show some balls and get rid

  18. Yes,

    The mid field should have been freshened up. Why does Jack always give the opposition extra defenders when we have a dead ball situation. He should been in the box drawing at least two defenders to mark him, freeing up others to get a scoring opportunity. Instead he stands there like a spare pr**k, and does nothing, unless he actually takes the kick, and wastes it, meanwhile Smith says nothing.

    Trezeguet would definitely have put away the chance that El Ghazi wasted by trying to use his feet and be spectacular, when a nod of his head would have been a certain goal.

    It is so sad when the performance in general was a good one, but just not good enough. Tomorrow will decide our future.

  19. Iang
    Think all bar maybe mark we all like a good moan,at the minute plenty to grumble about,must be some sollihull left me after almost 40yeara gone

  20. We had one shot on target against a midtable team that didn’t care. They only had one shot.

    Is the ultimate aim of a survival team to go all out attack?

    Next two games we’re up against higher quality. Bournemouth also have now a better run-in

  21. I watched highlights of Bournemouth vs Man C. They lost, but should have won. Eddie Howe has now got them wave after wave of attack.

    What do we have for attack? Nothing

  22. Plug- elghazi came on with Davis before the goal didn’t he? As for fresh legs etc and what other managers do ? You’ve answered your own question. Clearly smiths bench is not good enough to change a game, we rarely make tactical changes before pushed to. The midfield was the strength of the team all night and controlled the game mostly and you would change it for our bench?

    Smith has been reluctant all season and rarely has the subs made a s**t of difference, if I had Bournemouth’s players I would attack. We have lost points from being in front which tells me that even with a wank frontline smith has found a way. All Smith can do is pray that we don’t f up because unlike most prem teams no matter what we create we don’t convert them enough.

  23. Mark, so you’re telling me that 2 from Nakamba, Guilbert, Jota and Lansbury are not capable of being sent on with instructions to run themselves into the ground for 15 minutes and chase and press the opposition.

    We weren’t looking for a David Silva or a De Bruyne, just fresh legs to help protect a back line for 15 minutes. If the players mentioned aren’t able to do that or Deano continues as he has all season, we’re screwed. This squad is better than 31 points after 36 games.

  24. Think the substitute question is fair.

    Don’t want to be equivocal, but I do see both sides: Freshening vs. what have we got.

    Always an argument for bringing on fresh legs to chase down. But, of the options, when I’ve seen Lansbury, he’s been a slow spectator in MF. Has tended to join attacks and show up around the box. Jota, no speed (maybe that’s changed) or physicality. Nakamba has been timid and shaky, and likewise not very stout. Guilbert? No idea of his real fitness. He may simply be an emergency option from the bench. Drinkwater?

    Now, does that mean they couldn’t have done something? No. Fresh legs are fresh legs, and they can certainly come in if only to do nothing else but put pressure on and run like mad. They can also cause things to break down.

    To me, the options get back to the fundamental challenge: A huge number of players to replace, and a fixed budget to work with. There’s just no depth in quality.

    I’ve long said what we’ve missed most is a Milner. Run all day, fight like mad. Luiz has definitely found a new level, and has made a huge difference. If we had one or two more of like mind, if not quality, we’d be a lot better off.

    But. All the late goals do point to a tiring squad…Opponents getting more space and time, plus lapses in concentration, etc.

  25. And I guess besides lack of depth in quality, the main failing I see is that we just can’t get the second. Jack put that ball on a silver platter to Ghazi. He somehow contrived to miss it in the only way possible. Everton had a couple of close calls, but that chance had to be the best of the game. And it would’ve been game over.

    Jack was looking to shoot, and on his best chance, seemed to second-guess himself (probably because of his tendency to go far post), and dragged the near-post effort wide.

    On the free-kick lineups, clearly Jack and Conor are both over the ball to keep the keeper guessing. Smith (or those two) stuck with Hourihane, and it finally paid off, despite really below-par efforts on every delivery before then. From the left, there late on, I’d have had Jack take it. Everton moved the extra man near post in the wall, and that took away Conor’s angle. I prefer targeting the greatest amount of open net to cover.

    Don’t know how much Jack really pulls cover, unless we were to line him up in a way to receive and shoot. Mainly, we’re either going straight for goal, or trying to put it on someone’s head. The exception is the low in-swinger, the kind Konsa got to. We’ve had a number of decent chances off those.

  26. Unfortunately we won’t sack Smtih, even if we go down.

    The club will think stability is the correct way to go. Even though we have been nothing short of awful this season

  27. Frem,

    Look at this way: If we do keep Smith, he knows the Championship, and now he’s had a taste of the PL. I still think he’s a smart, progressive manager stuck with squad that probably just isn’t quite good enough in terms of depth. I think he could probably manage a rebuild that can come up and stay.

    And really, we have to remember that we’ve scored as many as any around us. Our big failing was not enough draws. We left a lot of points out there for one reason or another. We could easily have stayed up with just a few of those (assuming we’re going down).

  28. I can’t tell who we want to win tonight

    I’m hoping for a Watford getting smashed

    If they lose every game 2-0 and we win one 1-0 we stay uo

  29. So upsetting last night

    We deserved to win that game.

    The midfield looked good – how well does Dougie look now. He looks fantastic.

    McGinn is getting back to fitness and form.

    Elmo and Konsa looked great.

    It just such a shame that our wide players are not performing.

    Trez went from Hero to Zero.

    AEG – nothing to say.

    Samatta and Davis – don’t score.

    We can still beat Arsenal

    I would play Target and Elmo as the wingers

    We would be better off playing the Kid Barry as the forward – he can finish.

    Keep believing

    Keep the faith.

  30. Richards
    Davies two sitters in last 2 matches and he didn’t even connect with the ball how is he a professional striker
    Smith has to take the blame because he was happy starting season probably couldn’t believe his luck

  31. Plug- Sorry mate been at the grind. JC pretty much nailed it . The thought of Jota near our box gives me chills, causes more problems than anything back there and can’t run. Lansbury likes a foul and is slow, Marv would be the best and only option but is a bit headless. Guilbert has been injured and I suspect only on the bench in an emergency. We even had a 17 year old RB on the bench which tells me Fred was not exactly ready.

    Smith made a big thing about the 5 subs rule because he knew how disadvantaged we would be.

    To top it all there are only 5 teams that have created more chances than us,

    Man City, Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea and Manutd.

    The difference between success this season and relegation may well be Luis not being fit at season start as pointed out By Smith plus the language barrier and losing Wesley when we did. Thats very fine margins.

    So rather than being looked at as one of Smiths relatives I’d like to point out I’m a realist.
    In reality Smith has done very well in the circumstance (half decent defence, Good midfield and zero forwards) he may well end up with a tarnished reputation for his pains.

    Can I also point out that Burnley came up under Dyche and went down and came up again.

  32. JG mate, you can’t be that desperate to nail Smith that you going to say he was happy with our Forwards 🙂 I mean Maupay, watkins, Benrahma at Brentford and Davis, Kodkjia and Wesley at Villa??

    Two of them constantly injured and a green Brazilian? you might not of noticed but Smith doesn’t slag the club off no matter what, Bruce would of been in full swing by now on the excuses front, mainly its not my fault.

    Davis has never scored much, not even in the U23’s he’s one of those you think were can I play him? the only answer is as a nuisance and to hold the ball up. Pretty much what Wesley was doing anyway.

    I haven’t included Samatta as he’s been the most disappointing.

  33. I also like Davis. What he needs is a small and fast striker like Maupay to play off him.

    I thought Nakamba did good when he came on vs CP. Ridiculous and inexcusable why he did not get 20 mins vs Everton. I also like Lansbury. As written above, bring him on @80mins and tell him to play in front of back 4.

    Great win for WH. I would take a draw vs Arsenal and go all out in last game

  34. I’d go back in time & pick the last top 6 team we had.
    At least it wouldn’t include Lansbury, who was not that good in the chanpionship.

  35. Brentford lose 1-0 to Stoke and James chester, apparently they were to arrogant and a bit sloppy. Looks like the play offs for them as WBA should beat QPR

  36. Just thought I’d post this, almost a little light relief to the very serious is Smith s**t debate.

    Apparently the counting of Covid deaths has been completely cocked up and exaggerated , does this mean the authorities have now put themselves on the list of false Covid information they have told us to watch out for? I know I shouldn’t laugh as they have completely f**ked up the world economy over this but hey theres not much to laugh at these days that won’t be banned.

  37. Oh I forgot the mrs place of work have had their testing kits recalled by the government, I think its because of the realisation that they are inaccurate and pick up the common cold as a positive, in other words all Corona viruses out there, still lets get those masks on and get in line , is Boris’s we’ll be back to normal by xmas statement an admission that we are really back to normal now 🙂

  38. Mk
    Think that’s bad
    In Ireland pubs aren’t allowed to open unless they serve food and even then it has to cost9euro ,so as long as you eat food the virus won’t affect you

  39. JG
    Here many of the shops never even closed in my area.
    Plus many of them never wear masks anyway.
    I wear one because then they avoid me.

    Well we don’t belong to their class, we’re the herd.

  40. JG- yes mate its amazing how civilised this virus is 🙂

    IanG- I was working in High Wycombe by a majestic wines shop on some flats and I thought I’ll get a nice bottle of red before I go home. About 2pm Range Rovers started to turn up with angry faced Ruperts come to stock up, I tried communicating outside and inside the shop but it turns out they don’t smile or understand my type of English, unless I’m working on their mansions of course.

    Ian is fine, has diabetes so is being careful, don’t think the bears wear masks though.

    On Masks, do they work? probably not with a virus as you can breath through them.

  41. Mark
    I’d rather wear an eye mask & not see the bears coming.
    Yes he would have to be careful, & judging by the state of things there he may have to be for a long time sadly.
    Well you do get a lot of ruperts your way. Here it’s pakistani women in Range Rovers, They don’t block the offie as they don’t drink, but they block everywhere else.
    I could always try a gorilla mask, that’d help the distancing.

  42. IanG- I was tempted to get a death Skull or one with a massive cheesy grin. Chimps react to things like that imagine an angry face mask 🙂

    Ruperts don’t come into my town they stick to their 4th home in the villages.

    I’m seeing that Watford have sacked Pearson?? Frem should support them thats 4 managers this season

  43. Thank god for that Bournemoth lose, we have the weird situation where we want arsenal to go easy on Tuesday but not against Watford who now have no manager. I’m hoping they are resting on tues and Playing for a cup final start against Watford.

  44. It is time to start believing

    We can beat Arsenal. We simply have to.

    I thought we played well at Everton.

    Villa’s midfield is as good as Arsenal’s

    It is upfront that is proving to be difficult

    Davis for all his effort does not score enough goals.

    Samatta is out of form.

    Trez and AEG are so inconsistent

    Target and Elmo provide play the wings better

    Do we take a punt on the Kid Barry – he can finish.


    Konsa Hause Mings

    Elmo Mcginn Douglas Connor Target



  45. Dean Smith will be sacked what ever league we are in I think

    If we stay up we need a better manager than him. He’s shown he isn’t prem level. We need to act like a big club and get a big manager, like Belisa or Nuno

    If we go down, he will be sacked as well. The club won’t accept the s**t we’ve had this season

  46. I like Dean Smith

    I think there are many factors outside of his control that has led to the situation that we are in. The main one being recruitment.

    Suso should go. Not Smith. And Purslow should take full responsibility. He has ultimate control. He is the leader.

    Smith managed to take us up in his first season. Bielsa at Leeds failed to do that.

    And Smith would be the perfect manager to bring us back up.

    Whether he keeps his job – well that is up for debate.

    In any case. We are STAYING UP.

    We beat Arsenal this evening.

    And then Hammer the Hammers.

  47. Richard – It was more grealish that got us promoted when he came back from injury

    Without Grealish we were absolutely tactically clueless and Smith had no idea

    He didn’t impress me last season. I don’t think the football we played was particularly good, nothing like what Brentford played

    But look how much better Brentford have been since Smith left also

    If he wasn’t a Villa fan he’d be hounded out

    We have been absolutely dreadful this season. Embarrassing stats

  48. Frem – ???

    So Brentford played great football under Smith, they played us off the park on several occasions.

    We employed Smith

    Grealish was part of the team that Smith deployed.

    We won 10 games on the bounce – under Smith.

    Football is about results.

    Smith is a good manager.

    Grealish – Mings – McGinn – Terry, all respect Smith.

    Without sounding like a total wanker – my business partner was working with John Terry, and Terry rates Smith.

    It is really easy to blame the manager.

    Smith didn’t sign Wesely, Marvelous, Samatta – Trez

    It was Suso.

    Frem – if you were handed substandard workers at your place of work and told to get results by your boss. And after evaluating your new workers you realised they were incompetent – and your job depended on them – how unfair would that be?

    Same situation

  49. Well, whatever anyone thinks of Smith, I’m guessing he’ll remain in charge these last two games.

    So, let the nail-biting begin.

    A fresh sheet is up for tonight’s match.


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