After watching most everyone else already play two matches, Aston Villa finally join the 2020-21 campaign this evening against visiting Sheffield United. Chris Wilder is still a bit baffled by the Restart failure of goal-line technology, while Deano has given a tip of his hat to his late dad.

Without having kicked a ball in anger, Villa currently sit 12th. Six sides have won their first two, while four, West Ham, Fulham, Southampton, and Baggies have lost both. Not a bad start. Normally we’d be second on opening day, but with at least a game in hand over everyone but City, I’ll take mid-table mediocrity as a starting position.

Following the trauma of last-day survival culminating in the Great Escape, Villa’s aim this season is to consolidate. To that end, spending has once again been sanctioned, but with a more targeted focus. Villa have broken their club-record fee for the second summer running to bring in Ollie Watkins, while also adding Matty Cash, Emiliano Martinez, and Bertrand Traoré. Welcome, all. May you flourish in claret and blue.

Then of course we’ve had Jack Grealish make his long-overdue England debut and pen an extension and new contract. There are no indications our business is done. The Milot Rashica saga drags on, Rhian Brewster keeps getting mentioned, and even Edouard’s name is still popping up. Josh King has gone a bit quiet.

Ollie has gotten off to a good start, scoring in his first two outings in the shirt. He knows how to get on the end of a ball, apparently. Let’s hope that continues. Cash got a decent trial by fire against United in the friendly. Martinez and Traore have only just come in the door.

The current players who seem most likely to be on their way out are Ally Samatta and Bjorn Engels. Trezeguet has also been linked with a move away. No one seems much interested in Ghazi, Lansbury, and the others. I don’t think Ally goes until we secure another striker and potential suitors find enough change under the sofa cushions. My guess is that it’s his wages, first and foremost, we’d want rid of, but it never hurts to recoup at least most of the transfer fee.

All that said, what are we about this season? Pundits who still can’t seem to wrap their heads around the nature of Villa’s spend last summer have us in another, and losing, relegation battle this season. Supporters think we’re a signing or two away from the top half. As usual, I’m taking the middle road and saying we’ll be looking for anything between 8th and 15th.

Villa’s task this year, as I said above, is consolidation. Last year, we created chances and scored goals. We didn’t convert enough of those chances, and managed to concede quite a few, often late, and often avoidable. The trick for this season is finding more consistency, keeping things tighter at the back, and burying a few more of those chances. The difference between relative comfort and danger is a couple more wins and more draws. The barcodes were only two wins and three draws better, and that was enough for 13th. Wolves were six wins and five draws better. That’s 7th.

And while six more wins might seem a lot, I can think of a number of games where we squandered late leads or early superiority that would’ve seen us much more comfortable. And who can forgot the calamitous run of fixtures around the holidays that should’ve seen us safe and instead left us in a hole?

Along with new additions that should be upgrades, Villa will know what’s ahead of them, and should be mentally tougher. They should carry over some belief from the Great Escape. Douglas Luiz was a revelation in restart, and John McGinn might finally be getting somewhere close to actual fitness, never mind confidence in his ankle.

Luiz, of course, was the big breakthrough. A midfielder with quality on the ball, endless running, and a knack for reading and breaking up play, he’ll be vital. His outings so far indicate his big step up will stick.  We’ll see how much of that rubs off on Nakamba. Targett finally has a ‘full’ Premier League season under his belt. As of now, Cash and Guilbert offer enough on the right. Trezeguet, we don’t know. He saved our bacon with timely goals, is full of running and commitment. I’d like to think he’ll be a capable backup, along with Ghazi. But he may well remain a ‘starter’ for a bit, depending on how our business finishes up.

So, me, I’m cautiously optimistic. Because that’s all a Villan can be for at least one more season. Getting the Blades to open instead of City should be a good thing, but then I’ve always been told to be careful what you wish for. What I do know is that despite the technological intervention, we were the better side during the rest of our restart encounter. Three points tonight could see us as high as 6th, depending on goal differential.

I doubt Traoré will start. Might not even make the bench. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see either Martinez or Steer between the sticks, and Matty and Ollie looked nailed on to start.

So here we go: COYVB.

Over to you.

Comments 120

  1. So war back,4 new signings so far but none in central midfield where most games are either won or lost,main thing has Smith learnt from last season ,if not he won’t last long,must get the dinner then front of the box for a few hours

  2. JC good assement of our starting position and what should be better about this season .. ever the optimist I have a tenner each way for vila to be top 4 and title at 1000-1 on the title 🙂 its more to do with the us winning it exeptedly after the last time Liverpoo won it

    Think there will still be a bit of business done before the window closes so we could have a very potant looking first team by the time it closes

    Hopefull that the boys can start well which is so important ..coyvb

  3. Trez and Hourihane will start. Grealish will be left mid

    To be honest its bad that we are this far into a transfer window and we still have Hourihane starting and grealish is wide and Trez on the other wings.

    It simply can’t be the state of play come the end of this window that Hourihane and Trez are starting and our best player is out of position because our other wingers are cr*p

    I hope we to have 2 new wingers starting soon and a central mid better than Hourihane on the bench. If not we will struggle again. They simply aren’t good enough to start games for us ( Hourihane and Trez)

  4. Good to see you, JG.

    Yeah, kind of hoping for a CM in the mix, but could be the thinking that with Luiz and McGinn, and even Matty in a pinch, we might have enough. Not a lot of depth, though. Maybe Ramsey’s getting consideration. He seemed to do as much as Hourihane.

    Which isn’t to say I don’t like Conor. But he leaves us a bit lightweight when we don’t have the ball.

  5. runtings,

    Agreed…I have a sneaky feeling we might well end up getting Rashica. He seems to have kept a good attitude, signs he may be warming to the idea of the PL. I’m sure Germany is appealing, think it’s easier to shine, week-in week-out. Who knows.

    If we win the league, I’m gonna hit you up for a loan. Hell, if we win the league, drinks are on me.

  6. Frem,

    You are consistent and persistent, I’ll give you that.

    There’ll be more business. I’m still expecting another winger/wide forward and a striker.

    Ghazi has a lot of the necessary attributes. He’s just so up and down. Get someone in ahead of him, and he might find his focus, be good off the bench, or good enough in case of injury.

    But with him, and others, we’ll also have to see whether they have a step up in them in their second season. Neither he nor Trez can ignore the message in Traore and the Rashica pursuit.

  7. Our bench is so so poor. Hadn’t got any better since the season finished

    Taylor. Hause. Gahzi all on our bench. Shocking

    Wd need a lot more business being done

    Bench and starting 11 far from good enough

  8. Guilbert is off. Sammata lansbury and Jota not in squad. They are all off

    We have 3 defenders and a Defensive mid on the bench.

    Our attacking options are small to none. We need another striker and winger at the very least

  9. Can’t get over our bench. How poor it is. Absolutely zero attacking quality. No game changes. No quality

    We are still way way short. And having Trez starting and hourihane is juts depressing. We need better

  10. Engles ans Guilbert will be gone. So that’s another centre back we need.

    No way is Elmo better than Guilbert either. He’s a lot younger to. Very strange from Smith

  11. Said it before but I do not want to see Hourihane start another game for He should be a player coming off the bench when needed. He doesn’t track back, he doesn’t press and he’s too slow. Sorry, but he’s the weak link in that team right

    We need a centre mid

  12. Mark. Yes. From open play he is useless. Slow.. Can’t press. Dribble. Track pack
    We are extremely light in the middle we need another number 8. Get Barkley

  13. We can’t go through a season with Hourihane starting and grealish wide

    We can’t have hourihane being our only player to replace mcginn and jack

  14. Hourihane is a best a player to bring on last 15 minutes if you need a goal. From the start though he just isn’t good enough

    We need Jack back in the middle

  15. Solid defensively yea

    And we just aren’t very good going forward

    Grealish isn’t a winger. Hourihane snd Trez should not be starting games
    We need better

  16. It’s not unlucky we are bad against 10 men. It happens often.

    We just don’t have the quality to break teams down

    It needs sorting by ££££££££££

  17. Last season we were slow and predictable

    So far we are slow and predictable

    Look at how quickly Brighton move the ball. Then watch us. Slow slow slow. No one twos in tight spaces. Poor. Again

  18. If I inadvertently click ‘post comment’ twice then a message come up saying something along the lines of ‘you appear to be posting a duplicate comment’. It’s a handy way of avoiding me posting repetitive comments.
    Shame it doesn’t seem to work on Frem’s postings

  19. One point I will agree with Frem on is our difficulty in breaking down teams when they go down to 10 players.
    We’re controlling the game better than we did in these positions last season but not managing to break them down.
    Sheffield were one of the toughest teams to break down last season so it’s not a surprise to see them doing it well now
    It’s going to need something special from Jack maybe to make the breakthrough

  20. I’m bewildered, we are winning 1-0 at Sheffield.

    Even Smith the commentator can’t help it “Sheffield haven’t don’t any thing wrong” no Alan just got a man sent off, missed a pen and conceded a goal .

  21. Last season only Liverpool, Man City and Man Utd conceded fewer goals than Sheffield United so once they went down to 10 men it was always going to be difficult to break them down.
    It was a real shame that

  22. We’ll see, Frem. Like I say, I think another couple to come in, yet.

    Traore should help. I agree, Trez was poor. Puts in the work, but doesn’t beat anyone. McGinn did a few things right, but also still far off his best.

    But obviously, two banks of four, sitting deep…There were far more chances 11 on 11, and then once we went ahead. Would’ve been interesting without the sending off.

  23. Hmm . . . . Premature posting, how embarrassing
    . . . . it was a real shame that Egan stopped Watkins from scoring as we were on top and it would have kept the game more open.

  24. It would have been good to see him get his first Oremier league goal too.
    I do like the way that Keenan Davis competes and holds the ball up. Would love to see him develop into our Heskey, supplying Watkins with lots of assists

  25. I don’t get the love in for Trez on twitter. He’s absolutely cr*p.

    We need to go get 3 or 4 more in. Still need another striker. Watkins isn’t enough. We need Rashica. Barkley for CM. Someone at left back

  26. McGinn still isn’t back to his best. We know he has it in him so hopefully it just needs more game time.
    Pleased to see Hourihane with a new contract. He deserves it and is a useful squad player

  27. Well that was, underwhelming. I thought we’d play more of a pressing game, but we seemed tired. Starting blues? I hope so. Cash was decent, very good cross on him. Emi the MoM for me, was super cool when we kept passing the ball to him (god my nerves)

    Sheffield were unlucky but that’s the PL. Hopefully they beat Leeds next game.

  28. Tarore will help Grealish as he cuts in on his left and will find Jack narrow. Watkins to runs of the ball Traore can cut in and slot in behind.

  29. What. When Hourihane sign a new contract? Hell noooo. No. No. No

    Yes Martinez is class. Hope Mingsand Konsa stay fit because they are good together. And if they get injured we don’t have any other good center backs.

  30. Villalore. How were Sheffield unlucky?
    Their player stopped Watkins from scoring. They put 10 men behind the ball and showed little or no ambition apart from the one break. They had 28% posession and Just 4 shots all game.

  31. Isn’t it strange that there’s a general consensus that we have the best structure and management team that we’ve had for years. They have the benefit of watching players during training, friendlies and matches.
    How on Earth despite all that do they keep picking Trezeguet despite Frem being far more qualified to
    judge and having pointed out how useless he is at least 3 times every day for the past 3 months.
    Even the fans, having watched him seem to be supporting the player. . . what’s wrong with them all, why can’t they appreciate what Frem is seeing?

  32. I was a bit put off by all the debate on the sending off. Watkins only has his arm out because he’s trying to break free and stop being grabbed.

    Sometimes I don’t know what other people are watching.

  33. 1st time we have beaten Wilder I’ll take that, team looked rusty and tired but thats expected, this was Sheff utds 3rd competitive game. Cash and the keeper looked upgrades and Ollie will have to adjust to the prem defenders although Sheff utd’s are one of the tightest. The team in turn will have to move the ball quicker and give Ollie the ammo.

  34. We still look a bit nice. I’d love Billing to be able to bring on. Tall. Aggressive.

    I guarantee Trez won’t play much with Traore and hopefully Rashica

  35. Frem- not every player beats all comers and scores every week, there is a beauty and worth in working hard for the team. Can’t say anyone covered themselves in glory going forward today, thought Davis showed intelligent play.

    Motm for me Martinez, best start I have seen from any player ever, looked more at home at Villa park then the rest.

  36. Agree Mark. For the players we have, that was the best we could hope for. Cash and Watkins can’t make up for many of the weaknesses in the squad.
    Watkins is better than Wesley and Samatta, but in Villa’s formation he looked equally isolated. We need a new left winger to allow Grealish to play more centrally

  37. Well I was fuming during the game but now we have won I can be more balanced in my views! First get in, Great win. 3 points in the prem can never be sniffed at. We looked rusty, but it was our first game and I know we can play better. We have Toure to come in not fast enough along with please good rashica. Those 2 will re shape our attack.

  38. We must sign a cm too. Mcguinns fitness looks off but I’ve said it for ages. He plays far too high up and is out the game for too long. I don’t know why Deano does it. The mans a terrier box to box type. He ain’t a number 10. Waste. The sooner we sign a lw and get jack in the number 10 role the better. Get mcguinn alongside luiz.

  39. All the signings looked great to me. Cash should of advanced more and overlapped more though. I like target but he was miles off today like most of them! Apart from luiz though. Him and konsa were absolute class. The word class sums those 2 up perfect

  40. We need to sign a quick left back because Taylor and Targett must be the two slowest around.

    Central mid is vital. Mcginn isn’t him self. Hourihane isn’t good enough. We don’t have enough quality in the middle. Not enough options

    I hope we don’t leave our self’s short again going forward. As it stands we will struggle again because we just don’t have the quality or depth. Trezeguet cannot bw starting on the wing or Grealish

  41. Frem

    I agree re trez. I like him and he can produce like we’ve seen but can only be a sub if we are going to challenge mid table safety. But basics first. Let’s get up to speed and string 5 passes together and be a unit. It was really sloppy today, slow with no shape.

  42. Well I didn’t think we were half bad at all. Created chances, first game together for some and the best goalie we’ve had for eon’s. Haven’t posted for awhile was dumb founded by the infamous Frem, I think he must be a closet Blue nose as he never has anything good to say about the Villa. Anyway, good start , 3 points and in the top ten for now!!!

  43. But don’t want to be negative. Watched a lot of games and a fair few look rusty, heh it’s the start of the season. Also Sheffield Utd. There buggers enough to score against without them parking the bus. Very disciplined and hard working. Plus what happened last season. West Ham, Bournemouth at home both had a man sent off and we failed to win. And prob we played better then!

  44. Well we won,keeper at long last and how many millions have we wasted on given guzan bunn steer sarkic gollina johnson johnson nylan kallnic Heaton Reina,
    Konsa excellent Ming’s Luis jack Watkins trez cash not bad
    Worries mcginn still looks heavy and slow
    Conor target poor,we scored from a set piece and Conor got best view in house if it

  45. R0bb0 – unlucky for the sending off so early, could have been a yellow as well. However seeing Wilder’s comments afterwards, I have no sympathy anymore. Targett’s was a red? He barely knew Basham had crept up behind him and there was hardly a touch. Looks like CW is already fearing for the worst.

    H&V – same thoughts on us having a man advantage, we dont know how to press and use it. DS likes us to counter attack but we dont seem to have many ideas on how to break down a team. Even after the goal when the Blades opened up, we failed to keep the ball and make them pay. I’m hoping we address this on the training pitch or teams will figure us out easily.

  46. villllore

    yeah agree, I am hoping to see a deano team now players are in place. We need to have more of an identity. I thought his teams were all about passing on the deck and movement. I don’t want to see the ball as a hot potatoe anymore!!

  47. Apparently we want Sarr… And willing to out bid Liverpool

    Yes yes yes yes please Villa. That’s what we need. Get Rashica to l. Our wingers need an overhaul. Not good enough.

    Also we need a player who is good in between the lines. Like Buiendia. To help us break teams like.. Like yesterday. We lack a natural CAM. Intelligent.

    We need a lot of work ti do

  48. Frem the wish list is bang on and would make our first 15 very potant indeed however not sure if that is doable this window with ffp rules also if players like Rashica is going to hold out for a club in europe.

    Benrahma is still available too …we would also need clubs to want to take our fringe players but not sure how many we would be able to shift

    We may have to be patient for the type of team Fre is qouting but i cant disagree that these are the types of player we need in our sqaud to leepfrog us into the next level

    welll done all the new buys last night they have all improved the team

  49. frem

    great list but not do able this window. we are getting there though and targeting the right players. exciting times.

    the difference between mid table safety and relegation scrap is our next 3 signings. simply have to have a st, cm and lw. priorities

  50. runtings

    really liked the new signings, all 3 had very good debuts. I like Watkins too when switched out left. great versatility.


    surly sarr is a dream! that would be insane. what about toure though?! he is lw

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