Another cup tie, another chance to give the second team a run-out. Normally, I’d be annoyed with the congestion, but since we actually have a second unit, I’m less bothered.

Basically, I think we’ll see what we saw against Bristol. Stoke aren’t in nearly as good form, sitting 15th in the Championship on a 1-1-1 record so far. Doesn’t mean much, but.

The biggest thing we’ll glean tonight is who Dean will be starting against Liverpool. And really that comes down to Traoré or Trezeguet. I guess the other question is how many minutes Watkins gets, and whether he starts. Smith will be wanting fresh legs to cope with Liverpool’s pressure, but Watkins is young, and giving him a chance to net again could be in Dean’s thinking. But Davis, our only other recognized striker, could very well need the starting minutes.

Barkley’s cup-tied, of course, so we won’t be seeing him. And I’m thinking that if we see him against Liverpool, it’ll be from the bench. Smith threw Drinkwater in straight away as I recall, but we were more desperate. And as with Trezeguet, I don’t think Smith will take Hourihane out of a winning side just yet. Little bit of dressing room harmony to maintain, though I’m sure Conor expects to be losing his place sooner rather than later.

I’m talking about Sunday more than tonight, but that has to be the thinking. While Villa will say they’ll be playing to win against Liverpool, and will prepare accordingly, everyone knows we’d be quite happy with a draw. But. We are building a side that should be able to do more than just hang on. Maybe not quite there just yet, but apart from a rampant City or Pool, it’s beginning to look to me like we should begin to expect credible performances against most anyone.

Once Barkley’s in and up to speed, we shouldn’t be getting overrun in midfield now that McGinn seems to returning to his old self and Luiz has found that next level quite consistently. Traoré’s a handful, he’ll be well up for big games on big stages, and should give us the kind of attacking line that keeps defenses more honest. Which means more room for Jack and Ollie, etc.

What we want tonight are strong performances from players who want to fight for inclusion. Would like to see another good outing from Ramsey. Would like to see Nakamba, Ghazi, and perhaps Guilbert make cases (as unlikely as they are to earn starting spots) because we need the depth. Will be curious whether Elmohamady plays CB again. Would like to see another victory because winning is a habit and it can only be good for Villa’s confidence and dressing room heading into Sunday.

So there you go. Oh, and congratulations to Jack and Tyrone for another England call-up.

Over to you.

Comments 75

  1. Engles definitely on his way out. Fit but not playing.

    Ghaizi needs to impress because he’s been awful in the first 2 Cup games.

    We still need a quality forward. We still lack quality l. Trez and Ghazi aren’t good enough

  2. Hi folks, Traore has played CF and scored more goals than on the wing just like Watkins, the thinking may be he’s the third striker until Jan and see if Wesley reappears. If not then write him off and buy again.

  3. Mark. If he’s pushed up front it makes our wingers worse with options.

    We then have to play Ghaizi Jota etc and that’s not good

  4. Nice one John. Yeah now we have some depth about us it’s much better. Surprised troure playing thought he’d be starting v pool. Hopefully a performance like v Bristol. Always gagging for Davis to score

  5. Frem

    Yeah like mark says troure Davis Watkins and wes to return is enough up top. Watkins can play anywhere too. Since we now know jack will be lw I’m over getting anyone else. Rashica dream dead!

  6. Wow. That was bad. Lansbury absolutely dire.

    That’s why we need another striker. Davis. What a miss. Misses great chances all the time. Can’t go in a season with him being second choice.

    Ghaizi again absolutely dire. Awful football player. Lansbury. Taylor. Hause not much better.

    Thing is we are one injury away from Ghaizi, Marvelous, Taylor and Hause starting games for us. None of them good enough

    Hope to christ our business this window isn’t done. It can’t be. We lack quilaity up frontand wide

  7. I mean watching Taylor and Ghaizi play on the left. We are premier league now. They shouldn’t be here

    Get Jota on for Gahzi. He’s a better player. Get Watkins on for Lansbury

  8. Frem- Yes with a team put together in one window, nearly went down but didn’t thats called staying up. what has traore done tonight for instance?

  9. These aren’t good enough

    Ghaizi has played against Burton Bristol City and Stoke and looked dreadful in all 3.
    Marvelous is so bad on the ball. Taylor is the worst attacking left back around. Lansbury is poor

    I’m sorry but we need more quality in depth.

    We still need a striker and winger and left back

  10. None of the starting XI need to feel any worry at all about their place.
    The majority of that lot who played tonight need to be shipped out if possible. Some are stealing a living.

  11. Frem- And your point is stupid bud, we have brought in 5 players to improve the 1st 11, we have not brought a single player for the squad. So your idea is we should carry on buying players to sit on the bench? or do we buy 11 that are as good as the actual 1st team? how much would that be then? genius

  12. Targett has no competition with Taylor.

    Luiz has no competition with Marvelous who is a poor player.

    Konsa and Mings have no competition.

    Grealish has no competition. Mcginn and Barkley don’t. Watkins doesn’t

  13. Mark. We need better sqaud

    It’s not just 11

    Is Luiz gets injured or tierd, marvelous comes in. Not good

    If Target gets injured whixhhe will, Taylor comes in

    Grealish, Ghaizi comes in

    Watkins. Davis comes in

    None if the ones coming in are anywhere near Premier league quality

    The Stoke 2nd players were better than ours

  14. Or look at it this way, Frem:

    Apart from Traore (and then Watkins), not one of them hasn’t already played in the first team in the Prem. Some, quite a bit.

    Now they’re squad players. Next summer (and maybe sooner) we’ll see more turnover and so on. That’s the way it works. Get up, stay up, consolidate (which we’re doing), then push on.

  15. John. Even if it’s just one coming in they weaken us massively.

    Say marvelous has to play 10 games, we are screwed. Or Taylor. Or Gahzi. Or Davis

    One of them having to play 5/6 games wjll weaken us massively

  16. 18 of the last 25 comments from Frem as usual – why don’t you try putting them all in capitals, mate, and really drown everyone else out!!
    All the usual remarks, nothing new. Boring, boring, boring.
    As, of course, was the match tonight. Didn’t feel like we were all that interested in getting to the quarter finals of a tournament Deano said he was keen to win. There were some good things, not many: Ramsey was largely very good and was sorry to see him taken off. I agree with Frem (what???) that Lansbury was awful, though his problem is lack of consistency – he was good against Bristol City. Taylor was poor, Hause was very poor, El Ghazi mostly ineffective, though certainly not the worst. And Nakamba was decent, whatever Frem may say!
    Other pluses: one beautiful shot from Watkins clawed out of the far top corner; sound performance by Guilbert and calm, as usual, from Elmo; and one excellent point blank save by Steer.
    Oh well, a load of fresh legs for Sunday and hope we don’t get embarrassed by Liverpool – but a win tonight and keeping that 100% record going might have been quite significant…..

  17. Jota is better than Ghaizi also

    You could see that when he came on

    John. Yes. I can’t wait till January or summer when Taylor. Lansbury, Hause, gahzi all go

  18. And while a number could’ve played a lot better and should’ve, I got the sense they’re resigned to being the second team. There was no one there I would expect to play their way into a starting role, and some of that may have been showing tonight, mentally.

  19. viva…Lot of sense there.

    Wasn’t like we didn’t have chances. But the energy wasn’t great, passing and control were often lacking. If it were a league game, you’d simply say, “bad day at the office.”

    It happens.

  20. I’ve touched on it before but what concerns me most is our identity. When Deano was appointed I expected high pressing possession footy on the deck. Pass and move. Now I’ve seen Brighton, Saints, wolves all have a clear way of playing. Even Brighton last night with changes played there exact way. I just don’t know what we are under Deano. It seems at the mo a counter attacking team relying on set pieces a lot.

  21. But. We need a striker in

    Davis and Watkins aren’t enough.

    Ideally someone who can play wing also

    Id be amazed if Smith goes with just Davis and Watkins

  22. The point is – as John has said more than once – that these ‘second string’ guys are not all going to come into the Prem. side at once; it’ll be just one or two, depending on injuries, and when they’re playing alongside quality players, their game inevitably gets a lift. Just look at Taylor when he was in the side after the restart – he was actually one of our better performers in the end.

  23. H and V. Yep. We don’t havea style really. Smith ball is a myth.

    Our defensive depth is a worry. Center backs we only have two fit ones now

    Attacking depth a worry

    Maybe the loss tonight will convince Smith and Purslow to spend more or loans

  24. Frem- what exactly do you think you or we can do about the lack of depth? let it go and enjoy the games because it is not going to change for a long time, I don’t think we can cope.

  25. H&V,

    I think it’s a work in progress. Which is obvious, of course, but the identity starts to show when you have players that can do a job at each of those positions.

    So ideally, the 4-3-3 should work like Liverpool’s. We just don’t have that talent, yet.

    In the meantime, Smith learned from last season that we were too open too often, he saw the quality issues, and does have us set up to be more counterattacking now. It’s worked for Leicester and Chelsea in the past.

    With a healthy McGinn, Luiz and Barkley, MF should be stouter. Jack, Ollie and Traore (one assumes) will make a tough front line. So as the season progresses, and depending on opponent, I think you’ll see more of that identity emerge.

  26. But it’s not even hard to improve on Ghaizi, marvelous, Hause l, Taylor etc

    We can go buy Stokes back up left back, centre back and winger and they would improve us

  27. Frem, surely FFP now blocks any further spending. The management have clearly aimed to improve the squad but they can’t spend any more at this time. I think Barkley is an excellent move and much lower risk than Rashica or Benrahma…

  28. John

    Yes I hope we will see it develop with more of his signings in. But potter at seagulls and the saints manager all been in shorter than Deano and they’ve implemented a style straight away. Let’s hope we can kick on this season.

  29. Didn’t really see much of tonight’s game, just a few minutes on a live stream, but it seems we still have players who cannot be arsed to put in any real effort to show their worth to the club.
    This seems poor, when other teams are putting out sides with second string players and making a real effort to win the game.
    Must say, having watched Brentford again tonight, that we must go all out to sign Benrahma, after he scored another two goals tonight, even if they were against Fulham. He is definitely what we need!!
    Team tonight has been really slagged off by the fans.

  30. I think we have spent 70 net so far. I try and play it down but I’m with frem. If we want mid table safety then we need another st. If Watkins does get injured for a spell it could be trouble. Let’s learn from last season. Heaton and wes and mcguinn should of served us as a warning

  31. H&V,

    To be honest, I think a lot of it has to do with Grealish, and the team’s dependence on him. The way we play on any given day is completely shaped around him.

    Against Bristol, everyone was saying, “Look how quick and lively without Grealish slowing things down.” Tonight? Pretty much crying out for Jack.

    As most have noted, including Hourihane, Villa need better players around Grealish, if only to make the team more systematic rather than talismanic.

  32. And with that, as promised, no match review, but a new article from Ian is up.

    As always, anyone who wants to write something up, send it along. I’d love some crowd-sourced match reviews, for example, rather than just my view.

    Not that Lifers don’t let their thoughts be known, regardless.

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