It’s been an interesting weekend so far in the Premier League, and Aston Villa will wrap up Sunday’s proceedings shortly in welcoming Liverpool to Villa Park.

With only two matches played against struggling clubs, it’s hard to know whether or how much Villa are improved, but we’ve not yet seen the full impact of the summer’s business so far. On paper, you’d like to think Barkley and Traoré will make Villa better. And Smith is going against form a bit and introducing Barkley for Hourihane straight away. Welcome, Ross Barkley. Let’s get your England shirt back.

Watkins has yet to open his Premier League account, but he hasn’t been far away, and Matty Cash looks to be adapting well. Martinez has, of course, been an instant hit. Rumors keep rumbling on about Rashica. Which is like saying the sun also rises. But it could well be that the Stoke performance has convinced management to do a bit more business.

On the other side, we hear that Alisson has now been ruled out along with Mane. Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alcantara, and Matip are also out. So, there are worse times to play them in terms of depth, but the starting lineup of course remains very strong. You know they’ll be anxious to continue their perfect league record, keep pace with Everton, and take advantage of City’s draw with Leeds. Mane’s absence may well be minimized by having Diogo Jota to turn to.

Like I’ve said, Villa will say they’re playing to win, as they should, and that’s how they should prepare and approach it. Which means I would expect Smith to keep things tight at the back and for Villa to hold form and play more on the counter. Nothing genius about that, it’s sensible and what we’d all expect. The biggest thing is being a bit clever with the ball and not rushing things. We’ve seen ourselves under siege, and however long you hold up, it’s a tough ask. Just takes a single slip-up. Giving it right back when you do break out, well, doesn’t really help.

Obviously taking chances if and when they’re there is the best outcome, but it’s also important that Villa contest the ball, and when we do get it, we have to make good decisions about whether to break like Leicester, or to try and take a little air out of the game and spend some time with the ball outside our final third. The urge to break will be strong, however, with Watkins showing good pace, strength and control. A decent long ball or two for him to run onto wouldn’t go amiss.

Targett’s in for a long day, of course, and Luiz will have to put in a shift. McGinn will need to build on his Fulham performance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Traoré get his league debut at some point today. What’s nice about writing that is he’s a player who could actually change a game, and with Barkley, both could offset Liverpool’s propensity to dominate proceedings late. We’ll see what kind of fitness Barkley has.

So, I’ll be quite happy with a draw, of course, and over the moon with a win. But these are the kinds of points that make a big difference if you can claw them out. As always, what I’d like to see is a solid performance. No shame in losing, but I’d like to avoid naïveté and errors and see Liverpool well and truly earn it if we aren’t going to walk away with anything.

At any rate, we’ll soon know a fair bit more about this season’s edition.

Starting XI:
Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Luiz, Barkley, Trezeguet, Watkins, Grealish
Subs:
Steer, Elmohamady, Nakamba, Hourihane, El Ghazi, Traore, Davis

Over to you.

Comments 142

  1. Thanks JC, After Manures collapse I am thinking what next? I genuinely don’t know what to expect today, I think like you we will keep it tight and look to break on them. Jack didn’t play in the 1st game against them and wasn’t at full steam in the 2nd, I think today we might see him give them mucho problems.

  2. Great cross field ball by trez for Barkley second chance should be 4 up . Can’t give salad the ball in the box thigh and by the time I typed this we are back to 3-1 🙂

  3. MK,

    Right? Unreal the number of chances.

    Which isn’t to say I’m not worried about the second half. Pool certainly aren’t messing around, but somehow we’ve held up pretty well.

  4. Frem mate enjoy this they don’t happen often, in twenty years you will remember it not Targetts defending or the fact we don’t have ten wingers.

    Gonna be a nervy second half if they score quickly but hey I think we have more in the barrel.

  5. jbd656,
    You are wrong In Dec 1976 we were 5-0 up at halftime. Second half we did not score, and Liverpool pulled one back. Not a single video camera to record the event either!!!
    Dean will remember and hopefully make sure they do not wobble.

    I also think that Trez is doing okay and has got stuck in. Barkley on fire, even if he has missed a couple of chances.

  6. Absolutely f**king brilliant. Could’ve had 11-12. Watkins could’ve had 5 himself.

    What I like about the margin is that the deflections didn’t provide the margin.

  7. Trezuguet played well Frem. A cross in the first half yielded a goal. Up and down relentlessly. He’s a meat and potatoes type of player.

    Oh, i forgot…yippee.

  8. Amazing display. We made Liverpool look average. Watkins is class. Great to see Barkley play so high. Jack ripped Trent apart. SJM back to his best

  9. Wow.
    . That was great

    We just look so much quicker as a team

    Grealish isnt slow. Barkley, watkins all quick. Mcginn is quick.

    We look good.

    Still have a couple of positions to sort out. Left back snd another winger/ striker.

    But hopefully the Rashica deal gies though and that will improve us no end

    Brilliant

  10. Frem you look at it all wrong, if we play like that both of those would play a part but last season it was what we had in a new team barely together, what they did last season set the foundations for tonight.

  11. Yeah, the midfield was everything. Good touches, strong on the ball, battling, making the right passes, spraying the long balls.

    Ollie’s a proper striker, Ross so much more involved with forward energy. McGinn back to his best. Luiz? Doing what he does.

    We kept fighting and attacking, and that was the difference.

    Oh, and taking early chances. Thanks, Adrian, for a dream start!

  12. Unbelievable game, we had 7, could have had more. Defended well, pressed hard, took our chances.

    Anyone who moans about Trez or any other player today should take a break. UTV

  13. Jc I see the plan now, we have the players to beat the press and the pace to break the offside trap , Liverpool were made for us teams like Sheffield not so much but we now have more than one way to win .

  14. As Ollie saiid we worked on countering the press , while Barkley made a huge difference the blend just looks perfect. I’m not going to get carried away though just yet .

  15. No, MK…don’t want to get carried away. Everything went unbelievably right tonight. But we’ve also been due. And everyone basically did everything right.

  16. Ridiculous result but even more ridiculous is the fact that we really could have scored twice as many
    Credit to Dean Smith and the coaching side, we pressured so hard with 2 and 3 players at a time and we’re winning the 50:50 balls for a change. Liverpool’s high line then left them open.
    As others have said, Barkley gave us that extra quality and competitiveness in midfield . . . . my only criticism of him was that he needs to grow more aware of players around him. Maybe he was just a bit too keen to score against Liverpool but he should have put Trez in for two easy tap ins.
    Great to see Jack as just another player tonight rather than us having to rely on him to do everything. He did still look quality mind you And that through ball for Watkins to get his second was sublime.
    A game we’ll all remember and I’m sure we all know a Liverpool fan that we can remind as well.

  17. A few have said that it’s a shame that there wasn’t a crowd to see it. I disagree with that. There are far too many fans like Frem at Villa park. Anyone who goes to games there know that’s true . . . we’ve all heard them. That puts extra pressure on the team and it has to be possible that the team are playing better and with more freedom precisely because they are not feeling that pressure.

  18. Definitely, Barkley made the difference tonight, and is what Villa have been missing since we lost the likes of Milner and Barry. Guys who would make the difference to the midfield, and provide the through balls, having won the ball from the opposition.
    Great to seeMcGinn back

  19. Fookin Eh!!! What a day, Tim Sherwood will have to call the Viagra hot line tonight after the Villa and Spurs results. What can you say about Ollie, a perfect hat trick, Left, Right and a Header!!!!! Cant remember who got the last one for us, need Mr Lerwill to dig that one out for us. “Andy Gray” maybe?? Klopp, never had seven passed him as a coach before, proves what we’ve been saying though, we can’t sit on a lead, we have to keep pushing that’s what we are best at. The wine is tasting so sweet tonight. Well Frem, I guess we have to fire Deano now as we didn’t keep a clean sheet. If Jack and Ross can read each other like that in the first game, what for the rest of the season. Southgate will have to take notice if they continue like that, unbelievable for the first time they have played together.

  20. contd..

    to his best. Targett had some struggles, but did far better than I expected.

    Words on the grapevine say we are close to completing the Rashica deal. If we get him, Benrahma or Sarr, then we are going to be challenging for the title at this rate.
    Amusing how the pundits do not really see how Villa have not only improved, but recruited well, and still recruiting.
    Not just player recruitment, but also management recruitment, which also explains why John Terry is still with us. He can see that we will be a top team in the not so distant future, and it will make a huge difference to his CV.

  21. Did anyone see the patch of dead grass behind the holte end goal? Absolutely dire! Groundskeeper out! Only two dead patches short of a travesty. Villa needs to buy some green patches from Italy. The grass much better there. It can’t go on like this, we’ll be the laughing stock of English football. Only two days left in the grass transfer market. Just watch them try to fix it with green spray paint. Can’t be cheap, get the best.

  22. PW,
    Not during the match. He only conceded at little afterwards, and didn’t really appreciate how devastating Villa were. At least MOTD could see how the Grealish Barkley link up could make a difference this season. It so reduces the pressure on Jack.

  23. Frem

    Spot on with bRkley. He is strong quick and can carry that ball.

    And amen it’s put super John mcguinn back into a number 6 role and hey presto he dominated the mid.

    Has annoyed me immensely mcguinn playing further up in front of the ball. For ages, even back in the champ. The guys an all action mid. Needs to be involved box to box. Thank god

  24. Frem

    Deano says we are done in the market!!! I hope to god are first 11 stay fit and well.

    Mate trez was fantastic today. The mans a machine. His composure and picking passes is so much better. And what goes un noticed he takes up some great positions.

  25. Where & when did you get that Frem?
    If you’re prophesying your record isn’t that good mate.

    What a night, this’ll live up there with those we remember!
    The chances we missed were that good it could have been 12-2

    3 Internationals in 8 days, & 3 days later we play Leicester, totally mad.
    I hope the team comes through it unscathed.

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