Here we are facing Arsenal now in another evening match on the heels of two successive defeats. I’ve been rather distracted by current events of late, which means I wrote up a match review of Southampton and never got it posted.

There’s been a lot of angst about the goals shipped in Villa’s last two, and with Southampton, I maintain it’s rather hard on the team to draw too many conclusions from a dead-ball masterclass from Ward-Prowse. Yes, reckless fouls on our part, and down to being second best in the early going. But ordinarily you just wouldn’t be punished so ruthlessly. Down three at the half, Villa would be forgiven for not quite believing they were three goals worse.

Compounding matters, Danny Ings naturally fired flawlessly into the far top corner to make it 0-4 before Villa could get to grips and make a show of it in a losing cause.

But even if Southampton had eased off, the spirit and fightback were significant, and the Saints didn’t seem able to respond. Three goals clawed back, momentum and some degree of confidence in our ability to score restored. After, Smith said there was some discussion about tactics, but that he told his players there wasn’t anything going on they couldn’t understand or match. However, I found the details of the halftime discussion to be quite a positive. That’s a good dressing room, where everyone can speak, suggest changes, and management listen. Smith’s explanation of what they’ve been doing in midfield also gives some confidence that he’s not as clueless as is sometimes imagined.

As we endured the inevitable inquests and calls for Poch, et al, we’ve seen Leeds fall to successive 1-4 defeats. Meaning there is no inevitable magic to Bielsa’s blueprint, and it perhaps became evident that had we taken our chances in that game, it would’ve played out differently. It may well have looked like Palace’s performance, in all likelihood.

We can get to Bielsa vs. Smith again later, and I’m sure we will, but I will say that in the post-match analysis of the defeat at Palace, Tim Howard (you know, the former Everton keeper) pointed to the helter-skelter nature of Leeds’ style. More than anything, it’s about attacking and defending in waves, running themselves and opponents into the ground. Yes, they’re well drilled in their patterns of attacking play, and they do execute their attacks with a lot of crisp passing. But in the end, it’s as predictable as anyone else’s approach. The trick is that most teams just can’t keep up. They’re relentless. And if they get the lead, it seems unstoppable. If they don’t, they’re just a very annoying opponent who can be had with good counters and quick attacks. But you’ll never quite feel comfortable, regardless.

Back to today, and Arsenal have had a couple decent results. But until Arteta & Co can show us this is a new era, we can be forgiven for expecting their up-and-down ways to continue. Doesn’t mean we come away with a victory today, of course. But this is not necessarily a team to fear any more than Southampton or Leeds.

Coming in, we sit level on points, a position higher due to goal difference, and still with a game in hand. Arsenal have lost three of their last five, Villa two.

So while the focus has been on the negatives given the last two results, I think everyone should remember we’d have been quite happy to take a 4-0-2 start to the season if it had been offered to us.

What Villa need to do is be composed, and just focus on their game: being tighter and breaking quickly and effectively. Getting in and out of the high press at the right times. For their part, Arsenal won’t be as relentless without the ball as Leeds or even Southampton, in all likelihood. And if they are to start, it won’t last over 90. Patience is key, but I’m sure Villa will also be looking for a better start than against the Saints, and to convert any early chances. That’s pretty much our formula.

We know Traoré won’t be getting a second consecutive start, so it’s virtually guaranteed that Trez will return. I’m assuming Matty Cash will, as well, even though he was subbed off last time out for the more experienced Elmohamady. It was probably a move to protect him and preserve his confidence as much as anything.

But the thing to watch for is clearly what Smith does with McGinn and Barkley in the middle. It sometimes hasn’t looked right after looking good, and Smith has talked about in-game changes. Without going back and watching, it’s hard to offer any meaningful insight that goes beyond Dean’s.

Does someone make way for Hourihane, or even Nakamba? No idea, but if there are any changes, you’d expect it to involve Conor and not Marvelous. Me, I’m guessing Deano stands pat.

So there we are. A draw would be fine, a win would be better. We’ll see how it plays out.

Over to you.

Comments 186

  1. Thanks for another good write up John. I don’t know enough about tactics to feel confident about commenting and I feel much the same about which managers are better than others. There are of course a few who stand out such as Ferguson and Clough, but many others seem to fit really well with a club and an ethos but then may struggle elsewhere. Some seem to have a series of successes but you’re left wondering a bit whether they could do it without all the money that their owners throw at them.
    Your comments about Bielsa are interesting. He does seem to have got a lot out of his players, but I can imagine that if they want to take another step up, many more skilful players would turn their noses up at training 4 times a day and then flogging their guts out up and down the pitch all day on a Saturday for him.
    Chris Wilder did fantastically last season but the magic seems to have gone this year. Mourinho. . . . .well. . . . with the right backing, he may be a good manager for 2 or 3 seasons but I find his character detestable and would hate him near my club.
    I still believe that Smith is a good fit for Villa. We know that he studies the game and is always looking to learn and improve. I’m enjoying the steady progression that we can all see in the club from the grass roots up. We have owners who are willing and able to invest, but also understand sports clubs and seem to have the long term, patient building approach that will serve us well in the long term.

  2. viva villa. Thanks for the link to the Watcyn Thomas book. . . . . never knew anyone had actually written about him.
    He certainly was a character but I suspect a book he wrote about himself would be even more interesting (because half of it would be made up!)

  3. Will smith have the balls to drop either barkley or mcginn,the one standout feature from our last 2 matches how rubbish them 2 where and Smith looking at his feet for inspiration, can’t play competitive if 2 of 3 midfielders don’t turn up or be changed

  4. thanks JC, I think Leeds can be a little bit robotic at times and we can rely on Jack to much. What I hope for today is if and when Arsenal double up on Jack someone else be it McGinn, Barkley Or Trez takes up the mantle. Its OK if one of those has an off day but not two of the three.

    so far Mr Smith has the hoodoo on Arteta with our one nil win in the league and a 3-2 win in pre-season with two goals from Ramsey.

    Cash has Aubameyang to contend with, no rest for the wicked. I think Trez is going cause them a lot of problems and make Frem put his name on the back of his shirt.

  5. God our bench is so shit.

    Taylor and Elmo, hourihane, marvelous, Davis and el Ghaizi

    That is absolutely shocking

    Why not put some youngsters on? Ramsey?

    Why didn’t we sign better squad players

  6. We play a game tonight

    We Mark how many times trezeguet beats his man, makes a good cross, finds a good killer pass( like grealish will do)

    We will see

  7. Can’t believe how poor this squad is. By far the worst bench in the league l. Absolutely zero quality in all the positions. Not one premier league player on that bench

  8. Frem- If your right then it just goes to show how good manager Smith is if he kept us up with that lot on the pitch not the bench eh. Any criticisms you want to get off your chest?

  9. Frem, you’re becoming a caricature of yourself now mate. If we were on twitter I’d assume you were a bot or a troll. . .your comments really are becoming just a bit too silly even for you.

  10. r0bb0,

    Yeah, I’m very curious about Leeds and how it goes. I agree, not sure how many top players want to play that way. It’s basically what you do when you have less talent, just try to overwhelm with pressure and work-rate, etc. And I think he has to recruit certain kinds of players physically. For me, that has to be a key. Not a big side, and lots of players, by body type and training, who can run forever. That said, they do play very smartly when they win it back. But watching yesterday, I was seeing patterns that looked exactly like the Villa game. With enough film, I think you know what’s coming. But the lack of time on the ball…It makes it hard to play. And they can keep creating those patterns because the players get up and back more quickly than the opposition and they keep it up.

    I agree, I think Smith’s a good fit for Villa. Anything we can figure out, or read and watch online, he already knows. I think for any manager, it’s as simple as making those of what you’ve got.

  11. JG,

    Well, no changes apart from Trez. Smith likes to let players work through things, and the more they play with each other, Smith will get a better idea what they can do. Each match is different, obviously, so it’s a learning process for him, too.

  12. Frem,

    The squad is what it is. To your point about Ramsey, I’ll be curious if we see more of him. For whatever reasons, seems Dean wants to bring him on slowly. And also there’s only room if a more experienced player makes way.

    The bench is all about having backups first. They’re who we’ve got. Taylor and Elmo will be gone after this year, and maybe Ghazi and Nakamba.

    Patience is hard, but more good recruiting and natural turnover will see us with a stronger squad.

  13. MK,

    Yeah, it’s easy to be over-reliant on Jack. But he is the one player, as Arteta said, who always wants the ball wherever he is, and is always willing to take on the responsibility of making something happen.

    So, agreed, if he can draw players and find ours in good spaces, so much the better. We’ll see what is mind’s like since he’s not necessarily auditioning for England tonight. I suppose he always is, but knowing he’s in the squad might already might free him up.

  14. Robby. What comment didn’t you like? The bench ? Because come on, its shocking

    Or seeing what Trez does. Not hurting anything is it. It’s just normally he never beats a man or outs a good ball in or finds a pass so lets point it out

  15. Frem, it’s reasonable to say (once or maybe twice) that you think we need more quality players. On the bench . . . of course we’d all like that, but to say it’s the worst in the league is just emotional nonsense with no evidence to back it up.

    Try to accept that we are a team in transition with sound investors and a solid plan to improve.

  16. Mark. It wasn’t a short pass. Come on.

    We shouldn’t praise a winger for running back l. It’s basics

    He’s a forward. I care about his attacking ability

  17. Yeah, that seems to be how most teams are coming at us, overloading the left. But I’m guessing that’s going to be Arsenal’s preferred avenue anyway with Aubemeyang out there.

  18. Ok half. Need to sort our right side out

    Watkins and Trezeguet need to do more going forward.

    Shame we have absolutely nothing on the bench for later

    Only thing is Davis to hold a ball up

  19. Mark. I don’t care about a wingers tackles or running back. It’s basic

    I care about his creativity and technique and goals and assists and beating men and whipping crosses is and finding killer passes

    Trezeguet hasn’t done that. Once

  20. Mark. Ye. Watkins kind off looks a bit lost. We don’t really play through balls do we. Everything we do is crosses

    And we hoof it out a lot and only Watkins up there so center backs bullie him

  21. January we really need to add better forwards ans a centre mid for the bench. And back up full backa

    If you said after Wembley that in our second prem season that Elmo Taylor and hourihane would stillbe on the bench for us you would have laughed and been pretty worried

  22. Mark. Yes. I know trezeguet needs to work back ( still getting hammered down that side) but let’s stop going on about his defensive work

    He’s an attacker.. Judge his attacking ability

  23. Having been at the Emirates before when we’ve won it does seem to me that the empty stadium favours Arsenal because the home crowd today is much louder than when I was there.

  24. Brilliant bounce back.

    Deserved win

    We can get even better with Traore who will improve us eventually. Trezeguet just gives nothing going forward. He’s the only bug i have on this team really. Other 10 are sound

    Watkins great couple of goals but wouldn’t have had any complaints from anyone if he came off before he scored. Needs to be stronger and hold the ball better

    But very good. Mcginn goal should have stood

  25. Last season we couldn’t get a point off top half teams
    Frem, you’re right that we don’t yet have the strength in depth of the top teams but our first 11 are so much better than last year
    We’re progressing . . . . its not possible to have ‘everything’ in just our second season back in the premiership.
    It’s up to you but really . . . , try to enjoy the journey

  26. Funny, Ollie had poor touches, but did some really good hold-up work, too, and both were very good goals. That’s a striker.

    Good to see him back on the scoresheet.

  27. Yes our first 11 much better. Well 10. Traore needs to come in

    But January we need to improve the bench. We can’t have those players on the bench

    I’m surprised Davis hadn’t had any minutes though

  28. Yippee!
    It’s always good to see a game like that. In control, nice goals, and a clean sheet.
    A good weekend for John, a Villa win and oh yeah, a change in government in the US.
    A nice comeback from a couple of stumbles.

  29. Frem,
    Trezuguet is McGinn’s equal when it come to the energizer bunny. I’m wondering if his lack of screen time is colouring your thinking. He made more than a few good plays. He’ll never be smooth but he gets the job given to him done.

  30. Here’s a comment on the BBC website I enjoyed reading:
    “Villa got a real vendetta for the big 6 this year and I say this as a Liverpool fan . Don’t underestimate them or you get punished”

  31. Frem, Trezeguet doesn’t have the ‘class’ of a Barkley or Grealish, but don’t forget that they are two of the very best players in the Premiership.
    As Mark pointed out earlier, this is a team game, and Trez is an important part of that TEAM.

  32. Wow congratulations to deano the team and staff ,,,, I saw some of the best football i have seen from villa in years .. the first goal was class finished by a gooner

    I am another who is in full support of trez and any other villa player that currently represents the club .. improving starts with what you have already and there is plently of that going on at villa right now

    we lost to the two sides that play the puruist attacking systems imo though they do not have the best players .. i think we will do better against those sides next team as dean seems to learn from the bad ones

    our first team isexcellent …. Jack is just rediculous we are so lucky

  33. What an insane result. Superb. Mcguinn back as a holding mid!!!! Please do not change this ever again Deano. Barkley more a second striker which is fine as he ain’t going to work back. But boy when jack Barkley Watkins click we are a handfull

  34. Frem

    You don’t become a great TEAM with 11 ballers. The work trez does is insane. The most improved player I have seen and I love him. Massive shout to targett too who was brilliant and back to himself. You get him adding his threat going forward with jack and Barkley down the left we will destroy teams.

  35. But the last word has to go to grealish. We don’t have to be so British and shy away from praise etc. This lad is someone we will never see again. Once in a lifetime shit. Villa born and bred. One of our own and one of the best players in the world.

    I’d swap him for no one. Drink him in, watch him every game sing his name from the rooftops cause when he’s gone he’s gone

  36. Dean Smith talking about how Jack, Barkley, Ollie and Trez are a great front 4, all of whom can score goals . . . felt a bit harsh for McGinn not to get a mention

  37. With the extra quality up front, it does make it harder for other teams to put the extra players around Jack . . . and he’s certainly making the most of that.

  38. Wow!!
    What can I say……
    That £14.95 tonight was not only worth every penny to football and whoever it helps, including Villa, it made up for the last two fees I had to pay!
    The sheer delight of seeing John McGinn scoring in 50 seconds or less was a great tonic, even though it was correctly chalked off. If Barkley had not made such a show of trying to obstruct the keeper, it may have stood, or if he had just tried to get out of the line of sight.
    Never mind, we went on to take the lead, steady our game, and gradually put our stamp on the game, although I was always being frustrated until Ollie got our second, and until then he had the least touches in the game. He does work hard and holds the ball up well, but we do fail to give him much service. The main fault is the defence paying the ball back to Martinez, who just does not distribute it. It is a serious problem that Dean needs to address, as Heaton and Reina were masters at redistributing the ball.
    The first time Martinez actually picked the ball up and recycled it properly, we score4d a peach of a third goal, and Watkins added to his tally!
    We have such great potential, and we can see that Dean Smith, like Ron Saunders , will work with a small close knit squad. Trezeguet is a great worker and an integral part of the squad, and if he had started last time out , the result may have been different.
    I do not see the amazing player in Traore that Frem does, but I am sure he may be ok.
    Anyway, thank you to Dean, his coaches and the players for giving me a great night of entertainment, especially with lockdown.
    I should also say that Jack gave another master class, and Barkley, McGinn and Luiz impressed, while the defence was outstanding.
    Bring on the next opponents, and let us continue the battle.

  39. Our xg Vs Arsenal was 2.24. Vs 1.5 . I have seen Arsenal fans saying the difference was they didn’t take their chances, difference was they didn’t create really good chances . Which is why the previous two games were so galling .

  40. Still stoked the day after.

    Naaafin better than going to Laaandan and coming back with 3 points. Well, OK, coming back from small heath with 3 points but that’s a given.

  41. Overall performance was magnificent. The Arse were poor but that’s normal when the opposition makes you look poor.

    It could have been 6 easy. An absolute and total battering. So we know what this young side is capable of. The aim now is to reach it consistently. I don’t fear anyone at the moment.

    I’m a big fan of Watkins work rate. Last night he got his rewards. Jack was running the show, Beaky is in trouble. But it’s unfair to single players out. It was a complete team performance and demolition job.

  42. I think surly we have seen enough after 7 games to see we will be safe?! We could well battle top 10 which would be a superb season.

    Our next aims are consistency. Turning defeats into draws and keep the points ticking over. And then next summer or even jan squad depth. I saw eze weekend play and what a player he will be. him and benrahma would of been insane but hey ho more players out there.

  43. paul

    surprised to read about you thinking Martinez distribution a problem. Thought it was one of his strengths! Watkins is a bagsman. Loves scoring and yeah need to deliever as much as poss for him. Getting targett on form and up the field will be a massive plus. Targett creates loads of chances with his wand of a left peg. You put him out on the left 20 yards out you know he will play that slide pass across goal all day long. its a thing of beauty.

  44. Martinez saying how good it is to play behind the back four. 4 clean sheets already. Hopefully get at least another 10 more this season

    We are 3 or 4 good players from having a very very good side and squad.

    We need 15 really good players to choose from. Unfortunately at the minute we probably have 10. We still have a couple of weak link’s. Targett and Trezeguet are the ones who need to be improved on. Then we need better back up centre mids, one good enough to compete in starting 11. Hourihane and Marvelous aren’t. We need another striker good enough to compete. And wingers.

    Notice Engles was vanished again. Definitely off in January you’d think. Hause still injured to. Two players we need to improve on

  45. Dont think Trez will be going anywhere anytime soon …. he will be fighting it out with Toure this season and for me have proved himself issentail for our current sqaud who btw are fighting for the biggest prize as it stands

    my 1000 to 1 bet has had new life breathed into it and as mark says we have now repucated the stats of the last time we won the title and my hunch on history repeating it self is starting to look like not such a pipe dream afterall

  46. frem

    I always think the way to go is 22 very good players. 2 for each position and the rest of squad youth players. we have taylor off in the summer so lb required. do we go expensive to replace targett or a good young lb to come in and rotate. right side is only one sorted really trez and toure pushing each other. will be great to have wes back to push Watkins.

  47. runtings

    you don’t want to sound mad or say it out loud. But villa under deano…magic happens. 10 wins on the bounce, a record broke to promote us from a impossible position. should of gone down as no one has survived 7 points adrift with 5 to play. we stay up and go to a cup final. 3 away wins on the trot a record smashed. It probably will be top 10 at best finish…BUT!

  48. Trez remings me of ray parlour.

    People thought he was done at arsenal but wenger saw the balance needed. think it was overmars on left who could just attack but other side needed balance and parlour just ran and ran and covered and worked hard. was a good player too

  49. Yes Heroes the Romford pele another water carrier a bit like dechamps was the both won a lot and even if some fans dont recognize the value of these types of players i am sure all there team mates were glad they was along side them

  50. Trezeguet seems to attract more comment than any other player. (this may just be because he’s always on Frem’s mind, and like a lovesick teenager he just can’t stop mentioning him)
    In some ways it’s not surprising though because of the role he plays and the nature of the players around him.
    Doesn’t it all come down to needing balance in a side?
    A team full of goal-scoring flair players would fail dismally
    A team full of workmanlike backroom boys would also fail.
    What you need is a balance of the two and Trezeguet is part of that balance. Yesterday he only made one less tackle (6) than the whole of the Arsenal team (7). The player ratings I’ve seen from people undoubtedly more knowledgeable that I, all seem to acknowledge how important he is to the side.
    He may not have the flair or skills of some of our other attacking players but he is an important part of the balance that is currently making this team tick.
    oh. . . . one last thing. . . . we shouldn’t be too dismissive of his goal-scoring abilities as he was our second highest scorer last season and without his goals we’d be playing Wycombe Wanderers, Rotherham and Barnsley this season.

  51. robbo

    yep well put. Trez has been and is great. All other villans see it I think it’s just frem!

    Don’t get me wrong certain type of games toure will be great to have. and I think he will become very good. Teams that come to vp and park the bus, toure will be ideal

  52. Not buying the balance thing with trezeguet. You can get a much better footballer to work hard to.. Look at Grealish.

    A forward player should be good going forward.

    He just never has much l, if any involvement in our goals or free flowing attacks. 99% of they time he isn’t involved

    I think people will see Traore settle soon hopefully

  53. Frem and you was also calling for ollie to be taken off at half time for davies last night just because its your opinion doesnt make it right … start supporting more a slagging less is my suggestion these are good times

  54. runtings. Yes. But nobody would have complained if Watkins was bought off at 1-0.

    H and V. Grealish, watkins and Barkley are why we slaughtered them.

    Watkins scored as many goals as Wesley already, and Villa fans thought Wesley was the best thing since sliced bread

  55. H&V, “top 10 at best”.

    I’ll be gutted if we only finish 10th. This current team is better than that. I’m hoping for 7th (minimum). If we can batter the Arse and Bin dippers I’m looking forward to Mourinho’s bunch. It’s well overdue with them. Time we gave them a stiffing.

  56. Frem i dont agree that he deserves villa fans slagging him off on social media and posting about how poor he (trez) is on a daily basis … I dont agree that he hasnt been of value to the team regardless of how many goals he has got …. for us to pull of the results that we have so far takes balance an 11 players that are working exstreamly well together

    thats my opinion

  57. Also we were never going to take ollie off … we brought rough diomonds and the way to develop them is to play them and allow them to get better with game play … taking ollie off would say to him he isnt doing enough .. we can see his run work rate and attidude …take him off ? hell no

  58. Hypothetically,

    If all our players stay fit

    And we play consistently to the level we did yesterday and against Liverpool and Leicester, where could this team finsih?
    Honestly if our first 11 stay fit, and we become more consistent. I don’t see why we couldn’t grab 6th
    .plus in January if we add those couple of quality attackers to add depth and quality l, why not

    It would be interesting to see what the owners would do in January if we sre 6th

  59. Runtings. Imagine another grealish on our right hand side. Imagine how much better we’d be

    Trezeguet holds us back going forward. We have done good going forward so far but it’s very little to do with him. Imagine how much better we’d be with a better footballer

    Trezeguet is probably a right back playing right mid

    No Guilbert in the sqaud again is a shame. Don’t get how Taylor is ahead of him

  60. the last time we went and won the lge we had a very tight sqaud and not too much past a first team , Liecester was the same in recent times … as you say frem if we can keep the guys fit for prem games you never know were it could take us they are looking more the real deal as time goes on .. and no one has anything close to super jack who now has players around him with football intelegence and work rate

  61. Frem we have Toure and proper baller that will need time to settle into this tight nit side
    trez will still have a massive contribution to any potential success all the same

  62. Frem are you still gnawing on that Trez bone? for a start he plays on the LW for Egypt. We have Jack on the left whom you said should be in Midfield by the way.

    We also have Barkley closely linking with Jack and the majority of Our play goes through those two and probably McGinn. We look for Jack at every opportunity so the amount of ball Trez see’s compared to Jack is probably not even half. In fact he see’s more of the ball than probably 5-6 of our players put together.

    Jack is a one off talent in a team that gives him the ball a lot, is it any surprise he score and assists a lot??

    Even though Trez is not the focus of the side and pretty much stays on the right not central or LW where he has historically been more effective and scored from. If you take the last two games alone he had 4 shots blocked and one taken off his toe for an own goal. Thats without all the tackles and interceptions and pressing he does. If he continues at that rate he will score enough, he got 6 last season and wasn’t starting that many games.

    If you got an incredible footballer on our right he would have to fight jack for the ball. Look at arsenal, they had Aubomeyang on the left and naff all on the right worth calling. Do Barca have two Messi’s?

  63. I’m not sure frem really rates Watkins! But also in fairness I admit to of wanting jack as a number 10. What the hell do I know! Think we can see having cash how bad guilbert was. At the back he was all over the shop. Cash stats yesterday was superb, guys been playing rb less than a year!

  64. Very strange Engels not on bench. We have been linked to a young French lad who plays CB.

    Tell you what we keep this up our stock will be rising. Strike while the irons hot and get some top signings in. Wonder how rashica is getting on!!!

  65. Martinez
    Cash konsa mings targett
    Luiz. Mcguinn
    Trez. Barkley. Grealish

    Pretty much set in stone for me how do we improve that moving forward? I’d say genuine competion for target. Sign Barkley and sign luiz proper are the priorities

  66. Our tough task is adding genuine depth and making class signings who are happy to wait for there chance. Cantwell would be excellent. Cover lw and number 10. I’m happy with nakamba but another number 8 type is needed. Happy with wes. Can see el ghazi and hourihan moving on in the summer. Still lots of work to do on the squad.

  67. Regarding Wesley and Watkins. Wesley is 2 years younger and had never played in England then joined Villa for the fight of their life to stay in the Premier. Blew his knee up just when it looked like he was getting the hang of it. Also, remember he had no SERVICE last year. So, 5 or was it six goals he got by January 1st? Now Watkins, 2 years older and 250 games plus in the English system is a seasoned pro who needs fine tuning and is getting it. His SERVICE is miles ahead of what Wesley’s was. He cost 33 mill, Wesley 22 mill. Wesley is a work in progress, Watkins is almost there. They are two different kinds of strikers. Get both playing to their strengths and watch out, Villa will be unstoppable≥

  68. Yep, agreed, Ian.

    Those miles under Watkins’ belt coming up through the leagues are showing. Just a season being bullied in the Champs would help most anyone.

    And also correct with having Barkley to add dimensions in terms of service. That volleyed cross was sublime.

    Now, not saying Wes has Watkins’ physique. Ollie looks silkier and more fluid. Wes is a bit more like Benteke.

  69. I must admit to wondering how many will still be here that are sitting on the bench? they are not getting any minutes and no chance to impress. Ok they are not the greatest but they are equally decent enough to hold a place down somewhere.

  70. Not buying the Wesley defence

    When he was playing, wr had some stat like we were top or very close to top for crosses into the box. We put loads in.

    And where was Wesley when these crosses went in? The half way line most the time

    He’s a a big lad and i can’t remember him scoring a headed goal l, or getting on the end of a cross really.

    He just wasn’t very good

  71. Mark. I imagine hourihane will go in January

    There is a reason Smith isn’t using the bench

    The bench isn’t Premier league quality.. Not one player on the bench we had against arsenal will play for anyone in the prem. Championship players

    Needs addressing in January with 2 or 3 additions

  72. What will our owners do if we are 6th in January?

    I imagine they would go big again and sign another top quality forward

    Why shouldn’t we

  73. nah your not going to get a top class cf in Jan.

    A. We have Ollie Watkins
    b. it’s the jan transfer window

    goal scorers are absolute gold dust, one doesn’t pop up like that. It’s why we had to pay up to 33mill for ollie!

  74. frem

    It seems engels, house, guilbert are toast for some reason. Add el ghazi to that. then you have elmo and taylors contracts up in the summer along with lansburys. I like Nakamba think he can cut it for us for a while. Is hourihan going to be happy on the bench at his age now? I doubt that. Really is going to be a hectic summer window again! I right off January as there a nightmare and nothing much gets done.

  75. It’s not the worst bench…mainly cover, though, with the exception of Traoré. He’s the only one who could change a game (apart from Conor on a dead ball).

    With Wes, and being deep, I think a Barkley helps solve that. Wes was very isolated, and learning the hold-up job as tight and aggressively as defenders are allowed to play is no easy curve.

    Don’t forget, as got mentioned above, keeping Ross and Luiz could be tough. Ross will probably be easier. Nakamba may well be the understudy for Luiz at this point. They’d rather not spend there, but will if they have to.

    For me, it’s a couple more options in midfield, another striker, then backups/challengers at the FBs. Hause is for emergencies, but should be learning. Engels? Probably offski, but another backup. You’re always going to have a preferred No. 1 pairing at CB, and we’ve found it.

  76. I’d be amazed if they don’t try umpteen variations in training. Can’t have Conor coming on and never having played with the rest of the team barring whomever he comes on for. Smith has his style and they will be drilled in it, the only difference is personal capability. I think he could play where Barkley plays, nowhere near as inventive but he’s still a threat and has McGinn and Luis behind him. Maybe even come on for McGinn.

    marv could deputise for either McGinn or Luis at a pinch, either way it would allow Either of those two more chance to press forward at times and they are both capable. I think there is more to come from Marv.

    Davis is not watkins but swap the two and I think the team would still function.

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