Seems a lifetime since Ollie’s armpit was offside and Villa were denied a point against the Hammers. And although the break won’t be enough to get Ross Barkley back on the pitch, I’m sure it wasn’t bad for the team having two weeks to train, reflect, recuperate, and even create a bit of paper talk. Hard for me to recall the last time we had two weeks off without players going away on international duty. I suppose we’ll deal with the fixture pile-up later.

The big news is that in Barkley’s absence, Jacob Ramsey will make his first league start. I’m sure he’s excited and a lot of supporters will be, too. Really hoping the lad has a good outing. Traoré will be taking Trezeguet’s spot wide right, which will also make a lot of people happy. Let’s see if he can’t get stuck in and show us a bit of quality out there.

Otherwise, no changes, but that’s a lot of change for Villa these days.

I’ve not really got much else to say, at the moment. The early kickoff’s a bit disorienting and I can’t say I’ve got my writing boots on.

With Burnley, WBA, and Palace on the horizon before Chelsea, United and Spurs, Villa could do themselves a favor by getting back to winning ways at Molineux. One win out of four has seen us drop to 12th, but we could climb back into the top half, depending on results.

And while there has been some hand-wringing in certain quarters, a quick look at the table will tell you that 5 wins out of 9 is a good return, with Spurs, Liverpool, and Leicester on 7 wins out of 11, and Chelsea joint league leaders in draws along with Brighton.

Here’s to a good start to the weekend.

Over to you.

Comments 217

  1. well this is set up for an interesting second half. Let’s just hope that Mike Dean doesn’t try and do his usual “it’s all about me” . . . . .”look at me” and spoil it with a sending off. He does seem a little whistle happy.

  2. Well nothing special from either team, nothing special from Traore or Ramsey and some dodgy defending from them and Mcginn among others. Traore a bit like Kodjia was , can’t tackle but very one footed, links up ok but a long way to go for him, hope he’s better this half. Ramsey doing ok but getting a bit lost in the mix.

  3. Mark, I’d made the same mental note about Traore reminding me of Kodjia. On his day of course Jimmy Danger was really entertaining and unplayable and it would be wonderful if Traore managed to show us some of that, but also understanding that it’s a team game.

  4. You also made the point about Trezeguet getting into the box and creating chances and he certainly has the awareness ‘and’ work ethic to do that throughout the game. His detractors are right of course that he should have put some of those chances away, but ‘you have to be in it to win it’ and he at least makes sure that he’s ‘in it’.
    His work ethic also helps us out defensively and if Traore has some of that in his locker too, ‘and’ shows some of the Kodjia creativity then he could turn out to be a better bet.

  5. We’ve been so poor today but what a huge win

    Smith has no plan B.

    Our sqaud depth is so poor.. We need additions in January big time.

    Striker, wingers, centre mid

  6. Yeah, very pleased with Emi today, VillaMD. Made the two big saves he needed to, will do his confidence good, too. Hasn’t had a chance on really any of the goals we’ve conceded lately.

  7. Makes a nice change for us to win a game in which we had less possession, fewer shots and fewer shots on goal. The first time this season we’ve been the wrong side of those stats?

    I always look at the goal difference to get a feel for whether there are teams which are either a bit higher or lower in the table than they deserve to be and right now, Villa are the team that stands out as probably deserving to be a bit higher in the table. Would be lovely if we could put that right over the next few games.

  8. Dunno if Ghazi will have earned a start, Frem. But thank god for the peno.

    We’d heard he was the best finisher in training, but I was sure he was going to miss.

  9. Frem. . . .I assume you’re spelling El Ghazi as ” Ghaizi” to try and distract us from thinking he’s the same player that you never wanted to see in a Villa shirt again because he’s the worst player you’ve ever seen?

  10. Great win and what a game by the ref? did his wife leave him? or his car get nicked?

    Robbo- I don’t see Traore having that all round game, he may develop we will see, defensively he’s like a training cone. I think Trez will be straight back in. You don’t know what you have until its gone, Trez is part of the reason we have the 4th best high press this season and today we had zero shots on goal bar the pen. He brings energy to the side to go with his eye for goal and defensive work.

  11. well its funny how different people view a game of football , I was thinking while watching the first half how far we have come in such a short space of time and had wolves playing on the break at home

    Martinez was a don today really classy keeper well done deano doing an amazing job we have our villa back its been a long time coming

  12. r0bb0,

    Yeah, you have to end up on the right side of games like that a couple-three times in a season. Dean will like the points, the fact they kept going at goal, and will still have plenty to talk about in training.

  13. My wife and I were asking ourselves. . . .”who’s going to take the penalty now?”

    “who’s confident/arrogant enough to step up” and we both came up with El ghazi.

    Let’s hope we’re never in a penalty shoot out though because you’d hope to be able to come up with a few names wouldn’t you?

  14. ElGhazi is known for his finishing in training, best at the club apparently so no surprise he got the pen.

    I think Barkley and Trez will be in the next game and hopefully Marv gets his chance and Guilbert but I reckon its more likely Elmo and maybe even Conor coming in.

  15. MK,

    He booked just about the entire side. That’s Cash and Luiz out for Burnley. But we weren’t really the aggressors, physically. Step slow, mainly. Layoff didn’t end up helping us.

  16. runtings, you’re spot on. . . . .we really are much improved on last year as is clear to everyone (well . . . . . . ‘nearly’ everyone).

    We’ve been very unlucky not to have a few more points based on our performances in previous games, which makes today even sweeter and as JC says, particularly good to see us continuing to go at goal, even when down to 10 men.

  17. Traoré’s a funny one. He’s got quality on the ball and pace, but looks like it’s going to take him a while to adjust to the Prem.

    Think he’d probably benefit from playing with Ross in the side, as well. Ramsey had a couple nice moments, but found it hard to really get in the game consistently. But that’s two players with one combined PL start between them before today.

  18. Another great thing about us winning is that it may spare us having to endure a whole week of our very own Chicken Licken droning on about how bad we are.

  19. JC I hope luis doesn’t get more than 1 game, he led with his elbow and they may review it.

    pissed off I changed Martinez out of my fantasy team he’ll get 11 points at least 🙁

    Frem- by the way nobody has ever been relegated with a start like Villa’s and thats before this win. took us 19 games to get to 18 points last season.

  20. JC. . . . .I hope you’re right about Traore needing to come to terms with the Premiership but I worry that he’s not an obvious Dean Smith type player and may struggle to adapt. Hopefully this is just another example of me knowing bugger all though! 🙂

  21. runtings,

    Yeah. We’re better, and tougher mentally, I think. Day like today, good moments and bad, but they kept at it and they know there are goals in the side.

  22. Mark, I’ve felt sooooo much happier about how we’re playing and our prospects this season and yet it is still reassuring to hear your stat about no team with such a good start to a season being relegated.

  23. r0bb0,

    Maybe I’m being a bit optimistic. Agreed, doesn’t seem like a Smith player, but Lange & Co had to have seen something. I think it’s about getting him in space, mainly, on attack, and then him coming to grips with the defensive side.

    But he does have some nice one-touch passing on him. What comes to mind is the difference in confidence that Targett has this year vs last. But, I’d have thought they’d be expecting him to make a more immediate impact.

  24. Mike Dean is a prat. He dishes out 7 cards to us for 15 fouls whilst giving them 4 cards for 23 fouls. I’m sure he only pointed to the spot because of VAR looking over his shoulder.

  25. But I honestly don’t care. There’s no coming back from a last minute winner. I’m stoked. More so because we looked average.

    Let me see now…….one point ahead of Wolves with 2 games in hand and a better goal difference of 13. Mind the gap.

  26. R0bb0 – love ur Chicken Licken comment . Hopefully we can get a few days of peace.

    Plug, JC and team – yeah all great comments. Runtings – I also thought we were good against A top 10 side.

    Burnley on Wednesday. I think there was always going to be some rotation. I hope Freddie plays ahead of Elmo.

  27. Huuuuuge win and bloody brilliant win. Wolves away is tough. Like very tough. To come away with 3 points and clean sheet is unbelievable. The back 5 very good with targett superb. Mid pretty awful. Can’t string 4 passes together. Hardly anything created. We simply have to back this up with another win against burnley. If we get to 25 points in the next 4 games we should be on for a very comfy mid table finish.

  28. Frem, I can understand why you may think that Jack should play more through the middle, on the assumption that he’ll be able to control play more from there, however, for what it’s worth, I think he’s done better when starting in a wider position.
    From what we’ve heard, Dean Smith involves the players in the decision making process so you’d imagine that Jack is fully on board with this too.
    Let’s face it, right now it’s hard to argue that they’re getting it wrong between them when we’ve won 6 of our first 10 games, having played 4 of the top 6 teams and (until today) been unlucky not to come away with even more points.

  29. H&V, that would be ideal.

    Agree with comments that Targett was great at LB, and also covered across the back 4. He has really matured this season and now looks a snip at 12M. In fairness though, Jack was superb at helping him out. Jack always puts in a shift.

    It’s a great opportunity for Nakamba vs Burnley. I would love to see him MoM and keep Luiz out for a few games. In my view, Luiz is playing at 70% of his level since his Brazil call up and starting 3 games for his country a few weeks ago

    Remember, today was without Barkley. It’s great to have SJM back with his energy and Ramsey really has skill once he gets a few more games under his belt

  30. Good call about Target – he was brilliant against Traore today – and Jack did well helping with the defensive duties

    Martinez was class – love this guy’s attitude- he is relishing being the number 1. A real team player

    We defended well today. It was an ugly game.

    Mings does not get enough credit for his composure on the ball and passing.

    We do miss the dynamic combinations when Barkley is not playing

    Jack is simply SENSATIONAL- but he needs the telepathic understanding he has with Ross to break open defences. Their interplay also brings the best out of Watkins

    I am really please for AEG – I do like him – he has talent – he just needs to me more consistent.

    A brilliant away win. And the next two games are winnable.

  31. I’m happy with the win but not really with the game. Martinez earned his money today. It was sloppy and chippy.
    Burnley next should be another 3. Barkley back?
    I liked Ramsey, Traore really doesn’t like his right foot but i think he’s starting to look better.
    A good game to put in the rear view mirror.

  32. Ian- Ramsey improved second half and looks better further up the field, Traore didn’t unfortunately and was hooked, I’m sure a season will see him buck up its no easy league. There were a few very dodgy clearances being sliced about 🙂

    Looking at stats we only had 15 yellows up to today and in one game with Dean we get to 22 yellows and a red, wanker.

  33. sorry H&V . . . .another statistic alert!

    Since the start of last season, Villa have scored and recorded 4 wins after the 90th minute . . . .more than any other team. That surely is another sign that under Dean Smith we keep playing for the win until the end; and we all know that has not been the case under other managers recently. It does mean that sometimes we may lose games late on too, but as has been said before, 1 win and 1 loss brings more points than 2 draws, and is surely more entertaining too!

  34. It’s galling that Mike Dean’s narcissism brought us so many yellow cards today. Losing Matty Cash and Douglas Luiz against Burnley will undoubtedly be a blow against Burnley but if we have aspirations to end the season in the top half of the table then we’ll need some more of the squad to have opportunities and to step up.
    Hopefully Barkley and Trez will be able to come back in, and although our bench is not of the quality of the top sides, we shouldn’t forget that it is full of players who were quite regularly starting or at least playing for us last season, so maybe isn’t as bad as some of us might suggest and is certainly improved on last season.

  35. I think I just heard that Villa are the only team that are pressing ‘more’ this season than last seasI n . . . is that a real statistic?
    I can believe it might be.

  36. Here’s one player review for Traore today::
    “Started poorly and was loose in possession and was Villa’s worse player in the opening 45 as he struggled to settle down on just his second Premier League start since his £17 million switch. Came in for Trezeguet today but lacked quality on the ball. “
    As was discussed earlier he does have skills but will need to show them consistently if he’s to take Trezeguet’s place in the starting 11. He could however be a handy substitute option in games as he has the skills to make something happen late in deadlocked games.

  37. Hi R0bb0,

    On Traore today, I thought he was very neat and tidy on the ball, but didn’t do anything super exciting like Jack or put fear into us like Adama from Wolves. He didn’t run at Wolves full pace and take them on. His defensive ability is shocking.

    So would I pick Trez over him? 100 out of 100 times yes.

    Traore definitely needs another few months to develop. He has quality touches, but is not in the same league at Trez at this moment

  38. Massively disappointed with toure. I rated him too. He’s 25 and had prem experience with Chelsea and Is an international. Just a weird player! Is a big lad with pace has to be doing a lot more

  39. It’s often said that you shouldn’t pay any attention to the league table until 10 games have been played. Well now we’ve finally reached that number, how are we doing? The fact is that 18 points would have us in, or right on the edge of the top 4 after 10 games in most seasons. . . . . ‘Thats’ how good a start Dean Smith and the players have given us in just our second season back.
    At the start of the season I was anticipating that we’d end up between 11th and 14th and I’d have been very happy with that steady mid table security.
    I must admit though that this squad is now feeling capable of more and it’s feeling more like 8th to 11th on the assumption that we’ll lose some key players at some point.
    What would be perfect in my view? 7th or 8th. . . just saving us having to play Europa league before our squad is quite strong enough to cope with it, but close enough to European football to encourage our best players to stay and also attract the good new players to take us to the next level.
    I Imagine others will feel differently 🙂

  40. I see that Jack Grealish was pestering Ross Barkley pre-season to join us.
    “”I was trying to persuade him since the start of the season and it wasn’t until the Fulham game, when I was saying to him the day before that we’re a good side this season, we’ve come on so much from last year and brought in good players.”
    Apparently, after seeing how we played against Fulham, RB then started to believe Jack’s confidence was well founded and decided to put pen to paper.
    I’ll admit that it took me more than 1 game to ‘believe’ it, but I think we can all now see that the team really has progressed again this year.

  41. Jack being mates with Ross must have helped persuade him to join us. It seems that the two of them had a holiday in Dubai, along with Deli Ali and James Maddison.
    Maybe those two next? 🙂

  42. Robbo- We are definitely pressing high more and yes its a stat and we are 4th best at it. Whats also happened is other teams are pressing high less and sitting in, a bit like bruce ball. I have to stress its a high press, made possible by Watkins, Jack and Trez’s efforts, you cannot do it if one doesn’t press and Traore is way off.

    I’m disappointed with Traore mainly because he plays out wide right but has no right foot so its pointless him going past a player as he can’t effectively cut it back or cross, ends up skating across the box and giving a safe pass, I wonder if left would suit him better? On 1st viewing I can’t see him ever being great defensively, he appears to have not a clue, we will see the lads had little game time.

    We have Archer (19) out on loan at solihull moors at present and he is a decent enough winger/forward hope he progresses.

    On the points situe, if we continued our win rate we would be around 70 points, last season that would of put us 3rd (Man utd 66 points) and in the champions league.

  43. On Traore, there was a time when you would not of thought Jack would be tackling well and winning headers and improving leaps and bounds defensively ( on his way to being a playmaker in the Pirlo style for me, eventually) so there is hope for Traore although he is 25 now. I have concerns about him but I want to stress that I don’t think he’s Wank 🙂

  44. roBb0,

    Deli Ali and James Maddison. Not for me. We always need strong midfielders, but I’d avoid those two.

    The current squad has a real tightness to it. They’ll do anything for each other. The group gathering at the end of yesterday’s game said it all. It’s the best camaraderie I’ve seen since the 1981 team.

  45. I hope we do add in January. We still have areas that are very very weak. Left back, we need a better back up than Taylor. If Targett gets injured we lose all the attacking link up on the left. So we need someone. Rico Henry maybe.

    Striker we all know. Games like yesterday we needed another striker to be able to come on because Watkins was struggling. We can’t rely on Wesley. One because he wasn’t very good, and two, he will take a while to get back to fit. He might get better, I’m sure he will.

    wingers. we are desperate . Rashica 2.0 maybe in Jan

    I think Centre mid could do with a back up. Its fair to say Hourihane will probably be off, he isn’t fancied now. Barkley will pick up injuries so we need better quality depth

  46. The only worry yesterday was we looked pretty out of ideas going forward. we don’t ever seem to get Watkins in behind, because all we do on attacks is go left to Jack. we need to mix it up more. I don’t get why we don’t move Jack central sometimes and get him closer to Watkins.

    Good thing against Burnley is we probably won’t miss Luiz so much, as its Burnley. I hope Guilbert comes in for Cash.

  47. Frem, the upside to having Cash and Dougie missing for Burnley is that it forces a change in personnel and gives those two players a break in a very demanding month of games. We do need to rotate the squad this month.

    I too hope it’s Freddie at RB. Naka holding midfield, and Ramsey again if Barks doesn’t make it. And I guess Trez will come back in.

  48. Frem I’m sure we will do something in jan but we know how disruptive mass change can be , bringing 4 into the team has worked out for us , maybe 2-3 will settle as easily if you see what I mean, still think those on the fringes have yet to have their chance in this new line up and may surprise us.

  49. Plug- not sure massive changes forced on us are a great thing, we saw how that panned out yesterday unless we changed tactically for the game we were less dynamic going forward.

    That reflected in both wolves and ourselves having low XG scores. Unlike previous games where teams converted low XG chances and we didn’t convert high XG chances . Martinez was great but I would expect him to save the type of shots that came in, none of them sailed into the top corners from ridiculous positions for once.

  50. Robbo

    Think we will finish 13th. Just watching saints now god they are good. We are miles off them. There passing is quick crisp and keep possession. We are getting there there though and for our second season if we can avoid relegation battle and have appositive middleish table finish would be great.

  51. Frem

    Deano said we maybe in for a striker. Think the fullback situation will wait for summer when Elmo and Taylor are out of contract. If we could get a centre mid or st or both in Jan would be amazing.

  52. On Traore for me he has bags of natural ability and technique beyond the levels of most at the club .. very good players indeed need time to settle and adjust .. just like many top players in this league he will need some time and agree that defensivly he has a long way to go to give us the stability that trez currently offers to the defensive shape … my view is that we have a fab player that will be a real asset to the club given a little time

  53. Mark love the stats another indicator of just how far this team has moved forwards in 2 yeas . its great watching villa without cringing at the shocking play ,something we have suffered for too many years

  54. Mark. Yes. But we need a few because our sqaud is so thin. It has zero depth, as our bench shown yesterday. Only one forward thinking player. That’s unbelievably poor.

    H and V. Problem is of Taylor comes in it absolutely destroys our game because he is absolutely awful going forward. We can’t take that risk of it happening.

    Yes Southampton are extremely good. Ralph is a top top manager. I’ve said before itsnl not right they have him. We sre a huge club. We should have better managers than Southampton, wolves, Everton, Leicester. We are much more attractive than any of those. Smith has done a fine job, but you know what i think about it

  55. I do love this new mentality though.

    Since lockdown we have become a very tough side to beat.

    Last season we would have lost yesterday going down to 10. Or at least not gone onto to win. Leicester away we scored late. Wouldn’t have happened.

    Long may it carry on but hope we batter Burnley. Would be worrying not to beat them l. We need to to make up for last 3 home defeats

  56. And Targett. First time yesterday when camera was on him he looks like he’s got fit. He looked a lot fitter. Looks like hes lost a bit of fat because he looked chubby last season but looked lean yesterday.

  57. wouldnt swap deano for anyone right now and sacking a manager that has done and doin what he is at the club would be a bit mad but its obviously not going to happen any time soon

  58. Frem

    Not sure about new mentality losing games, we’ve just lost 5 out of 6!! But Interesting what el ghazi said about keeping on the front foot and going for it for 90. They felt they sat back too much last season. Hence the 90 mins winners we’ve had. Good to see

  59. Redmond. That’s a winger.

    Gray and Dan James out of favour. Not the best but better than our current wide players ( bar grealish but he’s a CAM)

  60. Yes, Southampton are a well run club as evidenced by them being the 7th most profitable club in the Premiership era, an amazing achievement for a club of that size. They’ve largely done it by successful player development and clever use of the transfer market which has been great for the bank balance but not so good for the trophy cabinet.
    Leicester showed a few seasons ago that a smaller club ‘can’ break the grip of the ‘big clubs’ and I wonder if this time Southampton will see the chance to take the next step up and try and hang on to their best players?
    Yes, they ‘could’ make Champions league although I don’t think that they will, in the same way that I don’t think that Villa will make it this season, even though if we won our games in hand we’d be ahead of Southampton.

  61. Frem, I think you said you’d swap Smith for Potch, but why, when Smith has achieved so much in such a short spell and the team is developing so well? Every club has a culture and there is no guarantee that even very good managers will ‘click’ in a new club so why take the risk?

    I imagine you also think that loyalty is an over valued commodity.

  62. Talk of replacing smith makes me a bit sick. Blokes a miracle worker. If Biesla was doing what Deano is doing you’d never hear the end of it. We are 4 points clear of Leeds with 2 in hand. Think Leeds spent more in the summer than we did when first up too but we had too and they didn’t. That Bolton reject striker they bought for 30 odd mill hahaha

  63. H&V where do you get 5 out of last six lost from? its four in the league and we skipped a game and we have only gone two losses before a win at most, won 6 lost 4, not won 4 lost 6 🙂

    Southampton useful side and been together how long now? may I remind people that they scored 4 from 4 shots on target vs our 19 shots 10 on target in a second half where we were close to beating them despite 4 goal lead at just after half time. Yes they are good and their manager deserves respect but so does ours. As Robbo said two games behind them at present.

    Swapping Poch for smith would be the dumbest thing we ever did two weeks from Jan in our position, I understand you have a hard on for Poch frem but show a little respect for where Smith’s taken us so far.

  64. Here’s the full tweet from Mings about El Ghazi:
    “Good morning villains. I really hope all you who were berating and hounding El Ghazi enough to make him suspend his social media, are in his DM’s today, apologising. A team game utilises a WHOLE squad and we need everyone… may your apology be as loud as the disrespect.”

    It’s easy (for some) to forget that when we discuss players on here, we’re talking about ordinary people with real lives. I was reading this morning about Deli Ali’s background and why he has Deli on the back of his shirt instead of his surname because he feels no emotional attachment to his family name. If you read a little about his background you begin to understand why.

    When people are ‘over the top’ negative about players they can do real harm to player’s confidence. It’s easy to say “well they earn so much they should just learn to take it”, but that is complete bollocks of course.

  65. H&V. . . .I love a good stat and that ‘running’ stat is a really interesting one. We all like to think that effort brings it’s rewards, but it’s rarely enough on its own

  66. Robbo- well said, in Trez’s case he’s an Egyptian far from the middle east and his culture busting a gut to please a bunch of people that maybe cannot be pleased ever. If I was a footballer I would not go near social media, its a worse disease than Covid by far.

  67. r0bb0 thats the sad thing about social media you have people behind keyboards spreading hate and spouting vile nonsense. and in AEG’s case these are suppossed to be supporters of the club ? what a world we love in

  68. Mark

    Ah just knew we lost a few! Point remains though. Twitter is a madhouse. I like it but took years to follow the right people and syphone out the idiots. I wouldn’t react to it as a footballer. Just a lot of over reactionary teens 90% of the time on there

  69. Mark, I’d have liked to read the whole of that article. . . .but not quite enough to subscribe!

    You’re right though. . . . .you do get the gist from the title and first paragraph and I imagine it went on to describe all the other good work that he does for us. Of course, if you miss easy goals then it is all too visible and you can expect the empty vessels to make a lot of noise about it.

  70. Heroes-and-Villans watching the game thinking the same thing about Zaha .. would make our current attack very scary indeed … its the sort of buy you can reward your club with if you make europe

  71. I guess we’re all in agreement on Zaha. That’s the sort of quality we may even be able to start thinking of if we end up top half of the table and showing the ambition to make Europe the following year.

  72. Yes Zaha, if it hadn’t have been for Covid he would not be at Palace £80m wasn’t it? great player, not sure how many of those you can prise in to one team with jack and Barkley, might be overkill but would like to try 🙂

  73. I wonder if we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves 🙂
    Also. . . . . . is it the model that our owners are going for or will they stick to trying to catch players ‘before’ they show their full talent. . . . . . a bit more along the lines of a Southampton rather than a Man City.

  74. I’ve been thinking about Ollie. He moves about a lot and to me more like an attacking mid. I thought maybe a more traditional striker like Benteke was or like the two Villa have right now in Wesley and Davis, then Grealish, Barkley, and Watkins to back him up. Ollie knows where the goal is and is just as likely to score from further back.
    I still think Wesley will come good. Last year he was a 22 year old getting a baptism by fire in a weak Villa side. Look who would be feeding him in this year’s squad.

  75. Ian, I’d been thinking the same about Wesley. Really looking forward to seeing him interact with our improved midfield. Let’s hope he’s able to put the injury right behind him and carry on where he left off, showing steady improvement and bullying defences.

  76. Ian,

    I think Watkins needs a partner, Kenian would be perfect if he could stay fit.

    I wouldn’t expect anything from Wesley this year. He’s been out for a year, it’ll take at least 6 months for him to be back to his previous level.

    I wouldn’t mind a winger and striker in Jan, but not Rashica- that ship has sailed. Frem – I like ur shout for Daniel James. Good squad addition. However, I’m still hoping Louie Barry and youth push through and we don’t need to sign anyone.

    I noticed Ramsey confidence grow in the 2nd half. A few time a Wolves player was on top of him, and Ramsey just cooly dribbled past. It must be so great for him breaking through with so much experience and quality to learn from. Another great management decision by DS – not taking the easy option and letting him go to the championship on loan

  77. I think Kenian would be ideal for Burnley game. I know he hasn’t played, but he’s such a talent that I really believe in him. He would give Watkins so many opportunities

  78. I think with players we can be patient this year as we won’t be in another relegation struggle. For example:

    Targett is brilliant at LB. can Freddie or Elmo play LB to cover ahead of Taylor? I see no reason. Can Mings play LB? That may be a better position for him as he day dreams too often for me

  79. Ha…some good banter.

    We’re fine. Dean knows as much as Ralph and Potch, but he’s just a working-class Englishman, not quite so fashionable.

    You look at the team gathering round after the whistle at Wolves? That’s what you want to see in a club.

    Along with Mings’ tweet. Class. As well as Jack giving Ghaz the penalty to take.

    I very much like my Villa right now.

  80. Been peeping at the Wolfie blogs. The natives ain’t happy. Full Back Sameda is copping flak. They paid Barca 25 million for him and the fans think Mendez has had their trousers down. And there was me concerned about the 29 million we paid for Ollie.

  81. Yes Bowen got away.. Proper quality right winger unlike the one we have

    Yes Zaha should be a target, even January

    I hope Smith sticks with Ramsey on Thursday. Not hourihane. Pointless playing against Burnley. We need someone who can run around because Burnley will keep it tight.

  82. Frem- made my day £80m rated zaha in jan what are those clouds looking like? 🙂

    JC – yes mate we feel good , a real family club and with real midlands home feel.

  83. Sad news this morning: the passing of Gerard Houllier at only 73. He never properly got his feet under the table at Villa, mainly because of health problems, but we still managed a 9th place finish. Always came across as a warm and thoroughly decent guy, I thought. Plus Gabby, Collins and Ireland didn’t get on with him: that’s got to be in his favour!

  84. Hello lifers, hope everybody is doing well and looking forward to the holidays. Looking forward and also worried about the Burnley match, our home form hasn’t been great and they are starting to find their groove. I hope that thug Trakowski doesnt harm anymore of our players. Going to be an interesting one, nervous about Nakamba and Ramsey pairing.

    Shame about Houllier, RIP. I always wonder what would have happened if he hadn’t had those health issues and we had a few more seasons with him. No McLeish and Lambert, maybe remained a mid table team.

  85. Houllier? nice bloke but we were not exactly great under him, McAllister took over I remember and we looked better, lots of unrest in the squad and players being left out and fans wanted him gone, did get Bent and Walker in but a few dodgy ones too and that Anfield moment 🙂

  86. SJM and Targett are on 4 yellow cards apiece. One card away from a one match ban. If collected by match week 19. That’s still 9 games away.

    We are going to need our squad players.

  87. Craig Pawson confirmed as the ref for the Burnley game. He’s from Sheffield way. Hope he controls those two bruisers Mee and Tarkowski.

  88. Mark. Why not. This is our best chance of getting European football that we will get in a long time l. Its a mad season so let’s go all in January and improve this very very poor sqaud.

    Houllier. We would have signed Cabaye and more like that in the summer hsd he not had the issues. We would have done well under him

    One game I always remember is Manchester United at home, we drew 2-2. Obviously as usual against them we were 2 up but that game we had Bannanna Hogg in midfield Andy they were unbelievable.. We had Albrighton one wing. I think Clark played to, as did Young and Downing. I think Fonz was up front.

    It was a special performance until last 10 minutes but I remember Villa Park being sold out and atmosphere was brilliant.

    Oh how we miss that

  89. Frem- I liked houllier but there plenty that didn’t some things don’t change.

    Yes we could go all out and try for Europe and it could completely wreck whats going on at the club. We would definitely struggle with the extra games and demands for wages etc. As much as it might be fun its not like when we won the league last time, champs league non existent it was a knock out competition only. If that was still the case I wouldn’t be worried. I think that waiting and building while the youth mature and come through will stand us in good stead rather than a one off glory hunt.

    I think the Youth system we are building is more important than you know, hopefully along the lines of Barcas academy.

  90. Some Lifers have expressed doubt about the wisdom of reaching Europe this season should it become even a half chance.

    Not me. I’m sure Compass would welcome the extra income which will not be 4 pence ha’penny. I understand the discussion about the risks given our overall squad strength but it’s only Burnley who really struggled whilst in Europe. It didn’t do Leicester any harm and they put in a good run.

  91. Plug- Leicester in a different stratosphere mate squad wise, ok they are not a 12 players and thats it team. remember when we finished 6th three times under Oneil? he didn’t give a shite about europe.

  92. Mark, MON’s attitude towards European games was a black mark (excuse pun) against his time at Villa. I certainly just loved the European nights down VP. Something different to see, great atmosphere, awful refs, diving players and yes, the likes of Paulo Rossi putting us to the sword when Juventus came to town. That night, Gentile followed Gordon Cowens down the tunnel at half time 6 inches away. It was about the furthest he was from him all night.

    May these times come again soon. Final word on MON, he may have been operating to orders from the Board room to chase a top 4 slot. Dunno.

  93. Plug, yes I’m another one of those with my doubts about early European qualification.
    We gained premier league promotion a year earlier than expected and last season was a nail biter (probably) as a result.
    Don’t get me wrong, if we’re there or thereabouts towards the end of the season I won’t be able to help myself getting excited about the prospects, but I do think that a steadier progression may be the better course.
    We’ve seen some fans being losing patience even with our current rate of progression . . . if we were to qualify for Europe and then see our league position suffer the following season I guarantee you the whingers would be out in force looking for Dean Smith’s head and wholesale player changes.

  94. probably was plug or he thought thats what I have to do to get top 4. Don’t forget he rarely played more than 12-13 players anyway unless their leg was hanging off they played. He did all sorts of stuff he learned from clough like no training for a week for the 1st team, probably why they never lasted the season. Also made Houlliers job impossible as they had gotten used to no fitness training.

  95. I’d forgotten the ‘lack of fitness’ problem under Martin O’Neill that created such a problem for Houllier. Didn’t he bring a French fitness coach with him and we suffered from a series of injuries as a result?

  96. Tonight’s games are re-emphasising what a strange season it is so far.
    Nothing can be taken for granted and we’ll need to be absolutely up for it right from the start if we’re to get a result against Burnley.

  97. Possibly O’Neill’s biggest fault was his demand for high spending on new players whilst refusing to use substitutes. He was too profligate for Lerner’s wallet and took the club into dangerous losses which only very wealthy owners can save us from even now.
    They seem to be taking a far more sustainable approach and Dean Smith is a key part of applying that strategy.

  98. Spot on RObb0, if we are not at the coal face from the first whistle until the last on Thursday, we’ll get rolled over. There’s no easy games in this league.

  99. Burnley is a really huge game

    If we lose, Burnley actually aren’t that far behind. If Fulham win to they also aren’t miles off

    So let’s get the win and push clear of the bottom 3.

    We can go above Many City with a win

    Really hope we don’t fuck the chance up like we always do

  100. And west brom. Er have to get 6 points. Anything less is a poor return

    Win those 2 and already we have done a huge amount to survive this early.

  101. Robbo- Yes there was a lot of problems as the senior players were used to dealing with their various injuries themselves, to many old players used to having a pint etc. When they had to train the strain was to much and at their age they were playing catch up with years of crap nutrition and prep. Bit like God used to they got away with experience and whatever natural talent they had. Would never work today.

  102. Frem- Do you ever look on the bright side mate?
    10 games played 2 games in hand and 9 points off of Burnley, in fact man city in 6th are only 11 off of them yet we are the only team getting sucked into relegation? at this point 3/4’s of the league could drop according to you 🙂

  103. Frem- Talked to a mate who supports WBA and he said they have been unlucky, good point at City last night so I think like all games it will be tough. That said we are more than capable.

    Last season by the end of December we had (count them) 5 wins in 20 games 3 draws and 12 losses. I’m reckoning we are doing ok.

  104. Big Sam to West brom not good. He will keep them up and probably do us over on Sunday now

    We have to win tomorrow. Have to we can’t lose to Southampton, Brighton, West ham and Burnley and West brom to

  105. Villalore…..yep, passing sideways across the back and/or backwards drives me nuts. It just runs the clock down as Man Citeh found out yesterday. Attack forward is the way to go. Passes will go astray but trying to unpick the lock is better than just looking at it.

  106. Hey Frem……Big Sam will have no problem beating Villa at all. He said at the start of last season we had bought far too many ordinary players rather than one or two top quality ones. Our current squad is not so different so it’ll be a breeze for the yam yams. He said we’d be so easy to beat. It must be true. He’s an expert after all.

    And we get an opportunity to shove his words down his throat. COYVB. Let’s get at them.

  107. Plug. Oh noooooo.

    Time for Traore and Ghaizi to play and show why they are better.

    Watching Southampton, they are my favourite team to watch. 442. Mobile, quick strikers. 2 quick wingers who have a free roam basically. Full backs get forward. 2 centre mids just sit and shield l.. I’d always liked 442.

  108. Villalore, that’s a nice little article about Westwood.
    There were a few fans (naming no names) who really had it in for Westwood, probably because he wasn’t a showy or exciting footballer.
    Some of the abuse he came in for (he’s crap, worst player ever in a Villa shirt. . . . you know the sort of thing) was disgusting and ill informed.
    Sadly, there are always some who feel the need to pick on particular players; presumably it makes them feel better about themselves in some way because it’s rarely backed up by facts. Before making those sort of hyperbolic criticisms of of players, surely the first question to yourself should always be “why does the manager keep playing them . . . . . do I really know so much more then them or am I deluding myself?”

  109. From, i would love Traoré or El Ghazi to show that they’re better than Trez and make him fight for his place. They’ve not done it yet but El Ghazi in particular will be interesting to watch now that he has hopefully got his mojo back . . . . and hopefully fans (including you) will not try and beat this confidence out of him again now Mings is ready to come round and sort them out if they do!

  110. Frem, do you remember when Martin O’Neill always played 442 and a number of people in The Villa Blog, including the owner were vehemently critical of him not playing 541. One of them even changed his name to Mon451.
    I think the trouble is, when things aren’t going to ones liking there’s a temptation to find a single issue to focus on and blame it all on that.
    It’s true that MoN did always stick to the one formation . . . . does anyone know if Clough operated in a similarly inflexible (but effective) way?

  111. Managed to watch the game on a friend’s tv and although it was not our best performance, and we may have been lucky to get the three points, it did even out our luck over the recent games.
    Very impressed with Martinez giving his best display so far, and young Jacob Ramsey putting in an impressive debut, with the icing on the cake coming from AEG, who deserves to have some luck and love.
    Have spent some very interesting time this week watching the Claret & Blue podcasts with Marc Albrighton, Paul Faulkner, Alex McCleish and Gareth Barry. Well worth the time that they take.
    They are such an insight into how Villa was run, the impossible task that was given to McCleish, which he actually succeeded in achieving.
    He was told there were no funds for recruitment, that he had to reduce the huge wage bill that O’neill had created, while at the same time the club had already sold its two main wingers, Ashley Young and Stuart Downing, and that James Milner was off too. In return he got Shay Given, Stephen Ireland, Alan Hutton and Jermaine Jenas (bad injury after his 3rd game).
    Interesting that he was the initial manager to see the potential in a young 16yr old Jack Grealish, and was instrumental probably in making sure we didn’t lose him at that stage to Man Utd.
    The injuries suffered by Villa that season were probably the worst we have had in recent years, but he still managed to keep us up. It would be interesting to see how different Villa may have faired if he had been given another season, with his development of so many young Villa players that he introduced into the squad.
    To me, it is so sad that a significant minority of our fans have made our great club such an uncomfortable place for players and managers alike over the years, and that we do not have the family love and support that is given by smaller clubs to them.
    I have seen it over the years first hand dished out to people like McCleish, Lambert, Bruce, Westwood, Bennett, Baker and many more, rather than supporting them in their development.
    I am not sure exactly when it started, maybe with the advent of social media, but it certainly wasn’t there in my younger days.
    Some of the bloggers here and elsewhere need to take a look at themselves and ask are they giving anything to the club that will improve it for the future. I know I do criticise from time to time, but mainly through frustration, but never in a derogatory one.
    It was also very inspiring to hear Marc Albrighton talking about how he felt so different at joining Leicester where he found a loving and together attitude throughout the club, which is why they were able to lift themselves, escape relegation, and go on to win the league.
    Villa Park is a huge place with a big history, which makes it a very intimidating place to come to, and at last we have a manager and a set up being created that once more players should be able to enjoy. Maybe the losses at home are an indication of how nervous players can become in this once great stadium.
    We as fans need to start making it a place where our players and manager feel the love, and the opposition know that they cannot break it.

  112. Neither Traore or ElGhazi will replace Trez, they don’t press or defend effectively and are both a bit wimpy. Unless they miraculously start Scoring every game to compensate they will be a net loss to the side, Simples.

  113. P.P . . . . . . . a good little write up that I agree worth wholeheartedly.
    There does seem to be a real togetherness building in the club and surely Dean smith has a lot to do with that, but maybe the absence of fans is helping too.
    It’s really sad if that is the case as the fans should be ‘helping’ the players to perform not hindering them.

  114. PP….I’m going to stick up for our fans. Sure, I’ve heard booing down VP at half time when trailing or full time when beaten. Don’t agree with it and I’d never personally join in.

    But I’ve also been inside VP when the team have managed to ignite the fans and the place has detonated. The air has split. It can’t happen all the time but when it does, no team can live with us.

    Just check out the Arsenal and Chelsea blogs and see that they’re no different. It comes with the territory at big clubs.

  115. I think you may be missing the point Plug, although you have also drawn attention to other big clubs that have/ are suffering from the fan base, and missed out Man Utd, whose fans are also very unforgiving.
    My comments were not just about the fans, and I do hope that some of have the time to listen to the podcasts sometime. They are all done by Matt Kendrick, and may be a little drawn out, but they have a lot of interesting content.
    Looking forward to tomorrow and a very hard game, where Westwood and Co will be looking to triumph.
    Excellent viewing again tonight watching Leeds and Everton getting players running into the box and providing the finish. Benteke scoring again and Haller goal for West ham a cracker. First sacking of the season with Bilic at west Bromwich, and big Sam back to sharpen up the Baggies.
    I am confident that Dean and the boys will give their all, but neither game is going to be easy.
    This season is going to be a roller coaster!!

  116. @Robbo – Sadly, there are always some who feel the need to pick on particular players
    Luckily no such folks here on this blog :p

    @PP – Both McLeish and Lambert had thankless jobs thanks to the mis management and apathy upstairs. I think Villa fans were frustrated with the fact we went from top 6 to fighting off relegation. In hindsight, its easier to say the drop to the Championship helped reset expectations, but we could have easily being languishing there. But already expectations are sky high, we are going to do another Leicester, blah blah blah. People forget its easy to splash the cash and still get relegated.

    If we need to admire Southampton, its not just for their playing style but their academy and willing to build a team for the future without going crazy every transfer window.

  117. I think that some stick at stadiums is always given, depends on whether you let off steam from the week by screaming at people or by screaming for people. Its the 24/7 nature of misinformed crap on the internet that can be draining if added to unnecessary abuse at home. I would ban players from social media and put out club info to address concerns rather than ignore the crap, IE not just ask them to be respectful tell them they are fucking stupid too, that should work 🙂

  118. Really want the win tonight. I don’t know why but it feels like a big game.

    I think it’s because we can pull even more clear of sides at the bottom and get closer to the ones at the top. Plus we stil have 2 games in hand after tonight, so 3 points tonight and we are healthy. If wr don’t it’s juts a bit, meh. Plus we should be beating Burnley, especially after 3 home defeats

  119. Frem, agreed. . . a win tonight would feel like a big win.
    It may be premature, but I’m not as concerned about the gap to the relegation places as I’d normally be at this stage in the season. A win against one of the teams we ‘expect’ to beat would however show that the team has the grit to play hard and play to win in ‘every’ game.
    Of course it would also just be nice to be 7th in the table with 2 games in hand too!

  120. I can understand the nappy wetting to a degree but one look in the win column shows we have 6 wins, the bottom don’t have any more than 2 wins and the losses go from 6 to 11. The best goal difference they offer is -6 and that extends to -16 all have played more games.

    The biggest threat to us is injury and even then the players we have from last season can fill in, the win ratio may drop but I doubt it would be to the level we will drop. Don’t forget we took 4 points off of Burnley with a much worse side than w now have.

  121. Frem, Your comment about ‘needing’ more players in January is an interesting one. It depends on what the owners’ objectives are. It’s a common perception that January is n expensive time to be buying players and that would make sense as no team will be wanting to release good players half way through the season unless they can get top dollar for them. If the objective is a secure mid table finish this year and then press ahead next season then they may judge that we’ll get more for our money at the end of the season.
    The squad we have now should be more than good enough to gain that mid/top half of the table security this season.
    If they are less patient and want to push for top half of the table, and knocking on the door of European places, this season, then you’re probably right that we should be looking to bring in some reinforcements in January.

  122. roBB0…..look at last January for a clue as to who we might sign this January. We took 2 loans (Drinkie & Raina) to cover the injured SJM and Heaton. Plus Samatta (who only proved temporary) to cover the loss of Wesley. Then it was Borja on a free from Swansea and Barry as one for the future.

    In other words, we were fighting for our lives and collected the above. This season we are not in danger so I think Frem might be disappointed.

  123. I would be surprised if we made any major signings in January unless its Lange bargain buy or getting Ross permanently
    Its very different from last season when the whole squad was finding there feet in the prem and a win tonight would see my bet for top 4 @ 800-1 🙂 looking very good indeed may I add lol
    For me there isn’t a huge amount of value in jans market unless its well researched as most top players will be going nowhere in that window.

    lets give the squad room to breathe and develop further and come the end of the season I have a feeling we will be in a much better position to attract real quality players
    What I can say is I look forward to watching the boys for the first time since MON days

    speaking of MON I think he would have taken villa all the way if Randy didn’t back track on his ambition for the club .. we had some fabulous players and had some serious quality linked with us but sadly Randy took a step back from making villa great again

  124. I hope Ramsey starts tonight, not hourihane. We need mobility, not CH.

    Also hope Ghaizi starts.

    I do worry about us tonight. It just has that feeling where we will be slow and up sloppy and Burnley will want the win more. Set peaces could be an issue if we carry on letting mcginn mark the big centre backs

  125. runtings. We need signings. We have one striker. Our bench is always dire with no attacking quality

    We need a striker anf winger at least, ideally more

  126. Frem I don’t agree we have Wesley back in training future Brazilian number one striker he and Ollie can fight it out this season and they both need game time and lots of it if they are to become top players

    personally I think the club is getting is bang on at the moment …Toure another big buy that needs to settle before we start bringing in competition for him … I will be surprised if we start splashing cash in jan under these circumstances

  127. Smiths take on Jan Is we will see where we are. They will access Wes and heaton and likely get rid of Kalanic if possible. Unless they have a sneaky bargain or two up the sleeve or we lose important members of the team like Trez I can’t see many coming in to boost us 1-2 places. As Runtings has said its not about the short term. Come nest season we might have 3-4 youth players pushing for pitch time, buy to many we risk stunting their growth.

  128. Plug- last Jan was pre-covid and FFP was pretty close, should improve this season with our improved income. Being officially out of the EU makes Euro player acquisition more difficult, hence I think the recent announcement of a new Academy 500m from Villa park. Soon you will have to talk Brummie to get in the side.

  129. I don’t know that we’ll splash the cash, either.

    However, there could be some ‘bargains’ given financial pressure and contract situations, etc. A workhorse midfielder could be on the cards, for example.

    I know no one wants Rashica, specifically, anymore, but he’s the sort of player who could be available for a decent price.

  130. Frem, as runtings says, with Wesley coming back (and Davies too hopefully) I see the chance of us bringing in another striker as being vanishingly small. We seem to be looking to bring in young players to develop and it’s unlikely that one of those would step straight into the first team. The chance of us finding an affordable striker who’s better than Wesley and Ollie in January seems very very small.
    The strategy now seems to be bringing in players to develop or players who will improve our first team squad . . . . again, can’t see that happening in the forward line this January.

  131. Only Liverpool have scored more goals per game than us so far this season and we’ve had 7 different scorers so whilst it always feels good to have more quality players with attacking ability we don’t seem to have done too badly so far this season with what we already have

  132. I do not see any major signings in January for us, unless there is an odd bargain to be had that Dean has had his eye on.
    It will be more about us bringing more young players to the squad in readiness for next season. We now have a reasonable squad which just needs to be maintained. As has already been said, there are players now becoming fit again, with Guilbert, Heaton, Hause and Wesley being in contention over the coming weeks.
    Far more sensible to maintain our position in readiness for the new season, than making impulse buys now. Bowen is the only player in recent January windows that I feel we missed out on.
    Can’t wait for tonight and what will hopefully be another great match watching the New Villa.

  133. I just read Burnley have only Scored 6 goals this season. They have 9 points so just shows you how tight they keep it, they have played 11 games and at that stage last season had scored 14 , 7 less than we have now.

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