Been away, so hadn’t really followed the rumors about Jack. But it appears they were true.

So, Dean will stick with the same formation, bringing in Ghazi wide right, and Elmo for Matty Cash, as Villa take the field for the first time in 48 Premier League matches. Ross Barkley may well have a career-defining moment in front of him today.

Fingers crossed is all I can say.

Comments 232

  1. If I speak I’ll just get moaned at…

    But Dean Smith. Awful again. We have been since the start of the year.

    The football has been horrific for weeks and weeks now. We hoof it to Watkins. We are absolutely clueless on the ball. We create absolutely nothing in games in now

    And how Smith thought loaning Guilbert out and keeping Elmo

    And why is Barkley and Mcginn starting again? They have been pathetic since Covid break l.. Give the ball every time.Luiz has been tierd for a while. He wasn’t even in the screen when Maddison scored. Marvelous and Sanson should have started.

    Smith unfortunately is tactically one of the weakest mangers in this league.. Oppositions have found us out. We are so easy to defend against

    Unfortunately Grealish will leave in the summer and this is what it will be like without him.. Smith was clueless in the championship without him

  2. Barkley snd Mcginn need to come off.

    I mentioned before, why can’t a club like ours attract Rodgers? We have more money

    If Rodgers had our squad we’d play excellent football.

    Smith gets found out to often. He has no plan B in games.. We are predictable. We have no links in the final 3rd

    Smith not rotating the sqaud is haunting us.. I remember Robbo having a go that players aren’t tried

    Well since 2021 we have played dreadfully and got some lucky wins.. Southampton we were extremely lucky. Arsenal we scored first minute and did nothing after.. Burnwwe absolutely bottled. Brighton we are dreadful

  3. Not a very good day at the office again. Would Jack have made a difference with poor defensive mistakes by Konsa and Mings.
    Mid field almost non existent. McGinn, Luiz and Barkley need to step up. Trezeguet would have been better than Traore with Elmo.
    Maybe Nkamba and Chukweumaka should replace Barkley and McGinn second half, or Ramsey and sanson!!

  4. Yeah, several a bit off the boil again. Some reasonable passages, but not enough.

    That’s why I thought this would be a telling moment for Barkley. He’s been a passenger, and I’d have thought Smith might go with Nakamba and Sanson. Or even Ramsey. We’ll see if he changes things up.

  5. Unfortunately you don’t know how you will play without such a massive player as Jack. It can however prove to be not to bad once players find their mojo, Leicester without Vardy not the same either.

  6. He absolutely zero end product. Just had a shot passed straight to Schmeichel.

    We scored early with a lucky goal and had absolutely no idea what to do after l. Created absolutely nothing again in a game. Caused zero issues to them

  7. We needed more players in January

    Our sqaud was absolutely know where being good enough

    We needea winger and a striker

    Now we are struggling to create any good chances in games

  8. Mcginn has been absolutely awful again. Ramsey been better than Barkley and Mcginn but our tactical genius won’t replace them

    That’s our European hope over this season now. We will end up bottom half

    Another absolutely pathetic performance

  9. It’s obvious Bsrksnd mcginn need to be dropped

    Ghazi and Trezeguet aren’t Premier league players

    I don’t know what has happened but we have been absolutely awful for 8 games now.. We look like pre lock down l. Tactically awful l. Defensively awful. Attacking wise awful with absolutely no idea or creative ability

    Leeds will hammer us

  10. Mark. Leicester didn’t get out of first gear. They didn’t have to. We were absolutely zero threat to them

    Sanson and Ramsey pressed better than Barkley. They need to start

    The club seriously need to consider what they want in the summer withy regards a top manager

  11. Well, for me, it got better from us. Shame, the second one for Leicester. Emi will want that one back, and it was a only really that messy five-minute spell where it was lost. With Jack out there, we could well have won that.

    On Ross, I’m thinking he may get bypassed. Dean’s tried to give him a good long chance, but he’s just not taking it, and certainly isn’t offering enough to keep up with Leeds. Ramsey looked assured and better on the ball, and will do more running. And Sanson is probably bedded in enough.

    Ross’s reaction again wasn’t good. If it’s frustration with himself, okay. But if he thinks he’s not getting a fair chance, he’s just wrong.

  12. That’s a kick in the nuts. Take two of the best out and that really puts a dent in the first 11. Smith has no choice now but to play the bench. It can turn into a mess or as I’m hoping it gives someone a chance to step up and thrive. Sanson and Ramsey are more than capable of stepping in as is El Gazi. I’m actually looking forward to seeing some different combinations of players on the pitch. Really change things around.

  13. MK,

    It will certainly have to be our best running side. I thought Traoré did better today defensively, has been coming along, and did look like he was drifting into that role quite a bit.

  14. Ian,

    Don’t disagree. This is the situation where others get a chance to make their case. Barkley didn’t take it today, I think that opens things up. Elmo did well enough.

  15. For Chrissakes, Frem – why don’t you write to Compass and apply for Smith’s job? You obviously know more than any of our coaches. We need you, man – to save us from the horror of maybe only finishing 10th.

  16. Well we did manage to stop the rot, but like Frem, I do not understand what we gained from Trezeguet replacing El Ghazi, and Luiz should probably have gone sooner, and been replaced by Nkamba, and Sanson should have replaced El Ghazi, as we needed to get control of the midfield.
    I don’t really see where we will improve now, as we have too many average players in the squad, who just are not gelling together.

    Dean really has his work cut out now until Matty Cash and Jack are fit again. I do not see a team which shows any confidence since we had the covid problems. McGinn just does not show the edge he had, and not a decent single shot on target.
    Should we really have let Callum O’hare go, as he is the player that is still outstanding for Coventry, and instrumental in the win over Brentford.
    We really do not have anyone who can step up to the plate when Jack is injured.

  17. JC- he always does, seems to do his best work centrally or leftish, just frustrating to see him out right in this team where he has to come backwards as he is so one footed, at least he would be more involved away from the RW. I know thats where he plays normally but it doesn’t suit us and he is waisted to some extent.

  18. It appears that Villa are bent on running the best 11 into the ground. We all watched that 10 years ago or so with McNeil. The players are fit and are capable of running miles everyday without a problem but you can’t pound the body constantly without something letting go. The league is messed up this year and the pace of the games is proving that teams can’t cope. It’s nice to see Liverpool take a beating but the schedule did that to them as well. The winners and losers this year are going to be the ones that can stay healthy or not.

  19. PP,

    I think it’s inevitable that losing Jack is going to have a big effect. He just does so much, and part of that is giving other players confidence. We seemed very nervy to start, Leicester were bright, and certainly buoyed by Jack’s absence. But after we settled down, it looked better.

    You’d like to count on a player of Ross’s ability to provide some creativity and cohesion, he just didn’t. Knowing Jack will probably miss another game or two, Dean & Co will have more time to drill the side for playing without him. We’ve seen it in the past, taking a couple-three games to adjust.

    We won’t be deep enough to until after the summer, at least, to be able to absorb these kinds of injuries with less impact.

  20. Frem just gets excited and suffers verbal outpouring with his inner frustrations..

    I agree that Traore is continuing to improve and can only get better, and scores the desperately needed goals. We really are struggling for people to take on chances and score goals.
    The defence had a very poor start today, but that was because there was no midfield protection, and although we tightened up, and got somewhere near a normal defensive shape for the rest of the game, the damage was done, and we just did not have enough inspiration to pull it back.

    We will need to be a very different team next game, or we will be doing a Newcastle, and just keep slipping down the table until we have our stars back.

  21. PP- yes Ohare a big miss for me. Don’t agree on Trez though, I would of taken Barkley off and either moved Traore to ten, Trez out Right. Trez has barely played for over two months so all considered he was a pain in the butt for Leicester if a bit rusty, looked to get in behind which helps Watkins.

  22. If Sanson is going to start then its another reason to move traore as Sanson Drifts Right and will need a player that can go down the line. I would even play Traore Left , Trez right and Ramsey at 10.

  23. MK,
    I think Sanson would have been a lot sharper than Trezeguet, and is a much more accomplished player with a lot to offer. he is also more than capable of playing in Jack’s role.
    I hope that he starts the next game in that role, with Jacob Ramsey in place of Barkley, and we may just be a much better team.

    I really don’t know why Dean did not play them today from the start, and the result may have been different, on reflection.

  24. Well, I guess that settles the European places debate. I also note that the Foxes had no trouble collecting the points 3 days after a distant European trek.

    Some of our players are struggling. We have to get Naka, Sanson and Ramsey in the starting 11 whilst Jack is out. The strugglers need a rest for their own good.

  25. What happened to the exciting attacking Villa side, because we have all of a sudden become the worst footballing side in the last 6/7 games. Teams have found us out

    I’ve never been a big Smith fan as you all know and I think we’ve been found out again and he just doesn’t adapt. We were clueless in the championship without grealish. We woe have gone down last season if it wasn’t for covid. We started this half of the season well but the second half we have become awful. Our ability on the ball and retain possession and score goals has become pathetically poor. To often under Smith we have large spells where we just become awful.. And how he thinks trezeguet and Ghaizi are ever Premier league wingers I’ll never know

    We didn’t even analyse the Brighton game. What type of management is that?

  26. If we can’t retain possession against Leeds they will absolutely slaughter us. We can’t afford lazy players ( Barkley) and players that give the ball away more often than not ( Mcginn) Sanson and Ramsey have to play

    Someone made a good point on twitter. Alot of the time they see Shakespeare talking to Smith and Smith always seems to disagree with what he’s saying. Well it’s time you should probably start listening to him. He’s a huge reason we improved

  27. Plug,

    When I saw Grealish was out, I just wrote it down as a loss.

    We’ve seen the side manage without him before, but it’s usually taken a couple-three games. When you have a work in progress, losing one of the world’s best players is a lot different than it is for City.

  28. Frem,

    I think you miss the forest for the trees.

    Villa’s squad and depth will improve. But it simply can’t happen overnight. We’ve been over this a million times: Rebuilding a side that almost had no business getting promoted. Needing to buy a huge number of players on an enforced budget. Staying up despite a number of ‘bargain’ buys, however it happened. Did good business, looked very good.

    Villa chose to make more long-term investments in the last window, and they’ve paid dividends. The same approach will be applied again. All well and good to point to Saint-Maximin, but do West Ham want to sell, and at what price?

    You see sides surge, you see them struggle. That’s why everyone points to the fact it’s a long season. A lot can happen. Leicester have been at this level for a while, with and without Rogers, who wasn’t terribly brilliant at Liverpool. They’ve built up depth and raised the level of the squad, but not overnight. Smith & Co will almost certainly replace El Ghazi and Trez, let Barkley go back to Chelsea, and buy another striker.

    I won’t disagree about Barkley since his return, and McGinn is struggling for consistency since quarantine (I will say that he was combative today, and did play a number of good passes).

    But big picture, a lot of people are very unreasonable when it comes to dips, never mind such a big interruption. Last year before COVID, Leicester dismantled us. This year, we’re 1-1, 2-2 on aggregate, and they had a good first half against a side nervous without their talisman and simply not doing what they’ve normally been doing in terms of defending. Even then, as I said, Emi will regret the second one.

    This year, we were flying, and have emerged from quarantine looking a bit of a shadow of ourselves and played 6 matches in 18 days. Can you even imagine the two might possibly be connected?

  29. JC
    I’ve abstained from coffee and taken some ritalin. Feeling mellow again.

    Admire your patience and effort in making a fabulous attempt to try and explain football reality to a troubled soul.

  30. PP- Jack has been a left winger for 80% at least of his career, he is not a traditional winger granted but then he is not a traditional anything but a one off, I can’t see How Sanson a Central midfielder for all his career will fill his boots especially as he favours the right when he gets forward, I guess we will see.

  31. Is anyone really surprised that we struggled to find our feet against a very good Leicester? Jack is not only in the top 3 players in this league he’s also the Captain for a reason and its not to please Jack. Think back to when we had JT and Snodgrass. You can’t take the Human out of the team and Humans are pack animals.

    Whenever a side has a big player taken away and a big personality it takes a while for the new order to find its level. Someone will emerge as a leader, someone will start to pull the strings or a more team orientated game will emerge. Having Jack allows players to take less responsibility, also it stops them making runs etc that they have probably done time and again in lesser company. Whatever happens or emerges it will take time for new patterns to emerge. Its like a tennis player or a golfer changing their stroke.

    It might mean we will sit in and counter because I don’t think we have real passing game yet.

    Lots of options we could try like giving Watkins licence to roam and playing Davis up top.

  32. Frem

    Mate I see where your coming from. Deanos insistence on starting barkley is doing my head in too. Reminds me when we had drinkwater and kept playing him only for injury to thankfully put him out. Our mid has needed change for weeks now. Nakamba must be seething.

  33. Frem

    I also agree about the footy played and have said before. But it will get better im sure. Deanos all ready said we need to get better playing through the middle. And its fair enough keeping the same style that made us stay up. We are tighter with a better shape and the progress has been insane. And im sure it will keep improving

  34. H&V- For one we don’t know the conditions of Ross’s contract and B if you have a player of his ability that appears to be lacking match fitness you play him.

    As much as I want to see others get a chance I can easily see why he is starting Ross, If the player concerned was Jack as it was the end of last season would you have dropped him? took him most of the restart to get up to his best.

  35. another thing that’s grinding my gears about deano. Can we be a bit more flexible in our set up? We are just 4231 with maybe mcguin going number 6/8. that’s it. Change formation or try something new now and again.

  36. Mark

    I cant belive for one scond we have anything in his contract to say he has to play! surly not.

    Fact is he doesn’t deserve to start. He has had enough games and hasn’t offered anything. We have our own players ramsey and sanson who looked more lively off the bench

  37. What is obvious is that for whatever reason we have stopped making as many good Chances, our XG numbers have gone sub 1 for while now and that was with Jack. Lots of factors, Illness and the gap in the games and training, difficulty of opposition and Amount of games with less fitness from the covid episode.

  38. H&V- I would say he has a clause saying he will play if fit (relatively) , why else would a very high profile player come to us? he wanted guaranteed pitch time to get to the euro’s and Chelsea want to see an improved player or one they can put in the shop window without having to play him their selves.

  39. Mark

    Id be staggered if that was the case.

    My last grip apart from being more flexible with formation is introducing the youth. I looked at foxes playing young Thomas at lb instead of fuchs. we had bloody elmo who is off in the summer over young Keslar. would 100% be starting him. 0 to loose. And a great statement to the youth. especially to that bidace who may be looking to go.

  40. To me, whether Jack is in the side or not, we are a one-sided team, easy to play against, because everything has to start with Mings/Targett, and go down the left hand side of the pitch, virtually nothing through the middle, and very little on the right, which is why we get caught out on the break, because we are overloaded with players on one side of the pitch.
    It is the same when we get into the final third, with an abundance on the left, and very little in the middle or to the right. You can see when the pundits are going back over the game about the glaring lack in the middle of the pitch, controlling the midfield.
    We, like many of the sides that are struggling at the moment, are over using the wings and slowing down play rather than going through the middle, and shooting when they reach the box. No, it is push it out to the wing and cross it back in. Both Leicester’s goals were a result of direct shots into the box, not crosses out from the wings. It is almost as if there is an imaginary fence across the front of the box, which players cannot break through.

    Saint Maximin is a good player, but I would rather have Almiron with his tenacity and work rate.
    I do feel that now is the time for Smith to start blooding some of our better youngsters, as we have nothing to lose, and we may find some real diamonds, like Liverpool did with Trent-Alexander.

  41. Paul

    Yeah we do start our play mainly through Mings hitting it long arrrggghhh. Like you say the middle of the park for us is non existent. Have to get another body in there and some fresh legs. Deano has mentioned earn your shirt which we now know is a load of rubbish. Nakamba/barkely.

  42. Most fans saying that Nkamba should be ahead of Luiz and Barkley, after his recent performances, and I would agree.
    majority of fans also voted Matt Targett as MOTM for Villa on Sunday.

    I really hope Dean starts to look more at the performances of the players , and starts giving those that want to wear the shirt, and actually show it, more of an opportunity.
    I see Leeds fans loving the fact that Grealish is out for the game against them on Saturday.

  43. Looking around the blogs it hasn’t taken long for the calls to change everything and to declare Smith doesn’t know what he is doing, along with Shakespeare and JT etc too I presume.

    All this even when we know what has just happened to the club and players with no training , infection and injuries. Some things never change 🙂

  44. Its strange since we have gone to games once a week we look more tired! I think the annoying thing is we could see this coming. We have flogged the same players for half a season, the energy has just dropped. apart from Watkins I may add! The mid is just surly crying out for an extra body and fresh legs.

    Youd imagine if he doesn’t change it leeds will run all over us.

  45. If this is down to tiredness because of lack of rotation how did Liverpool manage it for so long? how do Leeds players play at ridiculous pace every game?

    “In 2016-17, Chelsea won the league with 93 points, the second most in club history, and they did it by playing the same players over and over and over again. Only 13 players featured for more than 600 minutes in the Premier League. For comparison, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United used 21 players for at least 600 minutes and 19 of them for at least 1,200. They finished sixth.”

    Clearly their is an element of luck and from experience I know if you get on a run you just look forward to playing regardless, I think this is just unfortunate. Jack being out is the real issue now that DS must find answers for.

  46. Mark

    I didn’t see Jack being out as a problem against foxes. We were the same as the last month. I think also in the mix is other teams have sat up and taken notice of us. They are adjusting there style and formation against us. Foxes playing perrirea right mid caused us so many problems. No one picked him up. Our mid is basically being over run.

  47. Cant really compare to Chelsea, Liverpool. There elite teams that play with all the possession, win the game and cruise in second gear most of it.

    Bielsas murder ball is a one off. They are known to tire and to be fair he rotates the team and uses his bench a lot.

  48. But yeah the big picture is its been a superb season. Beyond expectatioins. People being upset we aren’t getting Europe shows what an incredible job we have done!

    But no ones perfect and have to take constructive critism with all the praise. certainly for me im dying to see us control possession more and be comfy stringing some passes together! But im confident we will progress next season. turn defeats into draws and play through the middle more

  49. Covid surely has played a part in our form as we haven’t consistently hit the form we had before the outbreak
    Jack and Matty out for possibly a month is not going to help Matty is one of the best defenders in the lge and Jack is just Jack

    The positive thing to aim for is for others in the team to step up and make a difference in games but mostly to carry out the Deano ethos which is to do everything you can to help your team mates throughout any game

    If we can find a way to pick up results without these two fantastic players it will be a massive stride forward for this developing group

  50. I guess the big picture is every team is going to have a bad patch. You can easily go a month without winning. Look at saints, wolves, palace etc. There is hardly anything between us middle teams. Its who can grind out the results more and be consistent.

  51. Runtings- totally agree

    H&V – I don’t think for one minute that they have been effected drastically by Covid, times moved on form that but what is likely to have happened is lack of training.

    Can’t train together when isolated and for Ross it meant 6 weeks out injured then no training and straight into a lot of games in a short space of time. That in itself will mean that they have been doing recovery work and little else, thats why I think they have lost sharpness not because they all had the Lurgy. Take Newcastle, the only one effected was StMaximam.

  52. Barkley will play because Smith has a very stubborn side to him. We won’t admit he’s been poor and needs dropping

    Ramsey, marvelous and Santon have to start

    Leeds win tonight and will beat us on Saturday. They then go above us. I think that will put perspective we haven’t had a brilliant season really.

  53. I worry about Smith as a manager anyway but if he plays Barkley again against such a high tempo energetic side like Leeds then it’s really time to worry about him.

    I don’t know what happened to the exciting football ww were playing before new year because since then we have been playing Bruce Ball. Players are tierd.. Hence cash and grealish injurys. Hence mcginn snd Luiz being so poor this year.

    Smith needs to rotate and use Davis more l.. Time to get Watkins wide because Gahzi and Trezeguet just aren’t Premier league quality

  54. Martinez
    Cash Konsa Mings Targett
    Sanson Grealish
    Traore Watkins New LW

    Lets get back to 2 number 8’s sure up the mid and gets us playing footy through the middle of the park more comfy.

  55. I don’t believe in rotation for rotation’s sake. If the team are playing well, leave well alone. When results taper off as they have done, then trying something different or using different personnel seems sensible. Otherwise we’ll continue to slide. Of course, doing the above doesn’t guarantee the slide will be arrested.

    You can’t say Leeds are going to pull a master stroke on us. Everybody knows how they set up and how they play. A tactically aware coach with better players should be able to counteract them and collect the points, as quite a few have already.

  56. Lots of good stuff. As I say, been away, so just catching up. Some thoughts.

    Agree, you don’t rotate just for the sake of rotation, especially if there’s a real drop-off in talent or experience. That European place is still there, or even just finishing top half. Either one’s an achievement, and I don’t think you’ll see many changes as long as either is in sight.

    Of course, if players aren’t performing, then there’s the why. Fatigue, confidence, distractions, etc. Things the manager has to know. Villa do all the modern metrics, intensely analyze performance data, diet, and so on.

    So whatever he says to the press, Smith knows how much Ross is or isn’t running. What’s up with Luiz and McGinn. If he persists, it’s either because he believes they need to be run, or they need the confidence in being backed. There’s also the dressing room, managing a bunch of different egos, setting a basic expectation from training, knowing it won’t be chop and change.

    Trez is probably well aware Traoré is scoring, and he wasn’t.

    All that said, depending on Ross’s contract/agreement, etc., I don’t think he has any business being on the field against Leeds.

  57. Leeds:

    We tried playing with them, which is fine, the scoreline could’ve looked different, but we didn’t take our chances and paid for it.

    They play like a pack of rabid terriers. Everyone up, everyone back, and constantly nipping at your heels.

    They will expose themselves, and you simply have to take advantage quickly without throwing too many bodies forward. You have to minimize turnovers in key areas/situations that launch counters. If you’re going to press, it can’t be half-hearted. You can’t let players get free.

    I really would expect a different lineup based on running. With Jack out, then probably Trez and Traoré, and the question is whether either SJM or Ross or both make way for some combination of Nakamba, Sanson, and Ramsey.

  58. Long balls:

    I don’t necessarily like seeing them, but they keep defenders back and honest with Ollie, and obviously try to get him into space quickly. It’s the quality of the ball that’s lacking, not so much the idea. But even if it’s not coming off, you still want to force a team to respect that.

    I do agree that we simply need to shoot more from central positions. SJM was trying against Leicester, but way off the mark. Probably the issue there is that we don’t turn to those shots more quickly.

  59. Leicester:

    They were working that central area early, and that’s what Villa set up to deny: force it wide. And you see teams do it to us. For whatever reason, we weren’t switched on early, there seemed to be confusion, and we weren’t pressing out to them.

    Was it tactical masterstroke? Maybe. But I think Leicester are also becoming more adept at not relying on Vardy, and their style has evolved as they’ve recruited.

    Read somewhere that we actually had a higher XG by the end, possession 50-50, etc. Yes, Leicester had a two-goal cushion, but only one for the second half.

  60. Jack:

    You simply can’t overestimate his impact. If teams are doubling up, man-marking, that’s where Ross being so far off the pace is coming into play. There’s no one else to punish that tactic. Has a lot to do with why we’re creating fewer good chances.

    Jack much more often than not can take advantage of those overloads to do his bit. But if he is being ‘marked out of the game’, that’s simply an opportunity somewhere else.

    So with or without Jack, someone else needs to step up. A central midfield playmaker and goalscorer is a pretty important complement. We had that with Ross early, did well enough without him, but I’ll say it again, just not the same team since Covid, and Ross simply is not carrying his weight.

  61. One more on Jack and Ross:

    With Ross out, Jack was more central, playing with two wingers. Worked well. I’m sure Dean stuck with Ross for Leicester because he should, on paper, be able to hold, create and score. Did none of that.

    Since Sanson isn’t really a wide player, I don’t think, the conundrum is about sorting your best endurance runners without sacrificing central creativity and solidity.

    So, do you shore up with Nakamba coming in? Is Luiz somehow fatigued to the extent that he comes out, and it’s Nakamba and SJM or Sanson? And if it’s that, seems like Ramsey in the middle, and probably Trez and Traoré to start (which I think I said earlier).

  62. MK,

    Yeah, we had some really poor attempts.

    Emi fumbled for their second, though I didn’t get a chance to watch that over to see what the ball was doing. Maybe a poor decision to try and catch instead of parry it away. Maddison’s was a squeaker going under Mings’ foot, and that maybe threw Emi off. He made the great save off the set-piece. Can’t recall if he was asked to do anything else spectacular as far as saves…?

    Anyway, the XG would say Leicester’s chances weren’t sitters, and it was a fairly low number. Ours wasn’t astronomically better, but as you say, our finishing left a lot to be desired. Basically should’ve been 1-1 or 2-2, and 2-2 was defo on the cards.

  63. H and V. We absolutely have to try Watkins wide whilst Jack is out, or try Ramsey there. We can’t play trezeguet or el Ghaizi l. They just don’t produce. Trezeguet has absolutely zero composure or technical ability.

  64. We have to stop this long ball cr*p to. It’s all we do recently. It’s so poor and predictable. It’s Sunday league football

    We have to start playing through midfield.

    Southampton showing us so far how to play against Leeds l. Press them. Psss through midfield quick one twos

  65. I said in January we needed more quality. A winger and striker and its certainly letting us down now our lack of depth and quality. We have absolutely nothing on our bench in front 3

    Ramsey looks absolutely class though and it’s madness from Smith if he doesn’t play him on Saturday. Mcginn and Barkley have been awful

  66. Frem- From what you have put up so far I have deciphered we have even less players to choose from anyway , the ones we have are rubbish, Smith won’t change anything and we might as well end the season now and take the chance we won’t go down as playing on will not achieve anything if we don’t get top 4. I’m cancelling Sky tomorrow as watching must also be pointless, thanks.

  67. The Leeds press will absolutely slaughter us

    We can’t pass through teams. We don’t move the ball quickly anywhere on the pitch and Leeds will absolutely love that. Our midfield won’t have a clue what to do on the ball. We don’t do quick sharp passing or one two. It’s hoof to Watkins since 2021

  68. Ramsey has to play ahead of Barkley. Leeds will love it if Ross plays. Marvelous needs to start also as he’s a lot more mobile than Luiz

  69. Our games in hand are becoming meaningless. We are sliding down the table

    Leeds go above us if we win and wolves only 3 points behind us now

    Teams have figured us out and Smtih never has any plan B. He never changes tactics, only personal in the formation. He never makes any formation change. Look at Belisa making a sub ay half time.. Smith has never ever done that. Just carrys on watching the same cr*p after 45 minutes of it not working

    Grealish being out will show al ot about Smith and how he simply relies on Grealish. We won’t win a game as long as he’s out and it will ne a while l.. He always lies about the injuries

  70. How many games we all know we need to make a sub or a formation change and smith never does. He has to become more proactive and adapt quicker if he wants to be a better manager because we are very very predictable.

    Even when teams double up on Grealish, it’s so obvious to move him inside or on the other wing, but we never do. We leave him wide where teams play 2 right backs and watch him struggle. Move him CaM or RW and problem solbesy

  71. Frem,

    First, you have to laugh at MK’s summation.

    Second. Yes, quick is good. Almost always is, and Leeds do close and press relentlessly.

    How you play them depends on what you’ve got. If we don’t do quick passing well yet, then it’s not going to work well, and we turn it over in midfield when we’re stretched. If, for all the possible reasons above, we don’t have the gas to press constantly, we have to pick our moments.

    Biggest lesson from first outing was playing as gung-ho as them. It almost paid off. But it leaves gaps they can exploit. What you want to do is exploit the gaps they create. They don’t last long, so you can’t dally. If you get a periodic press right, then you have to take advantage of turnovers in good parts of the pitch. Leeds’ biggest advantage is that the whole team gets up and down the pitch constantly.

    You can also consolidate with Luiz and Nakamba, and keep them in to break up or slow the central moves, and force it out wide.

    Main thing is having runners out there, and not letting them get at the CBs. We know you don’t rate Trez, but he will work his socks off, and Elmo will need that. Ghazi does a bit less, but he poses a threat and can beat a man. Probably more of a late substitute, you have to weigh his work-rate against Traoré’s along with their goal threats.

    I think we’re all agreed that Barkley isn’t up to it, at least not from what he’s shown of late.

  72. Frem,

    Jack does move around. Maybe not constantly, but he does.

    If there were ever a game where Smith makes earlier substitutions, you’d like to think this would be it.

    Saw a guy on Twitter after Jack’s absence was confirmed saying, “Cue all the tweets saying Smith doesn’t have a Plan B.” It was followed by an eye-roll emoji.

  73. Frem,

    You have to understand that formations are fluid. It may be drawn up as a 4-2-3-1, but that doesn’t mean the 2-3 part does the same things and no one else adjusts.

    If we’re getting overrun in midfield of late (which is not universally true) it’s because Barkley is not chasing enough upfield, not breaking things up, and not getting back. It’s not the formation, per se, it’s about how players are executing their responsibilities. Or not.

    Yes, Dean has persisted playing him. We have the debate about why. And like I say, we agree we can’t afford a slow-moving/lazy/unfit passenger (take your pick) against a Leeds.

  74. I dont think the answer to our problems is dropping Ross , he is a very good player and I think we all agreed he was an upgrade when he came in
    The only way players are going to get into form or improve is by playing

    Saying all that the Leeds game will be some test for deano and the boys

  75. runtings,

    He made a fabulous impact when he came in. He just hasn’t been there since the injury.

    I support Smith’s approach of giving players games. He knows his best XI, wants it on the pitch, and he lets them play through bad patches.

    And Ross is the most experienced PL player Villa have. If anyone can give the team confidence without Jack, it should be him.

    But it seems like he’s at 50-60%, tbh. From what I’ve seen in the last few weeks, it’s almost like playing a man down when we don’t have the ball. I keep thinking he’s got to kick on, especially getting longer breaks between matches.

    I don’t mean to beat up on Ross. He just doesn’t seem to have his legs back, yet. That can get papered over a little bit with Jack out there.

    But yeah, Leeds was always going to be a tough test, especially without leadership on the pitch. It might be SJM’s game to try and run. Dunno.

    So I won’t be surprised to see Ross start against Leeds, but I think he’ll end up being invisible.

  76. If it were me, I’d sit back against Leeds, keep it tight, look for breaks and set pieces. Come out more in the second if there’s a result on the cards.

    Even with Jack, what I’ve seen of the team lately tells me they don’t have 90mins of Leeds’ running in them, even with subs.

    Right now, I think we’re in a damage control situation if anyone’s still thinking about Europe or top half. I’d take being under the cosh and surviving a nail-biting 0-0 against Leeds right now.

    I don’t think it’s impossible to sucker-punch them, but if we get stretched trying to play our normal style, it could get ugly.

  77. This article is worth a read as it points out that we have been very high in touches in the penalty box this season, In defence we have the least touches and in midfield we have the second lowest, This highlights just how good and how important Jack is and what our tactics are.

    Its not going to be easy without him and as we will now look to play differently it will likely take some time. As JC said above we may have to look to being defensive as we did after lockdown and break on teams. Expecting us to now do what we haven’t all season and without Jack is nuts.

    Its a testament to how good Jack is and yes he does carry the side a lot, but his improvement along with our defensive improvement and Martinez in particular accounts for the shock season we are having after finishing 17th.

    Take him away and yes we are probably mid-table at best but that’s not a criticism of the side its just where this very young side are at this point and we should not lose sight of that as nobody expected this at season start, it might be time to realign your expectations or we just might adapt and push on, it won’t be in five minutes though.

  78. JC the Ross debate is a bit like it was about Troure who was making me have kittens watching him leave Matty exposed time after time .. he does though keep smashing the goals in and the last few games he has got his foot in a lot more

    as long as Ross has that same will to improve in his defensive duties I am sure with the amount of natural ability that he has he can end up having a positive impact on games

    I f we throw in young Ramsey instead and get walloped half the fans will be saying we should have played the experience

    We are in a fantastic position and have plenty to fight for and to be fair we are properly the last of the teams that have done well this season to hit poor form … hopefully the feel good sexy football will return soon

  79. i have convince myself next season I want 433 with jack as an 8. Like KDB. Means no one can double up on him. Just let him roam around. With deano saying we must improve playing through the middle it will help us no end.

  80. fair play to Leeds. what a season there having only just come up. and to bamford. 13 goals. I know he is someone everyone loves to hate but ive always liked him!

    Id say a draw but neither leeds or villa do draws! Youd have to say leeds favs. Im fully expecting a tough month tbf. Always going to have a drop off. The prem is relentless.

  81. runtings

    Not sure about fans having a go starting ramsey. id be fuming if we don’t start Keslar over elmo! Perfect time for us to give them prem experience under 0 pressure. do it deano!

    Like I said I saw foxes start that young lb against us where the easy choice was fuchs.

  82. yes Heroes but you know us fans always know best and with a lot of us we feel we could have picked a better team than the manager particularly when things don’t go well
    Agree about getting the youngsters involved but again deano should know if they are ready to take on the responsibility
    I certainly didn’t expect us to challenge for Europe at the start of the season but it turns out that is exactly what we are doing at present

  83. runtings,

    “If we throw in young Ramsey instead and get walloped half the fans will be saying we should have played the experience.”

    Exactly. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    We can look at his age and say others are playing at 19, but circumstances (white-knuckled promotion and survival) largely dictated not playing a 17 or 18yo, especially in a critical position. He’s being brought along slowly. No doubt he’d be starting cup ties if we had any, but it’s a lot of pressure to put on him, starts in the PL to replace Jack when he doesn’t have that many first-team minutes. Maybe he’s well up for it, but he’s being blooded to the pace and physicality bit by bit.

  84. Hello fellow Villans. My two cents on Jack Grealish missing is that it’s now the chance to play Jaden Philgone Bidace. He plays on the left wing where Jack plays. He is being eyed by some of Europe’s biggest sides and there is never been a better opportunity to play him than now.
    El Ghazi and Trezeguet cannot muster it on the left side and Traore has made the right win position his own.

  85. H&V,

    With young players, it’s case by case. Some have unlimited confidence and very short memories. Others, not so much.

    I can’t believe it won’t be Elmo. Loads of experience, and a decent quick cross in him. Negatives are age and speed. But he will get stuck in, has a bit of an edge to him, knows the set-up and players. Main thing is who starts in front of him. Smith might pick Trez for work rate, obviously important against Leeds, but if Traoré is nailed on because he’s scoring, then he’s going to have to show continued improvement defending.

  86. And I should say, they won’t look at Leeds as a zero-risk match. Not with Europe still in reach (which the players want as much as anyone). If/once that’s gone, they might start blooding more youth.

    Even then, Jack won’t sit with the Euros coming up, and Barkley won’t want to. Can’t take off Mings or Konsa. Cash and Targett are nailed on. And I don’t think any of the kids are going to replace SJM, Sanson, Luiz, Nakamba, Watkins or Traoré.

    We might see them getting minutes off the bench, but like above, that requires sitting someone senior, and I’m not sure we have a phenom knocking down the door just yet. I wouldn’t even bet that Smith & Co will promote any of them to being backups on the bench next year.

    I don’t think it’s about not believing in youth, but wanting ready-made players, atm. This set-up is pretty new, still, and it might be another year or two until ‘kids’ are deemed ready to step up. I think the idea is getting them like Barry at a younger age, and developing them for 3-4 years to get them ready for the rigors of the league.

    Cash has had his hands full after starring in the Championship, and that’s what I see happening with most of our current lot. Going out on loan to get the hard knocks lessons. We can point to Liverpool, but that’s more of a one-off, and the Pool players weren’t giving them the real business. They were able to get the ball back easily without getting physical.

  87. Tammy available in the summer

    Has to be a must with us really. We need another striker, plus another quality winger and centre mid. Barkley will go.

    If Luiz goes we need a cdm also, left back and centre back

    Has to be another busy Sumer

  88. frem don’t think luiz will be going anywhere.

    Will be very interesting to see who we go for and what positions. For me the number 1 priority is that berge. An out and out cdm, tall and strong.

  89. My tuppence worth is don’t try and replace Jack its impossible. There is nobody in our Squad and very few in the league that actually could. I doubt any other player see’s as much possession of the ball as Jack.

    That said if we dropped Ross brought in Nakamba and promoted McGinn to 10 I would then try Traore out left and let him drift about . Bring Trez in to help Watkins press and hassle and of course defend. Thats as close as I can get to a jackish side.

    I quite like the idea of playing Davis and say Trez and Watkins because of the hassle value to Leeds you could then put Traore at ten or whomever you like.

  90. with our 1st choice defence playing which is deffo in the top 3 in the prem already for me seeing the team ahead of them as

    Marvelous Ross

    Troare Wesley Ollie

    I think the best this season is yet to come

  91. From whats been said by the club youngsters that are not knocking on the door by 19-20 will be moved on, looks harsh but its difficult job to maintain standards and league position while developing kids. Precisely why I pushed for this approach when we 1st dropped rather than buy big. Its simply harder to do in a tougher league.

  92. Heroes its funny that both Watkins and Wesley preferred to drop out left a lot. Seems to me these days that most teams are stronger down their left hand side

  93. On the youth, in general:

    Clearly Compass are investing in that development, and they’ll expect to see a return at some point, as MK is saying about the philosophy.

    Dean & Co are certainly aware of that, and Konsa’s development, Ollie’s contribution, and Cash show Dean has an eye for a player.

    So with managers faced with these sorts of decisions you always wonder whether they’re ‘afraid’ to take a chance, or, looking at the player, do they judge they’re not quite ready at this particular moment.

    Not seeing training where the youth go against the seniors, hard for me to judge.

    I understand the argument, of course, and it’s a fair one, but I tend to defer to those who see them every day. Andre Green seemed to show so much promise and got his chance, but it hasn’t happened for him.

    And I certainly understand those wondering why we have Davis if we don’t play him. But he’s had appearances and fluffed his lines several times. He just doesn’t score. Good to bring him on at certain points, there are very good qualities he offers, but to me, he hasn’t made a case for starting, and he’s on the squad for insurance. May well see him moving on over the summer if Wesley really recovers and we look for another young backup who does have a goal-scoring record.

  94. Well guys, the here and now is Leeds this weekend. We need 10 runners to fight them. And then some more on the bench to replace those that wilt. A press is required to stop them building at pace and push them back. I don’t like the look of an Elmo – Harrison match up.

  95. We need to do something big in the summer to keep Grealish.

    The sunyhas said we should sign Sancho. We have the money.. Or go and get Deli Ali. We need a statement signing.

    Belisa getting Leeds safe with a bang average sqaud, in the first season with 13 games left

    I ask.. If Smith had that Leeds sqaud would they stay up? Od say absolutely not.
    If Belisa had our sqaud, I’d imagine we’d be 4th/5th.

    Grealish is everything to Smith.. Its our only tactic really. Jack Grealish

  96. Teams have found us out. We are so predictable. Same thing every game.. If you press us we are f**ked. We can’t pass around the press.. Our ball retention and quick passing is non existent. You know we will play 4231 counter and that’s all we have.. You know the personal that will play. You know if you stop Grealish you stop Smith and us. If grealish is stopped Smith is clueless. He does even move Grealish away from the wing he’s being doubled up on

  97. I am looking forward to the summer though

    Our owners won’t stand still. We will spsnd big on good players. I think next season our owners will asses Smith more closely to where his ability can actually take us

  98. Frem- Bielsa couldn’t get the team he inherited at leeds and signed players for in his 1st season, took him two seasons and this is his third with 6 windows. Smith got us up with Bruces and RDM’s dregs and then built a team that stayed up not over three seasons. Could he keep this leeds side up? yeah I reckon he could. Bielsa looks for certain traits in his players to suit his style for sure but not a million miles different, certainly more like Smiths than Bruces football.

    Bielsa on the other hand lasted two days at Lazio as he said they couldn’t get him the players he wanted so left. At Lille he told 11 senior players they could leave as he wanted young players 13 games later he was suspended as the owners thought he’d made a mistake, it ain’t all roses.

    Leeds by the way are very predictable.

  99. Frem- As JC pointed out Jack does not stay on the wing he has licence to Rome, Smith does not tell stay out left that Jacks choice, he just happens to get more joy there, even when he plays at ten he ends out left a lot of the time.

    I would be wary about saying jack is getting marked out of games, if he is on form (which he hasn’t been along with the team since we had Covid bar a couple of games ) he is nigh on impossible to stop. Only when he is off the boil do players get a foot in on him from what I have seen.

  100. MK,

    I tend to agree with what you are saying about Jack, and his freedom to roam, but Smith has said that he wants him to play further forward, and again, it is what Southgate is looking for from him, but the more recent problem to me, is the players around Jack, too often just pushing the ball back to him when he is being so tightly marked, rather than moving it on themselves, making it harder for him to do anything with it.
    At the start of the season everyone was working well together, and the ball was getting into good positions with people able to take shots on, and we were scoring, often with the help of a deflection, but this is not happening now and the shots on target have dried up, because of this constant pushing it back to Jack, etc on the wing.

    On the subject of Bielsa and tactics, and also other managers like Ancelotti, I was fascinated by Jamie Carragher’s insight on Ancelotti, and making him MOTM with his tactics against Liverpool.
    I do agree that these managers are great tacticians, and a lot of the time they get it right, and do seem to adapt their tactics more readily. Against Liverpool, Carragher pointed out how By using Seamus Coleman to man mark Robertson, and never lose him, he had succeeded in stopping him controlling the midfield.
    I am sure that Dean does have his own set of tactics, but he does seem less flexible in the way he views the opposition, and certainly Villa never seem to man mark at all. If Trez , or one of the midfield had continued to track Madison, would Leicester have been able to score two such easy goals. We have been very guilty in several recent matches of not closing down quickly and winning the ball back.

    On our youngsters, against Leicester we had two of our outstanding youngsters on the bench in Kessler and Carney Chukwuemeka, good experience for them, but I hope that Dean will not just keep them there, if there is an opportunity to get them involved. These boys really are part of our future.

    See Tammy doesn’t want to sign a new contract at Chelsea while they are looking to Germany to sign a new centre forward. Wouldn’t want to take him on loan, but if Dean feels he is good enough for Villa then I wouldn’t be disappointed, but just do not really see it at the moment.

  101. I can only echo MK’s comments on Bielsa as a manager.

    The strategy is this: Everyone forward, everyone back, everyone pressing all over the pitch. It’s basically what you do when you can’t afford big-name players…You simply “out-athlete” or outrun the opposition into the ground, don’t let them play.

    Doesn’t mean they don’t have some good players. They do. But they tick very specific boxes. That’s not the way the top, top players want to play. And I, for one, hope it doesn’t take over the game. I’d rather see Grealish and others of his sort than a pack of rabid terriers. Results are results, but right now, Leeds stand out because it’s the only side built that way. If everyone played like that, I don’t think the game would be as beautiful. They’d just nullify each other. Sort of like how the top sides seem to draw as often as winning or losing, and the matches are often disappointing, cagey, tactical affairs.

    The reason Leeds looks like some beautiful system is that when you have that kind of fitness and mentality (and no matter the fitness, not all players can run like that all day) you’re going to get the ball, have people wide open, and they’re not hard to find.

    If you gave that to Smith, he’d probably just say carry on.

  102. PP,

    “but the more recent problem to me, is the players around Jack, too often just pushing the ball back to him when he is being so tightly marked, rather than moving it on themselves, making it harder for him to do anything with it.”

    Spot on. This is where Barkley’s form is really hurting us, atm. Earlier, he made teams pay for trying to focus on Jack. And his inability to play box to box keeps Jack from staying further up.

    But going to a 4-2-3-1 is also part of that, rather than a 4-3-3.

    The whole focus this next window will be getting better players around Jack. No one outside the back five, besides Watkins, is safe, imo. And Watkins will not be the sole striker next season.

  103. PP- yeah they are either being fearful or lazy think its the former, we will see if they step up when their comfort blanket isn’t there. As JC said Ross worked because he gave Jack an outlet and a like mind, right now he can’t get up and down.

    Yep Smith wants him in the danger area because it works, he scores and assists more that’s undeniable, when he comes too deep to find the ball he gets chopped down before he gets out of the half mostly which is a risk to him injury wise and easier to deal with for the opposition. He does do pretty much what he wants though.

    You have to ask where Luis/ McGinn was and why One of Mings or Konsa did not step out to shut Maddison down?

  104. MK,

    Should the coaches have not assessed the danger of Madison, and ensured that someone was designated to close him down and stop him, which is exactly what other teams do to nullify Jack.
    Whether it was Luiz/McGinn or even Trez.
    Our zonal marking is what lets us down from time to time, because players lose sight of danger players at times, and then the damage is done, especially on the break.

  105. Barkley, for me, has blown hot and cold throughout his career, which is why he has not really progressed at Chelsea. Started off great guns, then disappears when things aren’t going his way.

  106. Luiz wasn’t even in the picture when Maddison scored.. Marvelous is actually a better defender.

    Luiz should have been on maddison all game. Instead he had all the time in the world with not one of our 3 center mids anywhere near him.. Tactically awful again

  107. I’ve noticed a few times Luiz doesn’t always do what a DM she do.. Like when the ball isnwideand coming in the box, he should getting in a position to stop the ball when it comes between the center backs and him self to stop the runner getting the ball, but a lot of the time he doeenty

  108. Mark. He doesn’t really have a a licence to roam. He didn’t against Brighton, arsenal or West ham. He didn’t against West ham until late

    Sometimes Smith needs to put him CAM or other wingx Andy stay there

  109. There are times when we need a goal when Smith needs to use Davis. We lack a physical presence up front ans when we needa goal just put him on. He’s a big guy, it gives center backs another problem along with Watkins l.. Go 442.

    Wd didn’t look like scoring a goal against Brighton or an equaliser against Leicester. Ir was so easy for there centre backs to deal with crosses late on. Just throw Davis on

  110. Watching Europa league build up

    We absolutely have to go get it this season. It’s still a big competition and will help keep our better players

    I think our owners want it and Grealish

    I can’t see how we keep Grealish another season finishing onky mid table.

  111. PP/ Frem- Seems pointless blaming Smith for something none of us know if he gave instructions for or not or even if the player did what he wanted its all guess work. I doubt Smith said give Maddison complete free reign or if he says don’t move of the wing Jack 🙂

  112. MK,

    I don’t think that Smith is into man marking, he is more zonal, and that is why some players seem to have trouble knowing who to track, unless they are in the zone .

  113. Zonal vs. Man. Like anything, pros and cons to both.

    Against Villa, blunting Jack is effective if he has no options. Against a side with more evenly spread talent, you’re sort of picking your poison. Maddison isn’t Leicester’s only option. Over-commit to him, he’ll get it to someone else.

    Zonal is good as it can eliminate confusion once the players understand how to take on and hand off responsibility. You see Jack or Traoré supporting the inside channel for the FB, then moving across with the runner that goes inside. But of course if there’s hesitation on coming out and closing someone down, you’ve lost that zone.

    Villa aim to shut down the middle zone, force it wide, and expect Konsa and Mings to deal with crosses. Has worked very well, especially as Targett has gotten more aggressive and plays the winger or FB/wingback much tighter.

    It’s the cutbacks that hurt you there, same way the high press doesn’t work if everyone isn’t picking up their outlets and doing it together.

    But good players always break free sooner or later.

  114. PP,

    Yeah, that’s a failure of the man to own the zone. I was baffled (aka really frustrated) to see how much freedom he was given early. We just weren’t coming out and forcing the issue.

    It was better later, but the damage had already been done.

    That said, it sort of has been a constant for a while that we don’t rush out to close around the box. Which leaves me wondering whether it’s instruction…ie, don’t over-commit, just keep bodies massed in the central danger zones, or whether it’s players being tentative.

  115. Maddison goal was completely Luiz/ Mcginns fault

    They aren’t even in the picture when he scored and as holding DMs it was on of there jobs to stay close to the centre backs and pick up areas maddison gets to.. It was absolutely suicidal that both went.

    On zonal marking I don’t see any positives of it, John. The opposition players always get the run on minga and Konsa Andy have the momentum with them.

    Look at Ben Mee goal. He got above everyone with ease attacking an area he knew he’d have momentum.

    Southampton nearly equalised from a corner late on to from 6 yards out. Luckily Martinez saved it. Every time we conxa corner I expect teams to win the first header

    And plus, why are we so bad at attacking comers? Again

  116. frem

    yeah. bearing in mind we are still transitioning the number 1 priority for me is sander berge. all out dm, 6’5, 23 years old and quality! Luiz and mcguinn have been quality and are still but more number 8’s than 6.

  117. I don’t take much notice about corners, man marking etc. Is what it is. sometimes we will clear it sometimes it will be a great ball in and they’ll score from it, just like every team in the land!

  118. I am not impressed with the current concept of defending or attacking corners. Very few teams ever have a player defending the posts, but amazing how the best saves are often the defender on the line. Also this bunching up of players is almost like a rugby lineout now, but nine times out of ten , ends up with a foul being given to the defending team.
    I also dislike the lack of a player to deal with the overlap, whether defending or attacking. If the ball ends up on the far side, more often than not, there is no-one there to deal with it, and if defending, it is an opportunity to break away, and if attacking then it is a great opportunity to put it back in.
    So often corners and free kicks are wasted instead of using them and making them count.

  119. Exactly my point H & V.

    To me we make a lot of elementary mistakes , which is why young Frem gets so wound up. We have some lovely movement from time to time, and in the main the defence do a great job. We really started in such great form, and really moved the ball well, with Jack and Ross being outstanding, but since Ross’s original injury, we do not seem able to show the same mindset.
    We were using the middle of the pitch, as well as the wings, getting into the box and causing mayhem.

  120. Exactly my point H & V.

    To me we make a lot of elementary mistakes , which is why young Frem gets so wound up. We have some lovely movement from time to time, and in the main the defence do a great job. We really started in such great form, and really moved the ball well, with Jack and Ross being outstanding, but since Ross’s original injury, we do not seem able to show the same mindset.
    We were using the middle of the pitch, as well as the wings, getting into the box and causing mayhem.

  121. Smith is an extremely stubborn manager

    He’s trying to defend Barkleys corner even though he’s been absolutely useless

    Didn’t Smith say you have to earn the right to srate? He’s certainly not sticking by that

    Barkley has been pathetic and hasn’t earnt a place tomorrow, but twill start him.. The last thing you want against Leeds is a slow lazy player

    He said Barkley would have covered more ground than anyone against Leicester. I’m sorry but that’s just a pure lie

  122. Frem,

    Like I say, pros and cons. From corners, the zonal thinking would be that with all the jostling and players using each other as obstacles (or setting picks, to borrow from basketball) to get free, you lessen that chaos by simply having players hold and defend from set spots.

    There’s always going to be an advantage for the attacking side being able to get a running start. So, if you can’t win the header, you can only try and get in their way, put them off, keep them from generating momentum.

  123. Zonal or Man Marking? I can tell you that no team does one or the other its always a mix. If you man mark for instance the bloke can walk you 20 ft away and you leave a massive gap for others. I only had one rule defending corners as a CB and that was I’m getting the f**king ball. You passed players on which is Zonal and if they didn’t move much you went man for man, its pretty simple really and just jazzed up to sound good.

    Maddisons Goal from what I have just watched was because We lost the ball and Leicester were 3 on 3. The only midfielder in the picture was Ross and he was 20 ft away. McGinn and Luis I presume are somewhere over on the left out of shot. So not really a failure of Zonal Marking just a f**k up.

    Why were Leicester’s midfield not Marking our players when we Scored? 🙂

    PP- Thats why Young Frem Gets Frustrated? I hope that was tongue in cheek

  124. PP,

    Overall, it seems to me we were more aggressive before quarantine, winning more 50-50s in good areas, and launching quick attacks. We’ve not been the same since. And as we’re all saying, Ross just hasn’t regained his early form or fitness.

    If there’s a silver lining it’s that we’re having our inevitable dip in form now without losing too much ground, and can regain momentum for the run-in.

    When people were gushing about Villa’s start, Europe, top half, my reply was always, “Let’s wait and see. We’ve done great, but it’s a long season, and I’m not sure we can keep it up.”

    That was before covid hit the camp. It may seem like I’m making excuses, but I always go with Occam’s Razor, and it just seems too stark, the before and after, to dismiss the effect that’s had.

  125. JC- As I said before Ross had 6 weeks out and you can’t exactly get much cardio in with a Hamstring injury then The team had to isolate which gave him no training again, then into a harsh period of games in quick succession.

    I think they had a glad to be playing period then they all hit quicksand after the adrenaline fuelled first few games. I don’t know if the Covid had a lasting effect or not but the amount of time without Quality Training definitely would.

  126. H&V,

    I do hope the Berge rumors/interest are true. We do need some bigger, quality players. Konsa and Mings are often outnumbered in that regard on corners.

    Whoever mentioned us not getting the ball very often when it does end up dropping just outside the box, that’s been a frustrating thing to me, as well.

    But I think the flipside is that I think part of our improved defensive record is down to just having bodies in the way. Which is why you build a wall on free kicks.

    Sometimes a shot like Maddison’s will squirrel its way through. It just goes under Mings’ foot. Another split second either way and his foot is probably on the ground and the shot is blocked. Probably also affected Emi’s judgment. The shot was well placed, but not a lot of pace on it, and on average, a pretty low-percentage effort.

  127. MK,

    Exactly. Ross has had no real option but to go out and try to run himself back, same way McGinn did in Restart.

    My guess is that Dean isn’t stupid, realized the thick run of matches was going to be a very up and down affair, and he’s looking to simply get his best XI back in shape for the run-in, take the inevitable lumps on the way.

  128. All that said, I really don’t think Ross should be starting against Leeds. He’s just not there.

    From Dean’s perspective, he’s probably thinking about seniority, the confidence he might give the side without Jack, his experience. And if there’s an arrangement, that factors in, along with whatever personal promises he might’ve made to convince him to come.

    I think Dean very much is a man of his word and meant it when he said he wanted to get Ross his shot at the Euros.

    As far as running stats…I agree, seems hard to believe Ross had great numbers against Leicester. I wouldn’t put that down to “lying,” it’s just the gamesmanship aspect of managing. If they go over the numbers together, everyone will know who did what. And I think the squad know Dean well enough by now to accept that he’ll allow a quality player time to get himself right on the pitch.

  129. Absolutely JC – and notice the precise little cushioned header from El Ghazi that put Targett through. Nobody seems to have given EG any credit for that. And Targett’s cross was an absolute pearler.

  130. viva,

    They all did really well, you’re right, and great to see Traoré getting right in there. Schmeichel’s reaction was hilarious: “How dare you bravely beat me to the ball!”

  131. Not remotely confident about today.. Leeds will absolutely love playing against us and how slow and lethargic we are at moving the ball, and just how generally poor we are at retaining possession.

    Sanson Marvelous and Ramsey should all get a start

    Barkley and mcginn especially in recent weeks have performed awfully. It feels like MON days where thereis no rotation however bad you play

    Marvelous didn’t deserved tobe dropped.. Barkley certainly does so at least throw Ramsey in who’s better on the ball than both Mcginn and Ross

  132. This is a comment about Wesley by Kevin Phillips, it highlights the problem of in season training vs out where you can be much more intense and recover, its explains why the Covid lay off may have effected us so badly.

    “When you’ve been out that long, you’re probably thinking three, four, five months before he can get back to near his best match fitness and sharpness.

    “It’s tough because this season, as much as the lads are training, they won’t be doing the training that you need to get back to full sharpness. All they’re doing at the moment is recovery, light training, recovery, play and then light training again.

    “He’s probably not getting those intensity sessions that he’ll need to get back to full sharpness. So it is a slight worry but as long as Watkins stays fit, he’s certainly given a good return this season. So maybe he can take his time a little bit.”

  133. Frem- not like you to lack confidence in the team 🙂

    There isn’t any nailed on scenarios, there is only as dean Smith see’s it, a lot can change in a week and at least it was longer rest again vs Leeds midweek game.

  134. Mark.. Smith sees very strange things. He’s extremely stubborn

    He should man up and start Kessler to at right back.. He’s a lot quicker than Elmo ( who isn’t though). Rodgers wasn’t scared to start a 19 year old left back against us but Smith genuinely hadn’t started youngsters since he has been here.. Ramsey for example would be starting a lot more under any other manager.. He has serious ability. He’s probably a better technical football player than Mcginn and certainly deserves his start

    Both I hope get a start but we all know Smith will play Elmo Mcgand Barkley again. MON mark 2

  135. Leeds go above is if we win.. Wolves go level on points of they win and we lose. They have jad an awful season

    I wonder what it says about Smith if newly promoted Leeds go above us in our second season after spending 200 million

    Will people question smithy then?

  136. I see that Dean is upset at Villa being viewed as a one trick pony, and without Grealish, they can’t win.

    I really hope that today Dean puts a team together that is capable of proving the doubters wrong, and one that will not only give good account of themselves, but one that shows that we have a good future.
    If Barkley starts, then he really has to step up to the plate today and show what he is capable of, and be a leader in the final third.
    McGinn also needs to show some of his former tenacity and fight harder for the ball and distribute it well.
    Let us hope and pray that this is not another match where we fail to start until the second half. We need to kill Leeds off from the beginning, and make sure Bamford does not add to his tally.
    He really ahs come on this season and is now challenging Kane and Vardy.
    We should be helping Watkins to claim his spot in the England team!

  137. Frem- You are stating your opinion as fact mate, where is your evidence that Smith is stubborn? or see’s strange things, Is it because he doesn’t automatically do what you a fan with no management experience thinks he should? do you have evidence for why Smith makes his decisions? do you attend training ? Do you actually know that Ross was not leading the running stats when he was taken off? Smith will have looked at the data before making that statement, why would he open himself up to ridicule from armchair pundits by lying? he never said Ross was effective merely that he was putting the effort in whatever you think you saw.

    I am sure Rodgers had a reason to start a youngster and it might not have been for the hell of it.

    Win lose or draw Villa were never ever expected to be in this position this season, not one of us had us going for top 6 so being critical of a barely begun project is pretty rich. No I don’t think we should be questioning Smith because he can’t win every game to please us that’s just utterly stupid.

    So far we have only gone and lost two games on a trot in the league 3 times in 23 games that is nothing and par for the course. We have 12 clean sheets and scored umpteen goals and only 4 teams have better goal difference. We have beaten Arsenal twice, thrashed Liverpool and beaten Leicester and have two more wins than we did all last season.

    So if you feel we have failed then I feel sorry for you mate your expectations are never likely to be met.

  138. PP- This team has only been without Grealish in the prem for something like 2-3 games total and lost them all 2-1 not exactly horrendous but not much time to adjust to such a massive loss. Look at Liverpool’s season without their talismanic CB Van Dijk, one player can make a lot of difference.

  139. MK,
    I was relaying the comments in the press, obviously fuelled by fans and pundits, which had angered Dean.
    I have made the point that today is his opportunity to answer those comments. Of course Villa should be a good enough team to cope without their star player, as should all teams. Reliance on one person is very dangerous.
    Liverpool certainly have been a different team without Van Dyke, but it is not just his absence that is causing their problems.

  140. I am still interested in how much players are affected by playing in empty stadiums, and is it similar to where players can be excellent on the training pitch, but find it difficult in front of a hostile crowd.

    Once the fans are allowed back in, we may see some more very startling results in games.

  141. PP- As we have been as poor with Jack recently as we were without 1st half last game He’s got his work cut out. If we lose a tight game then I’m sure he’ll still get blasted, if its a shambles then it will be a fee for all.

    Yeah the stadium things a strange one with home advantage being lost, for us at times our fans can be their own worst enemy. Logic says if a hostile environment has an effect why be hostile to your own team? thats emotions for you.

  142. Seems to be split 50/50 whether Barkley will keep his place among the various pundits.

    Most predictable team:
    Martinez, El Mohamady, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Luiz, McGinn, El Ghazi, Barkley, Traore, Watkins.

    Possible alternative:
    Martinezm Elmo, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Sanson, McGinn, El Ghazi, Ramsey, Traore, Watkins

    Nkamba also deserves a shout, as he played well last time out.

  143. Very tight game with the Hammers and Man City, but Stones and De Bruyne the difference.
    Stones giving another England performance. He will certain be in the squad for the Euro’s.

    Our England contenders need to be on the top of their game now if they want to make the Euros.

  144. Hope Brighton beat west Brom.. That’s them down

    West Ham head and shoulders above us tactically.

    Moyes has been there less time and spent less money than Smith but lpok at them. On paper they also don’t haveta better team than us. We actually have Watkins better than Antonio and grealish obviously better than anyone they have.

    There back 4 certainly aren’t better than ours

    So what’s the difference?
    David Moyes

  145. Moyes has been there twice got the shove last time for Pellegrini and they were in the top 7 clubs for spending in the last 5 seasons. In the last 8 seasons since they came up through the play offs they have managed one 7th finish and two 10th’s usually finishing 12th to 16th. Villa on the other hand have not finished above 13th since 2010-11 and the rest of the time has been 15th and lower or championship.

    So as this is our second season back I would say we are not doing badly compared to a club thats been banging away for the last 8-9 years with sod all to show. Moyes is a good manager but they have spent £300m on those not as good as our players Frem, I think I would not mind Creswell, Benrahma, Soucek, Antonio, Lingard, Fabianski, West Ham average age of player is just under 28 ours is the leagues lowest at 25.

    If you want to take a swipe at Smith Frem you will have to do better than that.

  146. Lot of respect for Moyes, and he has put together a very solid team at West Ham. He also has years of experience, doing a great job at Everton with very little money, but I am with you MK, Dean is a young manager with his first experience of the Premiership, and is doing an excellent job for Villa, compare him to Moyes in five years time, and see where they are.

  147. How does Mcginn keep starting? He’s been absolutely awful. We paid 15 million for Sanson, play him f**k sake

    Ghaiz starts because our options for wingers are absolutely awful at this club. Trezeguet and Gahzi should not be anywhere the Premier league. No quality

    At least Marvelous and Ramsey are starting I suppose

  148. West Brom are going to stay up

    You know who I would take as manager, Graham Potter l. They play brilliant football. Just have s**t strikers. Imagine what he’d getting our boys like

  149. Frem,

    “Ghazi starts because our options for wingers are absolutely awful at this club. Trezeguet and Ghazi should not be anywhere the Premier league. No quality”

    I had no idea you felt that way.

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