It’s Friday, there’s football, and still no Jack Grealish. Does it matter against Newcastle? Who knows. But the barcodes are starting to get nervy, Steve Bruce is in the cross-hairs again, and Villa aren’t the same without their best player. However, they should be getting at least a little bit used to not having him.
Given there’s not been anything brilliant from Villa in Jack’s absence, Dean does have a bit of a selection headache, and not the kind he wants. Various permutations have yielded various results, the only real positive coming against Leeds, strangely enough. But that game showed the value of going ahead, which I’d think Villa will try to do again.
They almost pulled it off against Wolves, but the woodwork kept Villa off the board in a first half they owned, and Emi kept Wolves off the board in a second half they owned. I feel for Ollie, as it’s now 7 or 8 chances, depending on who you ask, that have caromed off some part of the frame, the most of any player in the PL. It’s kept his numbers down, cost Villa some amount of points, and sort of defies the odds. But, there you go.
I’ve no idea whether it will be Sanson or Ramsey, Luiz or Nakamba, Ghazi or Trez or Traoré. Or whatever combination of those. I suppose Ross Barkley might also be in the frame, but he seems to be rapidly disappearing from view. Jack’s absence has obviously been his chance to shine, and for whatever reason, he’s done just the opposite. Which makes me feel for him, too, if only because he’s a good player and seemingly a good guy who just can’t pull it together, at the moment. We saw what he can bring on his day, but it’s been a while, now.
0-0, 1-0, 1-1, 0-1: They’re all on the cards. Given that Villa haven’t slipped that badly in the table despite the patchy form and Jack’s absence, there’s still something to play for. And a number of players are definitely playing for their jobs as the season run-in and summer window approach. You’d like to think we’ll manage to get closer to 90 minutes of what we saw for 45 last time out. Matty Cash might well be back in, and that can’t hurt anything.
And as an aside, it’s been nice to see big Wes out on the training ground. Been a long, hard road back for him, and I’m sure he’d love to get some minutes in sometime before the end of the season. Which will naturally prompt all sorts of 4-4-2 vs 4-2-3-1 debates.
Anyway, I’ll have to catch a replay as I’ll be on the road. So I’ll look to you all to fill in the blanks when I get to check back in. God knows Lifers will do a better job recapping the match than anything else I can read.
Over to you.