#AVL #avfc

There’s been a lively debate following the City loss. Clearly they’re the better side, but you’d like to think Villa could’ve gotten something out of it had they not made it a 10 v 10. But, water under the bridge now, and all eyes turn to the Baggies and hopes of a little damage control.

The biggest news is that almost in defiance of supporters, Dean Smith has put Ross Barkley back in the starting XI. All the more surprising, perhaps, given that harsh words were apparently directed towards Barkley’s efforts from Tyrone Mings during the 2-1 defeat midweek. Maybe some home truths were delivered, followed by a suitable period of self-reflection. Your guess is as good as mine here, but if Ross was banging down Dean’s door, he’s got some work to do out on the pitch to reward the manager.

Some will also argue that Kaine Kesler should’ve been given the start ahead of Elmohamady in Cash’s absence.  As it is, he doesn’t make the bench. Jacob Ramsey does, unsurprisingly, as does Jaden Philogene-Bidace. Despite Philogene-Bidace’s presence in the matchday squad, it’s clear Smith is not yet committed to blooding the youngsters in the during the run-in. Perhaps he sees it as a white flag.

Every bit as interesting is that Wesley is back in the dugout after an absence of 15-16mos. A cameo would be nice, but one wonders where he’s really at.

So, today’s selections will be where all the focus is. Smith’s taken a big chance with Ross. I can only hope Barkley is capable of seizing it.

Over to you.

Comments 103

  1. No surprises I thought the tea lady was in with a shout

    Thanks JC, I think if Wesley is truly fit then he has to get minutes because there are big decisions afoot this summer, Davis? not ever likely to oust Ollie is he? destined for a loan is Wes is still useful and we will buy or promote Barry perhaps, he should be out of nappies by next season.

  2. Yeah, could well see Barry as an option off the bench next year. Would think we might see him before the close of this one if that’s on the cards. But seasons are long, so plenty of time for him to get into the squad.

  3. Brom peno was a joke.

    How do we have a great U23 team when Elmo, Barkley and El Ghazi are playing? And look at subs? Something seriously wrong and conservative with Dean Smith

  4. Yeah, hasn’t been bad apart from some stray passes/bad touches. Better energy, Ross actually involved.

    If Jack were out there, we’d likely be blowing them away.

  5. If Barkley ever plays for Villa again I’m not watching. Utter sh$te player with no confidence.

    Surely bring on P-Bidace for 2nd half.

  6. The covid is effecting our passing again hahaha mcguinn and el ghazi. Dear me. Strangely I enjoyed that. Good tempo about the match. But usual troubles. Can’t trouble the gk or create.

  7. MK – u must be watching a different game to me. Barkley is playing #10 which is supposed to be a creater or quick delivery. He had no skills to do either. He’s afraid on the ball

  8. Hardly worth commenting on, except Barkley had almost a whole game to prove himself, and came up short. Mings losing concentration again, but Elmo had a fine game, and was unlucky not to score!
    Why the f**k are we not playing Davis up front and Ollie on the wing instead of Traore!

  9. It was better than recent weeks but the level of opposition must be taken into account. Deano says it would have been a travesty had we lost. We could easily have lost 4-6. Emi was the star again.

    SJM is struggling for pace. Thought Dougie played well and was not the man to be changed first. Pleased to see Wes back on the pitch. Tarkowski (or was it Mee?) has a lot to answer for. Elmo did OK.

  10. A few months back, we discussed on here how many points we might end up with. Believe rObBo beat me to the draw with 51 points.

    Can’t see us reaching that number now.

  11. Targett, Martinez , Luiz, and El Ghazi were all at the races, but poor Konsa had probably his worst game of the season, and yet most of his problems were accidents!

  12. Plug

    I said 47! entertaingly bad last night!

    So so happy for Davis but jesus Christ should of been giving more game time. I feel really sorry for him. Deano brings him on with 30 to go we win that.

  13. I hope it’s not true you don’t want to be taking your bad form over into next season!

    Cant see Watford or Norwich being cannon fodder. Its going to be very competivie next season in the prem

  14. I cant wait for the summer and to see our transfer plans. So vital we get this right and for deano too.

    What he will do with grealish and Watkins is very intriguing.

    Id put jack 10 and ollie wide forward.

  15. I also think that El Ghazi is doing more than Traore.
    I am concerned about Carney, and that we need to offer him an exciting future to keep him, or he will be gone.

  16. Plug,

    It was a lot better, and, yes, do have to take the opposition into account. Sam has steadied them, and they were desperate. Had they not been gifted an equaliser, or even if Konsa hadn’t slipped, it could’ve looked a lot different. Ezri did have an uncharacteristic game, and Martinez did make a couple vital stops.

    But overall, we played more quickly, had better energy, and there were some nice passages. Luiz was just a tactical sub. McGinn dropped back, but someone had to go to get more attacking players on.

  17. With both Fulham and the baggies, you can see the psychology at work. Fragile, and while they could pull off a miracle, they know it’s not going to happen. WBA’s run-in is brutal. Only a win last night would’ve given them any (very very faint) hope at all.

  18. H&V,

    Depending on the summer, you might see Ollie go wider, but I kind of doubt it. My guess is at lease one wide man and a #10 are the priorities. Like we’ve seen, Ollie does play all over the front.

    Big question marks are going to be striker (where’s Wes at, and finding a back-up/alternate for Ollie at a decent price), and Luiz. Might move that striker up into the priorities. But is that a £30m-£40m buy?

    Shame Sanson has been injured, as he could really be using these games to find his feet and show what, if anything, he has to offer. But I’d be looking for a value MF, too. Might be we go for a Berge (who won’t be cheap), but we need a tougher, all-action ball-winner and general nuisance. Luiz and McGinn are dogged, but neither really dominates and knocks anyone off the ball.

    Not sure whether Dean really wants to stick with 4-2-3-1 as the default, but I think he might going forward. Probably depends on the spend on who’s available.

    Like you say, it’s a big question whether he wants Jack going central. Solves one problem, but if he’s up top in the middle of a 4-3-3, which I don’t really see (?), we’ll need someone wide left. If we stick 4-2-3-1, there’s the natural slot in the middle for Jack to fill, and two wide men required. But I bet he’d stay left, and that’s where I get a #10 and right forward.

  19. Have to agree with MK, I thought Ross looked better than at anytime since xmas. He must of brought up his market value to at least the 8mill we paid for Trez!!!
    Also meagre with jbd I think if he’s happy signing for another year on the bench Elmo is worth a place as a squad player. Anyway anywhere from 9th to 12th looks on the cards for a final place, and we would have snapped someones hand off had that been offered at the start of season. it will do for me on only our second year back, Lets see what surprises they come up with in the summer.

  20. Ross’s display was a big improvement on before, but he had more time on the pitch, and has a long way to go, but we still will not be buying him. Buendia is supposed to be Smith’s main target.
    Elmo worth keeping, depends on Lange, and whether we keep Guilbert.

    Seem to be mixed feelings amongst fans about Dean, but most, I think want to give him until the end of the season. He has done a great job for Villa, but the drawbacks are about his substitutions, and a failure to cope without Jack in the team.
    I do hope he can turn things round and that we have a good finish, giving him the boost he needs to get all the fans behind him again.

    See Man Utd are interested in Heaton as a number 2. They are also looking at Sam Johnstone as well, who had another good game.

  21. Makes me laugh, Early season we got loads of Plaudits and the fans were saying Shakespeare’s the man behind it all, then we improve in defence and JT’s the man, Now we have dipped its all Smiths fault and he’s not the man apparently and never was at any point.

  22. I thought Ross was a solid 5 yesterday, still not fully fit but you can see he has more know how than any of the others, Jack would certainly help on that front to combine with him and Watkins but he is still way off his game.

    Funny enough the Prem League has a policy of keeping who’s had Covid to themselves unless the player blabs or its Steve Bruce. We defo had Targett and Trez but the other 7-8 players are an unknown. I suppose they don’t want their price dropping or their international career this summer being being cut short. I think it will come out eventually, I think Jack had a dose of it, he was on Youtube from his room during the isolation and looked Shite.

    Still this summer will be the 1st one for a long time when we know what league we are in and have a plan. Its also a full summer not like last season, we forget the games ended up condensed this season so no surprise to me that we are dragging all considered.

  23. PP,

    Can’t see Deano in trouble, or having the rest of the season to prove himself. Like Mark’s saying, Villa only two fewer wins than Liverpool in sixth. If we don’t lose to Sheffield, and the Burnley game doesn’t go south, we’re right there. A ‘farcical’ peno and OG turned last night against us.

    So, not a catastrophe, but if you start well and ‘fade’, there’s talk. Start poorly and ‘surge’, it’s all good. But a season has a lot of stories for every club that don’t really get talked about, it’s just the table, at the end. The big managers with the deepest squads were the ones talking about congestion, fatigue, five subs and the like.

    Since December 28, we’ve gone 5-5-9, loses coming to: City (2), Liverpool, Spurs, Sheffield, Leicester, West Ham, Burnley, United. On this season’s form, covid, 6 games in 18 days off the back off covid, then no Jack and Ross falling off a cliff…you can only really hang your head about Sheffield and Burnley, maybe Spurs.

    I’d think the verdict will come in on Smith next season and after another full window. Compass won’t be unhappy with Ollie, Cash, and Martinez. Traoré? Who knows. Sanson? Can’t really judge. But Targett, Mings, Konsa, Luiz, all really solid, as well. McGinn’s struggled.

    Trez, Ghazi, part of the bargain-basement shopping. 3-5 quality players, and then we’ll see if they can pick up those extra games.

    If not, then I’d see Smith being on thin ice, particularly if there’s a disastrous start. But if we’re among the top half and with a shout for Europe at midway, and injuries and luck don’t scuttle us, be hard to argue against him in my book.

  24. I wonder how much people actually read posts properly. I put comments on here, to arouse conversation, but I thought I made it reasonably clear when it is my own view of what is happening, and when I am just airing the views which are around on News Now, and many other info blogs.

  25. Which is fair enough, PP.

    I expect people to disagree with the leaders I put up. Or at least, they’re certainly free to. Don’t think Steamer ever agreed with a word I said.

    I have seen that take on Dean on News Now, blog headlines, Twitter. I don’t generally bother with them because I think it’s more reactional/emotional than anything else. And I get it, football, sport, are very emotional things. I was watching yesterday and getting immensely frustrated with any number of players: poor touches, passes, decisions. I think I said “FFS, McGinn,” well, more than a handful of times.

    But you have indeed aroused conversation! I’m just conversing back politely, I hope, as to why I don’t think Dean’s in trouble or should be. I can put it up as a leader, though, and promise to step back and not comment. I just haven’t necessarily wanted it to seem like some heavy-handed ‘word of god’ kind of statement, so I’ve left it to commenting.

    I know MK and I often have similar takes, so it can be a bit much, double-barreled.

    But I know others, many others, are very critical of subs, set-ups, etc.

    Me, I hope to offer the “on the other hand,” perspective, and not just for the sake of argument. When Bruce was in charge, I didn’t have much good to say after a certain point, but like to think I gave him a fair shake to start.

  26. And for what it’s worth, I do often think Smith leaves subs a bit late. I have my theories, but without having spoken to him directly, no idea whether I’m right.

    Like everyone else, I was very surprised to see Ross start…and again, theories.

    But, I guess I start from the premise that Smith knows what he’s doing, or at least has a defensible reason. Don’t think he’s Pep, but then he’s never manged that kind of talent. I certainly think he’s as clever as Moyes and probably Rodgers, but hasn’t been at it as long at this level.

  27. PP- I would be happy if people talked about what I have posted, all I get is I don’t think its Covid with the rational being this is just like any other season and its the coaching /style/formation like the players are bulletproof robots.

    DS does have slumps on his CV but this one is more like we have scraped some points despite being useless going forward and generally lethargic , mainly by defending and the keeper. Can you find a way as a coach if the teams willing but not firing on all cylinders? I would say that it harder than if they were just off their game.

    Now last season we could not last 90 and it showed up in decent enough displays that nose dived and led to errors last 20 against all comers. Luis famously came back fitter after the break as he’d had little pre-season and looked stellar. He now looks more like last seasons very tired version. mcGinn certainly does not have his former energy and snap, his ankle injury at a guess has effected his striking and passing as well would be my guess.

    The running Stats for most might well be what they expect but its not the distance run etc that’s the problem nor the average speed, its is the perceived fatigue while you are doing it, in other words every thing feels harder. I felt that when I had it and when I had the jab. That would be enough to put players of their game in my opinion.

  28. They have it really bad in India supposedly because of the Indian Version. Nobody is talking about India’s horrendous Vit D levels, you would not think it but they avoid the sun. They are also a lot of vegetarians so get little D from foods and their Diabetes and heart disease rates are off the charts, having just come out of winter they are particularly low on D like we were last March/April when it hit. I would be surprised if we see a significant 3rd wave now, The sun is now getting to 45 degrees from us so it will now produce Vit D, get out there folks.

  29. Another painful watch thought we were really sloppy at times .. thankfully we rescued the situation but I wasn’t overly surprised that we tied ourselves in knots at times

    tesco’s are as weak as it gets in the prem , its going to be difficult getting 3 points without Jack which is something deano needs to get past for next season as he surely cant play every game
    some fabulous players that should be gettable , Pereira was the best player on the pitch last night .. St Maximum would be amazing along side jack
    I would like to see Ollie put wide left and play Davies or Wes central

  30. MK,
    Covid or not, no way is this just another season, when there was virtually no break, no real pre-season, and no fans to help the adrenalin flow and get the testosterone flowing. It must be absolutely awful for players in this unreal, almost virtual world. What a difference to see and hear fans at Wembley at last, and it is making a difference at the Crucible for snooker.

    Ignore me, as I just have my little moments now and again…..I don’t have much hope of getting better at my age, but I will try.

  31. PP,

    Will never ignore you. I have more moments than you might imagine.

    And I really have no idea what it would be like to play in an empty stadium. Well, I do, that’s how I generally played. But. For professionals, absolutely.

    Getting used to the piped-in crowd sounds has been a very strange experience. Then you stop, look at the stands, hear the players and coaching staffs yelling, and realize what a vacuum this is happening in.

  32. Runtings-where would the Tesco’s be without
    Pereira? He is the perfect example of a manager having one real trick up his sleeve. I can guarantee that if we did not have jack we would not be playing as we do , next season with a bit more quality and stronger personalities it will move up a notch.

  33. JC some days you really don’t want a crowd , no witnesses.

    I think no crowds may of helped us especially away, that has been a Europe wide phenomenon. At home we have been poor at times, maybe the crowd would lift them and maybe as we have seen to many times bury them. The response on the internet says it would not be pretty. I think it’s fortunate that it’s happening at this time of our development.

  34. good news for jack. eng squad now 26.

    Normally id rather villa players not in it but you know just what it means to him and I think that one thing would make him leave villa more than winning trophies. he loves england

  35. I too think the subs come in a little late and probably more so now with the injuries making the bench thin. Letting hourihane go out on loan was a gentlemanly thing to do but as we heard Dean wasn’t too keen on the idea. At the time the best of the bench left. Blooding young players has been a slow process for Villa over the last few years this year no different. I think Villa still want to push for a higher place right now. Once that isn’t a priority maybe we’ll see more of the under 23’s in the last few games.

  36. Ian yeah the changes might of seemed late but we were getting a lot of chances, then they had a couple and Smith changed it. I’d like to see Davis get a start if only to scratch that itch.

  37. Well done the kids. A Chuk hat trick and a 1-6 stuffing of the Wai Ayes. It’s the Yam Yams up next in the semi final of the Youth Cup. You’ve got to fancy Louie Barry in that one eh?

  38. Plug- They might actually get some opposition there, Our under 18’s are big lads for that level, WBA have a good rep. I like the Asian lad no8 very switched on with his pressing and movement and unlike most of them receives the ball and moves it on positively straight away, has a great eye for a pass.

  39. Not just me then

    Arjan Raikhy – 9

    “Villa’s Punjabi Villan was brilliant once more in midfield as he played alongside Chukwuemeka with Lindley on defensive midfield duty. Raikhy claimed a superb assist after picking out Young who touched and finished. Raikhy, 18, has a great eye for a defence-splitting pass. He’s got fantastic vision, has Raikhy, who’s another one from Villa’s heroic display over Liverpool in the FA Cup. Raikhy’s a powerful midfielder and a good size given his age. Never flustered in possession and always keeps it ticking. Loved his work.”


  40. playing elmo over Kessler. man I still don’t get that.

    Apparently chuck is different level. can see why he has been on our bench.

    Sounds like he is one who doesn’t even need a loan.

  41. No H&V,

    Chuk needs a decent contract and a few minutes game time before he gets stolen away!!

    Was happy with Elmo, and Kessler was needed for the Youth team. Villa on course to win it again!!

    Should have also played Elmo against Foden, instead of Cash, and then he would not have seen the red mist. I feel that Elmo is often underrated by Villa fans. He did an awful lot of covering against Albion in the defence, when Konsa was struggling with Mings.

  42. lots of talk about the youth today and quite right so. We all know how good Barry is and yet he’s hardly getting a mention today which shows that the talent goes much deeper than just him . . . .well doe to the scouting and management team!
    One who hasn’t been mentioned but I thought took his goal well and looked like a real team player was Brad Young.
    Inevitably, some of the twitterati are going over the top silly and wanting us to swap half the seniors for the juniors. You can rest assured that the owners haven’t invested all the money in the youth set up to have it ignored. . . .those players will get their chances.
    We’ve already seen some of them getting bench time and I’ll be surprised if a couple more don’t see time on the pitch before the end of the season.
    I don’t understand the criticism I’ve seen of Elmo. He’s been great for us and to my mind deserves a contract extension.

  43. Anything be watching the PSG city game?
    Anyone else want to give Neymar a smack?
    It’s a wonderful game but his diving followed by body rolling and face grimacing is just nauseating.
    He’s a wonderful footballer . . . If only he’d cut out the theatrics

  44. Downloaded the FA Player tonight so could see the match between our girls and Birmingham City.
    They did quite well scoring in the first half and dominating most of the play , and then ten minutes before the end the manager, makes them just keep possession by the corner flag in B’hams half, which they almost manage to do, instead of just keeping the ball, and also trying to score a second when an opportunity arises. Six minutes added time , and Birmingham score in the fifth added minute. Seems crazy to me, when they needed the points, no wonder they are near the bottom, which is sad when they have some very good players, maybe they just need a better manager!

  45. Yep PP, the women chucked away 2 points in the 95th minute of the last game too, against Bristol City. They’d be safe now if they saw those two games out. You are not running the clock down wasting time in the corners if the officials are adding it on. Poor game management.

  46. Absolutely Plug,
    and a lot of refs are doing exactly that.
    Marcus Bignot needs to let the girls have a little more confidence. He seems to be shouting at them every minute of the game!

  47. guys

    Im not saying elmo is awful. I like him, bit of a cult hero for me but now with him being gone in the summer seems pointless playing him over a highly rated kid.

    I just think we are missing giving them a head start. Theryll be literally no better scenario to give them a taste. 0 pressure as nothing to play for and no fans in the stadium! Use it to our advantage!

  48. In that case H&V I apologise. I thought it was just a supposition that Elmo would be leaving, I hadn’t realised it had been confirmed. I’ve seen rumours that Guilbert will be returning but I had the impression that Smith would have placed more trust in Elmohamady for 1 more year than Guilbert, who, for some reason, just doesn’t seem to have ticked the boxes.
    Great to see that the board have managed to convince pretty much all the key players to extend their contracts now . . . . Apart from Elmo of course 😉

  49. I’m not going to knock Elmo. He saved our skins last season with his headed glance from a corner against the Wai Ayes during the last knockings.

    Has a good delivery and a wise head. Sadly the years are catching up with him though.

  50. Would love to see Guilbert back, if only to offer an alternative of pushing Cash up into midfield where his engine would be most useful.

  51. As it stands, we are going to need cover for Targett, a good striker, a winger and 2 top class midfielders. If there’s a priority list, place the 2 midfielders top. We need a Kante type who is perpetual motion and a can opener like David Silver who can breach an organised defence with one pass.

  52. small heath women have fielded a player whilst suspended due to an administration error. You couldn’t make it up.

    They forgot she was suspended for the Reading game. Shades of the year in the 1920’s when they didn’t compete in the FA cup one year as you had to apply in those days and they forgot to send in their application form. Forgot! small heath shambles.

  53. That’s funny, Plug. A well-oiled machine, aren’t they?

    To all the recent points above, a fresh sheet is up that will carry on this very conversation.

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