All eyes will be on Villa Park today as Steven Gerrard takes charge of his first game at Aston Villa. And no one really knows what to expect.

But the lineups have been announced, and nothing terribly surprising.

Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, Nakamba, McGinn, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins, Ings

Bailey and Sanson are on the bench, as is Chuk. No Archer.

I’m away again, so I’ll keep this short. Looks like a 4–3-3, and one would assume Watkins is wide left. Beyond that? No idea.

So, we’ll see what Smith’s sacking and the Gerrard effect will have on the players. There’s not been a lot of time to take new things on board or evaluate players, so one assumes this will be a work in progress.

Besides being Gerrard’s first match in charge of Villa, it’s also his first against Premier League competition. Brighton obviously have had a good start, and more than a few would’ve liked to see Graham Potter in at Villa. It’s never been an easy game, wherever they are in the table.

Like always, I’m hoping for a result. Villa could certainly use it.

Over to you.

Comments 102

  1. Interesting half. Good start and energy, Brighton settling down and seeing the holes but not creating an awful lot.

    Ings’ heavy touch was a shame, he’d like that back.

  2. The players were sharper than they’ve been in a while and I expected a tie game. The minute Watkins scored the tempo went up and a killer instinct appeared. Confidence is everything.
    Then Deano wins his first. Manchester get humiliated. It doesn’t get better than this to start off a week end.

  3. JG, You have said previously that all players should start with a clean slate and I agree with you on that. We have to see what Gerrard is able to get out of his players. On that basis it seems a bit soon to be suggesting that the midfielders need replacing. Take McGinn for example. You wanted him dropped but he was probably the best player on the pitch today. Again. . . . . I’m with you on the ‘clean slate’ idea but surely we need to be giving it at least half a dozen games before we start to judge? We know that we have midfielders with potential and if confidence returns I reckon we could see a whole different side to several of them.

  4. JC. Exactly. . . the key is in trying to get all those creative players on the pitch at the same time, complementing each other rather than acting as a group of individuals. It may not even be possible and I hope that Steven Gerrard is given the authority to make those decisions. There’s a feeling amongst some (and I have it myself) that Dean Smith was under pressure to play certain players and if that’s the case, then those people need to fuck off back to doing ‘their’ jobs and leaving the manager and coaches to do theirs.

  5. Only 3 of the last 13 Villa managers have win their 1st game. Thought Mings was immense. Even if he hadn’t scored, thought it was his best game ever in a Villa shirt. Ramsey also looked good. I’m glad I was wrong about taking Watkins off. Fantastic run and goal. Hope that kick starts him. Also thought El G looked good – instead of head down, running and shooting from everywhere- he looked calm and composed and passed well. Clean slate to all for sure 🙂

  6. As for clean slate ,yes,but then nearly all villa fans will agree we need a midfield general someone who can bully other sides,chip in with goals and assists like lad at west ham even Brighton lad today had decent game

  7. JG, I don’t pretend to know enough to suggest what McGinn’s best position is and I agree with you that he’s been inconsistent for Villa. He has however been pretty consistent for Scotland in a more advanced role and it could be because we don’t have the midfield enforcer you’re after that he hasn’t been available to be pushed forward.
    The point is, Gerrard “should’ know more about it than any of us fans as he has the football background (in midfield too), the management training and the time with the players at the training ground to work it all out.
    I wouldn’t yet say that we don’t have that midfield general. Going back to your point, they all have a. clean slate, it it could be that Gerrard sees that ‘General’ within our current squad and can coach him to do the job.
    I’ve mentioned Idrissa Gueye before. I don’t think any Villa fans saw him as a midfield general and yet that’s what he’s become in one of the most successful teams in the world.

    I know you tend to offer criticism rather than praise, but I do think you got it right before in wanting to give everyone a chance. . . . .hopefully you meant for more than just one game?

  8. I’ll go out on a limb and put my money on Nakamba to be the mid field general. When he is “on” he’s good. A run of games should put him in position to take charge.
    It’s up to Samson and now Luiz to impress. I don’t think Villa have that bad a mid field. As was said, McGinn is a force for Scotland and not so much at Villa. It’s obvious he needs to change and perhaps it will if Nakamba steps up his game a bit more.
    I’ve thought perhaps to bring chukwuemica (forgive the spelling) on more often. He’s a big player and maybe given the chance would be that bully.

    I don’t want to lose any of the under 21’s but until Villa stabilize themselves and have a lead going into the last 30 I don’t think we will see much of them. I can see the turn over of players being quicker than what it has been. Villa have a talented group of young players and again I hope to see more of them soon.
    A shout out to El Gazi. Nice to see your pout gone.

  9. Well buzzing.

    Huge win

    Great to see an instant improvement on the ball, especially first 15 minutes. Front 3 had a licence to roam.

    Defensively solid

    Mcginn and Ramsey playing very wide on and off the ball.

    Gerrard got the subs right at the right time

    Top manager we have

  10. Robbo
    Clean slate for players is for Gerard not for fans,
    One stat that has to change is possession for us to only manage low thirties at home to Brighton is scary

  11. Mcginn was fantastic and Gerrard will be fantastic for him

    We need to sign Bissouma in January. Absolutely fantastic player.

    We need the tall DM

    Watkins and Ings just isn’t going to work either. Has to be one or the other

    Buendia isn’t great. We seriously over paid for him

  12. Give them time Frem. They don’t become world beaters right away. Some take longer than others. I’m sure NSWE wish they had your money. Always wanting to buy. 🙂

  13. Like Frem, I’m buzzing. Completely stoked. There is no better experience than being inside VP when a full house detonates. I have so missed Sweet Caroline!

    It was looking like a 0-0 spectacle until Young released Ollie. Then pandemonium broke out. Stevie G has plenty to contemplate and work on. This is just the start. We stand and fall as a team so I don’t like praising individual players, but Tyro was immense.

  14. Boom what a perfect start. 3 points and a clean sheet. Against a more then decent Brighton team. A massive massive win that. Like the wolves defeat can change seasons so does wins like that with it being th new managers first game after making a fairly ruthless call to sack Deano. Huuuuuge

  15. Was never too worried about performance. It will come and we will see Gerard ball in time, a lot more after Jan when he has bought a few of his own players in.

    He said again after the game, got this 6 week block until Jan to try and pull away. Signings are lined up.

  16. A privilege to be part of the 41,921 crowd today and see Villa play with determination, desire and teamwork to achieve a great result for Stevie Gerrard’s first game in charge, and the first Villa manager to win his first match in 25 years!! John Gregory being the last in 1996 with a 2-1 win over LIverpool.
    Ollie scored his first goal in front of the Holte End fans and was able to feel the love, and what a great finish from Tyrone for his goal.
    Tyrone showed how much he wants to keep the captain’s armband, and if he keeps it up, he shouldn’t lose it.

    I thought that the hard work that Stevie G had put into his 5 hour interview for the job, showed through with his knowledge of the players and how he chose to use them. Then the intensity in the few training sessions he had.
    Mings and McGinn both deserve mention, but the whole team stood out for their effort.
    As the other boys have said a great place to be hearing the singing of “Stevie G’s claret and blue army” and the demand from the Holte End to give us a wave.

    To stay to the very end and clap the team and coaches and sing “Sweet Caroline” there is no better feeling!

  17. Didn’t’ Tim Sherwood win his first game in charge ?

    Yep very interesting from Watkins.

    Something happened in the summer to unrest the squad. The players weren’t playing for smith this season. Watkins has looked lazy and uninterested all season, now hopefully he will get back to last season

    Its no surprise Watkins said the standards have gone up. Smith was to soft. we were a very easy team to play against

    Notice how smith didn’t mention anything about the players in his goodbye message ? He just said thanks to the players

    Something wasn’t right in the camp

  18. H&V. As you say, it does appear a ruthless call to sack Smith but it may have been you who also observed that things weren’t right behind the scenes. I have no more facts than anyone else but it felt that way to me. Ever since John Terry left it’s just felt a bit ‘off’. We’ve not had any explanation for any of those backroom changes and it does ‘feel’ as if someone in the backroom management team has been manipulating the circumstances to make the change which finally came to pass a week or so ago.
    It leaves a slightly nasty taste in the mouth but for all that, it may end up being the right decision. . . . . we’ll never know of course what ‘might have been’

  19. A few observations on players:
    Targett has come in for a lot of criticism but put all this behind him yesterday.
    Nakamba has shown signs of improving this season and had another good game yesterday. Apparently his passing success was close to 100% accuracy yesterday and didn’t he start the move from defence that led to our first goal?
    Buendia hasn’t yet settled into his rhythm and didn’t have a great game yesterday but I saw some stats that suggested despite that he has been creating good chances. He’s a very good player and provided he’s able to manage his emotions he’ll come good for us.

    What this shows is that some fans are just a little too eager to say which players should be dropped or sold, without having the information to be able to make such claims. Yesterday was a classic example of this, with Mings and Watkins being so influential for us when some ‘supporters’ (I’m being polite here) would have preferred for them not to be on the pitch.

    We’ve also seen the same ‘supporters’, claiming that Ashley Young was past it and a waste of a salary. He created yesterday’s critical first goal of course.

    We have a new manager. Whether we wanted him or not, let’s give him a chance to make his own decisions on who is good and who isn’t eh?

  20. It was a massive result for us yesterday, given how the scores went with the other teams around us in the table.

    Stevie G needs time to fully assess the assets at his disposal and how best to deploy them. He can then work on improving the sub standard parts of the jigsaw.

    Still stoked from the game. Bring on Palace next week. Can’t wait.

  21. H&V. I totally get where you’re coming from. My only concern is how we ‘appear’ to have treated Dean Smith. It looks as if he was undermined rather than given every opportunity to succeed and I just don’t like that way of doing things.

  22. Plug, yes Palace is going to be a real challenge. They’re full of confidence, playing well and we know what a beast Benteke can be when he’s on form and enjoying scoring. Benteke v Mings is quite a match up!

  23. So Jack Grealish missed out through injury today. Will be interesting to see if it’s one of his ‘minor’ injuries that puts him out for months again.
    Maybe it’s just a slight groin strain though?

  24. @Robbo – Targett was immense, he kept Lamptey quiet who has pace and been a thorn for us in the past. When Nakamba kept possession before starting the counter attack, my heart was in my mouth. This is where we normally unnecessarily end up getting caught out.

    Martinez was crucial too, made himself big for that big save. Everyone giving 100% for the new manager, will they maintain it though. McGinn was pinging the ball into the box early a few times without any end product. Hopefully, better understanding will come especially for Ings who seems lost.

  25. We’re up against a couple of old boys next weekend. Jordan Ayew and Big Ben. Tyro v Big Ben will be interesting. As always with Palace, Zaha needs to be kept quiet.

  26. Gerrard was full of praise for Ashley Young, and he will play a big part in future, and not just on the pitch, but in the dressing room. I wonder who was really behind his move to Villa? He will also be in a more forward role, or so it seems from what Gerrard has said.
    Usain Bolt now a Villa fan. Lovely picture of him holding a Villa shirt, as he watched his close friend, Leon Bailey, play for Villa. Obviously, Leon’s speed may have improved with the friendly challenges from Usain.
    Crystal Palace is going to be a really big challenge with them now scoring freely, but hopefully we will expose their leaky defence. The back four are going to need to be at their best.
    Nkamba was outstanding, and if he can continue to improve over the coming weeks, he can be our Kante.
    Good to see all the praise heaped on Jacob Ramsey from Ian Wright, and how he sees him having a big future.

  27. Aston Villa had the fifth lowest press prior to Gerrard’s arrival whereas Brighton had the fifth highest

    In Gerrard’s first game, Villa out-pressed Brighton (133 vs 123 pressures) and limited Albion to their second lowest xG of the season

  28. PP. Yes, those comments from Ian Wright are good to hear. You have to credit the club with seeing the lad’s potential and credit to him too for working hard and really starting to really show it. It should act as a great incentive for the other lads coming through our youth set up too.

  29. Just taken a look at our last 6 games and it’s interesting to see that we haven’t had fewer shots in any of our previous 5 games before this weekend. we’ve not had fewer shots on target either.
    We played more passes in most of the previous games and had the same number of passes per move. The one area where there was a difference was in long passes which had gone down by around 20%.
    The big difference was that 2 of our shots went in!

    As I’ve said before. . .we need a lucky general and maybe Steven Gerrard is just that! If so, it should feed through to confidence too.

    That’s all very simplistic as stats mean nothing after one game . . . .it’ll be interesting to see how they evolve over then coming weeks.

  30. so under smith we let the players game all night and rock up at 12pm, drink coke vanilla and eat jam doughnuts pre march and wondered why we was shite?

  31. robbo

    think gerrard said he wanted to focus on defence first. stay in games and we have the forward players to knick one.

    the general style of play will improve god willing we get to mid table safety and get a few players in Jan.

    up until christmas im expecting us to be tighter, keep the shape and stop being so wide open

  32. Stevie G has said he’ll tighten up the defence as a matter of urgency. Last season it was tight, we had so many clean sheets.

    This season not so. Something obviously changed behind the scenes that wasn’t all positive. We’ll never know about it for quite some time, if ever as other Lifers have said. But the re-set is now happening. We could be up and down for a few games until the new system beds in.

  33. rObBo,

    The link above and JT’s shout to what he learnt from Deano about man management. I’d like to know how he managed his French guys.

    Sacre bleu!…..Merde!……???

  34. H&V, bearing in mind our next run of games, trying to stay in games and hoping to nick a goal isn’t a bad strategy. We know that our defence have it in them to hold the line and hopefully they’re already re-learning that skill.
    Continuous improvement by Nakamba (assuming he gets a run of games) would certainly help in that regard.
    For England, Mings seems to play a more conservative role whereas at Villa he has at times been given the latitude to be a little more ‘relaxed’ (cavalier?). It’ll be interesting to see how much leeway he gets under the current management. He can be fantastic on his day and knowing he’s under scrutiny for the captain’s role will hopefully keep him on the straight and narrow. He certainly seems to be the sort of guy who likes to rise to a challenge.
    There’s media talk of Gerrard wanting a replacement for Targett. If he continues to play as he did at the weekend (and has done previously) then Gerrard should be bringing in back up rather than a replacement.

  35. There were those on here constantly going on about us needing more wingers, more wingers, more wingers. Seems that Gerrard has assessed that we have too many wingers . . . .what a surprise.

    If only we fans understood how little we understand.

  36. I am not so sure that Gerrard will be seeking new players, until he is absolutely sure that he does not already have the ones he needs. I am sure that over the coming weeks, we will see improvements from all of the squad, as they get down to the nitty gritty, and at the same time, get the opportunity to show what they can really do, playing roles that suit them, and express themselves fully.
    How many noticed what an important part Rashica and Billy Gilmore played for Norwich on Saturday!
    So looking forward to a real battle on Saturday against Palace, when we will have to be at it from the kick off.

  37. Our local rag has picked up on the “train service” situation from Aston station after the game on Sat which directly affects my route home.

    West Midlands Trains are taking the piss and certainly not providing a service. Birmingham Mayor Andy Street needs to give these guys the kicking of their lives and remove them if things don’t improve quickly. They hide behind “safety” as the reason for poor service. Nothing about the amount of cancellations, two-car trains when ten-cars are needed or the provision of additional trains to shift the masses.

    Purslow would do the fans a huge favour if he arranged double decker buses to line up outside Aston church after the game and drop off at Grand Central/Moor St on a first come first served basis, leaving when full. That’s how it used to be.

  38. Little personal gripe here: can we drop referring to “Stevie G” – smacks of Steve McLaren and bugs the hell out of me! ‘SG’ would be much simpler. Please? 😉

  39. So this is now the R0bb0 channel as he berates a different view?

    R0bb0 – you don’t have to argue back so much and “insult” other fan comments as being stupid. Anyway, maybe I’m done making comments

  40. VillaMD I guess it was my comment about the repetitive call for more wingers that pissed you off?

    I enjoy having discussions with people on here, particularly when they’ve helped change my mind on something. Take the Dean Smith situation. I was firmly of the view that we should keep him but did shift to thinking that we may need to make a change even if I would have waited for 2 more games. SG wasn’t in my top 4 but I hope to be proven wrong.

    I struggle with people expressing opinions as facts and even more so when they do so repetitively and refuse to listen to other opinions or engage in discussion.

    I don’t remember you repetitively saying we needed more wingers and didn’t think my comment was aimed at you but you’re right that it’s not a nice trait to point out peoples mistakes, even when they were made repetitively and with utmost confidence.

  41. Viva,

    SG it is for me from now on.

    I also have a gripe. Selhurst Park is a shithouse of a place to reach and get home from. If anyone knows the best way, I’m all ears.

  42. Plug, I envy you being there on Saturday, but as you say, not the journey.

    When we went down to the Championship it was hard to justify keeping our season tickets as there were so many midweek games which were hard to get to from Devon. Now I’ve part-retired we have more free time and we’re hoping to become season ticket holders again. I’ve heard how many people are on the waiting list but does anyone know in practise how long we’re likely to have to wait?

  43. Nothing wrong with Trezuget or El Gazi. Their only problem is they wear their allegiance on their sleeve and probably try too hard at times and let their emotions get away on them.

  44. H&V and Plug – thanks for support on the ‘ban-the-stevieG’ campaign!

    You’re right about Selhurst Park, Plug – I went there only once, decades ago, for a midweek game against Villa. I was in London visiting my Mum in hospital and, not wanting to be late for kick-off by pissing around with trains/buses/whatever, I phoned for a taxi and then spent 25 minutes in a traffic jam and arrived at Selhurst just as the ref blew for half-time. A pain in the backside!

  45. R0bb0,

    No worries. I think we all want Villa to win.

    Saturday will be tough. We rarely win in London. Palace are a good team. I’d take a point.

    I’m excited to see if/how Stevie G can integrate the youth.

    On loan players, Kesler playing mom every game at Swindon. Such a quality player. I can’t understand what happened to Louie Barry at Ipswich. Such a waste of a 1/2 season

  46. H&V,
    Toure can be magical at times but there isn’t enough in his tool box to be a full time player. I quite like watching him but boy he can be invisible at times. If they can get what they paid then let him go.
    By the way, crystal Park are getting a surprise this week end and it’s not a clean sheet and a hatful of goals.

  47. Ian and H&V. It’s s shame about Toure. He’s been great to watch (at times). Has shown flashes of genius (at times) and has it in him to unpick difficult locks (at times). I’m sure we’ve all been wanting him to succeed and seen enough great moments to think that he can but you may be right that SG is looking for more solidity, consistency and reliability and has already assessed that Toure just isn’t cut out for that.
    We did see his tracking back improve but then it was starting from a low base.

    Of course, it could all be paper talk. . . . . .but this one does have a ring of truth to it.

  48. Ian
    Just so there is no misunderstanding, I rate Trez for his huge work rate, never give up attitude and of course his match winning goals which saved our first season back in the greed league. I would take him over AEG and Traore. I was just hugging my self with malicious glee (over the well known rabid haters that infest this site) that Gerrard would rate him enough to play him.

    PS, love Anwel El Goalsie but hate that pouty lip and dubious toughness.

  49. Jbd,
    With El Ghazi and Trezeuget I wonder how often they played where they were most comfortable. There were plenty of players playing out of their favourite position. McGinn being one. Who knows? Maybe like two new signings.

  50. Trezeguet and Ghaizi both need to be sold in January

    They should have gone in the summer and Trezeguet would have if he wasn’t injured

  51. Count me in the Trez fan club, there are games where we will need his workman efforts over the flairs of Buendia, Bailey, Traore. Any decent manager recognises what these type of players bring to the team, especially considering the press SG wants them to employ. He has earned a longer stay with us no matter what his haters say, imo.

  52. Villalore, I’ve been a supporter of Trez and what he can bring to the team although I personally think that Traore has more innate footballing skill. We all know that although the football ‘Teckers’ are what catches the eye of the casual football watcher, it is only one of the attributes needed to make a successfully Premiership footballer. If media reports are to be believed then Gerrard also sees more in Trez than Traore but we’ll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.

  53. Oh shit. Mike Salisbury is the ref tomorrow at Palace. It’s his first EPL game. Just what we don’t need.

    It’s going to be hard. Selhurst is not a happy ground for us. Remember Kevin Fraud two seasons ago?

  54. Ian, I agree with what you say about Trez and El Ghazi trying too hard and if SG is going to keep them let’s hope he can convince them that if they follow his plans there’s a place for them. His plans are bound to include playing for the team and El Ghazi has been guilty of trying too hard to impress and missed creating opportunities for others. Funnily enough, last weekend he was heavily praised for making the run that drew away a defender and allowed Watkins to score that great goal. The funny thing was that he clearly thought he was creating space for his own goal attempt rather than making space for Watkins. He actually looked a bit pissed off that Watkins had stolen his thunder (I may be seeing too much in a momentarily glanced facial expression there!)

  55. Busy spell of matches coming up,this week is our best chance of points
    As for what team will stevie g go for
    Back 4 plus keeper easy,midfield slightly harder mcginn marv and for me sanson then front 3 this gets tricky for me I would go ramsay Bailey and Watkins to start,we have a decent bench as well

  56. As for incoming As long as they are at least 6 foot and strong not what we have been signing lightweights
    Out goings Davies yes please I have had enough of non goal scoring centre forwards for my lifetime, traore hard to see him going in January is he not going to African nation Cup will be missing for weeks
    Trez love his work rate but we need better please

  57. Over the past 3 years there are only a handful of players left who raised a trophy for getting out of the Championship. Villa bought a prem side and jettisoned plenty. It’s about to happen again, and soon. The level of players at Villa right now are mid table at best. They were the only players Villa could buy under FFP. Three better players were brought in but haven’t really flourished. They will with better players brought in to compliment them. Who’s going to go? The players who have reached their potential. Hourihane being one of them. There are only a few players who have an upside at Villa apart from the three big buys last summer. I’m guessing that would be Watkins, Ramsay, Konza, Cash, and perhaps Samson and the unknowns in the U-23’s
    The rest are tapped out. Sorry Tyrone, Targett, McGinn, etc, I think your days are numbered.
    What will the team look like in another 3 years? Not like today’s that’s for sure. A smattering of Watkins, Martinez et al is my guess with more than a few buys in the 40 to 50 mil range plus a breakthrough from the academy.
    What Villa have today is mid table with a possibly top manager. Things are gonna change and quickly. Everything done is a stepping stone to the next level. Get ready for your rent-a favourite player to leave. 5 years til Villa is like the Reds.

  58. Some interesting thoughts from everyone about who should stay and who should go. I am so glad that we have an astute manager to make those decisions, not the fans or the buck or two earning media, who don’t really have a clue what he is thinking. I am sure his assessment of players is going to take at least the next couple of weeks training and matches, before he has a really clear idea of who has a future and who doesn’t.
    Traore may well be an early casualty, as may be Davies, El Ghazi and Trezeguet, but he has to asses them first. We also need to keep our under 23’s happy, or we could lose some of great hopes for the future, so although money will be available, it does not mean that SG will be spending much before the summer.

  59. Checking in before heading sarf to Laandaan.

    I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised to see SG play one or two of his players in different positions to those which they were acquired for. It will all be part of his assessment of the current playing staff.


  60. Good discussions and interesting points brought up this morning.. . .thanks.

    A lot of the discussion about who we’ll keep and who will go will come down to timing. If all goes to plan over the next few years then as Ian says, there’s likely to be wholesale change. In the short term, as much as I’ve wanted Davies to make it, JG is surely right that he’s off. As for Traore, Trez and El Ghazi, you can imagine that none of them will be with us this time next year and the money will have been spent bolstering the central midfield. . . . .which should make JG and many others happy.

    The other question then is who will be retained in the short/medium term in central midfield? You’d hope that SG can use his experience to develop at least a couple of McGinn, Luiz, Sanson, Ramsey and Nakamba. . . . . . I’m struggling to pick which two out of those although Ramsey seems favourite just now. You’d have hoped that Chukwuemeka might have joined that group but apparently his agent sees it differently. I can’t see which coach would be better for the lad at this stage of his development but I guess it depends on what his real motivations are.

  61. Just seen comments form SG and it seems that McGinn is certainly one of the ones he’ll want to keep and build on. We know he’s been impressed by Ramsey so it seems that 2 of the midfield slots are covered. Question marks still over Sansom, Nakamba and Luiz

  62. Part of the reason that SG judges that we have too many wingers is that Young is now favoured as a first choice winger.
    There have been hints coming out of the camp that some players aren’t fulfilling their potential. . . . Luiz one of those?
    You can imagine that SG will favour those who take their football seriously and act accordingly.

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