Liverpool behind us, it’s time to resume normally scheduled programming. Which means it’s Deano and Norwich tonight. And despite sitting bottom of the table, they’re not exactly pushovers. But they don’t score much. Probably has more than a little to do with breaking up the Pukki-Buendia act.

Smith’s got them playing with some confidence, though, and they were unlucky not to get a point against United at the weekend. They may be destined to go down, but for now anyway, they’re fighting.

Smith will also know our players inside out. Should be interesting, though I wish I weren’t here typing that I’d like to compound his plight. But Villa need the points, Norwich need any points, and Dean knew what he was taking on…Just the way it is.

For us, we know Nakamba’s out, so I’m assuming Luiz will drop back into the 6 role. We also know two players are out for covid, but not which ones. Guessing the starting XI and bench will clear that up. If Sanson’s escaped further mishap, we may well see him get a start.

So this one and Burnley. Villa really do want six points from these. That’s about all there is to it.

Over to you.

Comments 218

  1. could be a decent game for the neautral, both managers with a bit of a point to prove.

    norwich always try to play good footy which will suit. just hope the 2 out aint mcguinn and martinez or summin!

  2. Sanson is just unbelievable. What a waste

    Shame marvelous is out for the season

    But er needed a DM in January anyway

    Young shouldn’t be starting again

    We need Bailey and Traore back big time

  3. I said before I don’t really get the Buendia buy

    We are a very athletic side. Grealish was very quick and cruised along. Buendia doesn’t cover ground withy the ball what so ever. He needs runners but young won’t get in behind. Watkins never gets in behind.

  4. Still criminal we never signed a left winger to replace Grealish

    We’ve had young and now Watkins left wing tonight

    None are anywhere near good enough wingers

  5. Frem,

    You do have to remember the two out-and-out wingers are both…out.

    You don’t rate Ghazi or Trez in any way, so there are limited options.

    And I thought SG had made everyone better anyway.

    (Sorry, Frem. Couldn’t resist.)

  6. jbd,

    He’s not a big guy, no. But not the only one dwelling just that little bit too long, losing out.

    On the knock, he really did thwack the studs about as hard as he could’ve.

  7. Chuk has so much time with the ball. He looks after it so well. Some of our other players never look comfortable in possession but Chuk always does. I’m a fan. The lad will be top quality.

  8. Yeah very professional by us but Norwich will need a miracle they are so young, thought we were bad on that front but . Nice to see chuck create a decent team goal That cross was the best I have seen at Villa in a long time, Made it easy for Watkins. Ramsey and Watkins have made me 22 points tonight in my Fantasy team 🙂

    Frem forget ever seeing a winger at Villa while SG’s here, until Trez gets on.

    Bielsa? WTF Leeds are gash

    Ings, unfit I know but looks like a square peg so far.

  9. Norwich woesfull

    Villa very very good 1st half. Loving seeing how sg ball is going. Comfy and controlled second half and Ramsey and chuck!! Wow

    Ramsey’s goal was solo good, the touch by Watkins lovely. Concerned by the injuries with the games coming thick and fast but up to 9th. 4 wins from 6 with a change of style. Impressive stuff from sg and the coaches

  10. Looking forward, we seem to be out of CDMs. Luiz is a good attacking midfielder but doesn’t really cut it at CDM. Would Gerrard see Tuanzebe at CDM? I can’t ever remember Liverpool playing with a CDM in Gerrard’s time. Perhaps we can evolve in the same way.

  11. Mark

    Yeah man the signing of Ings at the time screamed panic and square peg.

    Don’t think young should be starting. Hopefully get Ings fit and Watkins on the inside left for a run of games could click

  12. Really really liked watching that first half. Fullbacks both up. Short sharp triangles. Getting overloads in but still keeping a good shape and keeping control.

    In all our wins the oppo haven’t really laid a glove on us, exciting times

  13. Some nice triangles and slick training ground style passing in the first half. Delighted for Ramsey and great for Chukwuemeka to get his assist . . . He was beaming which was nice to see.
    Young’s poorest game so far but then again I doubt he expected to be playing quite as much as he has been lately.
    Cash worked bloody hard again and put in some good crosses too tonight!
    Luiz and McGinn looked solid in the middle so all in all not a bad night’s work.

  14. SG had a cool moment with Chuk after – big smile and hug. You can sense the relationship between the manager and players, although when you’re winning that always looks good.

    Martinez back to his best after all those Argi trips. I must be wearing rose tinted glasses because Buendia does some brilliant stuff for me. I don’t think he looks slow.

    And as Plug wrote, time for a beer and bask in another win. So great to be a Villa fan

  15. Villamd

    Yeah buendia great first half…you just got to keep giving him the ball. Didn’t do that enough cause he will create chances guaranteed . Prob trying too hard back at Norwich and could see there players were getting to him quick. Hope his injury ain’t bad

  16. Buendia was better again tonight. He tried a bit too hard sometimes but he has real vision ànd it’s surely only a matter of time before he becomes the player we were hoping he would

  17. Meant to add. . . . I hope his foot’s OK and we’re not looking at a metatarsal injury.
    Gutted for Nakamba and a bit worried about Konsa and McGinn too.
    We could be needing our youth set up more than we’d hope over the christmas break.

  18. Just watched Ramsey’s goal again (well you have to don’t you) and hadn’t noticed before how well Luiz did to win the ball in the first place. It’s still surprising that one of the Norwich players didn’t manage to take Ramsey out, but really. . .what a run. . .what a goal.

  19. If you have a fantasy team it’s probably best to wait till the last minute before changing players . . . . . looks as if there could be quite a few postponements

  20. Good to see that Gerrard is, like Dean Smith before him, starting to see the strength in our youth set up. In retrospect, it isn’t surprising that he involved fewer of our youth players in his first fixtures in charge because he won’t have had many chances to see them in action and assess them, but now that he has, we’re seeing more of them on the bench and two of them are getting serious game time.
    Ok, some of the extra places on the bench will have been forced on him by injury and covid but he must now be starting to believe that the match day team can actually be enhanced by youth rather than simply doing it for man management reasons.

  21. runtings, Trez is now back and ready for selection. Apparently he was out on the pitch training till he dropped at 10pm last night. You can’t knock the guy’s professionalism and commitment.

  22. Nice to see the Villa faithful at Norwich signing Deano’s name, gave him a few songs as I knew they would.

    Trez has done very well to be back in contention before Jan with that injury. The kids involved are still the same ones that got on the pitch for Deano and in training . SG will see the talent but he ain’t stupid either and knows not all are ready at this level.

    Yellow cards are mounting half the defence and nearly all the mids are nearing 5 two mor games to go before game week 19 is over and we can breath otherwise could be without mcGinn, Luis, Nakamba, Mings, Cash for Chelsea if the Burnley games a bruiser. Add injuries we picked up, and we have become more combative and upped the intensity in training. Might be hitting a lean patch.

    H&V Bielsa and Leeds Fine? 16th and 5 off the drop and lose 7-0? the same team that finished above us last season.

  23. boooom what a win. 3 points is so massive.

    just thinking how insanely well sg has done. 3rd in the form table. 4 wind from 6 scoring x2 in each win and only losing by 1 goal to pool and city where on another day we may have sneaked draws! its insane.

  24. mark

    yeah leeds were always going to have second season syndrom. they really do have a young team as well. prem is ridiculaousl hard and if you catch man city on a bad day theyll smash anyone

  25. Martinet quietest game for ages,just gives confidence to entire team
    Cash very good but needs to work on his crossing
    Konsa steady Eddie very rarely gives it away,stupid booking mind you
    Mings another excellent performance
    Target another excellent performance
    Ramsay brilliant goal hopefully gives him confidence to do it regularly, assured performance
    Mcginn excellent here there and everywhere
    Luis grew as game went on,dead ball shocking again
    Young poorest game maybe needed a rest ,but great to see him off his feet applauding chuck for his assist
    Beundi definitely not a winger ,words hard but I am not convinced that he can make the grade
    Watkins got his goal,can’t fault his workmate but his decision making needs to improve
    All played part ,
    Stevie g ,would maybe not played young but 4 wins out of 6 looking up

  26. On the stats front we were almost evens with Norwich ( they had more possession) even though quality wise we were obviously the better side, the biggest difference for us was Watkins 6 shots all on target, a goal and an assist and a lot of defensive work, look at his opposite number Pukki to see the difference.

  27. It’s nice to see Lifers reflecting on SG’s contributions to date. All positive and we’re on the up. The stats that matter are looking good and I see improved footballing techniques plus better fitness. Maybe the team will start to realise its potential this season.

    Burnley up next. Who we always struggle against. With those 2 thugs Mee and Tarkowski. We owe them big time for what they did to Wesley. Whoever is refereeing needs to keep them honest.

  28. H&V, like Mark, I’m not sure that Bielsa and Leeds’ problem is just second season syndrome. To their credit, their fans have been remarkably loyal and supportive of Bielsa, but having taken a quick look at some of their fan forums (fora?) the cracks are now showing and widening. The criticisms are:

    He likes working with a small squad.. . . you can get away with that (it worked for Ranieri) but their training and playing regimes are extra tough and when injuries and tiredness start to accumulate, the lack of squad depth is really inhibiting.

    He is limited in his tactics. . . . . . Leeds play a particular way and it doesn’t seem to matter what opposing managers and teams do to combat the Leeds style, Bielsa just sticks with the tried and tested

    He plays square pegs in round holes. . . . . .one of the biggest criticisms is that fans just don’t understand why certain players are picked, or when they are, why they are played out of position.

    Basically, the things which were once seen as a virtue are now being turned against him as a vice. He still hasn’t ‘lost’ the fanbase, but he’s getting awfully close. A couple of wins and they’d probably rally around him again but a couple more losses and both fans and players will finally lose faith . . .and maybe he’ll even lose faith himself. He likes to come across as an honourable man (I used my words carefully there) so may he be that rare manager who jumps before he’s pushed?

  29. Plug, yesterday was the first time when I saw something that really did start to look different. . . .and it was fun to watch. . . . for the first half anyway!

    As for Burnley, as Mark posted out, that is not a game you want when you have so many players on yellow cards. You hope for a referee who will keep Burnley honest . . . . how hopeful are you?

  30. yeah maybe re bielsa but theyve had bamford out all season and tons of other injuries….its tough!

    any way hope they do go down! its dirty leeds!

    Big shout out here allthough early days to the owners and purslow. took some big balls and a bit of ruthless ambition to axe deano knowing how much we love him.

  31. James, I’m not a fan of Deli Alli. He’s had more than one manager deciding to run without him. Something doesn’t seem right. Think Levy would bite our hand off if we offered £5m for him. I’d rather find room for Chuk in the team. He may end up at the Wai Ayes and Levy will certainly have their trousers down.

  32. Plug
    Think of the lure of playing for probably England best midfielder in a generation might take the best out of him,
    Remember marv out for long term and if trez and traore get fit they will be missing for African cup

  33. JG, a good summary of player performances. I did think that Cash had a couple of good crosses last night and lets face it, he worked bloody hard to get himself into positions to actually make crosses! Having said that. . . .a bit more practice wouldn’t go amiss.
    You may well be right about Buendia not being a winger, but I reckon I’ve seen enough to believe that he really can make the grade. I think he just needs to tune into his team mates a bit better and perhaps more to the point they need to build the confidence to know that he’ll have seen the opportunity and make themselves available for his passes.
    Watkins is the other half of my last comment. If he and Buendia can get inside each other’s heads then one will have loads of assists and the other will have loads of goals!

    I’m in Plug’s camp on Deli Alli. He’s nota player I’d want to put ahead of several of our breakthrough youth players. He’s a good mate of the other JG isn’t he?

  34. Our game against Burnley at the weekend just got a whole lot tougher. Their game tonight has been postponed due to Watford’s Covid cases. This gives them an advantage not playing in mid week.

  35. One thing about stevie g as our manager we suddenly become a draw for players,even the media and pundits view us different
    In my lifetime its really only been Ron Atkinson Martin o Neil and to an extent Gérard houiler that have reached that status

  36. James

    Noticed that today, we are getting a lot of attention from socials and media.

    He has his name but what has impressed me is he is a very good talker. He has a presence too, delighted with him

  37. I’ve thought it but saw it mentioned a few times. Even though we have injuries under sg ball I feel players are going to slot into it seemlessly, I’m less worried about players being out

  38. Looking at the teams we have beaten lately you have to think there is more than just our brilliance at play. Brighton 11 games since a win for instance, time to start beating a few contenders .

  39. Mark, you’re right to an extent, although 4 wins out of six is good against any six teams in the premiership. Burnley this weekend will be a real test. In their last 6 games they’ve drawn with Chelsea, West Ham, and Wolves as well as Crystal Palace and beaten Brentford so they’re no pushovers. Their loss to Newcastle was the one blip for them but the results above show that when they put their minds to it they’re bloody tough to beat. When we try and play our triangles around them they’ll just take out one corner of the triangle . . .they’re like that. As Plug said, let’s hope we have a referee with a working whistle and a 4th official willing to simply smile sympathetically rather than be intimidated by, the pugnacious Mr Dyche.

  40. I think the 2 most worried sets of fans right now are those from Brighton and Leeds. Who would have thought that, when the season kicked off? Leeds with a minus 15 goal difference and as Mark says, Brighton now 11 games without a win. Fans of the other teams down the bottom expected to be there.

  41. Heroes, there’s little doubt about SG’s influence. It is starting to show in our football. Signs of pass and move now appearing. And with it comes results.

  42. Plug, you’re right about the ‘pass and move’ mentality. It’s something I mentioned to the wife on Tuesday. So many times you’d see a player pass and then move to a new position to receive the ball back. . . .I don’t remember seeing that before. . . . well not to that degree at least.

  43. H&V, yes, Brighton and Leeds fans must be getting concerned (I know the Leeds fans are at least). I’d preferred Potter to Gerrard but he seems (for the time being at least) to have run out of steam. I was never that keen on Bielsa which may however seem a bit perverse having seen what he’s achieved for Leeds.
    Our position just before DS left was a false one and I was one of those who believed that we were just one win away from turning things round. . . . . but it didn’t happen. SG provided that new manager bounce in confidence which can always happen but it’s starting to feel like something more enduring than that. Like Mark, I still feel it’s a little bit too soon to firmly call it, but a couple more wins and we’ll certainly be beyond the ‘new manager bounce’ phase and into exciting new territory

  44. Hey, runtings.

    There is an AVL account on Twitter. I hadn’t paid much attention, but over the last couple-three months I’ve tweeted links to the articles here. Sometimes make a comment or two: @Astonvillalife

    Instagram, I don’t know. I’d imagine there’s some functionality in this theme, but I’m not aware of an existing account, so I’d have to create one.

    Just a side note, but I’ve been having some problems with the hosting service (which is why I haven’t updated any graphics, etc). Trying to get them to resolve the issue (library permissions, pretty straightforward), but they’re not being very responsive. This kind of hosting isn’t really their bag.

    So, I’ll probably be looking to find a new host and migrate to that. If I’m doing that, I’ll probably upgrade the theme, as well.

  45. The Share on Twitter button on here works, so you can always use that and post a related comment to the article.

    Since I’ve been following Twitter, I’ve obviously seen how much discussion happens there, or people pushing to podcasts, YouTube, etc. Matt had set it up years ago, and I was never really into it, but started thinking about it and decided to see what that space looks like.

  46. JC
    Just for info (not grumbling), I’ve tried entering a few short sharp comments over the last few months but the website hasn’t entered some of them until I’ve reworded them. For instance – when Jacob Ramsey scored, I wanted to enter “G.O.T.S.”. That just wouldn’t go in, so I’m wondering if your host has got some sort of filters in place.

  47. H&V I think it was 6 games without a win for Brighton when we played them .

    You do wonder whether teams and managers get used to other teams and how they play. Turning up against Villa who have been more front foot under smith to playing a side that allowed them the ball. Even Norwich had more possession and that’s with Villa show boating and looking like Barca at times.

    Things certainly do look like they are on a roll for SG on face value, Burnley will be a strange match as they don’t concede many like Wolves but also don’t score many, except against Palace who can’t defend set pieces and Brentford who are themselves good defensively and good at set pieces but still lost 3-1. Drew with Chelsea, wolves and west ham 0-0 too.

    Good time to play Chelsea as they are not as good as they were to start.

  48. jbd,

    Interesting. I do see a couple accounts using some variation of aston villa life, but little to no activity. And then the hashtag has been used.

    I guess I’d have to create one…like “astonvillalife_official” 🙂

    Would be nice for folks to be able to share photos and the like. Not sure how that’s managed (I assume by sending things to the account owner), only ever done my personal one. Maybe business accounts work differently.

    I’ll explore after I finish wrapping and shipping a couple of very late Christmas presents to the kids!

  49. Far as comments go, I did lift the language filter (so we can now swear freely), and sometimes links get hung up. But I’m not aware of any reason why a post like the one you mention wouldn’t go through unless it’s something like a spam filter.

    I’ll look through the “awaiting moderation” posts, see if they’re hanging out in there.

  50. Yeah, they got hung up in spam, jbd. I moved and approved the one above.

    Looking at others, it’s generally links that cause something to get held up. I don’t have an easy way to see them on the dashboard, so there’s not necessarily a feasible real-time solution.

    I’m guessing the spam rules are looking at something short as a flag. Though I don’t know why “Get in!” would go through and something else wouldn’t. However, yours are the only ones in spam, so…;)

    I’ll check on those rules, see what I can do.

  51. And. . . . I’m truly sick of TV referees feeling that their job is to defend whatever decision the on pitch referee has made rather than trying to offer a truly objective view.
    If they’re not going to even try to be objective then please media, stop using them.

  52. I’m sick of the entire officiating circus.

    VAR should be able to do what any of us watching can do…Make a decision that’s probably correct about 98% of the time.

    TV referees, well, yeah, the union sticks together.

    So many things look better or worse in real time. If you’re going to review, there’s no harm or shame in getting it right rather than continuing to undermine confidence.

    I don’t know how some of these guys walk out on a pitch and expect to be taken seriously after some of the absolutely shite decisions they’ve made and upheld.

  53. R0bb0,

    100% agree with your comment with being fed-up of var refs just going with on-field ref decision.

    Clear and obvious is total bs unless it favors the top 4. Penalty decision in favor of the top 4 and against the remainder of us teams is getting ridiculous.

    It seems like Liverpool, Man C, Chelsea and Man U are controlling refs

  54. JC,

    Yeah, agreed on VAR refs. I don’t get it. Key decisions obviously favor top 4.

    Even the Mings challenge against Salah. If I was the var ref I’d have provided feedback – “in my view it’s not a penalty, looked like salah leaned into Mings and drew contact. However it’s not clear. Please review, but in my view it’s not a penalty “

  55. Hopefully Villa vs Burnley goes ahead on Saturday. Makes no sense for EPL to cancel if both teams are not infected.

    I hate the talk of cancelling every fixture pre-Christmas. Makes no sense

  56. There’s a childish tendency to suggest, particularly by politicians, that we’re ‘world leading’ or have ‘the best in the world’ for any number of things but it’s rarely true. You used to hear it said about our referees but you don’t seem to hear that these days and the last Euro championship showed just how far behind the standard of our refereeing has really fallen.

    These days, all the media channels that cover football seem to have their own in house ‘ex’ referee to give an ‘informed’ view of refereeing decisions but they don’t do that, they just try and defend the referees decision every time, so what’s the point, when all it does is irritate the watching fans who can see they’re talking nonsense?

    The first step to improving a situation is admitting you have a problem and it really is high time that our referees underwent a serious bout of introspection, were honest with themselves about their shortcomings and then decided how they’re going to improve.

    Last weekend and again last night we saw glaring inconsistencies in the interpretation of the laws by referees. If there was open discussion about where they’d gone wrong and what the decisions ‘should’ have been then maybe they’d ‘start’ to improve.

  57. r0bb0,

    Yep, talking sense. I can’t imagine it would be that hard to sit everyone down for a couple weeks during the summer, go through all the rules, review the previous season’s decisions and say, “Here’s how it’s applied…and here’s where it’s wrong.” At least aim for consistency.

    But I have no answer, besides torches and pitchforks, for decisions like the ‘handball’ penalty over the weekend. If you can’t see that on replay, you shouldn’t be officiating.

    And yeah, I hate to sound conspiratorial, but it’s almost a dead cert that no top 4 club can be held to a 0-0 draw unless they miss the inevitable penalty they’ll be given.

  58. We just have to accept the rules of life and power. The referees association has no real voice or power, and are beholden to the big players.
    TV presenters and pundits have to say the things which appeal to the mass audiences, which means that if Arsenal, Manchester Utd, Liverpool or Chelsea are playing anyone below sixth in the table, the will always get the bias in any situation. A million Arsenal fans watching the match, against say 50,000 Norwich or Brighton fans will never be treated the same. It is a fact of life. These people want to keep their jobs.
    Referees are no different, if they want to referee top games in Europe and the Premier league, they need good reports going in to back them.
    Nothing is liable to change in the near future. Many referees are trying there hardest to be fair, but the pressure on them is unreal. It is impossible for them to win, even with VAR, even the pundits do not agree half the time, but you do see a bias to the big 4 still.
    The rules need o change drastically, and return to where they were.
    Offside should be clear that if the attacker is level, then he is onside, and not by a nose, or a fraction, but the defender must be clearly seen to be behind him.
    A foul must be a clear foul, whether in the penalty area or not. Persistent fouling, using different players should be stamped on, as should shirt pulling and other professional fouls.
    It will not happen though, as we have now joined the WWF circus i football, and it is not going away!

  59. Good comments,

    On refs, I think they should be paid a lot more. The main problem is they need their job, so as a ref it’s hard to make decisions against the top 4 and easy to make decisions for them. Sure, there’s intimidation from home fans but the bigger picture is the power of the elite clubs.

    I believe we’ll be a top 6 club within 4 years. I don’t want us to win matches by cheating and having refs making dodgy decisions. Not sure how Liverpool fans can feel proud after the clearly biased decisions during last 2 matches.

    Anyway, heading to Boston for the weekend to go on the piss with my best bud from Toon and a Gooner. My new Konsa jersey didn’t arrive in time though. Covid must have known as all our games are on!

    JC – what happened to your good, bad, ugly. James Gill is doing a great job with player rating after games to fill in.

    UTV and Chukwuemeka to start and score 🙂

  60. just seen an article suggesting that SG is looking at 4 of his ex Rangers players. Does that make anyone nervous for what happens in 2 years time when he moves on?

  61. Robbo- not really, SG and his staff are far more relevant . Will they leave a lasting legacy or give us just a leg up ? Who takes the reins if he goes? Do we then need another name to inspire the players ? Will the players we have leave ? When he leaves and how he leaves are also factors , if he leaves for bigger things that damages Villas image and kudos, if we sack him he’s failed to an extent or took us as far as he can maybe. Either way we either have to find another that understands the SG way or yo yo about in our style or approach again in hope of improvement moving away as we have from a club philosophy. Who knows they may see his style more in line with it than Smiths was .

    What if Newcastle drop and engage Smith to rebuild them? If they came back up what then.

    All in all you can’t worry about it .

  62. Mark, you’re right that we can waste a lot of time worrying about ‘what ifs’ but I was none the less just imagining that it must be frustrating being a Rangers fan right now and seeing all the media reports suggesting you’ll lose your best players.

  63. As for SG giving us a ‘leg up’, I don’t think any of us are under any illusions that if he’s successful, he won’t have to wait too long before stepping into the Liverpool job. At that point, if he takes our best players we’ll have taken 2 steps forward to take 1 or 2 steps back.
    Right now i imagine we all feel that’s probably a risk worth taking?

  64. So the game is called off.
    I don’t understand how it takes till past midday to know that too many players have tested positive for the game to go ahead.
    Don’t they test themselves first thing in the morning?
    Don’t the FA have a pre-agreed set of criteria so that they can immediately decide whether the game should go ahead or not?

    It’s hardly fair on Burnley or long distance Villa fans to wait till less than 3 hours before kick off to announce the decision.

  65. My daughter went to Wales for a hike with a friend earlier this week. the guy is normally very fit and did the 24 hour 3 peaks challenge just over a year ago. He had a mild case of covid 10 days earlier but apparently really struggled on quite a gentle climb.

    Let’s hope this flurry of infections at Villa doesn’t set us back again like the last one did.

  66. Fantastic, I finalise my transfers for fantasy only to find when I push the button Villa won’t play.

    As for Covid, they were waiting for the PCR results, and as the players were going to play I don’t think they are are on deaths door. I don’t think having a positive PCR counts for an awful lot and at this timer of year we all having a bucket full of corona viruses in us and scatter gun test proves little.

    For instance My Moms doctor told her to get a PCR as she has a cold and lateral flow are very unreliable, so tried to order from the government site but when she did their questionnaire it said she didn’t need one she hasn’t got covid. Don’t understand why the club didn’t just do a questionnaire lol .

    Any viral infection that acts on the lungs will lower fitness, the bodies reserves have to be rebuilt from fighting it off for a start.

    Unpopular I know but the vaccine might have a part to play in this, you might well be producing your own spike proteins being picked up by the tests. Lots of reports of Vaccine damage in sports etc too. Its declared safe but clearly isn’t for everyone, and lets face it if Billions are injected rapidly with the producers having complete protection from prosecution what does it matter if it is or not it will be lost in the background of the Pandemic.

  67. Pulled up and parked 5 minutes from the stadium and it got called off

    Disgusting that they have left it this late.

    But Trezeguet was apparently going to start so thank fuck it was called off

  68. Yes Mark it seems that they were waiting for the results of the PCR tests. You’d have thought that maybe we could have afforded to pay for some quick PCR tests wouldn’t you? If the club care to take a quick look online I’m sure they can find someone prepared to give them results within an hour so it really shouldn’t be beyond the wit of man to find a way of arranging that for 25 players.

  69. I know the owners/league didn’t want to, but they should’ve just put things on pause for everyone for a week, 10 days.

    That said, omicron is so transmissible that it’s probably going to ripple through the league for a while, and they’re just not going to bubble off the players for as long as it would take.

    As it stands, gutting for a lot of people making special travel arrangements (international, etc) months ago.

    Fingers crossed it doesn’t do to us what the last outbreak did.

  70. We used to be good at organising things in this country. These days, piss ups and breweries come to mind. It is not beyond the wit of man to ensure test results are back by say 8am on the day of the game. Give the EPL an hour to decide and make a call by 9am at the latest. FFS it’s so simple.

    Same with the trains. They know 40K will pour out of VP at a set time. Ensuring sufficient transport is available to quickly clear the area is kids stuff.

    After a business trip, I landed at B’ham airport. They knew the plane was coming. They knew what time it was going to land. And it pulls up on the apron for 10 minutes awaiting directions for which terminal to disembark. Then they forget to open the doors for another 10 minutes. Guys, we are the punters and we’re being taken as pains in the arse.

  71. Frem…..I’ve been diddled. Trez was due to start?? Oh man, the entertainment on here between you and Mark was guaranteed. I now know how Lewis Hamilton felt.

  72. Plug, I’d just seen a report that Trez might have been playing too. Despite my earlier doubts about Gerrard, he’s been winning me over and if he’s been impressed by Trez then I’m more than happy to trust his judgement.

  73. Arsenal playing fantastic against Leeds

    Trezeguet was going to start because Bailey, Traore, young and Ghazi were injured not because he pushed his way into the starting 11

  74. Nothing happening now until Chelsea on Boxing Day. Time to reflect on SG’s work in progress.

    I think he’s done well. Better than what I expected. With 4 wins from 6 games and narrow losses to Citeh and Bindippers, we’re on course to deliver the sum of the parts which looked unlikely during Deano’s final games.

    We’ve also learned how to win regularly without Jack which is very promising. The narrower formations have produced results. Also hoping the noise about SG signing Rangers players in the next window is just that, wouldn’t want any of them stifling the progress of our kids. But as other Lifers have mentioned, we do need a 6’5″ DM.

  75. Went out for a few crimbo beers last night and one of my best friends told me his wife is now working at the NHS. He said there are only a couple of testing facilities in the UK that can detect the different strains. So here’s what our fantastic NHS came up with, his wife has to mark 10% of all the positive tests they get as Omnicron!!?? you couldn’t make this shit up but apparently they are.

    He also said he is writing a book and business course with a Swedish chap based in Stockholm. This chap told him the Swedish are totally bemused by the worlds reaction to the virus, they are not on their own.

  76. Watching yesterday’s game between Leeds and Arsenal, I was able to take a neutral person’s view on the refereeing and VAR decisions. Beyond any doubt, they favoured the Arse big time. JC, I don’t think these matters are conspiratorial at all. Seem hard facts to me.

  77. Plug yes its going well and there are clear signs of what he is working on which is all good. I don’t think the Liverpool and city games are any kind of guide to progress on the basis of a narrow defeat. Last 4 games against city have been narrow defeats now including the final. Last 5 against Liverpool have been narrow defeats and a thrashing.

    We lost to city 6-1 5 games back and 4-0 and 3-0 before that and here is the team that lost 6-1, it might hold some clues to why we have improved.

    Orjan Nyland
    Kortney Hause
    Tyrone Mings
    Ahmed Elmohamady
    Ezri Konsa
    Neil Taylor
    Douglas Luiz
    Danny Drinkwater
    Anwar El Ghazi
    Conor Hourihane
    Jack Grealish

  78. Plug, your comment on progress under SG was a concise summary of how I imagine a few of us are feeling right now. Like you I wasn’t convinced that SG was a good choice and I still have concerns about what ‘may’ have happened behind the scenes to unsettle DS . . . .but. . . . hopefully it’s yet another sign that our owners know what they are doing and are able to pick the right manager for the right time.
    Using an Everest analogy, having helped us overcome the Katmandhu stomach upset (the Championship) he helped us set off for the climb to Base camp in the Premiership. He then did a great job in pulling us back from the icefall precipice and guiding us to safer ground at Camp 1. Hopefully SG will now take us up to Camp 2 (Europa qualifying groups) or maybe even Camp 3 before he goes to manage Liverpool. We’ll then be in position to attract the right manager to take us to Camp 4 and an attempt at the Summit.

  79. Mark, your comment about any of our midfielders being potentially able to play the number 10 role feels right to me. SG does seem to want flexibility up front so we have a long list of players that can fill the roles there. I had imagined that we’d have seen Watkins, Ings and Buendia as the front 3 yesterday with Chukwuemeka, Philogene Bidace or Archer as an outside option, but if the rumours are to be believed, Trez would have ousted one of those. It seems more likely that he’d just been promised an appearance as a substitute but I guess we’ll never know now. Hopefully he’ll get another chance before too long as he’s clearly itching to prove his worth.

  80. I took another look at some Leeds blogs yesterday and I have to say that their fans have been true ‘supporters’ of their club, and even now you tend to see analysis rather than insults. Whilst many are pointing to injury frustrations, it’s fair to say that the current analysis is turning critical of some aspect of how Bielsa manages the team. I hadn’t appreciated that one of his philosophies is that any player should be able to play in any position (except goalkeeper of course). When they were winning of course that was seen as a positive attribute but now that they’re losing, some are using it as a criticism. They’ve also been critical of his ‘small squad’ mentality and had been pushing for him to include more youth players. He did that yesterday and now he’s catching some flack for introducing too many too soon.
    Who’d be a football manager eh?

  81. Taking a look at the managers of then bottom 8 clubs, we have:
    At least 5 of those have been touted by some on here as potential good managers for Villa and I’ll admit to having personally preferred at least 3 of them to Gerrard. It goes to show once again how easy it is for we armchair fans to throw out names of managers (or players) who we deem to have done well at a particular club at a particular moment in time without being in position to know if they would gell with the personalities in the club or the style of play and ethos the club is trying to engender.
    It’s fun, and fair enough for us to air our opinions on here as long as we always recognise that they are opinions rather than facts most of the time.

  82. Robbo- Bielsa is a good manager but as we have seen at Villa you can’t do much without your players, Smiths final game had 6 youth players on the bench, no luis and Bailey with the flu. Could he change his style? maybe but sometimes you just have to keep working toward how you want it to be played and trust it will click.

    One thing I do see is SG is pushing the players in training intensity wise, which is a bit like Bielsa’s approach and could come back to bite us.

  83. I’m sure Mark won’t approve but it’s interesting to see that Gerrard says that the club will take into account player’s vaccination status when recruiting in January. Whilst the protection against infection or transmission are now known to be much more questionable than previously ‘advertised’ it’s clear that it does reduce the severity of symptoms. We don’t know for sure which players have been infected or how their recoveries are coming along, but you can imagine the management of the club feeling that it’s something that the players ought to be doing in order to minimise the risk of them being out for lengthy periods to recover from symptoms.

  84. Well the referee didn’t favour Liverpool today.

    Honestly our referees are so so poor

    Excluding spurs fans, I doubt you could find 1 in 20 football fans who would say that Kane should have stayed on the pitch and Robertsen not.

    I just don’t understand how it’s possible to get it so wrong.

    I’m not getting this wrong am I??

  85. Robbo- actually catching Covid is better than any vaccine by an order of magnitude that is well known and this new one is like a cold, the vaccine is pretty much useless against it as it changed it spike protein.

    Apparently a member of Sage has actually come out and admitted that the policy makers tell them what to model. They ask for the worst possible outcome not the likely one, no wonder the models are so wrong .

    You I’m afraid won’t like this, there is mounting evidence that the Vaccines are far from safe, causing heart problems and spontaneous abortions particularly. The VAER system has flagged up hundreds of thousands adverse reactions and its estimated to be about 10% of the reality because people don’t report or know about it. In America it has linked about 20k deaths in the states after getting the vaccines (within 14 days I think) so far and various other yellow flag systems around the world have the same data showing up.

    The Japanese government have now put warning labels on these vaccines that state about the heart problems they can cause especially in younger men. Might explain the many cases of sports people dropping on the field of play along with refs etc we have been seeing. Also the many thousands of unexplained excess deaths at home that is way above the normal levels. Recently 120 people were hospitalised in Vietnam I think it was from a batch of Pfizer and some kids young as 4 died.

    A group of 30 scientists and academics have hit Pfizer and the FDA with a freedom of information request but the FDA are stalling, they have released about 1% of what they have and say they will release so many pages a month and that would take until 2076 to 2096!! it should be 20 days.

    the vaccine actually have not been approved it is on an emergency use basis, these scientist want to see what’s in the documents that made the FDA give that Licence, it stinks to high heaven.

  86. Mark, as you can imagine I am itching to respond but I’ll restrain myself.
    I have though tried to find something in your response I can agree with and I think you’re right that too much emphasis is put on the estimates of worst case possible outcomes.

  87. Robbo- Well scratch that itch if you can deny any of it mate what harm is there? Otherwise I will assume you think these Vaccines are benign and only of benefit, I can’t believe the huge array of doctors , nurses and scientists reporting problems are all anti-vaxxers, that term in itself is inaccurate because its just this rushed Vaccine they are flagging up.

    “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced this weekend that 80 percent of COVID-19 “Omicron variant” cases are found in so-called “fully vaccinated” individuals. Forty-seven percent of Omicron cases – which are far milder than original COVID-19 cases – are found in those who received the first round of vaccinations, and with 33 percent of cases found in people with both vaccination and booster shots.”

    This is a regular update, the 20th done by a group of doctors who wish to remain anonymous in the current climate, that fact alone surely has to spark some seed of doubt in you?

  88. Mark, I wouldn’t be silly enough to say vaccines are totally benign, in the same way I wouldn’t say that potatoes are totally benign. Eat enough green potatoes and you’ll get solanine poisoning, in fact if they were discovered today they probably wouldn’t get approval as a foodstuff.
    It all comes down to the balance between potential of harm and benefit but we can all make our own decisions on that.
    In terms of the impact on football though, it does seem that clubs and authorities are starting to take a harder line. Both Gerrard and Klopp have said this weekend that they will take players vaccine status into consideration when choosing new transfers and Spurs have just been kicked out of Europa because covid stopped them fielding a full side.

  89. I’d not seen these pages before, but they have some interesting stats on team form:
    They show that the two teams with the most improved form over the past 8 games are Man City and Norwich . . . . personally I’m hoping that DS can keep the improvement going although of all the clubs with managerial changes I reckon he has the toughest task.
    It gives a simple view of whether the new manager bounce is real or not. Across all the teams with new managers it shows that there is a ‘slight’ positive score. Exclude the extremes of best performing and worst performing though and there’s no evidence of a new manager bounce at all. This ties in with previous research and shows that club owners really do need to prepare and make the right choice rather than just make a knee-jerk reaction when results drop off.
    It increasingly seems that this is what Villa’s owners have done.
    It must be difficult to make such preparations in total secrecy though and the very act of preparation for a new manager is likely to, subconsciously at least, change behaviour towards the existing one so maybe the drop off in form prior to a new manager is self induced in some instances?

  90. Robbo- medicine runs on the adage of 1st do no harm not do some harm if it helps a few others. I cannot believe that you have watched the mountain bikers video and come up with a potato story? injuring potentially millions to add some months to mainly the very sick and old does not strike me as much of a benefit. There is way more to this with variants the likely result of Vaccines in a pandemic.

    Not only that but even the way the Vaccine is injected has massive implications but is being ignored by the medical authorities in most countries, whatever happens the damage is now done and time will tell.

    Here’s a professor explaining the technique of aspiration in injections, nurses/people giving the injections have been told to ignore it as it may damage some of the Vaccines. Its normally standard practice and can make any vaccine dangerous let alone this one.

  91. There’s something mildly satisfactory listening to Clipperty raging about outrageous and inconsistent referee and VAR decisions. Welcome to the club matey.

    Contentious decisions usually favour the big clubs. The exception comes when big clubs collide in which case they always favour the Laandan clubs. It keeps the officials “in favour” with the controllers and ensures their own stars rise. Hearing Howe moaning about the officials is bog standard ordinary but is no less accurate.

  92. Plug its almost as if in all walks of life the truth is being revealed and is in plain sight but for whatever reason is just ignored by the top echelons in life.

  93. Mark, we spent too long discussing vaccines once before, and pissed people off so I’ve avoided making a long rebuttal to your points in favour of trying to find a couple of things we could agree on. I will though just pick one thing from one of your recent comments. You say that medicine runs on the adage of “first do no harm”. That is a popular misconception and certainly doesn’t apply to the administration of drugs or vaccines. If it did, it would render most medicine obsolete and we’d have to go back to relying on exorcisms, the laying on of hands and incantations.

  94. Mark, You’re right, that’s a super YouTube analysis and his graphics illustrate what he’s saying really simply and clearly. . . . . much better than the tv pundits manage with their spotlighted player replays I reckon.
    He highlights a point you made last week about the interchangeable front 3 which should open up plenty of player options to cover those front 3 positions.

  95. Guardiola couldn’t have made it much clearer that he’s unhappy with Jack’s off field behaviour. In fairness, it looks as if his comments apply to Foden too, but Foden has a fair amount of goodwill in the bank so is likely to be more readily forgiven by both fans and manager.

  96. Mark. .. my last comment on this just so that you know that I’m not trying to discount everything you’ve said. In fact I accept a lot of it, but it’s the conclusions we draw that are very different.

    We know that there can be side effects from vaccinations.
    We know that it’s likely that there are some new ones from these vaccines, either due to the nature of the vaccine or the way it’s administered.
    There are side effects from most medical treatments or medicines and that’s not just unsurprising, but almost inevitable, bearing in mind that they only have an effect on our health ‘because’ they are designed to interfere with something that’s happening within our bodies. We do however still take aspirin even though it may cause us to have a stroke or stomach ulcers, because we counterbalance the risk of harm against the known benefit.
    This vaccine has been administered on a uniquely large scale over a very short period of time so its positive effects will be greater than ever before but also, the number of side effects are likely to be greater than ever before too. My daughter has recently experienced an intermittent racing pulse and it ‘may’ have been a side effect of the vaccination but then again, I’ve been tested in the past for a similar thing, but prior to having the covid vaccine so I guess we’ll never know.
    Where we differ is our belief in the balance between benefits and risk of taking the vaccine and we could debate it on here till Birmingham win the Premiership and we’d probably never agree.

  97. Jbd, not sure I’d want that kit in exactly that form. . . . looks too much like a rugby shirt to me. You can imagine that some clever designer could take the concept, blur the lines and make something really good from it though.

  98. I must say how well wolves have done. They get zero recognition but the new chap has done incredible.

    Few comments that sg has just done well…. I’m not sure what villa used to watching but 4 wins in 6 is incredible…credit where credits due.

    Onto Chelsea, I always look at odds. They haven’t won in 2, are Chelsea really going 3 without a win? I hope it’s a full house and rocking vp

  99. You’re right H&V, Wolves have done very well lately, matching our 1.0 losses to Man City and Liverpool and drawing with Chelsea but also beating West Ham. They do seem to have built their success on being difficult to beat though and this conservatism has prevented them from scoring against either Burnley or Norwich. Their past 7 games have in fact only seen 4 goals scored in total . . . .for and against combined . . so I’m imagining it won’t have been high voltage entertainment for the fans?

  100. I wonder who he’s taking advice from because I really think that Mr Grealish may be best served by not speaking to the media for a bit.
    In his latest interview he says that he’d like to play in America for a while and would also like to return to play for Villa. If I was a Man City supporter I’d be a bit peeved hearing hm talking about other clubs he’d like to play for, when he’d only just signed for us for a record fee, particularly as he’s had more success hitting the nightclubs than the back of the net.
    Bearing in mind that he’s 26 now, it suggests he’s not planning on staying too long at City if he has two other moves in mind before the end of his career. What would it be. . . . . 2 more years at City, 3 in America and then return to Villa when he’s 31? I can’t see his shins or fitness lasting that long tbh and on the assumption that our owners are in it for the long haul and will bring the success they expect he’d probably struggle to get into our team by then.
    As I said. . . it’s probably best that he keeps his head down for a bit and concentrates on playing for City. . . . . unless he’s already realised that he really has made a big mistake by going there in which case he should try and arrange the US move as quickly as he can while he’s still in his prime. My gut feeling is that’s what would bring him most footballing and personal happiness right now.

  101. rOBBo, I don’t disagree with any of your comments about Jack. Seems a reasonable summation of his current state of affairs. Which leads me to believe that Compass did a remarkable piece of business that Levy would be jealous about, getting £100m for him.

    I still think he’s an exceptional talent, but he’s also a flawed diamond with his attraction to all the inappropriate trappings that his wealth brings. Somebody close to him that he trusts, needs to point him in the right direction.

  102. Assuming the Boxing Day game goes ahead as planned, I’m looking forward to seeing Sanson delivering a masterclass not to mention the fall out here should Trez make an appearance.

    My thoughts on progress to date under SG? Highly acceptable given our fixture list. Just 6 games ago we were in a relegation scrap. Now we are looking at European places. SG playing his cards very close to his chest concerning January incomings. Not much reported in the media either. Excellent as far as I’m concerned.

  103. As for stevie g start to life as our manager couldn’t have went much better,proof will be in end of season and maybe any transfers that take place next month,
    No doubt Smith did great for us but in fairness he was well backed by the board

  104. Citeh have sold Torres to Barca for £47m. Bankrupt Barca that owe £1 billion. How is it being financed? Via another bank loan. So much for transfer embargoes on the likes of Chelsea and Citeh. Never going to happen to Barca is it?

  105. JG, yes DS ‘was’ well backed by the board but let’s face it, he brought us up with an ageing team with a sprinkling of loan players and then a couple more that we lost to long term injury. Since 2018/19 we’ve replaced almost an entire squad of 33 players with only 8 of that squad still on the books, including Ramsey who was just being introduced and Keinan Davis who’s probably on the way out, plus the returning loan of Tuanzebe.
    Since then we’ve had a net spend of just over £200m which doesn’t go far when spread over more than 20 players.
    The good news is that the current squad is valued at nearly double the £200m spent so the owners seem to have done decent business.
    The less good news is that if we want to compete right at the top we’ll probably have to spend a heck of a lot more. Guardiola will keep spending until he manages to buy the Champion’s league and I doubt our owners will have the stomach for that approach so we’ll have to hope that their investment in youth pays off.

  106. Hi John,

    I guess the ‘awaiting moderation’ is a new improvement on the site?

    Is it because I included a couple of links and you want to make sure they’re not linking to ‘inappropriate’ sites?

    I promise they’re not! 🙂

  107. I’ll join James in wishing all Lifer’s Season’s Greetings over the festive period, especially JC who does a sterling job keeping the blog running for us to rant, brag, suffer, debate and acclaim depending on results.

    Tuchel and his mob can do one. Three points please Villa. Trez to score and light the blue touch paper.

  108. Yes, HaPpy ChrRistMas! everyone and as Plug says, especial thanks to JC for keeping this going!

    (and Happy birthday to my daughter. . . . . . . . . . that was a Christmas to remember)

  109. Happy Christmas everyone, and let’s hope tomorrow is not another farce and called off at the last minute.

    Special thanks to JC for his sterling work in keeping this site running, and hopefully he can sort out the glitches that plague us.
    The gravatar site is an unreliable one, and recently has been hacked, and should be avoided. I must try and remove myself from there.

  110. PP,

    I think it’ll probably be about transferring to a new theme (fixing things). That way I’ll have all the set-up info, know my way around the features, settings, etc. I lot’s changed since 2011!

    But I will try and sort in the meantime. Been a bit busy this Christmas season.

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