Crunch time again, maybe, as Villa visit Brighton. Following two 1-0 setbacks, Gerrard’s Villa will take to the pitch with changes up front. Both Watkins and Ings will play, but with Coutinho in the front line, while Emi Buendia goes to the bench. Last time out, Villa came away 2-0 winners at Villa Park in Gerrard’s debut. After 14 games in charge, Gerrard is now 5-2-7, and will be looking to halt the frustrating inability to create good chances.

Ezri Konsa returns to the side following suspension. Villa are otherwise unchanged.

Whether the two strikers are actually settling into the 10 slots or this portends a more flat 4-3-3, we’ll have to see. Likewise, one wonders whether this might, in practice, be more like playing with a false nine in Coutinho and might be somewhat akin to 4-4-2. Having Danny Ings play wider will be interesting, don’t think we’ve seen that beyond situational rotations.

So, an interesting tweak.

Comments 106

  1. So frem . . . . Luiz is “absolutely hopeless” (of course you’ve found various ways of repeating exactly the same thing), ings and Watkins can’t play together but Gerrard keeps picking them. As this is all so obvious, presumably you think that Gerrard needs to be replaced ?

  2. John it’s not really “a dilemma” is it.
    If a player is clearly “absolutely hopeless” and. . .”absolutely dreadful” but the manager who works with the players every day is incapable of seeing that, then the manager must be completely out of his mind and needs to go.
    Either that. . . .or the person who thinks Luiz is “absolutely hopeless” knows absolutely fuck all.

  3. Villa need to keep their heads here.

    Ref has really got that really wrong, but Villa can’t take the bait.

    Handing out cards like candy. Think half the side have been booked.

  4. VillaMD,

    You don’t bring Phil in to sit him. If he didn’t have the fitness for 90, he’s got to get it somehow.

    And if it’s not a vintage performance, you have to keep faith, show your confidence.

  5. Yeah, SJM had a very good game, as well, jbd.

    Apart from the loose passes by Luiz, pretty decent levels, overall. Brighton had a lot to say about not letting the game flow.

    And we got a bit smarter about turning round and fouling up the pitch, as well.

  6. Huge 3 points

    It was OK performance.

    Luiz getting subbed again because he’s just a massive liability. Stop playing him

    Surprised Watkins didn’t stick it wide

    Hopefully confidence will go up

  7. Bissouma looked very average. Will be interesting to see if Iroegbunan gets a run. I like that he’s very tall and athletic. Also very confident looking for the ball. A few quality passes. All in 6 mins. Nice to finally see a #6 in a Villa shirt

    JC – I guess my point on Phil. It was obvious he was having a stinker. Sub him. Seems like he’ll play 90 mins no matter how he performs

  8. Beale on Twitter absolutely full of praise for Tim. They do love him. Hopefully this season when we get comfy we will blood the youth. He could be bloody ideal in the 6 role.

    Villa md

    Phil got subbed.

  9. So stoked. Doubly so. BHA are full of shithousery when they want it. Maupay, Trossard and especially that shithouse Cucurella. The referee was completely taken in by it and dished out cards like a poker game.

    Two well taken goals from our boys and Heroes…..Welbeck now has a loss against Villa. SJM was my man of the match. The rest of the midfield was poor. BHA are pretty with their footie but lack any sort of cutting edge.

  10. Great free kick from Couts. Thought it was in. Also thought Welbeck couldn’t miss, but thankfully he did. Digne looked good. The ref lost it. Right now the ale isn’t touching the sides. Giving myself a rendition of Sweet Caroline!

  11. Did anyone else notice that Ollie put on a yard of pace after he scored? It does my head in when this kind of thing happens. If they’ve got it in them, we should be seeing it all game.

    Brentford and Leeds are in freefall. A few weeks back there were 4 teams in the relegation scrap. Now there are about 7.

  12. Now the euphoria has calmed down, I’ve just realised that I can’t remember seeing SJM and Ramsey playing fullback. Perhaps there is hope for team SG after all.

  13. Won’t be long until Ingogram is starting over Luiz

    He looked calm when he came on

    As I said, Luiz has been sunbed last 3 games because he’s been so useless km them

    Play sanson or Ingoram DM

  14. Gerrard got tactics spot on yesterday

    The opposite full back covered better.

    Two strikers sat on the 2 wide center backs. Countino sat on Biusoma

    Ramsey and mcginn actually played center mid

  15. So we’ll meet Leeds just as a new manager gets them bouncing.

    it will be interesting to see how their new manager handles the team as they’ve developed such a distinctive way of playing under Bielsa. You’d imagine that he won’t be the easiest manager to take over from, but then maybe their players will welcome a change!

  16. Gerrard played the same tactics he did when we beat them at VP only difference was phil for beundia, luis for Nakamba and Digne for Targett. Digne did an awful job when being attacked, he does well in the air but on the ground gets taken to the cleaners a lot.

  17. Mark, I thought Digne did OK. He was up against Lamptey who is a real speed merchant and kept him as quiet as anyone I’ve seen. The opposition had 2 great chances from memory. One hit the top of the bar and the other Welbeck headed wide, although granted, his chance came from Digne’s side.

    Still buzzing from the result. We needed it. In the cold light of day, I still think the ref was naff and reacted to the crowd screaming every time. I guess Brighton have the game plan best suited to SG’s preferred set up.

  18. I also thought Digne was decent. Not sure if he’s better than Targett, but they’re both really good. My Toon buddy is loving Targett!

    I was trying to see how tall Tim I is as he looks imposing. Couldn’t find anything, but saw a pic of him beside Emi on Twitter. Emi is 6’5” and they looked the same height!

  19. Didn’t get to see the match, just the usual MOTD highlights, but great to see us back to winning ways, with Ollie getting a legal score at last.
    Instead watched a very exciting game of rugby between England and Wales, with England just about holding on at the end.
    Didn’t comment on last week’s match, because by the time I had the chance, everyone had basically said all that needed to be said, but a very disappointing affair.
    Pleased to see SG change tactics and get the win today, and hopefully, we will now go on a better run once more.
    Sad to see Bielsa go, but you cannot just go on conceding goals, even though they had their chances, but like Villa struggled in previous games, could not put them away.
    Carney, I believe, suffered a late injury yesterday, which is why he wasn’t on the bench, but would have liked to see Tim play his cameo.
    Looking forward now to next week, and playing Southampton, and making a real game of it this time for the home fans!

  20. A win is what was needed ,but doesn’t cover the massive weakness in our midfield 33% possession, 288 passes is not acceptable, nor is it good enough to consistently pick up points,sanson got a run out but didn’t do anything to give Gérard a decision next week,serious movement of player in summer ahead me thinks

  21. Digne vs Targett:

    They represent a lot of the balance/compromise in modern FBs. One very good attacking, one better at being a stay-at-home defender.

    Neither perfect/full package, but both will do a (different) job and be effective. You just hope on any given week (and over the course of a season) that the pros outweigh the cons.

  22. JG,

    The possession in 2nd half was very interesting. Part of it was down to being a little smarter, I think (ie, letting them have meaningless possession), but a lot was down to the propensity to try and move upfield quickly, still, when we did get it back and not finding ways to progress, stall, cycle it round and just keep hold.

  23. Digne was skinned several times by lamptey the fact he didn’t make more of the opportunity is down to lamptey but he left him for dead where as targett marked him out of the game . As I said he always gets his head to the ball in defence but on the deck dodgy as.

  24. Digne still shit at defending one on one no matter what stats and comparisons you come up with lads and that’s what I am saying, not he’s no good at all people get so defensive 🙂

    As we are 12th in the league and have 8 teams that are above us to play plus Leicester, Leeds, Burnley and Norwich what points are people expecting from that run?

  25. H&V 😀

    They’re just different kinds of players. I like Digne, but agree with MK, he’s pretty dodgy 1v1 on the ground. Fast, though, can run all game, and does have good delivery.

    Targett struggled a bit this season, and was never going to fit SG’s system, but he’d obviously done very well the season prior.

    Down to Jack? Sure there’s something to that. But he’d learned to anticipate, get closer, put in hard tackles, etc.

  26. JG,

    I think (obviously) that Targett’s getting a bit of a bad rap in retrospect. I always saw a gamer, honest player.

    There were many times I thought he’d been hurt and he always shook it off.

    Not the most complete FB, but I didn’t see a shirker. Probably as physical a player as we had.

  27. haha im only jesting, ive always liked targett. but yeah was always going to replaced in sg ball. and we have a very fine players in digne.


    apparently purslow was having banter with fans sat who said about bissouma and purslow said mcguinn ran the mid and we want a 8 not a 6!

    would love us to go for jwp again. set pieces get blinded by him but hes a terrific footballer too

  28. H&V, JC and MK, good discussion about Targett and Digne with consensus at the end. . . .ideal!

    A nice contrast to the ‘this player is shit’ type comments that you tend to see from the children on twitter.

    There’s been a fair amount of discussion about which other players just won’t fit with the way that SG wants to play, particularly after El Ghazi’s comment about his style of play not fitting how we’ll be playing in future. He clearly didn’t see himself being able to adapt and Targett clearly also saw that Digne was always going to be better suited to SG’s preferred style.

    Although he’s been praising Bailey, can he adapt to what’s needed? Same question for Traore? Anyone else?

  29. At Rangers SG had 9 players that could all play in those 10 spots and they were not all typical 10’s or like Phil and Beundia. they had some with pace some more ball players etc so I think there is room for Bailey maybe even Traore, Definitely Trez when he comes back having scored 15 goals and 15 assists.

  30. Ward prowse and arsenal lad were 2 heavily linked in the summer yet neither can play the holding role in midfield ,time for a rethink in our buying strategy ,more Steve Bruce style than a competent premier league club

  31. Spud completed game number 5 for the Olbyon tonight. He’s collected 1 point for them so far. Dear oh dear, they were a shambles this evening. Fans chanting about players not fit to wear the shirt. He definitely has a nose for these types of appointments.

  32. JG,

    Oh Mings comes in for lots of stick, especially online.

    Me, I think he’s a good player. He does have an error/brain-fart in him, no doubt. But he’s also come up with so many vital interventions.

    Are there better? Sure.

  33. john

    yeah we are a better team with mings. it was a lovely pass from him for watkins goal.

    great piece on kerr smith. looked at home on his u23 debut at just 17. liverpool are fuming missing out on him. super

  34. targett is just is what it is a classic football development. new man comes in, we only have 1 lb anyhow. so chooses to upgrade and just so happend a little window opens where we can snatch digne. week later with rafa gone he stays.

    if i was targett id be playing out my skin now at toon. what a opputunity, theyll prob stay up now and do madness in the summer and he can be part of a exciting team. be intersting to see if they buy him or not. hopefully we can double our money!

  35. So was Saturday’s performance a switch in game plan or an adaptation of the previous one?
    Was it in part at least, a reversion to the way we used to play under DS and which the players are used to?
    Is the answer play more like we did under DS but with more aggressive pressing and more controlled close passing in triangles?
    In other words should we be trying to improve on the way DS had us set up (which worked when SG first joined us) rather than trying to implement something completely new?
    If so, should that be the way forward for next season too, which would leave us looking for just a few top players rather than a major squad change?

  36. Just curious. . . . .is there anyone here who would like Bielsa at Villa? (not right now. . . . it’s a purely hypothetical question)

  37. Bielsa? Not for me rObB0. Around when we appointed Spud, that was the time to get him. He’s fabulous at shaking up basket cases. But he has a shelf life as players become exhausted by his system.

    Last Saturday’s game was against opposition that struggle to score. So much possession with so little end product. That’s the main reason we took 6 points off them. The biggest single problem for me is DM. Feel sorry for Luiz, it’s not his natural position but is being asked to operate there in Naka’s absence. SG sees them all in training and obviously thinks that Dougie remains our best option there at the moment.

    Don’t want a rebuild unless existing surpluses can be sold for a profit. However, SG may already have decided what he needs is not already in situ and further buys are therefore required. If Trez is moved on, we’ll have a whip round for £20 and send it to Mark for a couple of beers to make him feel better.

  38. Plug, I’m with you on Bielsa although you can’t deny that the Leeds fans love him for what he did for them. I do think that his style of football ‘could’ work, but what ultimately scuppers him is his determination to work with a small group of players. His high intensity training and football needs to be accompanied by a deep enough squad to cover for the inevitable injuries.

  39. Plug, I also agree with you on preferring that we build on what we have rather than completely rebuilding. It seems our finances have improved so that last year’s losses were down to £38m. . . . still a big number!
    I guess a lot rests on the emotional aspirations of our owners. Is it sporting success, or financial success. I imagine that it’s the latter, but they seem to have determined that it can only come about as a result of the former and they are comparatively impatient to get there. I say ‘comparatively’ because they clearly aren’t prepared to pay silly money for any player. They want their investments to pay off and on that score, like you, I reckon they’ll be wanting to make a profit on their sales.
    oh. . . .and it won’t only be Mark that’s gutted to see Trez go!

  40. Plug, you mentioned Luiz, and I reckon we should all be grateful of him taking on the role he’s been given, apparently without complaint, even though it doesn’t necessarily play to his strengths.
    I thought he looked a little more comfortable in the role on Saturday but that’s probably as a result of him having a bit more support around him rather than him adapting to the role.

  41. The latest financial results on the official website only give the headline figures and details are due to be published in the coming days. For the year ending May 2021, a loss of £37.3 million is a real result. Given the closed grounds due to Covid, increasing turnover from £112.6 million to £183.6 million is massive. Well done Compass.

    The financial year also includes the purchases from the previous summer of Emi, Cash, Ollie at the cost of £101 million whose amortisation figures also weighed on the overall loss. Tremendous in the circumstances.

    With planning applications for a new North Stand and increased capacity to over 50K due by summer 2022, you’ve got to say exciting times are coming.

  42. Plug,
    Whatever happened to those £20 whip rounds and meet ups for Curry goat rice n’peas, all washed down with a few beers in the company of the Steamers!!!
    maybe we can resurrect them one day!!

  43. PP, from memory Steamer revealed there was £20 floating around and everyone then laid claim to it as theirs. Bummer, but I think Steamer75 knew more of its whereabouts than he was letting on!

  44. Robbo- SG being lauded for tactic change when in reality it allowed the team to play to its strengths. McGinn and Ramsey are not about sitting or covering fullbacks, both are attacking players (Ramsey will very likely end up in the England team imo ). The whole thing looked more balanced so yeah I think SG should look to use the players we have not throw away the baby with the bath water.

    I think he has a lot to learn about the prem as a manager, taking the game by the scruff of the neck as a player came natural to him, doing it as a manager depends solely on others. Just because the narrow 2×10’s worked in Scotland and Europe doesn’t mean it will here no matter whom he buys.

  45. Mark. Agree with all that.

    I do think that he deserves some praise for making the change though. Ok, he’s reverted to something closer to what he inherited but at least he had the guts to do that. He had a plan in mind and now he’s had a chance to try it. He’s found and recognised the weaknesses and changed . . .and quite quickly. You compare that with Bielsa who just found it impossible to contemplate any other way and his club suffered for it. It will have been more difficult for him because his methods had brought success for a couple of seasons but the principle still applies.

    Let’s hope SG and the squad can now build on the knowledge he’s gained. The ability to accept you’ve not yet got it right and then change accordingly are powerful attributes and it looks as if SG has them.

  46. Robbo- I think its the opposite, it would of been braver for him to have stuck to his preferred system, he didn’t because he would of come under a lot of pressure if we had lost again, 1 point out of 4 easier games would of sucked. He didn’t bin Phil though which he easily could have and gone with Beundia the fitter player. Phil will definitely play regardless I feel. These next two game will not be easy that’s for sure so we will see what he’s learned if anything.

  47. I’m not sure it would be ‘brave’ to stick to something that wasn’t working.
    It can be tough to admit that you’ve got something wrong though.

  48. r0bb0, MK.

    You can spin it either way. Brave to change, brave to stick. Or ‘no conviction’ = change, ‘stubbornness’ = no change.

    Either way, it’s encouraging that he didn’t place system above results. All well and good trying to drill, winnow, etc., but you can’t put the club in danger or damage individual and squad confidence.

    So, a couple of tweaks. Playing the FBs a bit more traditionally, having the nine sit back to give a little more dimension and room up front.

    It tightened things up, had the rest playing more familiar roles, didn’t leave Mings and Konsa on islands as much.

  49. JC. . . . a role in the UN beckons!

    H&V, depends what you mean by “a clear out”

    If we’re having to change half a dozen players then someone hasn’t done their job properly and that would be disappointing because it’s felt as if we have a coherent long term plan in place for a change..

    But maybe we should praise them for being brave and realising that previous recruitment has been wrong and now we need to change! 🙂

  50. H&V,

    Agree the summer will see change and maybe a lot. In the meantime, though, the tactics are interesting insofar as what they say about SG’s adaptability.

    Has there been a shift in his thinking/system, or is it just a short-term fix?

    I really would like to get a run of results for all sorts of reasons, but I’m really curious about how Bailey, Traoré, Buendia, Ings, and Watkins all fit. And I guess, Phil, too. Would SG actually prefer to have fit and firing Bailey and Traoré types over Ings and Watkins?

    Critical having options and depth, but not sure how many of these will be happy to rotate, sit, or largely come off the bench. Given injuries and fitness, just hasn’t really been something SG needs to worry about much.

    Once we don’t have to look over our shoulders, we might see more evaluation/lineup juggling. But, maybe that waits til summer, and maybe SG already has his mind made up.

  51. r0bb0,

    I can be diplomatic in the mornings, less so after a few bevies.

    Clear-out: Yeah, that’s fascinating. It does undo a lot of recruitment, and if it’s only to fit a specific system/manager, well, we know the risks.

    You could also say that it proves out the recruitment if we’ve increased the value of outgoings, get decent money we can re-invest.

    Luiz, Watkins, McGinn. There’s probably tidy money to be made there. Bailey and Traoré? Sanson? Maybe break even, maybe even lose some. No one would’ve expected Leon and Bert being injured so much. Sanson…god only knows, but it doesn’t really seem like he has a future.

  52. I would say if you are trying to see who fits your system then its paramount that you play your system. You can’t flirt with going down while doing it at a club like Villa, and I think SG believed he had brought in the firepower to attack more and like Klopp thought sod the consequences. As I said we are not Liverpool who end in 8th at worst.

    Call it brave, adaptive or whatever but its preservation more than anything.

    It was the same system we employed when we beat them last time though so not exactly manager of the month stuff. It might seem like I am being negative about him but its the reality. interested to see what he does today, particularly as Phil’s my Fantasy Captain. Tactically Beal is thought to be the brains not SG.

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