Burnley away today and Leeds supporters are probably rooting as hard for Villa as any of us. Have to say, I don’t miss being part of the mix down there.

Which isn’t to say it’s been clear and safe sailing for Villa, but it has generally been good enough that whatever our complaints, we’ve not really been in danger. Close at times, maybe, but not quite enough to get your stomach turning.

With the side presumably safe, many have understandably called for experimentation, and looks like we’ll see it at Turf Moor. Steven Gerrard has apparently penciled in a 3-5-2, with Mings, Konsa, and Chambers.

To be honest, that’s a bit of a shocker for me. Not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just probably about the last thing I expected.

Perhaps even more shocking is Philippe Coutinho going to the bench, with Emi Beundia getting a rare starting opportunity of late.

So, it seems Gerrard is taking resurgent Burnley seriously, and showing more tactical flexibility than he has so far at the club. Have to say it’s welcome, however effective it ends up being. I haven’t really been happy with the mismatch between set-up and players so far. We’ve gotten just about enough results, but the performances really have yo-yo’ed all over the place, and the season has sort of sputtered along after the January fireworks.

Does this say anything about Phil? Dunno. Maybe he’s not quite 100%, maybe it’s Burnley, maybe it’s Buendia being looked at. Maybe it’s all three. Can’t say I’ve seen anything about Phil’s fitness, but then I haven’t been paying much attention. Maybe it’s just about being safe and Gerrard finally feeling like he can play around a bit. Also, Jacob Ramsey misses out…Think I read something about him being a late decision. Luiz and McGinn will round out the ‘midfield five’, with Iroegbunam back to the bench.

If Phil sitting is about evaluating Buendia, I hope he acquits himself well. I really do like him and I’ve no idea what will happen to him if Coutinho stays. Not going to say we’re mortgaging the future if he’s not in Gerrard’s plans, but it would be the kind of move that could easily backfire, putting big money into an aging player and potentially parting ways with one who would probably be flourishing right about now had he been starting all season, and one who I certainly think has more ahead of him.

Anyway, that’s what we’ve got today.

Naturally I want all the points and a strong finish. When it comes to the three in danger, I’d probably like to see Burnley finally go down. But, if they once again manage to survive, it wouldn’t bother me seeing Leeds go. For some reason, I just can’t work up any ill will for Everton. But they really are a mess.

I also have to say I loved seeing City implode once again in the Champions League. Maybe it’s a bit petty of me, but there’s a team with so much talent and no actual grit. Tired of hearing about Pep, and there’s a little schadenfreude when it comes to Jack. He’d have been better off going almost anywhere else. Water under the bridge, but football never forgets.

Over to you.

Comments 74

  1. Interesting line up three CB’s or chambers in the DM with two DM’s sat on the bench, Ramsey injured and phil benched. Maybe SG is taking the criticism to heart or can’t ignore the obvious, plus having a good finish might suddenly have been pointed out as an absolute must. He said himself the teams under achieved all season which is at the very least honest so fair play.

  2. Maybe we see Chambers as DM at the base of a diamond formation taking SJM and Luiz further up the pitch – where they should be. Dunno really, just saying.

  3. Wow!
    Covid no longer seen as a major threat, so now we have our first death from Monkeypox….

    Let’s hope SG’s new line-up sees us through to three points today! Come on YVB!

  4. Have to say, for a team that wants to be possession-based, we really don’t try to hang onto it.

    I’m a fan of attacking intent, understand wanting that second, but you don’t see us settling it or playing it round.

  5. Sounds like the new formation is working well with Buendia making a big difference.
    We should have a Whatsapp group where we could share a screen!!

  6. PP,

    Tbh, it doesn’t look like a 2-0 game. We’re getting played through easily, it’s just Burnley with a lack of quality up front.

    Naturally they’re desperate, but they’re playing better everywhere except the final third.

  7. Is a WhatsApp group where you can share a screen a ‘thing’?

    Really interesting to see the team changes, several of which the fans have been calling for. It shows a welcome flexibility on SG’s part. Great to see Buendia getting a fully deserved start and making the most of it. Don’t you love the thought of Villa being able to bring on a player like Coutinho from the bench!

    Totally agree with you about City and Pep JC. I really don’t understand why he’s got away with so little criticism given the amount he’s spent and with his number one brief surely being to win the Champion’s league?

  8. I agree JC, we are playing classic counter attack and have done it well so far but yeah Burnley not got our finishing power or a very different game. And yeah for 3/4 of a season of training ground time we don’t keep the ball or are not attempting to. We have won it back high up and deep so we are mixing it. Beundia is looking the player he was bought to be and the Ings and Watkins can’t play together thing is a distant memory. All that was needed was some time and patience for it all to settle. Its not top 6 level stuff but was unlikely to be at this juncture whomever was in charge and a clear out due this summer regardless and hopefully for some return to invest. Add some of the youth who are maturing rapidly and next two years would/should/will see us push on.

    As for Phil better at home? that is not good enough from a player of his reported Quality.

  9. Boooom

    What a win against our bogey team to put us safe.

    Kudos sg. Good line up, Subs and tactical switch moving mcguinn and luiz second half to put mcguinn on McNeil.

    Great away day

    Up the villa

  10. Some more proper lovely footy goals.

    In the last 5 months you certainly see flashes of what sg wants.

    Said it once I’ll say it again. 25 mil quid in this day and age a steal for super Luca digne.

    Absolutely class today.

  11. Said yesterday about the possession stat and this team. We are not built to keep the ball. Counter attack team

    Will change next season with 2 new midfielders.

    Sg has a call to make on Ramsey and mcguinn. Can’t have them both in that midfield. Both runners.

  12. Good result away from home for SG and the boys, roll on Tuesday and Liverpool at home. Should have some confidence now!
    Was watching the Brighton V Manure Utd game up until half-time, and thinking that if they had a Jamie Vardy up front they could have been near the top, and done a Leicester, having missed so many chances to go two up, then blow me down, I nip to the shop for the missus, and somehow they have scored three goals in about 15 minutes!!
    To think Manure have had such a sh*t season, but they are still sixth, where we would love to be, and be more than happy!!!
    Yes Whatsapp now is able to do group calls, like messenger, zoom and other platforms. I think some Villa groups are now using Telegram to share live match streams.

  13. Heroes, try as I might I can’t get excited over beating Burnley but you make up for that 🙂

    What I don’t get is with more emphasis on being solid defensively and very likely less playing Phil come what may (On the left too where he’s not that effective) we could of been close/closer to Europe this season without much bother. Its almost like we have spent a season trying audition for Phil to sign so we can try and get into Europe next season when it was a possibility this season. If SG can get his ideas over in a pre-season why not do that and this season try and get into the top rungs by any means?

    Beundia who was really beginning to show was side lined why? I want to get behind SG but I am just not convinced, the sudden chambers at DM? why not two games ago? or even when Marv was injured? to much looks like happenstance rather than evolution of ideas to me.

    The more I see the side with Beundia in the more I can see how it was meant to look with some width from our many absent wingers.

  14. PP yeah just saw the score, embarrassing yet still 6th, listened to SG after the game and he said it should sent the fans home happy up the M6? a Freudian slip from his playing days? or practising for his next job 🙂

    Also when he talks about playing Liverpool its like he’s excepted defeat , I can’t blame him in some sense but? really would like us to do them over but I get the feeling SG is cheering them on to 4 trophies if he can 😉

  15. This fan can certainly get excited about Villa beating Burnley on the road. Wolves couldn’t do it. It’s 3 points after all and it’s made my weekend. It’s even more enjoyable seeing that shithouse Tarkowski doing his hamstring immediately after half time. Totally on fire about that.

    SG said in his post match comments about his team selection that he can’t play the same players when the team is doing Saturday’s and Tuesday’s. Couldn’t agree more and I am delighted at Buendia’s performance today. We have called for rotating the squad on these pages for ages. Nice to see it actually happening.

  16. Konsa though remains well below par. But Emi at the tip of the diamond and SJM plus Dougie further forward looked much more balanced. The midfield is still work in progress as far as I’m concerned.

  17. It will all need to change again next Tues. We’re going to need a much more compact set up. But tonight….the ale tastes special.

  18. Great win yesterday

    We dealt with Burnleys physical presence so well

    So glad Chambers came in a DM.

    Ingoram and chambers last two games proving Luiz isn’t a DM.

    And Luiz also had to moved to the right cm yesterday because McNeil was destroying him. He just isn’t very good. Sell him.

    Buendia is quality.

    I see lingard linked. Makes sense because we don’t play wingers. Sell Traore and Bailey

    Can’t wait for the summer transfer window

  19. Mark. It’s pretty obvious why chambers was playing DM yesterday. For more height.

    Against Norwich you don’t need that. Great chance to play Ingoram and he did.

    Will be interesteing to see what happens wtih Phill.

    We need a couple of quality centre mids and a striker before we get phill.

  20. Lingard. Buendia. Phill.

    You’d take that as 3 players fighting for two spots behind a better striker. Sell Watkins.

    Traore certainly has no future.

    Keep Bailey give him a pre season

  21. A few things you lads might not have picked up on, when asked about the changes SG trolled out the if they do well in training mantra he uses. That says that previously they were sub par in training and the likes of Phil smashing it except this week obviously. Massive flaw in this approach is some players come alive in training with little pressure and some on match day. Nobodies going to kick Phil at BMH with SG pulling his pud on the side lines shouting go on Phil every two minutes or telling Beundia to watch Phil 🙂

    Chambers was in for the extra height? Tims taller than Callum by two CM’s. Clearly about experience too not height and therefore you have to ask if DM is a specialist roll and about a safety net (as sg said)why Both SG and DS played luis there most of the season with sg doing so over chambers, even plays SJM there.

    Luis never was or is an outright DM he’s a link man who on his day hits 90% passing maybe he’s the best trainer at BMH?

    Of the players likely to be sold ElGhazi, Traore, even the mighty Trez were always likely to be off, traore is never fit for one and now Bailey. We were looking at Smith Rowe which tells you that their positions were under review. The idea that all these players were here for ever under Smith is a crock. How many times have we tried for Phillips? that’s why I don’t think what SG is doing is in anyway a revolution in thinking its just evolution that would have occurred and particularly as the kids mature.

    This season if Smith stayed then The wingers would have got game time when fit and Targett would still be here very likely although even Smith dropped him. He doesn’t play so well without a winger in front of him and he certainly is playing well now in every aspect. That is the only difference that I can see.

  22. Runtings- who’s comparing Ronaldo to Jack? I am comparing the fact that jack at villa had the ball at every opportunity and was built around in the short term. Ronaldo was built around all his career and it served his teams well, took every free kick at Madrid with a lousy success rate too.

    As far as Smith taking Villa backwards? that’s a shocking statement all considered, smith set at least 3 records at Villa some were prem 1st’s so while the team were inconsistent (as young newly formed teams are) he clearly had something for a manager that had never managed or played at prem level, beat some of the best managers in the league on his day.

  23. Targett could well be back with us this summer. According to Tutto Mercato, Newcastle are lining up a bid of 25m euros (£21m) to acquire 24 year old Brazil left-back Renan Lodi in the summer from Atletico Madrid.

  24. Good win with certain players showing steady improvement . it was 4 at the back callum played in front . no surprise SG tweaked things a bit again as in his interview with Neville he does just aa he says

    Mark all DS did with Jack is made us into a one trick pony .. as you can see at citeh and how it should be a player needs to fit a system not the other way around …. if you are at the level of Ronaldo or Messi have been I can understand but jack is no were near close to those levels

    DS lost his last 5 and barely had won any games in his last year , its not rocket science the we were not were we should be in year 4

  25. Nice to see Frem at his consistent best this morning:

    8.46 am “Sell Traore and Bailey”
    8.55 am “Keep Bailey give him a pre season”


  26. Good win and performance bar the late conceding of a goal,think it was Gérard first time changing it about and it worked just need better midfielders

  27. Haha viva. I’ve stopped reading frem’s posts so hadn’t seen that but it comes as no surprise. With transfer time approaching no doubt he’ll become as tiresome as usual.
    If he was a footballer he’d have been released on a free years ago.

  28. Thinking about how many points we threw away this season,we should be up close to utd
    Wolves probably 4 points,Watford the same,Brentford 3,,should have picked up points from spurs,first match v Chelsea,West ham ,away to Newcastle
    Gérard has to get pre season right and get off to a flier

  29. Just a thought but yesterday with Chambers dropping between the CB’s it was a 352, good DM’s often play that way, begs the question why we haven’t seen it until now, suits our midfield without wingers and was identified by Smith earlier in the season but without the DM available other than marv or the manc CB who was useless mainly compared to his last loan with us.

  30. Runtings seriously mate what do you think Smith should have done? ignored Villas biggest asset? he came in and took us up utilising what we had, equally he kept us up doing the same with a team very wet behind the ears for not much money except, we then lost several key players, he then settled into playing defensive and we stayed up, an incredible feat never done before from our position. Next season was about adding quality, also we had Barkley who until injured made it a bit more than a one man team, then more covid and injuries hardly a great basis to progress. Then the club said we are going to bring players in to take the load off of Jack, Beundia being the 1st, then Jack left for £100m, bit better than selling him for £25m and building in the champs no?

    All of that tells me Smith wasn’t planning long term around Jack, but Jack was very good for the club none the less and Smith used him to further the clubs ambition. As a strategy for building a side no its not the way, but when your pushed off of a cliff into freefall (promotion) with no team to speak of you adapt.

    SG is in a very cosy position in comparison to where Smith started, he can afford to look at it differently which I believe is exactly what Smith most certainly was and had to do.

    Myself I would of loved to see Beundia and Jack in our team.

  31. OK, I’m looking at the table after this weekend’s dust has settled. As I see it, 9th is a real possibility at the end. It means we’d have to beat Burnley and Palace at home and get something from the Bindippers.

    Given that the Bindippers have a cup final a few days after us should help big time. The results today put Citeh firmly in the EPL box seats. Bring on Tues.

  32. zoning out what im liking under sg ball is at last going 1 nil up and still playing, not sitting back.

    how many times over the years have we said that!

    which leads us on to the reason under sg ball we are scoring some goals, hitting 3 in a game often. which is a result of….keeping going at 1 up.

    also we are slowly getting actual 90minute perfromances.

    the league since sg took over…1 point off 8th.

    slowly then suddenly

  33. luca digne since he joined has more key passes than anyone.

    sat he had more passes in the final third and key passes than anyone.

    absoulte elite level

    my fav villa player.

  34. H&V, I’ve also been a fan of Digne for a long time (used to have him in my fantasy team) and he has the potential to be a real asset for us. If we’re only 1 point off 8th since Gerrard joined it’s interesting to speculate how many points we may have gained if he’d had a pre-season and then a full season with the players now at his disposal. For next year you’d hope that at least one more youth player will make the breakthrough too. . . . Tim Iroegbunum currently leading the pack?

  35. robbo

    yeah man digne was a fantasy team must. i want him on free kicks!

    interesting that sg name checked chuck in the week and brought him on sat…breakthrough with a contract? please god

  36. Much better this weekend. Who’d of “faught” it, after listening to the mighty Frem and putting Chambers as the DM we have one of our best performances in a coons age.
    So we should transfer Frem to B6 as technical advisor and then we won’t have to listen to all his who should come who should go rants all summer. Seriously though, Frem has been calling for that move for what felt like years and it worked at first try, so kudos’s Frem but don’t let it go to your head.

  37. chambers is such a good signing.

    can play very well in a number of positions. free as well!

    a signing out of no where.

    bloody links to kamara again. good lord if we pull that off!!!

  38. you only have to see with chambers there as a proper 6….the 2 8’s noticeably mcguinn was flying forward again.

    such a huge huge position to get right. the team will fly when we have one.

    i do worry about mcguinn and ramsey both being in the mid at same time. both ball carriers. balance doesnt work for me

  39. H&V, maybe a little premature with the ‘£12m agreed fee’. It’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll be coming to us but maybe for a bit more than that. . . .even so, it’s seeming that Barcelona are desperate for cash and want to be rid of his salary as much as anything. If this does happen, at this sort of cost then you have to believe that its because he’s made it clear that he ‘only’ wants to play at Villa.
    This has to be great news for us. . . . . and yet I’m not feeling as excited as I want to be. I do think he can be great for us, particularly with a couple more good players around him but we’ve seen glimpses of how good Buendia can be and let’s not forget, he’s still only 25 so can get better still. So far, we have seen that the two of them can play alongside each other and I hate to see Buendia losing game time and opportunities.
    Let’s hope that a pre-season of them training together finds a way of utilising both of them.

  40. Let’s not hail Chambers as the new Messiah yet. Yes a lot of us have been wanting to see him given a chance in that position and it was good to see SG finally giving it a go but let’s see if he can deliver a series of good performances before arranging his coronation. If the rumours are to be believed then we’ll be recruiting for that position so he’s going to have to do exceptionally well over the next few weeks if he’s to make it his.
    I just hope that this isn’t an indication that Douglas Luiz is off. I think it was his 24th birthday yesterday so he’s still really young and will probably do very well somewhere. . . . I’d like to think that could be at Villa.

  41. sky sports doing the build up and highlighting what sg ball has done comparing to smith.

    we are up 4th and 5th defensively in the prem rankings now after being 18th under smith. clean sheets, shots faced etc.

    simple and basic….every good team starts from the back. weve seen the balance start to work with the attack, a spate of 3 or 4 0 wins.

    Exciting stuff

  42. robbo

    yeah luiz has been stitched up really at villa. never seen him get a run as a 8.

    but we do need to start flipping players for profit.

    i have no doubt he will be a very good player but is what it is.

  43. H&V, If we’re able to sell players for a profit and upgrade at the same time then it’ll be a good thing It’s hard to make a profit if players don’t get a run or are not playing in their best positions though.
    Having said that. it’ll come down to the difference between selling price and buying price. Under Smith we’d gained the impression that it would be through investment and development of a youth programme whereas now it seems that it could be more down to SG attracting players who ‘want’ to come to Villa to play for him. If he is able to attract good players at low prices (as seems possible from Countinho, Chambers and Digne so far) then it could be a good business model as well as gradually improving the squad.

  44. It’ll then come down to whether he is able to get all the pieces fitting together on match day. I reckon we’re not going to be able to judge that till next year.

  45. H&V, I love a good statistic, trend or graph you know but when it comes down to it, it’s results that matter and so far under SG the ‘results’ against teams in the top half have been very poor. Wouldn’t it be lovely if tonight was the night that changed (although to be honest I’d enjoy it even more if it was in our last game of the season. . . . unlikely though that is!)

  46. Heroes…..flipping players for a profit, in particular Dougie. Time will tell on that one.

    But what about Watkins? News breaking today that Moyesie Boy wants him at West ‘Aaammm. £50 million mentioned against the £28 million we bought him for. Where do lifers stand on that one?

  47. robbo

    yeah man agree. theres going to come a time when we need to flip players for profit.

    watkins now linked to west spam for 50mill…you prob take that

    little phil looks done. a excellent start to the window and will help attract players

  48. H&V, you say you’re “not losing sleep over not beating teams much better than us” but ask Dean Smith if he fees the same because that’s exactly what lost him his job.

    In a run of 7 games we lost to West Ham, Arsenal, Wolves, Spurs, and Chelsea. We bet Man United and Everton in that run but at the time it really didn’t look good.

    Results under SG have not been ok, they’ve been poor and below what this squad is capable of. . . .BUT. . . . like you, I do make allowances for him having come in part way through the season and am hopeful that given a pre-season and a few more (good value) recruits he’ll do much better next year.

  49. H&V, if you think that results have been ok under SG, then you would have to wonder why Smith was sacked bearing in mind that against the same opposition, his results were better

  50. H&V. . . I think you’re bringing the worst out in me 🙂

    I don’t want to be critical of SG because I think that he can be better than DS at attracting quality players and I think there’s a chance that he will manage us well once he’s had a bit more time getting to know existing players and having a pre-season with them.

    When his current record and achievements are held up to be better than they are however I can’t help myself from responding!

  51. It does look like Phil will be staying. With the fee so low, can’t say it’s bad business.

    And although I’ve wondered what that means for Buendia, I will say the body language when they swap out, and in photos from training, makes it look like they have a good relationship.

    So, maybe we actually have two playmakers now.

  52. With Chambers…I wouldn’t get too excited. I’ve not seen stats, seemed okay, watching, for the most part. But he’s not the long-term solution there by any stretch.

    It’s good that he’s versatile, good that he was free. Nice pick-up. But obviously we’re still going in for a 6 this summer, no question.

    The interesting thing for me is if we’re over the moon about him vs Burnley, why didn’t we see that earlier? Could be all sorts of reasons (Burnley, height, being ‘safe’, Ramsey out, all of them), but I thought that set-up was about the most pragmatic thing Gerrard has done.

    Wondering if we’ll see a variation of it (with Phil in for Buendia) tonight.

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