Been a while since I’ve done one of these. Almost forgotten how. But real football’s back, and I know everyone’s ready.

It’s pretty rare for a mid-season World Cup to give a new manager the chance to give the players a break and have a mini-camp when he’s been appointed so early in the season. Which means Emery’s got a full squad to choose from (minus Emi and Ramsey, sounds like), has had time to evaluate and coach a bit, and gotten insight into what he thinks Villa need to do in the January window.

Since he’s a bit 0bsessive in his preparations, we’ll assume he’s given Liverpool a fair bit of thought, too.

Naturally, there’ve been all sorts of rumors flying round, and I’ll admit to paying very little attention to any of them. We’ll see what we see when we see it, basically.

Before then, we’ll see is what Emery can get out of this squad having received the rarest of gifts a new manager could ask for. (Apart from Haaland’s or Mbappe’s agents ringing you up.) He obviously did well taking the reins in the middle of league play, so I’m hopeful that we’ll see a side that’s ready to play, is playing to its strengths, and knows what it’s trying to do.

We’ll also see whether today’s line-up is more of a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 or some combination thereof.

Starting XI
Olsen, Young, Konsa, Mings, Digne, Kamara, Luiz, McGinn, Bailey, Buendia, Watkins

Over to you.


Comments 61

  1. JC
    Thanks for the reply. There must be something iffy about my computer installation. Happily I can access this site behind the VPN in Opera browser. No issue with security certificates, it was part of my trying to work out what was going on.
    Geek out, back to vaccine free football!

  2. I do think Ings should come on, would rather see Emi just sat central, another player wide left.

    Luiz not having a good game. But we look reactive, overall, not as quick to the ball/breaking up play.

  3. We do seem a bit more incisive going forward and could have had a couple of goals. . . That is the encouraging side of things.
    Liverpool are definitely looking the better side though and you suspect they may have a much better second half of the season than first

  4. Well, that was a strange one. Liverpool were just sharper to start, Villa did well to get back in it and had some really good spells.

    Really hate the second two conceded, but I suppose on balance they’d earned 3 goals. But we should’ve had more.

  5. JG, agreed, it felt as if we’d have benefitted from fresh legs about 15 minutes earlier.
    Having said that, there were promising signs. . . we just need to be wary of becoming unlucky losers.

  6. Oh, and you’re right, the decision to give a free kick to Allison when it should have been a villa corner was laughable.
    Doubly frustrating when liverpool scored from a corner that shouldn’t have been

  7. Bailey is good, but it worries me that he’s so left footed. Kamara is quality. I think he’s at the Bruno level for Toon, or will get there.

    Anyway, despite the disappointment I was entertained vs the SG rubbish. Onwards and upwards

  8. JG,

    Yeah, would also have liked subs earlier. I can’t believe this is the same team that SG had. Shows what an excellent coach can do.

    Spurs next will be tough. Can’t wait to see Unai signings

    I’m not sure if it was just me, but thought Buendia was really frustrated with Watkins. Buendia gave him so many quick one touch flicks that Ollie was a yard off the pace

  9. Bailey also isn’t technically good enough.

    Watkins and Bailey both need replacing.

    McGinn to isn’t technically good enough.

    I’d say we need at least 4 players in January

  10. So are people feeling more, or less optimistic after that game?
    Results are ultimately all that matters, but we were playing, on their day, one of the top sides in the country, we DID create plenty of genuine chances from creative open play, we did concede two deflected goals, one of the goals was from a corner which shouldn’t have been given, and we were missing the best goalkeeper in the World Cup.
    We have another really tough fixture next time out so it’s going to need a few more games before we can really start to judge but right now I’m feeling a little ‘more’ optimistic than I was before, despite the result

  11. I’m optimistic, Liverpool despite total pundit support are not what they were and we should of scored plenty. What Unai won’t like is the total lack of cohesion at times but at least we attack with purpose. Only about three players play with their heads up, Young, Dendoncer and Kamarra which slows our play down , which means the eventual chance is not right on the button, with a split second more time better chances/shots etc would happen.

    Its good Unai is getting to see this and good he hates losing, surprised that after the initial game plan was punctured he didn’t change anything meaningfully until way to late. That said he was seeing chances being created if in slow motion, surprised how bad Liverpool’s defence is.

  12. Gutted we lost that one. The opposition have been years in the forming, Unai has just started so we’ll wait and watch developments.

    Like the high line we play, but that way does require at least one centre back to be a greyhound and we don’t have one. Having said that, Salah is the fastest bloke in the EPL and it’s a tough gig keeping him quiet.

  13. As others have said, you could hear the thinking cogs turning. Once that becomes instinctive, we should be far more dangerous.

    Another observation about playing a high line. It leaves a lot of space behind the defence to play into. It requires a keeper capable of acting as a sweeper. Don’t think Olsen is that person as things stand.

  14. Thought there was room for improvement with the passing. I don’t have a problem losing possession when trying the thread a through ball to the strikers. It’s the right idea. But some straightforward passes from A to B failed and that is inexcusable. Buendia misplaced a few simple ones but he was not alone.

  15. I don’t think Watkins is the sole answer to our goal problem, although he certainly didn’t have a problem 1st season which suggest he’s got the yips. What’s happened to Archer? I think we will see an incoming striker but this being the prem it may not be an instant fix as we have seen so many times.

  16. A new day after night before it has a feel of de ja Vue,play well and get beat
    We need martinez so much ,olseon another crap keeper I long line under new owners
    We have lost an entire year with purslow pet project Gérard,left us an unbalanced squad,also players with no confidence left
    At the minute konsa mcginn and beundi shouldn’t be near our starting side
    Our attacking options are Watkins ings Bailey absolute crazy Liverpool just bought another to add to Sarah nunes Diaz firming jota
    We need players in January

  17. When Ian Wright says that Ollie isn’t good enough I have to take note , but 3 premier goals after xmas is not the tally for any main striker to have ..most chances fall to Ollie due to his pace and work rate

    We created a huge amount of chances against one of the best current teams on the planet so with the right attackers we really could be flying

    I get why Unia didn’t make any subs as we were the team pushing and looking like scoring until they nicked there 3rd late on , I am not sure how much difference they 3 would have made coming on earlier

    So happy with our manager

  18. Runtings- “you don’t know what your doing” will never be sung to Unai I suspect. To be fair to Ollie the level of chances created this season have not been high as they were when Jack played until now, as to the quality? he did put one away of three, Bailey and mcginn didn’t even hit the target. He is more work rate than lethal finisher though, if we lost his work rate for the odd goal extra not sure it would be that much better. Feel there’s a better answer to this having seen us in Smith and Jack era, so many scored goals then across the board.

  19. A weekend where Watkins misses sitter after sitter and Dean Smith is sacked at a club that always get automatic promotion…

    Who would have thought..

    Mad that people are still defending Watkins


  20. Frem – Watkins had what? 4 chances, put two away one offside, Bailey two big chances and McGinn 1, We will get nowhere if you expect there to be only one player who’s supposed to score, no9’s are no longer there just to score (see Firminho) of course it helps but its not the focus and shows its a systemic problem over an individual one.

    I bet you’ve been pulling your plums over Smiths sacking, shows that Norwich have just as many Wankers for fans as we do 😉

  21. We may have lost on Monday, but it was almost like watching a new team to see so many chances created in the end, and Watkins did not miss a single chance, he had two shots on target which were saved, he scored a marginally “offside” goal, he had a header which he did not fully connect with saved, and he scored with a very good header, which is better than Kane achieves with better service.
    I don’t quite understand the attack on Olsen when yesterday he payed a very good game, and played as a sweeper keeper for the first time, instead of being stuck in his six yard box. His only failing is in some of his kicked clearance efforts the ball ended up going for a throw in, but balls he threw out were on the mark. He was not at fault with any of the goals, and he had some terrific play when Villa were caught napping and he was fa enough forward to save the day.
    I make these comment1s not from just being at the match, but watching it all again on Amazon Prime.
    Douglas Luiz did have several passes go astray, but who would have replaced him?
    McGinn could have been much more involved, but Kamara had a really good game.
    Perhaps Young could have played further forward and Cash come on, but I think Unai was prepared to see how well we could do over the 90minutes.
    We were definitely in the game until the third goal, but with some better refereeing decisions we should at least have had the draw.
    I am sure hen we have a full complement of players being coached by Unai we will improve in the second half of the season.
    McGinn is probably the most guilty player for not scoring when he was totally unmarked and received a perfect header with the goal at his mercy, he headed across the six yard box, instead of into an empty net!
    I am looking forward now to the next two games which will show what we can do with a full side.

  22. Hello Paul. It’s nice to see we both watched the same game and came up with the same conclusions. Olsen was just fine IMO and I wouldn’t have any problem with him in. McGinn, if he’s not carful is going to be the odd man out in the midfield. Like you said it’s going to be interesting.

  23. Mark. He missed a sitter in the first minute then missed a header on the goal line soon after.

    Also mcginn headed one back a cross for him to tap him but off course he wasn’t doing what a striker does because he’s crap

    Also his goal offside, his timing of the run was horrible

    He’s just useless


    Absolutely no defence he’s been poor at a club that always finish 2nd or 1st

    He was always limited without Grealish always will be

  24. PP, glad you said that about Olsen because I didn’t think he did too badly either. He did seem a bit static for the one goal but then it was deflected in so it’d be harsh to be too critical.

    I see Mark and PP are defending Ollie and based on yesterday’s performance that seems only fair. He had lost confidence in front of goal but yesterday looked much more like the finisher we saw when he first came to us. He’s only ranked 9th best amongst all premier league strikers so far this season but when you consider how poor the service was under Gerrard that’s probably not too bad. . . . It’s better than the ranking of the overall team in any rate.
    If Unai can keep the team creating the number of chances we did yesterday then we’ll quickly see Ollie climbing higher in the rankings

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