Here we are on matchday with Villa looking to perhaps pass Chelsea and lay claim on 10th. But it’s never easy against Palace, and you have to think Chelsea will stop fumbling around sooner or later. But maybe they have to fire Potter, first.

At any rate, winning would also provide more separation from the bottom of the table. Likewise, the following matches against West Ham and Bournemouth could see us with 40 points and only looking up. Four on the trot might be asking a lot, but that’s what Villa are going to have to do in the abstract if they’re to have a realistic chance at a top-half finish. And of course the upcoming visit Stamford Bridge could be telling in its own right. With Leicester and Forest after, well…Not saying it’s going to happen, Villa always seem to find and oblige banana skins, but this could be the run of fixtures that ends up shaping this season’s final placing.

In other words, finding a bit of a ruthless streak right about now would do everyone a lot of favors. Finding a bit of consistency (and maybe luck) would be good, too. It was this earlier this week, after all, that Villa began the 10-game winning run that saved the club in 2019.

I don’t know that Fulham and Brentford will be where they are when all’s said and done, but motivationally, I might make this into a two-team race: Villa vs Chelsea, a positive goal unrelated to final position. Stay credible in that frame, and the rest will take care of itself.

No real surprises in the starting XI:

Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Moreno, Kamara, Luiz, McGinn, Ramsey, Buendia, Watkins. Traoré makes the bench.

Over to you.


Comments 63

  1. Interesting game. Shame Ollie swept that chance wide.

    But I will say, as frustrating as seemed to a few at Villa Park, I thought Villa did a much better job with game management. They had a lead, Palace weren’t posing much threat, and avoiding getting too gung-ho looking for a second was…refreshing, actually.

  2. I was watching but nothing to comment on. Still think we are playing with fire with this tippy tappy stuff across our back line in our own penalty area. Would have liked to have another look at Traore. Bailey should have shredded the tiring 10 man side – but he didn’t. Three points, move on.

  3. jbd,

    Yeah, wasn’t much to say other than I hope Kamara’s injury isn’t serious. McGinn had a good game.

    And I thought overall Palace were just thuggish.

    Saw a peno given elsewhere (Brighton, maybe) that was the same as the push on Ramsey.

  4. What frustrates me in playing out is how the players are slowing it down. I can’t always see what’s in front of them, but they wait too long to get it wide when the FB is often in a lot of space. Konsa in particular. Dawdles, plays it back, and gives the opposition time to press up and make it more difficult.

  5. Agreed with comments. Thought Cash and McGinn were very good. Moreno looks good going forward. Playing out from the back is a nightmare. It looks more like Villa wasting time vs actually playing it out. Fingers crossed for Kamara. Doesn’t look good

  6. A home win at last. I’m stoked. It was a skinny 3 points but I’ll take it for sure. Thought Palace were a dirty side and I hope Kamara won’t be out for long but I’m not optimistic. The chop across Chambers shins deserved a red card by itself.

  7. Not one of our better performances, but hey, we won. Just our luck to have Zaha back in their side and he sprinted between our CB’s with ease. Can only say I was delighted he was given offside by VAR. A bit of luck. And had Ollie buried his chance, I wouldn’t have been so nervous as the game wore on.

  8. Still crapping myself with this playing out from the back lark. I don’t think we have the players to carry it out. Konsa as mentioned by JC doesn’t shift the ball on quickly enough. I’ve seen milk turn faster.

  9. But the bottom line is the win. Great weekend assured. SJM had a good game, Bailey still flatters to deceive. Time to start the celebrations and crack open some beers. Yay.

  10. Yes, indeed, Plug. All about the win.

    We always say it, but those are the kinds of games we’d normally conspire to draw or lose. So it’s good to see that kind of match out.

  11. I’ve not managed to see the game yet, but it does feel good after those 3 losses, to have returned to winning ways.
    Since Emery joined us, we’re ranked 6th in the league. THAT’S how much we’ve improved.

    In 12 games, the Leicester result was the only disappointing one really. One out of 12 is pretty astonishing.
    I know we’ve all had our concerns about our player recruitment, but ‘post Emery’ form has been good enough to qualify for Europe.

    Might we actually be back on track with the original plan?

  12. Did everyone see the Martinez interview where he said it would be “too easy” to transfer to a Champion’s league club to win trophies?
    He went on to say that he wanted to help end the goal drought at Villa.

    By all accounts, he’s a man who sets himself big targets and fights to achieve them. I can believe that he’s genuine in wanting to fight to achieve this one too.

  13. Plug, I’m sure we all ‘crap ourselves’ with the playing out from the back, but I’m not sure that makes it wrong. Despite the fact that we’re in the bottom half of the table over the past 12 games for goals conceded, we’re ranked 4th for goals scored and maybe ‘part’ of that is down to us retaining more possession?
    We know we need to tighten up at the back but maybe we just need to be patient, provided the ‘overall’ performances seem to be moving in the right direction?

  14. I just took a look to compare our first 13 games under Gerrard and our next 12 under Emery (the latter 12 being slightly more difficult fixtures on average)
    Under Gerrard we gained 12 points in 13 games and were 1 point above relegation with a goal difference of -9
    Under Emery, we’ve gained 22 points in 12 games, are 6th in the league (over that period) with a goal difference of +2

    If we’d had Emery’s results since the start of the season we’d be sitting in 4th place with a game in hand over Spurs sitting in 5th. That’s how good we’ve been since he took over. It’s all too easy to become demoralised after a few poor results and inevitably we’ll have a few of those along the way, but you can imagine that the players are really starting to believe that they just might be part of something exciting.

    I’m still prepared to put all my trust in Emery. If he wants the players to learn to play out from the back. . . . that’s fine by me.

  15. Apparently, 9 of the 11 starters yesterday were players who played under Smith. Doesn’t it suggest that we really don’t need wholesale changes this summer? I’d still prefer evolution over revolution, with us bringing in maybe just 3 -4 quality signings which will improve the starting line up and at the same time leave us with a much stronger bench

  16. I’m highly delighted with progress under Unai. Yesterday’s performance seemed more like an away game set up than what we’ve seen recently at home. Or maybe it was down to Palace setting up solid to make life difficult. Hence the lack of many chances. If it was the former, that’s just what we’d expect from Unai as he adjusts to claim the win.

    Certainly the Palace fans ain’t happy. They want Vieira out. Makes me wonder what they want as he’s got them into a solid mid table position.

    We’re now in a position to attack the top half of the table and surpass the 51 points we got second season back. Not counting any chickens but I believe the 51 point ceiling is under threat.

  17. Plug, if we can achieve the same points per game for the rest of the season as we’ve achieved so far (including the Gerrard slump period) then we should just pip your 51 point target which would be a decent end point when you consider we were just 1 point above relegation and still sliding when Emery took over.

    Palace fans calling for Viera’s head is ridiculous, but par for the course, and you wonder how long it will be before Newcastle fans start to whisper behind their hands that maybe Eddie Howe has taken them as far as he can and they need to replace him too, considering their recent run of form.

    It will be surprising if we don’t have a poor run at some point this season but it would make a nice change if we were able to avoid the ‘self entitled’ criticism of manager, players and tactics that always seems to follow a poor run (yeah. . . I know, it’s wishful thinking and naive . . . . .but i’ll still wish for it!)

  18. Yesterday had its moments, with the 5 minutes almost of awaiting the VAR decision on Saha’s offside goal, the own goal from Cash’s cross, to the crunching foul on Kamara, Ollie’s miss, after some great work to create it, and then Chambers being fouled.
    I thought, as we did that McGinn had another great game, and is beginning to show his worth again.
    Still not happy with Martinez and his holding on to the ball, not seeing players demanding it, when they are in a good position. He could really make a difference to the team, if he could improve and distribute the ball better.
    Palace never really threatened to the extent that you would be on edge over the result, but they are still a very solid team, and difficult to beat.
    I am so pleased that Emery is getting the team into a winning mentality, able to grind out a result and get the points.
    The biggest worry now is the injury list and having a very small squad. Emery says he will not commit the youngsters to the bench yet, which is why he is nominating two goalkeepers, rather than academy players.
    Two more really crucial games coming up against relegation strugglers, which will be further tests of our resilience.
    Bailey was the only real struggler, but hopefully he may settle and improve, as he is needed. Young is the only player that wasn’t used, who could make a difference.

  19. As much as I dislike the bindippers, watching ManUre getting stuffed like a rag doll 7-0 was extremely satisfying. Even more satisfying was that Bruno Fernandes was the captain who delivered their biggest rodgering since 1931. A great weekend just got better.

  20. Emery looks the real deal,the improvement in Watkins is noted ,as is mcginn back in team looks a new man deserving of his spot just needs that goal for his confidence, also as captain last man to leave ground last night signing autographs and pictures,
    Matt cash also deserves praise back in team hopefully can keep up his improvement

  21. Lastly loved united getting stuffed,watching the weasel ferndanes trying to cheat,and then the cream ,Keane on sky sports ripping utd players apart,neville saying pool didn’t play well priceless

  22. PP – great comments on the game.

    I think playing SJM on the right wing has helped him. Ramsey – I think his game has dropped off.

    I didn’t see a lot of mention about Buendia, but his all round game is amazing. Never stops running and his defensive skills are unreal for a #10. He’s definitely on my next shirt.

    I wonder how good is Azaz, who’s on loan at Plymouth? Seems like Plymouth fans are raving about him

  23. Yes VillaMD,
    Some of our youngsters are doing really well, Tim, Aaron and Aziz among them.

    I am now watching “The Footballer, his wife, and the crash”. What a revelation about J.Lloyd-Samuel and his life. There are also many interesting facts about Villa included, which also back up the lack of management of our players outside of the footballing side of life.

  24. I’m always happy to see Man Ure put in their place. Cannot stand Fernandes

    Will be curious to see Summer signings. Not sure what position we need. Maybe a 40m winger

  25. I still want Adama Traore to come back and feel the love. I am sure if he was nurtured properly, there is a great player there. Just in the few highlights on MOTD he showed what he is capable of.

  26. VillaMD et al, yes it was a pleasure to see that cheating shit Fernández hating life yesterday. The one downside is that the team I most resent at the moment is City and I’d even rather see United win the league than them. I do hope their very expensive lawyers aren’t able to get them off again.

  27. I commented yesterday that I would prefer that we only looked to bring in upnton3 or maybe 4 quality players this summer rather than another big upheaval but ‘if’ we were to continue current form (it is a very big if) and European football arrived earlier than seems likely, we may need to go further than that. Last season, Moyes seemed to be working wonders at West Ham but now may even be struggling to keep his job. The extra pressures ofnEuropean football ahe surely played a part in that.

  28. PP. I know what you’re saying about Adama Traore, but couldn’t you say the same about so many creative wingers? . . They look great when things work for them. . . but lack of consistency always seems to let them down. We have a couple ourselves in Bailey and our own Traore, and El Ghazi and Trez could also be put into the same pot.

  29. PP, r0bb0,

    The old highlight reel…If you just saw a few clips of Bertie scoring, you’d think ‘what a player’. It’s the other hundreds of minutes we don’t see that count more.

    Adama falls into that for me. Physically, he’s almost unplayable. But doesn’t have a football brain, really, versus someone like Mbappe.

  30. VillaMD,

    Summer signings…Not sure when the possibilities have felt so wide open. I’m like r0bb0…want to see us finish as high as we can, but really unsure about the extra games if we were to just sneak into Europe.

    Even with depth, you see Kamara with another potentially lengthy injury and wonder just how deep we can realistically get. We’re not appealing enough to have two at that level yet.

    Then once you’re into Europe, I remember supporters’ heads exploding over the team selection that night in Russia.

  31. VillaMD,

    Thought McGinn’s comments have been interesting. A ‘decent’ performance, but not a good one. Nice and honest. Also saying it’s nice to be further forward without worrying what’s behind him.

    It does seem to be bringing back more of the McGinn we remember.

    Agree, Ramsey seems to have plateaued for the moment. He does well enough driving forward, but the rest hasn’t terribly impressive.

    Buendia gets overlooked I think because moves the ball when he gets it, so it doesn’t always seem like he’s doing a lot. But he is, and his awareness is excellent. The ball in to Watkins couldn’t have been more perfect. We just don’t necessarily focus on playing through him.

    My guess is that when we get to incomings, Emery will be looking for players who have that same base skillset. That’s the only way we can get to consistent one-touch play.

  32. I’m happy to leave any incoming players to the judgement of Unai. I have much more trust in him than previous incumbents including Suso and Lange. He knows how he wants to set up, knows which players can fit the system and which ones can’t.

    He’s going to build a strong team, I’m confident of that. Strap yourselves in guys, good times are on the horizon.

    JC, if we do get into European competition, my hope is that we take it seriously and not pick a weaker team for such games. There’s no point in fighting for a qualification place only to throw it away if achieved. His record at Villareal suggests he will take the competition seriously.

  33. Blow losing kamara for next 5 or 6 games with no decent cover
    As for summer incomings a back up keeper,a centre midfielder couple attacking options,our bench is very light

  34. Hammers and Leicester up next,2 teams we have struggled against,without kamara we will be weaker ,would prefer Chambers to start in his place and 4 points would be an excellent return

  35. PP – I’d agree with JC on Adama- too inconsistent. Is he better than what we have?

    R0bb0 – I’ll be shocked if we make 7th for Europe. If yes, 3-4 players needed.

    I watched Nico Williams last weekend (vs reels). At 20 years, I can see why Unai wants him. Fast, strong and full of energy.

    JG – Kamara a huge loss. It’s a chance for Chambers to prove himself though. I don’t mind Dendoncker, but just seems a bit lazy.

  36. As nice as it would be for Villa to get a European spot next year they aren’t ready for that commitment. We’ve seen too many teams rise up quickly and then suffer with the extra games Europe adds.
    I don’t think Villa would be able to stay under the FFP trying to fill out the bench with improved players plus buying upgrades for the first team. Also, several players on the team (again my thinking) have reached their potential which is mid-table premier league players and they won’t be able to move them on. An overhaul would be disruptive whereas one or two or three new faces shouldn’t be too disruptive.
    Having strong players in case of injury who are willing to sit in the sidelines until needed will be hard to find. Callum Chambers comes to mind. I guess what I’m getting at is for the team to incrementally improve in all aspects not go all out for a few players.
    I would, as I think many would too is to see academy players given a chance.

  37. Ian, the academy player question is an interesting one. By not even including them on the bench, Emery seems to be sending a message that the owners shouldn’t look in that direction if they want him to achieve their objectives for the club.
    I’m pretty sure that we’d all like to see some of the youngsters given a chance and it will be tough to take for the owners, the players and the fans if none of them are deemed ready to step up. Emery does seem to know his own mind very well though so I guess we have to stick by what many of us have said recently, and trust him to do what he thinks is right.

  38. VillaMD. . .I don’t expect us to make 7th either, I was just pointing out that if we were to maintain current form, we’d be there or higher. It’s easy to lose sight of just how good our results have been since Emery took over and it’s hard to imagine that we won’t have a dip at some point bearing in mind that we’ve only had one dip in 12 games so far!

  39. R0bb0,

    Yeah, I guess you cannot drop Ollie based on current form. I’m just excited to see Duran play a full 90. Next 2 matches against WH and B’mouth will tell a lot. Fingers crossed

  40. I like what Emery’s doing.

    He’s got to play this squad, as it basically represents what quality we’ve got. Has to see if they can learn and play the system. Has to evaluate before the summer.

    I’ve said I think he knows what he’d like to do, but to spend the money wisely, he’s got to know where it’s going to yield the biggest return.

  41. I’m not sure it’s an indictment of the youth, but he’s basically saying they aren’t going to come in and change anything dramatically. And if he doesn’t have any burgeoning stars busting down the door, it doesn’t help his evaluations or results.

    How NSWE view the return (or lack thereof) on the youth investments, well, I’m thinking they understand you likely don’t get a lot of starters out of it. You probably make the money back at least, and it’s better to let them go sooner rather than later: while someone else thinks they can unlock the potential (Carney).

    Duran is interesting and I would like to see him more, but there’s also a lot of money to reclaim on Bailey if he isn’t in the plan, and of course seeing whether he can be salvaged in the meantime.

  42. Meanwhile, the circus at small heath continues to amuse. Coco continues to show “business men” around Wast Hills to give the impression that he’s selling some/all of the wreckage but everyone knows that he won’t part with anything until after the Bellingham sell on percentage materializes.

    Now there’s been a fire at the training ground. The park in small heath is a training option.

  43. John, when the team went to Dubai I thought Kesler looked ready and the kid Young roasted Cucerella. If Unai doesn’t think they’re there yet, I reckon we should get some decent money for the two of them.

  44. Hello folks, I’m enjoying watching the games under Unai and I don’t see much wrong with his approach. He’s treading a fine line to see what he has and hoping by summer they will either prove useful or not. We are seeing some very good play in opponents box at last similar to our best displays under smith that were more Gunho, when we were good we were very good when we were bad…….. now I’m seeing much more consistent patterns that vary a little due to oppositions approaches but the principles are the same.

    What’s interesting is that McGinn was asked where he wanted to play having been used further and further back. Now he’s had a go further forward and is looking himself bar goals again, Ramsey has moments but is working further back and carrying the ball when possible, all stuff we did under smith. Ramsey Like McGinn will adapt and be a better player for it in time, he’s still young. It does say I think that we are few players light or that some are to samey, time will tell. McGinns pace seems to be no problem as he is picking out some great passes reminiscent of Beundia, Funny also that we are playing two 10’s, sometimes 3 if phil’s fit.

    We are still not fantasmo at playing out but palace gave us plenty of room and kicked us in midfield instead. West Ham I think we will beat, we have threatened to beat them but failed recently and they are a bit poo at present. Leicester have that high press which troubles us so not sure.

    As for the Kids, I think throwing them in now would be a mistake, Unai didn’t want to lose Archer and he’s proving why yet again, others are doing very nicely and I think we will still get a good crop for the summer with more experience than watching from the bench, if not they will fetch in some spondoolicks. Duran is the exception as he is a unit at 19 and has maturity beyond his years in his appreciation of the game. Raikhy just might be one of those that does better with better players rather than needs the lower level practice, if he can hack it Physically I think he has a bit of everything.

    I’m relaxed about where we are and where we could be too, Europe? if it comes it comes, might draw better players and in the early rounds be a good challenge for a few Kids to play, those kids will be a little older and wiser by then, might even have pubes.

  45. I’ll be watching Match of the Day tonight for the first time in years now that the self opinionated “important celebrities” won’t be there. More footie and no hot air. Brilliant. Just needs the Gov’t to bin the TV licence fee and it’ll be happy days.

  46. West ‘Aaammm tomorrow and I’m hopeful of getting something from the game. They are a bogey team and historically we struggle against them but here’s hoping Unai has them worked out. COYVB.

  47. Plug- yes poor old gary eh, meanwhile he’s quibbling over his £4m tax demand, you would think he’d be happy to hand it to the state to rent more hotels wouldn’t you? We might see the 1st all women panel soon or maybe give a few of the migrants his job he won’t mind.

  48. Must admit, I’d find it amusing if the BBC discovered that they don’t actually need to be paying huge amounts of our money to wealthy ex footballers to pontificate on issues they’re no more qualified to comment about than the rest of us (like whether it really should have been a penalty or not)

  49. I can but laugh, sick of the whole virtue signalling bunch of them, funniest part is the government are giving 5 year rental agreements to landlords with a refit so clearly they are not expecting anything to change, just more rhetoric, the difference between the Tory millionaires and the Labour ones is minuscule, neither give a flying feck .

  50. The loanees are at it,which is good to see.

    Barry scoring for Salford last night and another goal a piece for Aaron Ramsey and Cameron Archer in a thumping win today for Middlesbrough.

    I think the 2 lads at Boro may make it at Villa. Not so sure about Barry as yet.

    Hoping for something out of tomorrow’s game at West Ham.

  51. Yeah, they’re having good spells, Desmond.

    Not really surprised by Archer, but it’s hard to deliver and he’s doing it. Can’t admit to having seen much of Aaron. Tim’s impressing, too, from what I read.

    Barry? Hard, isn’t it. When they’re heralded at such a young age, you just never know what they’re going to be like as they grow up.

  52. Also like Emery’s prematch comments:

    “The most important thing now is trying to build a team, trying to build a family, trying to build a way, trying to build a good mentality.”

    “We are going to play against teams like West Ham, like Bournemouth next week, and they are playing under the pressure of trying to escape the bottom of the table.

    “That is not our focus – our focus is how we can play, how we can manage 90 minutes, trying to play with our idea.

    We respect every team and we have to adapt the tactical way because of the individual quality because they have very good players.”

    What I like is that while you might hear a lot of the same things, I believe that’s what Emery’s actually trying to do in a very detailed and technical way rather than just spouting clichés. When you’re really prepared, really analyzing, really working with players in meetings and on the training ground to give them every chance, that’s good management and coaching.

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