Naturally Villans are a bit nervous in the lead up to today’s match because we know all too well that Villa can be a soft touch for struggling clubs. Will today be different? I’d like to say I know, but obviously I don’t.

As always, this will come down to who wants it more. But there’s also the game plan and who executes theirs better: which team is set up best initially, and what responsibility do the players take as the game evolves and plays itself out.

I’ve said that I think I see signs of improving game management from Villa. Stretches where they’re content to hold and recycle the ball instead of feeding into a back-and-forth frenzy by trying to attack too quickly too often. This is the execution part…not losing your heads, not getting caught up by emotion, everyone just doing what the manager wants. Make the simple pass, be available, be patient. Work hard off the ball and all the rest.

Bournemouth will understandably have a bit of desperation in them and Villa’s job is to keep that at arm’s length. Ideally, turn that against them. But three points would go a very long way for the Cherries given the brutal congestion below Villa’s 35 points. And I know I’d feel a bit better not just with a win, but with Villa further distancing themselves from the cauldron. And with Chelsea up next, there’s a real chance for Villa to start staking their claim for a top-half finish. Leicester, Forest, Newcastle, Brentford and Fulham follow, and you can definitely see Emery thinking this is the pivotal moment in the season where the side has to produce.

So for me, today is less about quality than professionalism and mentality: whether the players believe they’re top half.

As I’m sure everyone’s seen, Emery’s left the lineup unchanged, though I am seeing questions about whether Bailey will be played up top or further back. Also seeing that a lot folks are feeling like this is Bailey’s last chance to keep a starting place, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. There’s not a lot to change the game on the bench, but the two players you’d look to, Traoré and Duran, are both there and I’m guessing that while they may not have the result ultimately resting on their shoulders, one or both will need to come on and make an impact.

Starting XI
Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Moreno, Luiz, McGinn, Ramsey, Bailey Buendia, Watkins.

Over to you.

Comments 41

  1. This is the stage where I hope we’ve learned. Cherries in more of a nothing-to-lose mode going down.

    Could well be happy to just salvage a point, but Villa need to just keep it tight. Fine balance between getting the second and being too open.

  2. Not watching,but from JC’s last comment it seems that Villa deserved the result.
    2 more goals today for Archer and 1 for P-Bidace.
    Youngsters on loan generally doing well.

  3. Desmond,

    They did deserve it…Couple dodgy moments at the back, but on another day, could’ve had five or six on the chances created.

    SJM, Luiz, JJ all had good games. Players were actually jumping in and winning it back up high. Odd stray pass here and there, couple bad decisions, and we are vulnerable to the long balls splitting the CBs, but the side is starting to look different.

  4. Sharp and nippy it was then. It was death by a thousand little surgical cuts from mom Luiz. if we had got a penalty from any of the handball calls, it would have been very soft but I think we know which six clubs would have got two out of three.

  5. Well managed game, shows the maturity and composure we now play with. As a fan I’m not as nervous considering the past few years (or decade). Defence is settled and not afraid to hold and build from the back.

    Need to put away those chances earlier, the 3 goals today will hopefully allow us to shift from the 1 nils off late. Watkins unlucky, one of those days. Will take the win and points any day, UTV.

  6. Amazing 10 points from 4 games,only goal conceded from a dodgy decision, of which we aren’t getting either,small squad due to injuries, what a super manager emery,what superb owners we have
    It’s great time to be villa fans

  7. JC. Many thanks for the update on the match. Emery does seem to be getting the best out of the squad. With only Moreno added,Emery has done a great job so far.
    -Bidace’s goal was scored in a game subsequently abandoned.

  8. Oh Dude, I didn’t see 3-0 coming. No way. Don’t know how the Cherries beat the bindippers last week, but they did look dangerous on the break as our CB’s are not the quickest to protect a high line.

    Overall, we looked a bit jaded to me. At 1-0 the game was in the balance and needed a great save by Emi from a free kick just outside the box to keep us in front. Had that gone in, the result may have been different. But when Ramsey scored the 2nd, they collapsed and we might have scored 4 or 5.

    Another win. Three points. Great weekend. Happy days.

  9. Having spent most of the game berating Bailey (OK, he made the first goal) and Buendia as our weakest links, Buendia then puts the icing on the cake by scoring. What do I know?

  10. Konsa’s stock ball is the pass back to Emi. When we moved it forward, we looked far more dangerous. SJM and Dougie the best for me. Plus Emi in goal and Tyro obviously enjoyed the demolition of his old team. Ramsey did well too.

    It was good to see some players turning their opponents when pressed and take the open spaces behind them.

  11. The morning after and I’m still buzzing. Just 4 points separating 6 teams now. True, some have games in hand but as we have to play them…….

    Saw the highlights and didn’t realize at the time that the Villa deflected shot when the score was 1-0 was diverted over the bar by a hand. Straight peno. VAR just useless for us.

  12. Enjoyed yet another trip to Villa Park and the Aston Tavern, enjoying a couple of beers and a tasty Balti, before the game.
    I am so pleased that Unai is sticking to is beliefs, and making them work. By not chopping and changing, you can see the gradual improvements as players get used to each other, building confidence, better understanding and results are coming. It is amazing when you look and see an eleven point gap to the next team below us.
    The improvement in players like Luiz and McGinn is outstanding, and the rest of the team is also benefiting, with the only one still struggling is Bailey, but I am sure that Unai will continue to work with him.
    This is important whether some of these players stay or go, we need to have them reach their maximum value level.
    Great to see our girls dispose of Man City yesterday to reach the semi-finals of the Women’s FA Cup. We have two great managers working at Villa!!

  13. Exract from a very good article on Villa’s Ramsey Brothers.
    “Aston Villa have a rich history of producing players from their academy side who have then gone on to be a success in the first-team set-up.

    Jack Grealish is, arguably, the best example of this as the winger was a terrific player for the Villans for many years before being sold to Manchester City for a then-British record transfer fee of £100m.

    Jacob Ramsey has broken through into the first team in recent seasons and established himself as a regular in central midfield. The 21-year-old has scored eight goals in 89 senior outings for the club but is not an out-and-out attacker as his main position is in the heart of the midfield.

    Whereas, Grealish is a natural attacker and was consistently influential at the top end of the pitch for Villa – scoring 14 goals and providing 18 assists in his final two Premier League campaigns for the side combined.

    Unai Emery could now unearth the club’s next version of the England international by unleashing Jacob Ramsey’s brother Aaron in the 2023/24 campaign.

    How has Aaron Ramsey performed this season?
    The 20-year-old has spent this season on loan with Norwich and, now, Middlesbrough in the Championship and has developed throughout the year.

    In the second tier, the dynamo has averaged an impressive Sofascore rating of 6.98 across 23 appearances and racked up six goals and three assists to date, with three of those goals coming in his last two outings for Boro since making the switch to Teeside in January.

    WhoScored’s Martin Laurence, interestingly, pointed out this week that Ramsey has now equalled Grealish’s best goalscoring season at that level with his six strikes, with ten regular season matches still to play.

    The magician was also recently lauded by his current head coach, Michael Carrick, who said:

    “AJ was brilliant. He’s a selfless player. He makes selfless runs for those around him, he’s intelligent, he sacrifices himself and understands what others around him are good at.”

    Ramsey, who scored 15 goals and provided eight assists in 30 U21 outings for Villa, is an attacking midfielder by trade and can also play out wide – like Grealish.

    The maestro could make the step-up to the first team, based on his terrific displays in the Championship at such a young age, and become a consistent threat in the final third for the Villans as an attacker and follow in the footsteps of the now-Manchester City gem.

    However, it is down to Emery to offer him the chance to impress and then it would be up to the player to adapt to top-flight football and consistently deliver impressive displays on the pitch”.

    I hope that Archer and Ramsey get the chance to prove their worth at the end of the season.

  14. PP,

    Yep, great to see Ramsey, Archer and Bidace delivering in the Championship. Davis also playing well.

    L’Equipe newspaper reckons Sanson is the best January signing in France. Getting rave reviews. It’s a pity he didn’t get a run at Villa, but then who would you leave out!

    Moreno looking better every week. Cash back to his best. Martinez looking up for it again. Happy days to be a Villa fan. Will be interesting to see if Portuguese and more South Americans come in after our owners buying a share in Vitoria G

  15. Italy v England was the proverbial game of two halves. All England 1st half, all Italy 2nd half. Beaky will escape criticism, but hell, he needed to make some substitutions yonks before he did and it nearly cost us the win.

  16. Plug. The dreaded curse of these International matches during the season.

    Although saying that,it was good to see John McGinn scoring again for Scotland. We must play him as an attacking midfielder. 16 goals for Scotland is excellent

    Another player in my humble opinion who should be playing in a forward position is Moreno. Not a defender and if my memory serves me right, I think he originally played as a forward. He could start in that position instead of Bailey/Traore.

    Carlos by all reports needs a fair amount of time before he’s fully up to speed.

  17. Des, yep could do without these injuries. We might be able to get SJM further forward next game if Kamara is back, always assuming he doesn’t pick up an injury against Spain on Tues night.

    Moreno is most effective when attacking I agree. He’s very useful. I also must say that Duran looks a real unit. Wouldn’t fancy marking him at set pieces….

  18. Great game of football at Villa Park this afternoon.
    Aston Villa Ladies 5 v Leicester City Ladies 0.

    Alisha Lehmann showed she is not just the pin up girl, with an excellent display this afternoon, with two assists and two goals.
    Carla Ward really is building a great team.

    Unai Emery has to show that the boys can match up now!!

  19. Another £21 million quid share issue last week by Compass according to Companies House. Preparing for some redevelopment work I guess. Just fantastic.

  20. Hey, viva.

    Yeah, it has been quiet…Maybe now that the break is past and the run-in is at hand we’ll have a little more to say.

    I’ve also noticed that out in the Villasphere in general, there hasn’t been a lot of insight or much of value being said.

    Today will tell us a lot.

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