Here we are, sat 8th with four to go. Unless you’re Brighton, who’ve got six to play. Emery wasn’t kidding when he talked about games in hand, and is there any wonder why people hate the damn United.

But let’s take nothing away from Brighton. Very good team, and certainly better on the night. So where does that leave Villa? Given we have Spurs, Pool, Brighton and this Wolves derby thing…very much in the running. Having got the weight of expectations off our shoulders by losing to United, Villa could be well positioned to nick a spot. Depending on results around us, of course.

Perhaps the even bigger talking point is that Villa look set to land Mateu Alemany from Barcelona, and the press is wild with links to all sorts of players and lavish spending. No one in this side is safe even if they already speak Spanish. It’s genuinely mouth-watering, the prospect, and only shows that Compass are not screwing around. Villa might finish the summer with a better squad than anyone outside the top four. And Chelsea.

So while Wolves are still perhaps a bit desperate, tough at home, smarting after a 6-0 tonking from Brighton, and Lopetegui’s never lost to Emery, there ought to be plenty of motivation in the Villa camp. Having previously been unbeaten in 10, Villa also come in off a loss with something to prove to the owners and Unai Emery. Everyone is very clearly playing for their place. And their European future is still very much in their own hands. Which means today probably is a must-win if Villa want those midweek games across the Channel next season.

Me, I’m not sure what to expect. Many have wondered if this small squad is getting a bit leggy down the stretch, but it was United who looked a bit tired and jaded against a fired-up Brighton side midweek. Villa’s starting XI have only got four more chances to prove their worth, we might be getting some important players back, and we know Unai’s going to be demanding. I’m expecting a response. Whether it’s good enough, well, it’s anyone’s guess.

The main thing is that here we are in the right half of the table fighting for a European spot instead of fighting relegation with Gerrard at the helm. One wonders what might’ve been if we’d been able to sign Emery right after Smith, instead. But we did get him, in the end, and NSWE look to be all in. That’s reason enough to be excited. Now it’s simply up to the players to show their worth and desire.

Oh, one more thing. Me, I’m happy to see Jack finally finding his feet and beginning to flourish at City. Providing the assist for Haaland’s record-setting goal is the kind of thing he would’ve been imagining. Maybe I wouldn’t be saying that if we were circling the drain, but I’d like to think I would, regardless. Not the brightest, but a hell of a footballer, a nice guy, and now he’s proving us right.

Over to you.



Comments 48

  1. Traore starts in place of Dendonks. Kamara, Couts and Bailey on the bench.

    JC, regarding Unai never beating Lopetegui, there has to be a first time. Perhaps today? I expect Wolves to be fired up after last weekend’s battering. We’ll need to match that. COYVB.

  2. Plug,

    Would like to think today’s the day, been frustrating so far, though. Emery gesturing to the players to calm down is probably what I take away.

    Wolves definitely breaking things up with a lot of fouls.

  3. Yeah, defo frustrating, Plug.

    Keep it up, and I think a breakthrough’s coming.

    Traoré’s been very poor, really hurts to have no threat there.

  4. Apart from the corner, Wolves haven’t really done anything. Guess the chance for Cunho could’ve been dangerous, but otherwise nothing.

  5. Can emery give a halftime talk that shakes us up,saying that apart from their goal and 1 other shot we have been in control,need a lot more from mcginn ramsay Watkins traore

  6. Think the goals comes down to how teams are now playing us. Wolves have had six along the back line at times.

    There’s just not a lot of space. We need more ‘countering’ opportunities.

  7. Let’s hope the season doesn’t just fizzle out . . . and I’m not just saying that because I’m taking the trip up to Villa Park next weekend!
    We’ve done far better than we could have expected after the start we had. You could feel the optimism and excitement building in the squad and fans at the thought of a European place and with such fine margins making the difference between winning and losing, that slight loss in confidence (particularly in front of goal) has lost us important points today.

  8. Was good to see Diego, and Bouba back, though a bit too late to influence the season.

    The limits are just there to see. No one to bring on who can really change anything. And just not enough danger from Bert/Bailey and even JJ, tbh.

  9. Plug,

    It is a big summer, glad we have someone coming in who’s actually influential on the continent.

    Always needed to recruit…and yeah, here’s to getting it right. I think they will, the kind of names and money being talked about.

  10. Even to finish 8th would be a brilliant season after the failure gerards time
    Recruitment has to be good,hopefully some bargains in it

  11. In context, yes, been a remarkable turnaround, r0bb0, JG.

    I think that’s why today was so frustrating. Done in by a corner, and I was really getting tired of the incessant fouling. Had some good chances, the handball could well have been given. Just felt like a bit of a piss-take overall.

  12. This team’s limitations were again apparent,when faced with a team defending a solitary goal lead.

    Emery has done brilliantly to have engineered Villa into 8th.

    The scouting team will have their work cut out in the summer to recruit at least 6 players,if Emery has a wish to have 2 per position.

    I can see a massive turnover taking place. Of course, players such as Archer,could feature-hopefully- in the squad.

    After the showing yesterday I hope the team can provide one last great effort in the last 3 fixtures!

  13. It is indeed shaping up to be an even more interesting summer than I would’ve thought a couple months ago, Desmond.

    Being this tantalizingly close to Europe shows we have the right manager. Alemany shows NSWE’s commitment. And now Emery, Alemany, and everyone else can see where we’re short of quality and depth.

  14. Yesterday was also interesting (now that I’ve calmed down a bit) for showing how simple the game is.

    You always hear “goals change games” which is one of the funniest (ie, most blatantly obvious) sayings in the game. Of course they do. That’s the point.

    And scoring first is, again, obviously better than conceding first. When Villa have opened the scoring, Emery’s show he can get this side to defend a narrow lead. Our last two matches have seen the script flipped on us.

    The difference between City (name a couple others) and the rest is the quality to find a way to score no matter how resolute (or negative) the opponent is. Individual brilliance, patient probing, whatever, they’re almost impossible to keep out, even when playing poorly for large stretches. And they can bring on entirely new problems to face when Plan A isn’t working.

    Emery had little to turn to on the bench, and Buendia is not going to take a team down on his own. Our wide options just aren’t good enough, for one thing. There’s not enough threat throughout the side.

    Hate to keep picking on Bailey and Traoré (who does have moments of magic in him), but they’re just not consistently troubling enough and a lot of moves break down with them. JJ isn’t either, tbh, though he does offer a lot more positives than those two.

    We’re essentially asking Ollie, Emi, Doug and SJM to go and beat everyone every week. If they were all top of the league or world, maybe it works. But it’s a lot to ask. For Emery to have gotten this side where they are is pretty impressive.

  15. JC. Very true comments as to how the team has performed under Emery.
    They’ve been a credit to the grand old club.

    Yes looking forward to seeing how the summer recruitment goes.

    I’ve every confidence in the new ‘Sporting Team’ to put together an exciting squad for Villa to tackle next season. After being a supporter since 1957,it would be great to see a truly great side grace Villa Park.

    Thanks to you JC and all the other contributors for the insightful comments and wholehearted support for Villa.

  16. Been watching West ‘Aaamm v Manure. Manure get away with another clear penalty when Lindelof deliberately handled the ball. I can excuse the ref missing it but not VAR. It was so obvious that it can’t simply be incompetence. VAR proves once more that it’s not a level playing field but instead is loaded with self interest. All credibility (if it ever had any in the first place) spent.

    Reflecting on the game yesterday now that I’ve calmed down, the ref let the hosts foul at will and took no action. Very poor. As for the remaining games, as I see things it’s now a 7th – 9th finish. I’ll take 8th and die wondering what might have been had Unai replaced Deano. But one thing I’m sure about…..Villa will be an even better team next season.

  17. JG.
    yes an unbelievable score line 1-4 to Everton.
    We’re right in the middle of what some people call ‘the silly season’.

    Another goal for our man at Boro. Cameron Archer has proved to be an excellent example of what Villa has amongst its younger players.
    I really trust that Villa don’t offload Archer.

  18. There is no doubt that Emery is probably the classiest manager at Villa Park in living memory but I am a little wary of the predominantly Spanish back room staff and fear for our academy players. I vaguely remember Steve Bull going from West Brom to Wolves and wondered if West Brom ever thought what could have been. That brings me to Cameron Archer. There is no doubt in my mind that Watkins is in the top five centre forwards in the PL but I think Archer could be a better and more natural finisher (given the coaching) than Watkins. Hope Emery doesn’t view players with red and yellow tinted glasses and can see the value in our younger British players and not overlook them.

  19. jbd656. Totally agree with your comments, especially regarding Archer and other Acadamy players.

    We need to see a blending of experience and young players.
    Southampton did it for a while until they change tack,which ultimately has led to where they are today.

    The silly season continues with Brighton losing again to a relegation threatened team. Is there season unravelling? It’s not always great to have a lot of games in hand,as you land up playing too many in a short space of time. As the saying goes”a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush”.

  20. Yeah, didn’t see the match, but the scoreline made me wonder whether Brighton expended too much energy vs United. They wanted that one so bad.

  21. jbd,

    I do have shadows of the same concern…The more your team gets made over a certain way, the harder it is to replicate/sustain.

    And then, as you say, there may be some home-grown diamonds that get overlooked.

    Fingers crossed.

  22. But…I have to say it’s going to be that way with any manager, pros and cons, especially when they have very definitive ideas on how they want to play.

    Ideally, Emery gets us to a place where the team and setup are such that they attract other top-class managers when he eventually leaves. As all managers do. Top managers will be able to use what Emery builds.

  23. I well remember the pre 1992 1st division successful sides of Leeds, Liverpool and Man Utd. Their core were always local lads who had come through the academies sprinkled with superstars garnered from other more plodding teams. Those clubs were always of their home cities.

    Then came the sell out to the sky entitled money scum advertisers who pissed all over the previous 100 years and created the premier league (SPIT!!!!) in their scummy image. First chelski then man shitty through their dodgy money gobbled up all the worlds soulless football mercenary/unthinking zombie slaves and started buying up trophies. Suddenly both those teams had FA to do with their local areas and their moron fans couldn’t see it. Through gritted teeth I have to accept that Man U at least had a strong local core at the the centre of SAF’s winning teams and did an admirable job of representing their London fans.

    I’m truly worried we might go down that route. It bugs me that we threw away the DS team building idea using and developing promising young players and went for instant success with the glitzy all conquering gerro method of buying ready made ageing stars. Our present side is still a properly coached grown up DS side who seem to have developed a Villa soul. Maybe I’m self deluded but I reckon Mings, Luiz, Konsa, Martinez and McGinn identify themselves with Villa. Maybe Young as well once he got his trophies else where. Kamara is a fabulous Rolls Royce player but does he feel a Villa connection? Are we a stepping stone to man shitty or the arse? Benteke was a fabulous centre forward but every other month seemed a battle against his agent moving him on somewhere more lucrative. Did Benteke ever feel a Villa connection?

    Ever remember Alan Sugar getting disillusioned with being chairman of Spurs and grumbling about lashing out money on any Carlos Kickaball? Deep down this is bugging me. The last six months have been fabulous with a properly coached and fully developed DS team. All the Newsnow Aston Villa page (who are obviously lying click gathering hacks) are focussed on Villa buying anything but British players and our academy is pointless. Is Moussa Dembele any better than Archer? Will Archer be useless because he’s not Spanish or French?

    I know that I’ve spat a lot of big probably unjustified dummies out of my pram but I don’t want our fanbase to become a load of entitled man shitty/ chelski wannabe prawn sandwich eating cockney luvvies just because we can splash the cash on any afore mentioned soulless football zombie mercenary.


  24. PS
    Are our owners too good to be true? What are their intentions? Are they trifling with our affections? Gift horses hmmmmmmmm.

  25. jbd,

    A lot there, can’t say I blame you. Maybe Newcastle had an effect, NSWE seeing the writing on the wall, needing to move faster.

    Or maybe they just came to believe that the original plan wasn’t as viable as they’d hoped. Hard to say. And as we always fall back on, just have to wait and see. Could be the academy produces a gem or two, and maybe Archer does get a look.

    The reality of the PL is pretty harsh, though.

  26. 656,

    Ever since the EPL came into existence, teams in that league began swimming with crocodiles. The money pyramid formed and the days of Barnsley or Bolton winning the FA Cup disappeared forever. Each season, the 3 available trophies are hoovered up by the same clubs and this sadly is also now happening with the UEFA trophies. Left unamended, the sport must subside into something like we see in Scotland, with tiny gates for everyone except the main two teams.

    It’s easily remedied, but needs the will of the governing bodies to implement it. They won’t, and it’s a valid question to ask why? Is there corruption? Is there fear of something? Just look at how the NHL operates in North America where a salary cap is levelled on each team, where the best young talent goes to the poorest performing teams, all regulated by the governing body. If introduced by the football authorities, we may see Ipswich win the EPL, Red Star Belgrade win the European Champions League again or Egypt win the World Cup. The risk is that the greedy bastards might wish to form their own league. Let them and FIFA and the various Federations can isolate those players from it’s competitions. It ain’t rocket science.

    Coming back to Villa, I believe Compass are trying to harness the local talent, they’ve started constructing a centre of excellence on the car park land in Brookvale Rd (originally bought by Herbert) and which Dr Skint mortgaged to raise some cash. The players uncovered will either make it or hopefully provide a decent revenue stream for the club aka Chelski. So hopefully, we haven’t veered from the local youth set up and perhaps extended it to find such talent anywhere in the world. It was Purslow/Gerrard that went the older, ready made route and I trust we’ve now binned it for good. Time will tell.

    Looking forward to watching with great interest who comes and goes this summer. Might be like the Magic Roundabout but I’m sure the resulting team will give us some great rides. Up the Mighty Villa.

  27. JC and Plug

    Nicely put cool logical analysis. You can let me go now – I’ve gone back to the decaff (bleahhh), taken my ritalin and calmed down.

  28. The kit man is going to bebusy this summer,just going on rumours this week,frem will be slightly excited, pau torres,ferran torres ex man city ,vulohica from juve,feynoord Turkish captain,the lad from real Madrid, last week it was dyballa from roma and other Argentinian midfielder lad at athletic madrid

  29. Ritalin eh? Thanks for the tip 656, I might need some during the season finale.

    Unai gets Manager of Month award for April. Fully deserved. Seems we also have a full squad to select from tomorrow. Can’t wait.

  30. First time weve managed to get up to villa park this season. Ground looking wonderful as ever. . . . Bathed in sunshine. Struggling to think of a better Premier league ground.
    Nervous excitement building

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