Welp, another tough match in what’s proven to be a challenging stretch. Villa’s 10 minutes of chaos against Brentford cost them two points and 4th, for now, while City was…sobering, perhaps.

But, here we are with Lille coming to town for a Conference League Quarterfinal in what might be yet another ‘must-win’. You never know, of course, but you’d certainly like to win the home leg.

As you might expect, Emery is fielding about as strong a side as he can, with Rogers and Bailey getting starting nods and Konsa, Carlos and Torres filling out the back three with Digne wide left. Will certainly be good to have Super John back in the side.

Not an easy match by any means, but at least we’re not particularly hamstrung personnel-wise. I’m sure everyone will be wanting to put in a performance to keep themselves in contention for silverware and rediscover the 90 minutes of concentration they’ll need over the run-in.

Over to you.

Comments 517

  1. I’m all for quick VAR decisions, but that was such a clear penalty if you take 20 seconds to view it.
    Are they changing the way VAR is used to leave more of the emphasis on the referee’s initial decision maybe?

  2. When you look we can’t fill bench,European games it’s 12or 13 subs
    No cash kamara or ramsay lenget never mind mings and beundi, think that’s 47 games already played,not a bit wonder we aren’t free flowing, emery is doing unbelievable work

  3. Extremely fortunate to win the game. The world’s number 1 saved us on 3 occasions in the first half alone when faced with a player clean through on him. Not to mention his 2nd half stops. I started worrying immediately SJM made it 2-0. It’s that score line again that haunts me. We stop playing and ignored loads of opportunities to play a long ball over their back line for our speedsters to race into. And then the inevitable happened. From my seat in the North stand their offside goal looked OK to me so it was a pleasant surprise to see it chalked off.

  4. Atmosphere was great even though Lille only sold enough tickets to fill the lower section of their allocation. Ollie detonated it on 13 minutes. Thought the French team played the ref very well, much better than we did. He was awful.

    Great goal from SJM lifted the roof off. And from where I was sat, Ollie looked like he’d been cleaned out for a penalty. What was the ref doing? A LOSC foul was a foul and a Villa foul was a booking.

  5. All in all it was a tough game. It is going to be tight next week in France. Had the feeling we were running on vapour and judging by the English results, so are the others. Only the EPL can arrange a fixture congestion in April just when the European games are coming to a climax.

  6. As mentioned by other Lifers, the subs didn’t do much. Zaniolo was ineffective, Duran strolled around and wasn’t very busy. Diaby never got any service over the top. And I don’t like Konsa at RB with Carlos inside him. But can’t complain as Unai’s only other choice is to play Kesler at RB. Doesn’t he trust him?

  7. Hoping now Ramadan is over diaby gets back on it,not a bit wonder evening matches don’t suit,energy levels must be really flat
    Good point on premier league fixture pile up,it’s crazy why can’t they extend season by a fortnight, must other leagues have same amount teams

  8. It really is all about attrition. The schedule is brutal now having already played so many games. If only Villa had a bit more luck with injuries and a deeper bench.

    I think this is why Villa are wanting to go into cruise control, why 2-0 leads don’t look very safe. Mental fatigue compounds physical fatigue. The minutes Ollie, Doug and SJM have logged are massive.

    Even trying to pull any of them for the last 10-15 mins can lead to problems.

  9. Lille, Emi did come up big…Though I will say the space was pretty compressed and the nature of those chances ultimately played to his strengths. A keeper that doesn’t come out quick and get big like he does would’ve been beaten.

    But time and again we see the same tactics against us. Sometimes feels like we’re watching the same game over and over. Obviously that’s the approach against high lines, and there’s not much to be done about perfect passes. It’s a percentage game and you’re betting they can’t/won’t hit more than two or three a match. We’d be better off with Ty’s recovery speed back there, never mind his aerial presence.

    So you see the big switch left time and again, someone central receiving, turning and quickly making that pass while the other attackers make their runs. And it’s tough watching Konsa in all that space. He’s doing pretty well out there all things considered, and to be honest, I’m not sure Cash would stop much more coming in than Ezri has. Flipside is that we are more dangerous down that side with a quick FB like Cash going forward.

    Anyway, same as Ajax, we’ll see if they have two games like that in them.

  10. I see the French teams left in Europe have all been given the weekend off. None of them are playing which means Lille will be completely refreshed whilst Villa try and deal with Arsenal. The greed of the EPL really is killing the golden goose and they can’t see it. Fools.

  11. I like the idea of a weekend off to help in Europe, Plug, but some doing it while others don’t/can’t (TV, etc) smacks a bit of cheating, tbh. Should be either all or none.

    But your broader point: Yeah, the EPL is, well…greedy?

  12. French clubs in Europe having the weekend off is a disgrace. At least Cash and Lenglet are back.

    Maybe all the transfer talk has gotten to Luiz. Pulling an opponent jersey is silly. Conceding the goal may help – kick up the backside.

    Will be interesting to see if Unai will risk a Buendia return before the end of season

  13. Villa MD, yes, the jersey pull was silly, but maybe he’d also been silly enough to think that the referee was going to be just a tiny bit consistent with his decision making!

  14. Plug, from where I was sitting (in front of my tv) I said straight away. . . is he offside?. . .but it was still a mighty relief when it was finally called.

    I’m not sure I agree that we were fortunate to win the game though. The fact is that Emi is one of our players, and he’s bloody good at what he does. If Ollie scores a goal 9because he’s also bloody good at what he does) we don’t consider ourselves lucky to get the goal so I’m not convinced we should feel lucky when another of our very best players does his job very well.

  15. where we were very unlucky was with that penalty. I bet, like me, most of your have now seen replays of it.

    It looked a certain penalty in real time, but on the replays, its just outrageous!

    What were the officials thinking???

  16. Well. . . thank you Newcastle!

    So, how about Emery and Arteta agreeing to both field weakened sides, to give us half a chance against European opposition this week. The French clubs have been given a weekend off, but no such luck here, so it’d make sense for both sides to agree to a breather. . . I’d be ‘more’ than happy with a 1-0 loss tomorrow, to keep.us in 4th place with Spurs playing the top 3 in their next 3 games.

  17. R0bb0,

    Toon should have won by 8!

    I think we’ll be up for it tomorrow. I’d take 4th over Conference League trophy. Hopefully Tim starts.

    Good to see Louie Barry back in division 1.

  18. VillaMD, I know where you’re coming from, but the top 4 are only significant vecuse of the Champions League qualification.
    if we were to win the Europa conference, that would go a long way
    towards earning England the 5th Champion’s
    league spot and we really ‘should’ still be strong enough to earn that 5th spot even if we fall short for the 4th.

  19. What a difference in a week,
    6 matches each left us and spurs,3 v same opposition including 2 massive derbies for spurs ,then it’s 3 matches and they have city and 2 relegated teams,we have 3 midtable teams ,to close to call just as long as we get 9 points and make sure of 5th,
    United have been run ragged but as usual ref gives dodgy penalty to draw them level with at least 30mins to go

  20. Just started watching the united game as they were awarded a penalty.
    I can see why the referee gave it although it was marginal.
    This was an example of the punishment really not fitting the crime though. Why should a ball accidentally hitting the arm of someone who happens to be in the penalty area change the whole course of a game?
    It just doesn’t feel right

  21. Didn’t see that one,but absolutely joke at end ,foul carried on into box for Bournemouth
    Going to be tough next Sunday against them but God utd are a bucket side

  22. It’s scandalous what Manure get away with. Referee Tony Harrington couldn’t point to the spot quick enough when the ball fizzed up onto the Bournemouth defender’s arm. When the same thing happened to a Manure defender earlier in the game, he ignored it immediately. The integrity of the whole competition is in tatters.

  23. Must admit, I’d be feeling hard done by if I was a Bournemouth fan.
    It’s possible to argue that the one towards the end shouldn’t have been given as a penalty because the initial contact was outside the area, but Jamie Redknapp got it right when he said that the defender also blocked the attacker with his arm ‘inside’ the box so it should have been a penalty.

    I’ve seen someone point out that the ‘clear and obvious error’ rule doesn’t apply when the question is black and white, such as offsides or, whether contact was in the box or not, but in this instance, it’s a judgement call as to whether the defender was impeding the player in the box with his arm.
    It therefore wasn’t a clear and obvious error and the referees original decision should have stood.

    I was furious with Ollie’s penalty not being given on Thursday but at least they ‘quickly’ decided, not to overturn the referees decision. Yesterday there should have been a quick decision not to overturn the Bournemouth penalty. Having taken their time, there’s absolutely no excuse for them getting it
    I’m not going to say it’s corruption, but I do think there’s an innate tendency for officials to favour the ‘bigger’ clubs. There’s an inbuilt expectation that those teams will win, and it’s hard not to be subconsciously swayed by that. The officials just need to do better in learning to rise above their subjective bias.

  24. Team news:

    Villa XI: Martinez, Konsa, Carlos, Torres, Digne, Zaniolo, Tielemans, Diaby, Rogers, McGinn, Watkins

    Subs: Olsen, Cash, Moreno, Chambers, Lenglet, Duran, Kesler-Hayden, Bailey, Iroegbunam

  25. My favourite ref David Coote, stops play with Villa in possession because an Arsenal player is down and then gives the restart possession to the home team. The man is a retard.

  26. Overall Arsenal are very slick and pass with speed and precision. But Villa have handled it and looked quite classy themselves. We carry a threat on the counter and Ollie hit the post. But Emi has been required a couple of times.

  27. WHAT A RESULT. Fully deserved. Every man jack of them stood. Carlos was immense. But the others weren’t far behind. Beers on tap.

  28. WHAT A WEEKEND. Spurs drubbed. Manure held. Villa victorious. It’s the Arse again. The double. Maybe took their title. The guys in work are going to cop it tomorrow.

  29. Oh me of little faith.

    I’m afraid I really hadn’t seen that coming. Thank good news the manager and players have more faith than I did!

    Just amazing. . . . and better still. . . deserved!

  30. Plug. . . so right about Carlos. He’s come in for some stick recently (much of it over the top) but what a performance today. . .showed real class and determination.

  31. So…I’m going take some credit. 1) Left Lille post up cause that was a win, and 2) could only watch 1st half due to family obligations. Father-in-law asks me if I want tune in, watch the end, and I refused: “Only way we’ll win is if I don’t watch.”

    I’ll be taking congratulations in the comments. 😀

  32. But what a win. For Villa, for Emery…hell, for football. So proud of the lads. The mentality is there. Doing the double, two days less rest, away, incredible.

    Once again, what Emery has done is nothing less than miraculous.

  33. Great overall performance. Emi, Carlos, Digne, Tielemans, SJM, Rogers and Ollie. Wonder if Frem still thinks Ollie is sh$t. What a dink finish. Player of the year – Ollie or Bailey or Douglas?

    R0bb0, if 5th gets CL, then winning the Conference Cup would be ideal

  34. Still buzzing from the result. The Arse blogs are in meltdown. Likewise the Spurs blogs. It was another Unai masterclass.

    Tielemans sublime pass and Ollie’s sand wedge drained the stadium. It also ignited wild bedlam in the away support. And from that moment it was very noticeable that Coote starting giving Villa free kicks when fouled which he had ignored for the whole game.

  35. I didn’t think I could Arteta less. . . . . and yet

    Since the game he’s said that they should have scored 4 or 5 in the first half. . . . . delusional or what.

    He’s bemoaning the ‘crazy schedule’ of games even though Arsenal have played 8 games since the beginning of March to Villa’s 10. . . . . and he had a full squad to pick from whereas we were missing half of our first choice starters.

    Does a manager like that deserve to win the title?

  36. oh yes. . . . .Ollie said that the players sensed that Arsenal were tiring. . . . let’s not forget that their full strength squad, who’d played two fewer games, also had 2 extra days rest before yesterday’s game.

  37. Thanks for mentioning the arsenal and spurs blogs Plug. . . . I know it isn’t nice to gloat . . . but maybe just a little bit is ok?

    Ive just seen this one on an Arsenal forum: Arteta has done very well thus far. There’s no question about that. But we have to be very careful in not exaggerating things.

    This is one of our best seasons under Arteta and yet not only did Aston Villa beat us at home, but they’re only 8 points behind us. Unai Emery has a worse player in almost every position (except striker) than Arsenal and yet he’s done a *better* job than Arteta in the PL.

    If Emery was backed as well as Arteta has been, we might have achieved a lot more. That’s the reality. Emery wasn’t given a chance. But Arteta was.

    So let’s not act like Arteta is a unicorn. Yes, Arteta has done a remarkable job, there’s no question about that. But he was also given remarkable (actually unprecedented) backing.

    I don’t agree with him about them having better players in every position, but I suppose the question is, which of their players are ‘innately’ better, and how many of ours are better than theirs purely because of coaching (for ‘coaching’, you can read ‘Emery’ if you like)

  38. r0bBo, I think it’s like John mentioned, comes down to mental strength. Just 3 days after the Lille game we produce that performance. It must all be in the head. Mind over matter. If the head is determined, success is possible. I am therefore looking for a repeat of that mentality on Thursday.

  39. I do wonder if Frem has had his damascene moment yet.

    I just took a look at the FA fantasy league and Watkins is now the highest ranked forward in the league with 208 points, a full 20% more than the next best player, Haaland.

    Not only that, he’s actually the highest ranked player in any position in the whole of the premier league!

    Well done Ollie. You’ve been through some testing times, but risen above them with grace, and proved the haters wrong. We all hope you can keep it going till the end of the season (hopefully 9 more games!) and break even more records.

  40. Plug, I’m certain that you and JC are totally right. . . . .Emery and the players somehow managed to get their heads right for that game whereas Arteta did a Pep and out-thunk himself, and their players lost their legs and mojo.

    The trick of course is keeping it going for the next 6-9 games and there’s no manager I’d rather have in place to do just that.

  41. To your points, r0bb0, and the blogs, etc…

    Yeah, I think Arsenal are bottlers, in the end, and that flows from the top down. Arteta is so prickly and fragile…The team kind of takes on that personality. When’s it’s all going well and there’s no pressure, they’ve played some lovely football.

    Gets down to this stage? City keep winning, and Arsenal almost surrendered yesterday. Came out of the traps fast, and when they didn’t get any joy from it, Villa grew into it, started asserting themselves, and finished far stronger. Think I saw that from 30the minute on, Villa had 55% possession.

    Villa looked like the team that wasn’t afraid, and Arsenal didn’t know what to do when we wouldn’t just concede the match.

  42. And while there’s still a lot of football left, yesterday may well end up being a defining moment.

    Felt like Villa might be wobbling a bit with the injuries, games, etc., and that Spurs might be ready to overtake us for good.

    But Sunday was a statement. They showed up, said we’re not dead yet, took Arsenal’s best shot, and proved they want to keep fighting for it all. That was a no-excuses team and performance Sunday.

  43. An hour in yesterday I would have loved a draw,but at same time I felt we had our earlier season swagger back
    Watching zanilo wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if emery signs him,,starting to look a premier league player it does take time just take scamacca last week v pool
    Lille now then Bournemouth take a weeks break it’s breathless

  44. JC. . . . .you’ve created a bit of a problem for yourself there haven’t you!

    But first, we should all say a big “Thank-you” for not putting up a new post and not watching the game and bringing us the win against Arsenal!

    So where does that leave things now? Have we seen the last post of the season. . . . can you never watch another game?


  45. I saw a compilation of clips of us passing the ball out from the back on Sunday. I’ll bet, like me, you all often had your hearts in your mouths, but gosh, wasn’t it slick. . . . wasn’t it great to see villa players able to do that.

  46. Haha, r0bb0…

    The feeling comes and goes. I think it was more that I felt fate might have a pleasant surprise for us given the conflicting activities. Sort of like washing the car when you want it to rain.

    Lille? We might have to get through that one on this thread, as well.

  47. Playing it out against their press did have me nervous, r0bb0. There were a couple of times where we got ourselves into a cul de sac, but overall, did it well.

    Couple interesting twists in the patterns we used…but that ball going to the 6/8 player coming over to help from Pau or the LB, whew. That’s a brave one, almost always under a lot of attention.

    But you can see why it’s worth sticking to. When you pull it off, just a lot of extra running for the opponent to no good end, and they can obviously be caught upfield in numbers and vulnerable. Eventually they drop off.

    It’s interesting how much more sparingly Emery uses the press, and that held true even when he had more bodies available having played far fewer matches. It’s very situational.

  48. JC – yeah, maybe watch recordings of Villa

    I watched the 2nd half again. So much easier when you know the result

    I said Zaniolo should not play for Viila as he’s Lazy. He proved me wrong. I was wrong and I’m happy to be wrong

  49. Barcelona v PSG last night. The Romanian referee handed out 5 yellows and 1 red card to Barca in a game where they committed 10 fouls in total. The red came after half hour when Barca held a 2 goal advantage. Has the long tentacles of Qatar been involved? I’d start checking bank accounts.

  50. MD,

    Agree…really does help knowing the result, and you see a lot more.

    Zaniolo’s funny. Came in, and you thought he just had to bag one, and he’d be scoring for fun. Then he just sort of faded away. And tbh, I thought he just looked lost, more than anything.

    Which is also how I viewed Diaby there for a while, and players like Tim.

    Leads me to believe that not only is there a learning curve for the PL, but also one for Emery’s system. It takes a bit away from the new players to begin with (who are often being asked to do different things in different areas than they have before), but then as they get it, they start to show their quality again.

  51. Having said that, we know Diaby will be here, but like everyone else, I’m very curious about Zaniolo’s future, particularly if Emery feels like he’s invested a lot in him.

    Obviously the fee is probably the biggest factor, but does he see a player who has what he wants and will only get better, or does he see one who’s been found wanting (big picture) and should be thrown back to find better value elsewhere?

    Not that he’d give a lot of specifics about any individual player, but I wish Villa official would interview him in Spanish more so we could hear Emery really express himself.

  52. JC

    Good points on foreign players moving to EPL and also fitting into Unai system. Bailey is best example. I think Diaby will come good and Zaniolo can be a great part player

  53. Didn’t see the match, but read Bayern used similar tactics to Villa.

    So, Cash is back in, Konsa and Torres in a traditional pairing, and Rogers makes way for Douglas.

    No real surprises, just have to go out and do it.

  54. I guess Zaniolo starting again might be a small surprise, as is Bailey on the bench.

    Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Torres, Digne, Luiz, Tielemans, McGinn, Diaby, Zaniolo, Watkins

  55. Tough 1st half,,good goal from them,ref card happy,expect good team talk from emery
    Luis still really poor even with rest
    Zanilo off injured ,Rogers on
    Bad miss from Luis but ref had blown up for a foul sparing Luis blushes

  56. I can see Emery’s not happy…Not sure what Fonseca’s beef is, they foul at every opportunity to stop things happening. They’re a better side than that.

    But yeah, expecting a good talk, a tweak or two. Wouldn’t mind a few more speculative balls to run onto. I’m assuming that maintaining the cautious approach was by design even after conceding.

  57. Hahaha…indeed they are, JG. That just about did me in.

    Funny thing, though, had a feeling Benteleb and Andre (eyes) would both miss. Thought Emi was going to save the last one, thought, “no he can’t do it yet again,” and…But I thought Andre was more likely to miss the target given the pressure.

  58. Emi the world’s no 1…….shithouse. Or maison merde I should say. We got out of jail guys. Very fortunate to survive that passive performance. SJM was a fish out of water. Konsa had one pass all night to the keeper time and again. But the luck was with us.

  59. Felt sorry for Ollie tonight. He had no service. And the sight of titch Angel out jumping Pau in the air was outrageous. But both Lille goals came from crosses right on button. And I’m going to claim an assist for Ollie with Cash’s goal.

  60. Staying down in Cornwall so watched in a pub with no signal but a few other villa fans.
    That felt like a real European night.
    Was nervous as he’ll about the penalties and then saw Emi. . . . Youvwouldnt want any other keeper in the world there would you.
    Two yellows tonight don’t mean he misses the next game do they?

  61. What was extremely pleasing though was the home crowd giving stick to Emi all game and then seeing our man piss them off big time at the death.

  62. I felt that Luiz and Cash were below their best, but will cut them some slack as they both had a break.
    JG. . . Just for you, I thought Duran looked the part tonight (apart from when he did his leg kicking the turf routine to pretend he’s really hurt). He worked for the team, showed bits of skill, and won nearly every header he competed for.
    Honestly. . . . I really really want to see him come good and still believe he has it in him once he gets his head right.

  63. Plug. . . Yes. . .it was sweet revenge eh?

    Also, I’d normally want a team who knocked us out to go on to win the tournament, but I really disliked Lille’s play acting and cheating (Tiago, Andree and Bentacur, were the worst. . . In that order) and I would have wanted them to get beaten had they gone through.
    Disappointing that the referee fell for Tiago’s diving

  64. JC, I felt the same about Andre. . . he looked nervous as he’ll and it was lovely seeing him fail I like to think I’m generally quite empathetic, but the little shit pissed me off so.wthing chronic.. . . I wish Tiago had tried and failed too

  65. I have to say, I was owrfectly happy with the way we approached the game. A manager like Postecoglu would have had the players running around till their hearts burst, but Emery is so much smarter than that.
    As (I think JG?) Pointed out, it’s our 49th game, with unprecedented long-term injuries to key players, and yet we’re still turning up and winning a pressure game like that.
    It’s no coincidence that we’re still competing at the highest level, it’s how the whole squad have been managed and the tactics employed

  66. Robbo
    Duran done well tonight really worked hard,his booking was a joke
    Disappointed in our midfield tonight,never seen mcginn so poor,as for Bournemouth everyone will be on a high but really what can emery do go back to same defence as arsenal game,hope Bailey starts

  67. The midfield was bad, yes. Uncharacteristically so. Credit to Lille and their press (and full week’s rest), but some of the decision-making was woeful as were the touches.

    That said, seemed like there was a Lille player everywhere, and I probably have to point to fatigue for Villa, as well as players not cluing in.

    Like I say, was wanting Konsa to release Cash so many times, and he only gave him the ball when he wasn’t free to roam. We managed to get it out to Bailey some, but that quick midfield take, turn and longer outlet ball was what we needed much more, and they were either instructed not to, or just bottled it a bit. Was clear we weren’t going to link up and play through them, they were set up to prevent exactly that.

  68. Seeing that our first shot on target was in the 82nd minute, the stats show we had more shots than Lille on target?? Dougie should have scored in ET, he had a lot of goal to head into.

    Didn’t think our midfield existed tonight. Very lightweight and easily played through. However, Lille must have been putting in a lot of effort because they tired in the end.

    Some scenes have to be cherished. Emi saving the final penalty and heading for the away support, priceless. Unai going ape at the same time effectively giving a rude gesture to Fonseca, his “mate” from Portugal. No love lost there. And I can only imagine what the HRH household was like.

  69. Up until their second goal I was genuinely pretty happy with how things were going. As long as we were ahead or level, we didn’t need to chase the game and could conserve energy, and to my mind, that was ‘at least’ as important as winning.
    Of the 130 minutes played, I bet around 50 of them saw the ball knocked arou d the back 5 and had most of our players expending next to no energy at all. That could just about still leave us with enough in the tank to properly compete on Sunday

  70. Plug,

    For all their industry, they didn’t really create much, and they were always going to tire.

    I really backed us to win it before penalties, and we almost did twice.

  71. JG, yes Duran’s booking was a weird one. He isn’t averse to leaving a mark on an opponent, but I couldn’t see why it deserved a yellow.
    I did think that at least one yellow could have been given to Tiago for diving, but then how often are Grealish and Ashley Young booked for diving? They’re all very good at deceiving referees!

  72. r0bb0,

    Same here. Like Plug was saying, they were expending an awful lot of energy and while they were bossing things as a result, there just wasn’t that much threat.

    The 2nd obviously changed that.

    But yeah, some of the instruction I’m sure had to do with conserving as much energy as possible. I mean, we rest on the ball anyway (like all possession sides), but we really were static and dropped very deep. Wasn’t until the end you saw us scrapping up the pitch.

  73. JC, indeed, it wasn’t as if either team dominated tonight and as you say, Lille didn’t create much. As the game wore on, we gradually looked the more likely winners.

  74. The player I may be most excited in is Morgan Rogers. For a young player, he’s showing real maturity, and coached by Emery, he could end up being an absolute steal.

  75. With City, Liverpool and Arsenal all going out, its going to be interesting to see which of them is best able to lift themselves again.
    I’m hoping this weekend it’s Arsenal!

  76. Had all these French lads ribbing me that Lillle are better and their goalie is the best in the world. Granted he made 3 world class saves. I never doubted Martinez

    Looks like Rogers is World Class at 8m. What a player. Next season – Rogers, Diaby, Bailey and Ramsey running with Buendia passing. Wow

  77. Reflecting on the game last night one thing is clear. The Slovakian referee completely lost the plot and was not capable of handling the pressure. As Emi pointed out, his first booking was done on reputation. The crowd was giving him stick from the off and the ref joined in like an idiot. He then decided to ignore the same time wasting by the Lille keeper once his team was 2-0 ahead. Not good enough UEFA.

    The second card was completely unnecessary. After being barracked by the crowd all night, Emi makes a penalty save, celebrates and gets booked again. Lucky he didn’t fart otherwise a third would have been brandished.

  78. I’ve just read that Unai Emery has the highest win rate of ‘any’ Villa manager since the club was founded.
    They also said that he has a win rate of 56.8% and no other villa amangwr has achieved over 50%
    That is so much better than anyone else that it has me wondering if it’s true?

  79. I’m seeing other blogs saying how badly we played last night and that we were lucky.
    I find it difficult watching us play but last night I actually felt that we were managing the game very well indeed.
    The players were clearly trying to conserve energy which meant that there wasn’t the usual level.of movement, or speculative runs, but that was absolutely fine with me.
    When the chips were down and we finally ‘had’ to attack, we took hold of the game and ended up with more shots on goal than they did and forced two or 3 world class saves out of their keeper to prevent us from winning in normal time.
    I hope they saved ‘enough’ energy for Sunday, but honestly, if fans want the players to chase round like a Bielsa side for 56 or 57 games in a season, they really need to take a good look at themselves and ask how they think that would work.

  80. At risk of repeating what VillaMD and JC have said, with all players fit, we do now have real choices in midfield. Let’s face it, the backline has held up very well too, when you consider the number of injuries and the number of changes that Emery has been forced to make.
    We have felt a bit short in defensive midfield and are relying heavily on Duran stepping up to give us options up front, but apart from that, it’s astonishing that a squad that looked so theadbare under Gerrard is looking so comparatively strong now.

  81. just reminded myself that we had 7 yellow cards to their 4. If ever you needed evidence of a weak referee being got at by the crowd, there it is. I wish we’d played in paper shirts last night, just to show the referee how many times Lille players pulled us back. When they should have been booked for diving, we were booked for not making a tackle!
    A bad refereeing performance. Thank goodness he hasn’t able to give Lille the result.

  82. I should say that the one time the referee ruled in our favour was over the potential Matt Cash handball. If it had been given, we’d have been frustrated, but not surprised. he did seem to be pulling his arm out of the way, but it did look as if it touched him. It certainly didn’t hit him in the chest as the referee indicated.

  83. The morning after
    It’s unreal the way emery has transformed our club
    Injuries have decimated our squad for Sunday don’t know how serious zanilo injury is we have 15 senior players so how much manoeuvring can emery do,hoping adrenalin can get us through
    Looks like martinez will be suspended for home leg ,3 bookings over last 2 matches does it,saying that we had 5 on a tightrope last night and all escaped
    Hail emery

  84. r0bb0,

    Yeah, the ref was very poor and it’s cost Villa going forward with Emi. 30-some minutes in and trailing, and he’s booked for time wasting?

    The second was a complete farce.

    I think I remember one that was deserved. Maybe two.

  85. Villa’s overall performance:

    On the night, a number of players weren’t at their best. I think SJM stood out for me, his touch was nowhere to be found. Cash struggled defensively.

    But. Over two legs, generally you don’t get through undeservedly. The goal we conceded at home made things too interesting to begin with. And Lille had a good half in Brum. But we got to grips and had put the game to bed until the goal out of nowhere.

    Second leg, Lille have a full week’s rest, are at home and only need a goal. Villa have just played Arsenal. Villa are down to the bones with another important match less than 72 hrs later. Lille went all out, Bielsa style, and it was working for them. But they couldn’t take enough advantage, started to wear down, and Villa looked the side more likely to go on and win in open play.

    So you can call it a poor performance, sure. But in the end, apart from the extra running, job done and a new level of mental fortitude established. Villa didn’t buckle, got the tie level, then gained the extremely valuable confidence/experience of winning a penalty shootout in a hostile environment. That was truly impressive, and Lille were gutted. Villa could easily have won it in extra time.

    Over the two legs it was a tournament plan and a tournament win while keeping hold of the almost impossibly lofty goal (for Villa) of finishing fourth in the PL.

  86. And of course we’re all acutely aware, but there’s no side in the top 7 down to as thin a squad as Villa. We were thin to begin with before losing Mings and Buendia, never mind all the injuries over the season culminating in Kamara.

    But for whatever all the reasons are preceding Emery, all of our competition started the year deeper, and have had players come back. I’m not sure anyone around us has had three season-ending injuries.

    We always knew it was going to be a long grind without all that. So yeah, Emery’s done miracles, but he’s not getting enough credit. Ange started with a helluva lot more to work with, and has more to call on even now.

  87. Hi guys,

    I just care about the results. Shame Emi will miss the 1st leg of semis. Bournemouth are a good team. I’d start Tim on Sunday. Need fresh legs

  88. This is JC’s blog. I don’t like to add personal stuff, but real quick.

    I’m white and Irish. My lady is black from Ghana. She doesn’t understand football. She’s now a Villa fan

    I work for an Israeli company. Let’s all be friends, but have zero political beliefs

  89. VillaMD, I’d not heard that about Moreno.. . . as you say. . .how unlucky can we be?

    As for me stepping in. . . .after doing 25km of the Cornish coastal path yesterday I’m finding even standing up a challenge today!

  90. Villa MD. . . .a Ghanaian wife eh? Any thoughts of you visiting the Ghana lions. . . . . looks like a great atmosphere on match days.
    Our company supports a project in Ghana and I’ve being trying to find a way of justifying me taking the trip.

  91. I’ve run 18 marathons and 6 half. My best time is 3h18 for full. Funniest thing / I saw a lady waddle over the line ahead of me. I pride myself on running form, but obviously I’ve no clue.

    Only thing I know – black, white, brown / it doesn’t matter

  92. Anyone watching the FA cup semi final?
    It’s good to see that VAR decision making has sped up so much from the earlier days.
    It now only take 5 seconds to check the badge on the shirt.

  93. Blimey VillaMD, 18 marathons?
    I represented school and county at 100m and long jump back in the day but any distance beyond 200m had me exhausted just from thinking about it!

  94. If digne plays tomorrow we will have 10 players that have played over 40 times never mind internationals along with Rogers who is looking at game 46,33 for boro
    Some effort from all lads

  95. In the process of getting revved up for today’s game. It’s massive. I’m nervous because there’s so much riding on it. COYVB.

  96. Plug, I reckon we all feel nervous and all feel there’s a lot riding in this game. . . . and I also bet if we don’t get what we hope for this afternoon we’ll be thinking (not for the first time this season) that we’ve blown it.

  97. No zanilo today ,emery panel getting lighter by game
    Martinez cash konsa torres digne mcginn tielmens Morgan diaby Watkins and Bailey
    Olseon Carlos lenget Chambers kessler Tim kellyman duran

  98. More poor reffing,stonewall foul on diaby in front of ref play on we give away penalty, var checks it says no foul on diaby ,solanke scores
    1 down probably against run of play

  99. Rogers at 6’4”. What a Diamond. We had Bournemouth on the ropes. Konsa – wow. What quality. Bailey is brilliant. Some of Tielemans 1st time passes – unreal

    Bournemouth are decent. Solanke looks great

  100. Hard to believe they played 120mins Thursday. Everyone put in a shift, really dug deep, and ended up looking very comfortable overall.

    So pleased to see the goals spread between Rogers, Diaby and Bailey.

  101. Massive, massive result. Massive, massive week. Six points and a semi final booked. Didn’t see all that coming one bit. Sure Spurs have 2 games in hand but I’ll take the 6 point lead any day.

  102. Despair, followed by joy, followed by ecstasy. When VP is rocking there are no words. Unai is brilliant. I do like SJM and Tielemans as a double pivot. Rogers had a great game. Emi was king of his domain. And for me at least, Ollie was the best. His through ball for Diaby to steer home detonated the ground. His 2nd assist did all the heavy lifting for Bailey and delirium ensued.

  103. We can now catch some breath. Bournemouth are no mugs but we dismantled them. I’m on fire. Just imagine how that turn around gutted Spurs and their fans. Fourth place finish is close. I’m opening a bottle of Shiraz and may have to open a 2nd one.

  104. All thoughts now turn to Chelsea. Unai will no doubt hatch a plan and have the players working on it all week. These are top days. As JC says…..impressive.

  105. Not a lot to say that hasn’t already been said.
    Remember back before Christmas when Emery was telling us that it was far too soon to be getting excited but if we were still near the top 4 with 7 (I think) games to play, then we could start thinking about Champion’s league?
    Well. . . . here we are, in the top 4, with just 4 games to play.
    Still too soon to count any chickens but after the week we’ve just had it does actually feel possible now.

  106. So impressive how this squad have managed to keep pulling performances like that out of the bag, ‘despite’ the length of the injury list.
    Two weeks ago it felt that we’d finally run out of steam and then we only go and beat Arsenal Lille and Bournemouth in the space of a week.
    Just so so impressive.

  107. So. . . .Mark Clattenburg has seen behind the scenes and ‘before’ today’s game felt that there was a risk that a Luton supporting official could find it difficult to be impartial in the Forest Everton game.
    He will ‘know’ that bias occurs and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s discussed between officials.
    Two of the 3 penalty appeals by Forest players should have been awarded as penalties, and one of them was as clear as you could hope to see.
    It was unwise for Forest to be ‘so’ forthright in their social media statement, not becuase they’re wrong, but because the FA hate criticism and will almost certainly punish them
    As they said on MOTD, they would have liked to hear the discussions between the referee and VAR official, but openess is as welcome to the FA as sunlight is to a vampire .
    Until they’re prepared to be open with how decisions are made, and prepared to admit when they make mistakes, then Co spinach theories are only going to grow. . . And you know what. . . They’re probably not just theories. . .bias probably DOES exist and only openness is going to start weeding it out.
    They’re bringing it on themselves, but thir arrogance makes them.incapable of recognising the fact

  108. I think every player was excellent today. I could pick at least 8 mom’s. If I had to really call it – I’d flip a coin between Konsa and Tielemans

    JC – I’m watching the full match again. Starting to get addicted

  109. There was evidence yesterday of the players mentality strength that’s been mentioned above. They looked determined to become Champions League players and set out to achieve it. It can only bode well for the remaining games. A tight squad driven by hunger and desire with a master guiding them is going to take some shifting. Now that 5th place qualification has gone, we must get 4th.

    When Compass rescued us, they stated that we had to become self sustainable. Which in turn means AVFC have to grow their turnover. This is happening. The 22/23 results showed a healthy increase in turnover. For 23/24 we’ve had increased admission prices, European televised football, a long run in the Europa Conference League and a higher EPL finishing position. All before we take into account increased merchandising and associated revenue. Expect 23/24 revenue to leap by a further £30 million or so. For 24/25 turnover to continue its upward trend we need Champions League. It’s important we make it.

  110. JG. . . . The extra games have been fantastic. . . .. because we’ve been winning them!
    Who would have bet on us winning our last 3 games. . . I know i wouldnt.
    A while back I think I said
    that 70 points has been enough in 9 out of the last 10 years and it’s still looking as if a win and a draw out of our last 4 games would be enough.
    It wouldn’t half take the pressure off if the first 3 of those points came next weekend.

  111. Plug, you’re right we need to keep I creasing our revenues and the best way to do that is through success on the pitch. To take advantage of our increasing profile and support, at some point though, we’ll probably need to significantly increase
    stadium capacity.
    If that means building a new stadium, somwhere else, I wonder how many fans would support that?
    I must admit, I’m torn . . . If it were possible to retain the Holte end steps and brick facade, somewhere else. . . I think I’d reluctantly say yes, so that we could continue the current trajectory.
    I know as soon as I press send on this I’ll have second thoughts though. . . It’s such an emotive proposition.

  112. Just a quick follow up to my comments about Clattenberg’s var and refereeing comments.
    I’m not suggesting that referees are consciously biased or corrupt (although I do think it’s unwise for a referee to be accepting the largesse in effect, from an owner of a large club, just before he referees an important match that club is appearing in.
    However. . . I reckon ‘unconscious bias’ is almost inevitable.
    We saw in the Lille game how the referee was swayed by the crowd. I’m sure he felt he was refereeing in an unbiased way, but it’s hard to even recognise the effect that the pulls of our
    subconscious minds are having.
    If a Var official subconsciously wanted Forest to lose (which yesterday’s probably did), then its hard to rise above that.
    It’s bloody hard to explain yesterday’s decisions any other way, unless you think he did actually do it deliberately!

  113. roBb0, the VAR yesterday for the Forest game was Stuart Atwell. He was born and brought up in Nuneaton so unlikely to be a Luton fan. However, he might be a Leicester fan who would therefore dislike Forest. The ref was Anthony Taylor who is from Manchester. Back in the summer of 2010, both Taylor and Atwell were sent to do some refereeing in the Japanese J league as part of a referee exchange initiative so they have a history together.

    Atwell has been demoted (2012 ish) but later reinstated to top flight officiating. He didn’t do his career any favours over the weekend. I can’t comment on Young’s hand ball because I no longer understand what is hand ball. When the laws stated it was where “deliberate” it was easy to understand but they’ve screwed with the laws and now it’s a dog’s breakfast. The final Forest penalty appeal should have been referred back to the ref to go to the monitor.

  114. Hi Plug, I know it’s dangerous to believe what you read these days!
    It’s widely reported though that Forest called out Atwell as a Luton fan ‘before’ the game. I don’t know where they got their information although I suppose Clattenberg may have insider knowledge on that. Maybe his parents were from Luton, or he was conceived in the back of a Luton van?

  115. For me, the single most important news of the year. Unai extends his contract until 2027. Great news for him, great news for AVFC, great news for the fans. This gives him the time to build a legacy. I can only see even better times ahead.

  116. Plug, absolutely right. . . . it’s put Bayern back in their box for now.
    I did like this quote from Sawaris:
    “We are thrilled, and are building a sporting operation around Unai to support him, with a view of returning Aston Villa, a co-founder of the English Football League, as we prepare to celebrate our 150th anniversary, to its historic levels of greatness.”

  117. Pinch me
    Great news is following our great club day and night
    Emery is greatest manager we might ever have had,since he took us on we are 4th in table only 15 points behind city after 57 games without wholesale change in personal

  118. This summer what do we need,it’s going to be hard to improve what we’ve got maybe 2 fullbacks and a midfielder to replace kamara until he is fit again
    Wondering what bargains monchi can get
    If Rogers is anything to go by we are in for a treat

  119. JG, you’re right that Emery is up there with the very best managers ever seen at Villa Park and it feels so good for the extra year’s contract extension to have been agreed. I’ve seen quite a few journalists commenting on the attractions to him of moving to other ‘bigger’ clubs, but they nearly all point out that none of those clubs are going to give him the level of control to shape the squad and wider management team that Villa are giving him. This is ‘his’ project and surely that counts for a lot

  120. Not sure I’m understanding your point about us being 15 points behind City though. . . . its only 7 points isn’t it? (although they have 2 games in hand which will probably stretch their lead to 13.) We’re actually still only 11 points off the top of the table, having played the same number of games as Arsenal, and an amazing 16 points ahead of 6th place!!

  121. Very glad about the extension, and also the rumored talks to be held over the summer. Many have made the observation that NSWE think Emery will be our Ferguson. This announcement seems mainly to be about squashing rumors.

    And for Emery, Villa is perfect. As others have noted, his team, his operation. He’s in control. Not going to get that at these other clubs.

    He also gets to fly under the radar a bit longer, has everything he needs/wants, doesn’t step into the cauldron of instant success and mercurial owners. He saw how that went at Arsenal.

  122. JC, thanks for the 15 point clarification and JG, if your stat is that we’re only 15 point short of City over the whole of Emery’s tenure, that is even more remarkable. When you consider the time and money spent in building the City squad, to be THAT close would be astonishing

  123. Are the Villa News tossers on Newsnow so desparate for clicks that they can still winkle out a pundit to say Emery could still move within a year? I don’t know who Dan Bardell is but if he is a Villa fan, does he really need to be associated with such a bunch of faeces diggers?

    Yes I’m stupidly pissed off with these types of writers and shouldn’t look at Newsnow – but I did find AVL there a decade ago (and the Villa Blog!!!)

  124. jbd656, Villa News is the one site that I actively avoid. They are absolutely the worst. After every game they serve up a clickbait headline of “This 0% player has a shocker and must be dropped” . . . . or something like that. If you open the article it’ll be some nonsense about Martinez having had no shots on target (ok I ‘slightly’ exaggerate, but you get my point.)
    Or, they’d give some health update from their resident doctor which would speculate about what a player’s injury could be and then speculate further about how long they’d be out with it.
    I found it was absolutely exceptional for them to give provide any substantiated, useful news, and the only times they did, you’d have read it somewhere else first. They really are the dregs.

  125. JG,

    I don’t think we should sign anyone. Mings, Buendia and Ramsey back. Kamara back early October. Hopefully K-Hayden can push on. Louie Barry? Tim now has experience. Diaby will be better

    I follow Ollie on instagram. So happy for him. Beautiful wife and 2 kids. He’s a role model for men

  126. To have Ollie Watkins play for Villa – I feel honored. He’s in the Paul McGrath class. I like Ollie so much because he’s a really great person. The fact that he’s now a great player is a bonus

  127. Robbo It was 21 points still some achievement
    Man City 136
    Arsenal 130
    Liverpool 125
    man utd 105
    Newcastle 100
    Most teams have played 60 games

  128. VILLAMD
    fergie kept building, buying new players
    we have main core/spine of team but new full backs and back up to kamara are a must,never sit still, the sky is the limit our owners want to be dining at top table
    What part of emerald Isle you from/live

  129. James, MD. I’ll be thinking of you both this evening whilst at VP. Absent long distance support is never under estimated.

    Everyone knows the importance of this game. If Villa win, the smell of Champions League will be strong in the nostrils. I’m expecting the ground to be rocking. Let’s grab this opportunity with both hands.

  130. Plug,

    I’m envious, but happy for you and love your post game updates. Makes us feel a little bit part of it. Thanks.

    JG – Donegal is a beautiful place

  131. JG, I do t actually think the ref has been the problem today. He does tend to let things go, but he’s been doing it for both teams

  132. Well. . . . Hopefully we saved some energy for Thursday.
    Hopefully Tielemans isn’t too badly injured
    Hopefully Martinez will be OK for next weekend.

  133. Hopefully the ball bumbles over the line off the back of Ollie’s head when he’s looking the other way and he gets that 20th goal out of the way

  134. We must be a good side to steal a point from that game. In years gone by that would have been a routine walk over by Chelsea. That might be the point that gets 4th place. Good game next game?

  135. JG, we have to look at it as a point gained. I’ve veen saying for a while that we needed to get to 70 points for Champion’s league so we’d now only need 1 win out of our last 3 games. . . . .right now that doesn’t quite feel enough though does it?

  136. I quite fancy flogging Carlos off to Milan. Don’t like the macho man routine. Prefer the Allan Evans/Olof Mellberg raw-boned iron hard innocent assassin routine. Anyone out there like that?

  137. Luis has looked mentally drained for several weeks. Today’s performance is just a continuation of those weeks. Has he peaked? Is he bored at Villa? Does he want a new scene? Has he got girlfriend problems like Rashford had?

  138. That’s 5th place guaranteed tonight,
    Unbelievable, 2 places higher than last year and 4th is still a fair fight
    Chelsea need points for Europe so now I support gunners Chelsea and Liverpool for a week

  139. Jbd
    Nothing embarrassing, we had an off night,they had good night we still came away with a point
    Wonder will commentators say utd can only finish 6th at best

  140. JG, well done reminding us that with 3 games still to play, we’re already guaranteed at least 5th place. . . . Pretty remarkable isn’t it

  141. I’m not sure why we sat back so much. A draw was probably fair. Hopefully Arsenal do us a favor

    Tim and Duran have to start on Thursday. Hopefully Emi and Tielemans will be back at weekend. Hopefully Zaniolo is fit

    I don’t mind macho Carlos as long as he puts in a shift. However, if Mings is fit I’d ship him to AC

  142. For me, it was a point gained. Stolen as 656 says. Extremely lucky. Lifers know I dislike VAR with a vengeance but it saved us last night. The Jackson offside goal was tight and he missed a sitter when his header hit the post which was a much harder feat than hitting the gaping net.

    Poch raged after the game that wiping out their “winning” goal damages football. Total BS, he was just gutted. I saw the push clearly from my seat and shouted foul. Pawson was a lot closer, didn’t give it and caused the rumpus. He was very poor.

  143. I was nervous all night and couldn’t believe we went in at HT 2-0 up. Unai got his tactics spot on again and deployed the low block or parked the bus in a bid to negate their speedy guys of Jackson, Madueke and Mudryk. Palmer was no drama. On the whole it got us a point.

    We suffered a Chelsea reaction to their woeful performance against the Gooners. Opponents know that if they deploy the high press against us there are rewards to be gained. Our playing out from the back has improved since the start of the season and at times last night it was slick. But Dougie got caught and it gave them the opening they were looking for. Thought him and Pau were below standard on the night.

  144. LB Cucurella vacated his position in the 2nd half and moved into an advanced central midfield role. The space created down our right side was not utilized like it might have been by playing in our own speed men. Consequently we became overrun in midfield. And we’ve said it enough times, 2-0 is a dangerous score in which the next goal becomes massive. We keep letting the opposition get it.

  145. So I’ll take the hard earned point. It may yet be very important. But we are not there yet and much work remains. Now it’s over to Spurs and we’ll all be Gooners for the day. But I have a feeling that Spurs will chuck the kitchen sink at them and do to them what Everton did to the bindippers.

  146. Plug, yes, the ‘low block’ was effective for most of the game and even Cole Palmer was unable to find gaps. We were effective at keeping them out, but with space being compressed, we also found it difficult to get the ball away. They were always trying to get a player hovering between the defender and Martinez/Olsen, ready to intercept those passes, so we were unable to play it around and tended to resort to speculative upfield kicks. close control seemed to abandon a number of players, so even when we did manage to breakout, we often lost possession again quickly.
    However. . . . we have some skilful, well drilled players and when we do breakout we always look dangerous, so despite appearing to be on top, Chelsea were never able to relax.
    and now I have to try and find a way to love Arteta and Arsenal for a few hours. . . . .it’ll be tricky, but I’ll manage

  147. Plug, you’re right, Pochettino made a bit of an exhibition of himself over their disallowed goal at the end. Like you, in real time, I shouted foul, they can’t allow that goal. . . . but nonetheless less, feared that they would.
    When VAR took so long over the offside decision for their other disallowed goal, I said “if it takes that long to decide, they should allow the goal”, but then when we saw the VAR shot, the question was “why did it take so long” It wasn’t like the Coventry Man United one, there was a big gap.
    Going back to Pochettino, I can understand him feeling aggrieved after not getting a penalty for the blatant Grealish handball, but last night, he was a bit of a silly boy.

  148. So Shearer didn’t think it was a clear foul on Carlos and their goal should have stood. He’s so obviously wrong that you have to ask yourself, what makes these ‘pundits’ say such silly things?

    The Occam’s razor principle suggests that the explanation that requires the fewest assumptions is usually correct.

    Well it doesn’t take much imagination to think that it’s down to self interest. Like it or not, the ‘big 6’ clubs currently have more supporters, and in the case of the London clubs, a greater media following than a club like Villa (although hopefully that is starting to change). So the question is why wouldn’t a pundit give in to self interest and take the line of least resistance. . . .in other words, avoid criticism from the largest number of fans and media.

    It was so obviously a foul that Shearer is just showing unprincipled self interest and maybe it’s just human nature and we have to accept it until we have a much bigger supporter base?

  149. YEEHAH!!!! Full time. spurs2 arse3. Yesterday was obviously an Emery masterclass in exchanging 2 points for maximum energy conservation looking towards Thursday. Job done.

  150. Watching that game and others our recruitment has to be of bigger players,Rogers is a good start but we need more big lads,
    Our fb,3 Central midfielders and both Bailey diaby are really lightweights

  151. So now we know. It was a point gained yesterday. Before the weekend, we had a lead of 6 points but Spurs had 2 games in hand. Now we have a lead of 7 points with the chasers 2 games in hand. Oh, and we added 1 to our goal difference advantage over them. Happy days.

  152. That’s the end of my Arse support. Have my ticket for the Olympiacos game on Thurs. I will also be supporting Chelsea on the same night from my seat in VP. COYVB.

  153. Any word on the injured players,martinez moreno zanilo and tielmens
    Surely we have some young midfielders at the club instead of using Chambers as sub

  154. Lots of good comments/observations.

    We do have trouble with that kind of pressure, yes. Was the same when they knocked us out of the cup.

    However, I think those talking about energy expenditure are right, too. If that were the only game that mattered, I could see us trying to press more and harder upfield. We saw a bit of it toward the end.

    Have to remember their 4-4 against City, and they were on a good run before the Arsenal game. Funnily, the same sort of thing could’ve happened again, I think, if we’d been able to get the 3rd.

    But, point gained in the end, and Arsenal doing us a favor (though nearly bottling it again).

    Agreed we need one more win and I’d certainly be targeting Brighton for that. Shame that one comes on the heels of Olympiakos. Upside is that they’re safe, struggling, and don’t have much to aim for.

    I think Chelsea will be well up for Spurs.

  155. Ian, I was definitely thinking it when we went 2-0 up against Chelsea. We’d have been just 6 points behind and a jaded Liverpool, with nothing to fight for still had to play us and Spurs. after coming away with a draw this weekend, I’ve stopped dreaming now though.

  156. Injuries showing no sign of letting up,it really is bare bones everywhere bar centre half’s
    With olsen in goals be tempted to go
    Konsa torres Carlos digne
    Cash mcginn Luis Bailey
    Rogers Watkins for next 2 games
    Sub bench for Europe will be light on experience
    Lenget diaby Duran Tim

  157. So after all the controversies about var it seems these things do generally even themselves out over a season.
    Ok, there are some small ups and downs but the maximum is 3 points, although at the bottom of the table, even 1 point could make a difference.
    I suppose the question is whether it’s all worth the fuss then.
    Well it certainly shows that Pochettino in particular should get back in his box.

  158. I watched Bayern v Real last night. VAR never got involved once. Left it all to the on pitch referee who, it must be said, was good. Far better than any of our shower. If VAR checks were happening last night, they were quick and decisive. The game was far more enjoyable.

  159. I’m winding up for the big game tonight. I’ll be on my way to VP shortly. Right now, I’ll take any sort of win even by one goal. No doubt the atmosphere will be electric, especially if Chelsea win. COYVB.

  160. Watched most of 2 semi final games,the ref in first one was brilliant, fair play to both teams to they got on with it,last night Taylor was 100 times better than in premier league got a couple decisions wrong but over great,the goal computer offside done in seconds, none this drawing lines messing about,hopefully tonight we get decent ref and nerves will be flying hoping chelsea can keep it together, spurs few injuries last week so all help is welcome
    Up the mighty villa

  161. Olsen cash konsa lenget digne mcginn Luis Bailey Rogers Watkins diaby
    Duran torres Carlos zanilo Tim 5 young lads with hardly minutes between them
    Apart from torres rested by look of it,it’s full strength of what’s left fit

  162. Nervous, too, Plug. Hope it turns out to be a banner evening.

    JG: Yep, that’s all we’ve got. Unreal. Good to see Zaniolo back on the bench, though. Need every last body.

  163. Not keen on officials
    Our goal not much of a pull,their given goal lines did not look parallel, doesn’t look same as champions league computers
    Also the shirts are awful match

  164. Well, just logged on and thought “JG is going to be apoplectic about this referee”. . . . much more tame comments than I’d expected to be honest!

  165. Their striker looks class. . . . . Especially the head down to create the scoring opportunity for the second, although as JC says, Olson should be a bit disappointed with himself for letting it in.
    He did make an excellent save earlier so I’m not going g to be too harsh on him

  166. Emergency treatment to a fan
    . . There will be plenty of medical assistance there so you’d hope that he/she will be ok

  167. The referee tried so hard not to give that penalty but was finally given no choice.
    He then allowed Olympiacos players to delay the penalty again and again.
    Really poor show

  168. That hurts tonight,,they aren’t that good,officials a complete joke,lenget sorry he ain’t my type of centre half, Luis is off form for maybe 2 months but we haven’t any choice but to play him,if martinez and tielmens are back we still have a chance

  169. If we could score first in the away leg the pressure would shift.
    Odds are now well against us, but it’s not quite over

  170. So spurs have to win all of their last 3 games and Villa have to lose all their last 3. Balls out on Sunday to mathmatically nail 4th? We were just too jaded for today. We’ve hit that brick wall.

  171. I’m not sure I saw us hit a brick wall today jbd. The match pivoted on a few key moments and it’s those that colour how we’re all feeling now:
    Our disallowed goal
    The, oh so tight, onside that enabled their first goal
    Their penalty being awarded
    The Bailey penalty not being given
    Luiz missing the penalty (for which the referee must take some blame)

    Beyond that, you can’t help feeling that Martinez wouldn’t have conceded all 4 of those.

    It could so easily have been very different

  172. Robbo
    Good summary, apart from how poor ref was
    Tackle on Bailey outside box no card,stopped play to talk to potency when we were attacking as well,time wasting by there keeper,every time ball went dead
    It wasn’t all bad tonight spurs lost again Sunday could be massive

  173. Yeah, we were the better team despite the scoreline. But everything that could go wrong did go wrong. And the officiating didn’t help.

    Wonder what might’ve been had Rogers’ shot not been saved.

    The match on balance though tells me we do still have a chance.

  174. Another crazy thing just listening to crouch and Hutton,18 months ago we were fighting relegation with slippy,now possibly by Sunday could be qualified for champions league, and that tonight’s team only included 2 permanent signings diaby Rogers and 1 loan lenget,yes torres was on bench

  175. JC, yes, although the scoreline suggests otherwise, we were the better side.
    Olimpiacos do deserve some credit though. They showed balls in going for us and worked hard throughout. They did deserve something out of the game. . . Just not THAT much!

  176. JG. . . I’ve been trying to hold myself back from saying it but nah. . . It has to be said
    The referee was shit.

    There was one moment that really annoyed me. It was towards the end, just before he gave the penalty, when he seemed determined to aggressively have go at McGinn.
    Confident referees don’t descend into arguments with players. Team captains should be able to raise points with referees but this one was clearly angry with McGinn and was behaving inappropriately.
    You could sense his anger coming out when he then pointed to the penalty spot. It’s a shame he didn’t show the same decisiveness to shut down the messing about from the Olympiacos players, to delay the penalty.

  177. Fabulous atmosphere down VP last night. Such a shame the team couldn’t become inspired by it. I’ve no complaints about the result, Olympiacos were the better side. SJM (and JC above) said after the game that what could go wrong did go wrong. I didn’t quite see it like that. The Greek passing was fast and accurate and they showed excellent ball control. Ours was too slow and predictable. Playing out from the keeper to either SJM or Dougie in front of goal on the edge of the box and marked….big mistake that happened several times. Not surprised Unai was going apeshit with them, he was on the pitch during one stoppage ranting at them.

  178. I thought Dougie, SJM, Lenglet, Konsa, Digne and Rogers were all ineffective. That’s too many to expect a result. It was a magnificent effort to get back to 2-2 but then we handed it back to them on a plate. Didn’t know at the time what the ref had given it for. He had just been raging at SJM before the corner came in and I thought he deliberately pinged him. Only found out about the handball later. But the Italian ref was below standard for this level of game.

  179. Our disallowed goal, missed penalty and their deflected goal gave the Greeks a night to remember. We’ve chucked our home advantage and you have to think it’s almost terminal. Our best chance is if they think they’re already in the final.

  180. The morning after
    Still fuming about ref
    The performance wasn’t bad just some individual mistakes and lacking key men
    Olsen think for 1st 2nd and 4th he could have done much better,nowhere near martinez level has good clubrecord but not seeing it here
    Fullbacks yes played first 2 goals onside but thought cash went forward excellent, there was a tackle on him in box which (into replay coverage was White,didn’t show(
    Centre half’s konsa needs a boss beside him doesn’t dictate his defence at all lazy block for last goal,lenget stupid pull for baileys goal ,which I still don’t think was enough to disallow goal,dived in for their 1st goal,gave away corner leading to pen when he he seemed to just let ball go out,another one tnt didn’t replay
    Midfield missing kamara tielmens ramsay caught up with us,Luis off form for couple months ,caught in possession gave away penalty missed penalty awful night at office, mcginn games have caught up with him along asked to play deeper which doesn’t suit him deadballs we’re equally poor last night
    Rogers ok think occasion got to him,unlucky with effort
    Diaby goal and assist tried hard no complaints, Watkins great finish worked hard again no complaints
    Bailey not his night no protection for corrupt ref
    Goal disallowed, cleaned at edge box no card for Greek player,clear penalty not given with follow through taking him out
    Emery maybe resting torres with martinez out wasn’t great idea but what a man through all the chaos never blames ref or our players(watch spurs manager moan about Chelsea opener)
    Tnt Tues weds night matches everything was quickly response last night nothing even way offside lines were shown
    A well onwards towards Brighton on Sunday who plays who rests nobody to replace Fullbacks unless kids,Bailey needs a rest,Watkins won’t want one and how does he get Luis motoring again

  181. Great summary James

    It’s still not over. Spurs are away to Liverpool. If we can beat Brighton, that’s 4th guaranteed. Then we can go all out vs the Greeks

  182. Villa MD, I think we have to beat Brighton AND Spurs lose to Liverpool for 4th to be guaranteed, but if we’re able to beat Brighton, you have to believe we’re pretty much there and we can then concentrate on Thursday and the still faint chance of progressing to the final.

  183. Anyone seen the penalty that Arsenal were just gifted by the referee?
    How Havertz avoids a yellow card for blatant cheating I don’t know. If that had happened can you imagine how baby Arteta would have been screaming his lungs out though?
    Havertz so obviously drags his leg to make contact with the goalkeeper that no quarter competent official should fall for it. I think only Chelsea have been awarded more penalties than Arsenal this season and you’d have hoped that officials would by now have cottoned on to the fact that Arsenal,under Arteta, have cheating in their DNA and they’d look out for it.

  184. R0Bb0, don’t wind me up about refs falling for the cheating attempts to gain a penalty. Kane got one at VP when he hung his leg out right to initiate contact with our keeper. Then there was that cheating git Fernandes who did a pirouette in the air and landed back first into Konsa whilst also raking his shin and the ref couldn’t point to the spot fast enough.

  185. I see that the latest owners of small heath have achieved something the Chinese failed miserably to do. Get out of the Championship.

  186. hahaha Plug.

    I know it’s not the done thing, but I’m sorry to see Birmingham go down . . . reaches for tin hat.

    It’s not that I like the club, or think that they deserve to stay up, it’s just that I think the second city would be taken more seriously if we had a team that bears the city’s name, at least looking half respectable.

  187. Losing BCFC is a detriment to football in Brum as is not having the Baggies in the Prem. 24 derbies that aren’t happening drags down fan interest.
    Math isn’t right .

  188. Robb0,

    My best friends are Arsenal and Toon. That Havertz dive was a disgrace. Even my Gooner buddy said – how is that a peno and he loves Havertz

    Anyway. Today it is. I’ve been a Villa fan for 47 years. I got lucky and saw us win the League and Europe. I’ve had Eamon Deacy give me his Villa jersey.

    None of that matters. We need to win today. I think I read, automatic €30m just to qualify for CL

  189. Lots of reports of hermosa signing,know nothing about apart from team mate of martinez and plays for athletic Madrid, both which are high standard, plus he is free

  190. Douglas Luis is so frustrating!
    He has loads of talent, but he’s like the kid who keeps looking out ofbthevwindow during lessons. He just seems incapable of holding his concentration for the whole of the game

  191. Ramsey, Buendia, Kamara, Tielemans, Morgan. . . .is it any wonder we’re struggling to control midfield with all of those out?

  192. Robbo
    Injuries are brutal, no zanilo today ,he is so infuriating fht Thursday out today,so far olsen has been good we need to improve all over pitch and start using our left side more

  193. Major let off,var to rescue but god we are awful,cash only one trying to get us attacking
    Duran on for diaby now
    Cash went on Rogers 25 min mark

  194. I just don’t understand why that check took so long.
    This is 2024. They should be able to touch the screen on Cahs’s toe and touch the screen on the attacker’s knee and get an instant answer.
    I believe they’re changing VAR technogy service provider next season and hopefully they are not still using their old Amstrad home computer

  195. Penalty, konsa soft but was
    Worst 3 performances all year in same week
    Olsen saves but rebound headed in
    Only olsen and cash performed today

  196. I’ll call it how I saw it. Dreadful. We turned up for the point we started with and of course got nowt. No attacking threat at all. What was our XG? 0.06 they said. Their keeper spent the game eating his sandwiches. Awful, rank awful.

  197. Need Liverpool to win now
    Don’t know how emery lifts them for Thursday
    Rogers season looks over
    Pray tielmens is back
    Olsen our man of match today,Watkins worst I’ve seen him for a while and don’t like Bailey diaby starting but then when Chambers is 3rd best sub option, what does emery do

  198. Good old Villa. Obliging as ever to a team on an extended run of bad form. Horrible scratchy scrappy game where nothing stuck except for Ollie where he just couldn’t get the ball out from his feet. Not the end of the world, spurs are just running out of games. Olsen saved us from a comprehensive twatting.

  199. Can’t believe that I’m going to give screen time to a non Villa game – but I am. 3rd place is gone now so come on you reds – stick it up the southern softies.

  200. JC
    Our squad is light especially with injuries but emery must have no faith in our youth,Brighton had 9 missing, only few matches less than us put plenty on energy

  201. Jbd
    Starting as favourites hasn’t hung well all season,not saying we bottle it but maybe a few winning mentality players would be useful

  202. Final red scouse 4 spurs 2. Good job they obeyed Emery’s plan. A tactical masterclass to lose less badly than spurs, improve our relative GD and leave just a bit more in the tank for Thursday. Unai can do no wrong. Utter genius.

  203. Well that’s been a funny day, but at the end of it, we’re better off than we were at the start as Spurs now only have 3 games left to catch us instead of 4 and a goal difference 1 worse than it was at the start of the day.

    We all have huge faith in Unai, but my goodness it’s hard to see how even he can pull a rabbit out of Thursday’s hat. As others have said, the tiredness really was starting to show a bit today, but more than that he’s having to shift players around the pitch just to keep a quality player in every position. I reckon the only hope is that on Thursday, the players can tell themselves that this is THE game where they have to throw everything at it, and the atmosphere raises the adrenalin enough to do just that. It’s probably clutching at straws, but if we did manage to sneak an early goal then the balance of confidence in the stadium really could start to shift.

  204. Just noticed that Spurs will be starting to look over their shoulders at Newcastle and maybe even Chelsea. United on the other hand. . . .
    . . . . It seems no time at all that media pundits were getting excited about the prospect of United grabbing fourth place, but as it stands, they’re 13 points behind us and just may not even improve on their current 8th position in the table.

  205. If city or arsenal win next weekend, pool season is over,don’t know if that’s good or bad
    Zanilo didn’t train since Thursday match,

  206. As r0BBo points out above, our midfield has been decimated with injuries. We’re left running on vapour. Thought Rogers wasn’t looking too sharp lately, looks like he’s been carrying a knock. Might also be true of some of those still on the pitch.

    Fresh legs needed, Unai may have no option but to bring in one or two of the kids. I expect Spurs to beat Burnley next time out as they are now looking over their shoulders. That would leave us 4 points clear with 2 to play. We still need 3 points to be certain of 4th place.

  207. Spotlight back on officials after bizarre finish to 2nd semi final, for me lino flagged too quick no way naked eye could call it,but anyways kane no trophy again more worried about Munich looking for a keeper

  208. I think Bayern have been shafted tonight. Their goal in overtime should have stood. The linesman put his flag up in an instance. It was way too suspicious. The Bayern player who contested the ball was onside. The ball broke off a Real player and the guy who scored was onside.

    Thought the ref had a good game, but can’t say the same about the linesman, he was Dick Turpin.

  209. Felix Zwayer (Germany) is tonight’s referee. He is classed as a UEFA elite referee. Both Haaland and Bellingham have publicly criticised this guy in the past for dubious calls. And he was banned for 6 months in 2005 for involvement in match fixing. He’s branded as arrogant and likes to be the centre of attention. Oh dear, hope Unai has drilled the players in how to play this ref.

  210. The referee sounds perfect. Just what we need, a bent showboat.

    Anyway, I rode the luck too long on this post and it went sour. So, fresh one is up for tonight, much less scrolling for all.

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