An Away clean sheet at the 27th attempt, Samatta leaves and Fulham up next

Aston Villa’s second XI comfortably disposed of Bristol City last night whilst removing an unwanted statistic. 26 Consecutive away games in all competitions without a clean sheet is not something to be proud of, certainly not for a club of our standing and ambition.

I admit to being rather concerned when I saw the team being fielded by Dean Smith – eleven changes from the line up that started against Sheffield United. Where would the goals come from and Elmo at centre back? I feared an(other) embarrassing result against lower league opposition particularly given our poor record against City who had started their season with four straight wins.

I was wrong; 3-0 and it probably should have been more.

We were on our game from the start, pressing high, moving the ball quickly and within 15 minutes 2-0 up and it should have been three. Davis or El Ghazi, on the rebound, should probably have scored but fair play to their GK who kept them out. The two goals though were classy efforts – worthy of a higher stage and both from open play – a refreshing change as the majority of our recent goals have come from set pieces.

Davis’ run into the box and along the goal line – dancing around several City defenders left floundering in his wake – before perfectly putting the ball at El Ghazi’s feet was a good example of why he’s so highly rated at Villa Park. If he can add 10 goals a season to the rest of his game he will be some player.

Two minutes later and Traore scores on his debut with a sublime cushioned volley from Jacob Ramsey’s perfect cross field pass.

We continued to press throughout the half and were, perhaps, unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when Ramsey was brought down when clean through on goal.

Second half we opted to sit back more and play on the break – whether that was a deliberate tactical change by Smith or not is open to debate – but we still created a number of good chances – not taken – until Watkins came on to score with an accurate shot  into the bottom corner from a cross field ball by Trezuguet.

Elmo was excellent looking like he’d played at centre-back for years with an assured defensive display and accurate distribution going forward (is he now the ultimate utility player?) but I made Ramsey man of the match. With his darting runs from midfield, so reminiscent of Ian Taylor, and his accurate passing, at 19 he looks every bit a class act for the future and I can see him challenging for an EPL start before the end of the season. I’m not sure that sending him out on loan would be a good move.

It’s been an excellent week for our three debutants and there may still be more additions to come. First impressions are that we have added real quality to the core of a team and are building on the work done over the last twelve months. The Lyon fans, it seems. were pleased to see the back of Traore – as they were when a certain John Carew joined us – and look how that turned out.

It’s been confirmed Samatta has left the club joining Fenerbahce on a four year contract for an undisclosed fee (rumoured to be in the region of £7m}. He was the first Tanzanian player to both play and score in the Premier League having netted on his debut at Bournemouth. Its fair to say that he probably didn’t get the best of opportunities given our position and the onset of Covid but Smith has presumably decided that he’s not going to make it in the EPL.

I wish him all the best at his new club.

So onto Fulham at Craven Cottage, on Monday night, as we continue to play ‘catch up’ in the league.

We haven’t managed an away win in the EPL since Burnley on New Years Day when both Wesley and Heaton were injured, nor do we have a good record at Fulham – last winning there in January 2010. Our last trip to The Cottage ended in a 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup, earlier this year.

Fulham have started with two defeats, shipping seven goals in the process, and will be looking to improve whilst Villa are on a five game undefeated run and will want to continue that and secure another away clean sheet.

A draw would be acceptable but, if we really are going to make progress this season, then this is a game we should be winning.



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  1. Avatar
    Badger123 September 25, 2020 at 4:34 pm .

    Games coming thick and fast again already.

    I’d be amazed if we were willing to take such a loss on Samatta and we either paid less or we’re getting more than the paper talk says, I reckon.
    I agree that he hasn’t really been given enough of a chance, but hey ho, it is what it is.

  2. Avatar
    Ardent Villain September 25, 2020 at 4:39 pm .

    Seem to be lot of rumours this afternoon re El Ghazi going to Notts Forrest ?

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 September 25, 2020 at 5:08 pm .

      If true that would suggest we’re still trying to bring in Rashica. or another left winger (are they still called wingers? 🙂 )

      I read that we’d agree to meet his buy out clause but he wanted to double his current wages to £80k per week which wasn’t acceptable to Villa who have (temporarily?) withdrawn from negotiations

  3. Avatar
    Ardent Villain September 25, 2020 at 4:43 pm .

    Didn’t get to see last night’s game, but have seen a lot of very good reports regarding Lansbury’s performance against Bristol City.

    Did anyone here who watched last night notice it?

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 September 25, 2020 at 5:04 pm .

      Yes, he did play well and was a presence in midfield.

      Made six key passes and generally passed the ball well although he did also give the ball away a few times.

      I don’t think one performance against Bristol City is likely to push him up the order for a starting place Monday night but should earn him a place on the bench.

      Hope you’ve managed to see the goals Ardent – if not try The Villa Informer through Facebook.

  4. Avatar
    Ardent Villain September 25, 2020 at 5:15 pm .

    Thanks H60

  5. Avatar
    CharlieAitken 59 September 25, 2020 at 6:45 pm .

    Last seven games = W5 D2 L0

    Things are improving. Clean sheet away to Fulham would be a very good start to the season!


    1. Avatar
      Ardent Villain September 25, 2020 at 9:40 pm .

      Which would you take: a clean sheet (0-0) or 3 points?

    2. Avatar
      Bum Bum September 26, 2020 at 8:17 am .

      I think we’ll do Fulham. I know football is fickle, but we suddenly have a spring in our step not seen since the MON days. 3 wins on the bounce, minimal goals conceded, coming back from behind, and although our opposition hasn’t been Liverpool or Barca, nobody has been a pushover.
      And a B team that played like the A team (not that A-Team from TV). A class goalie, Jack signed up, a side that eventually battled to stay up and discovered they had a big pair of balls after all, players who now know each other, and a spine of truly high class players. And wealthy owners to boot!
      Things may finally be looking up after a decade of false starts.
      2-1 to the Villa. Olly to net again.
      When the fans are allowed back into VP, the place will be rocking!!!!!!

  6. Avatar
    Hitchens60 September 25, 2020 at 7:53 pm .

    Sky saying we are or have been in talks over signing Nice attacking midfielder Wylan Cyprien who (according to Sky) has attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubs.

    I know nothing about him – anyone with knowledge of Ligue 1?

    1. Avatar
      Ardent Villain September 25, 2020 at 8:52 pm .

      Only what I’ve just read on the “B’ham Live” site:

      “Former France Under 21 Cyprien can play there(attcking midfield), as well as in a more withdrawn role – and last season contributed eight goals, taking his Ligue 1 total to 23. He also added five assists as Nice finished fifth.

      Cyprien started out at Paris FC before moving to Lens and then on to Nice for €5m in 2016.

      He is in the final year of his contract and has been recently linked with Newcastle, who are hoping to capitalise on a fee that is said to have fallen from €20m to €10m.”

  7. Avatar
    Hitchens60 September 26, 2020 at 7:05 am .
    1. Avatar
      Bum Bum September 26, 2020 at 8:21 am .

      Good piece that, Hitch.

  8. Avatar
    nath September 26, 2020 at 8:50 am .

    i like your assessing of the Bristol game, for me the most pleasing part was the way the second string played like the first team. they mirrored the first team with and without the ball. so we are finally seeing that continuity we talked about. we finally got a settled management and nucleus of decent squad, all of which buying into the our philosophy.

    also we only recruited 4 ish maybe more on way. but they are all adding to the squad and our style. quality players recruiting mean they improve our other players as they fight for their places, finally we can see progression on the field.

    i think sammatta was a panic buy and did not fit in to the manager type of player. we had no strikers and sammatta was probably only one we could recruit in jan. we had to do something as we were looking dead and buried and needed a boost. so we probably paid over and sold a little lower to reach out to all parties

  9. Avatar
    Originallondonlion September 27, 2020 at 9:48 pm .

    Villa have a few bogeys to lay tomorrow. Night matches in London have been fruitless for a while. Victories at Craven Cottage a rarity. At least we don’t have to beat the ref as well. Neither Moss nor Friend has the whistle so with luck it is 11 v 11. The 11 who beat Bristol City were so much more positive than the cautious “first team” that beat the Blades – I wonder how many of them will keep the shirt? The Bristol extended highlights are now on the AVFC site.

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