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
    VillaAwayInDiv3 September 28, 2020 at 8:51 pm .

    Such a different side from pre Covid and another change this season……is this down to Shakespeare ?

    1. Avatar
      originallondonlion September 28, 2020 at 10:34 pm .

      “That one may smile, and smile,and be a Villain” Hamlet Act 1 Sc 5.

  2. Avatar
    Ardent Villain September 28, 2020 at 9:33 pm .

    Hard to say.
    Something definitely changed defence-wise during lockdown, and to my mind Konsa has gotten better with each game and become immense – maybe it’s just the ‘confidence thing’, especially now we seem to have a top-class keeper ?

  3. Avatar
    Roy Bracy September 29, 2020 at 1:33 am .

    I think Shakespeare has got something to do with the way villa seem to attack with faster release of the ball plus Watkins with his movements making space for others.
    I also noticed that villa got more players into the box tonight midfielder’s getting up in support more. That must be Shakespeare.
    Long may it continue utv

  4. Avatar
    Hitchens60 September 29, 2020 at 8:47 am .

    Love the Shakespeare connection – very clever 🙂

  5. Avatar
    CharlieAitken 59 September 29, 2020 at 10:21 am .

    Last 8 games

    W6 D2 L0

    5 clean sheets in last 8 games

    Whats gone wrong? 🙂


  6. Avatar
    CharlieAitken 59 September 29, 2020 at 12:07 pm .

    I’ll probably get slated for this but IMO Trezeguet is a vital part of our team. I appreciate that his football ability is limited but I’ve always loved ‘a grafter’ in our famous C and B shirt. Alex Cropley, Des Bremner, Frank Carrodus, Dennis Mortimer spring to mind.

    Great effort by Trezeguet and the team last night. The only player who concerns me at the moment is Targett.

    2 games, 4 scored and 0 conceded. Its a joy to wake up and see the League Table this morning!

    P.S…as someone posted earlier I’m sure that Shakespeare’s coaching has been instrumental in our good start to the season. Because of that I think we might have the new Vardy in Ollie Watkins.


    **** null and void the season now and we are in the CL****

    1. Avatar
      Ardent Villain September 29, 2020 at 4:58 pm .

      Targett hasn’t got enough competition for his place.

      Much as I appreciate what Neil Taylor’s done during his time at Villa, I think we really need an upgrade at left-back – if nothing else than to keep Targett on his feet.

  7. Avatar
    Badger123 September 29, 2020 at 3:59 pm .

    You won’t get slated by me Charlie.
    I like the bloke and feel he certainly has more to contribute than some.

    Oh Charlie, can you confirm that your posts are working ok now and they don’t still go into moderation?

    General question;
    Tbh, I know Craig Shakespeare is massively popular because he’s a Villa fan, but I don’t have a clue what he actually brings to us.
    I assume it’s good coaching, but what exactly is the evidence for this?

    1. Avatar
      Ardent Villain September 29, 2020 at 4:43 pm .

      “B’ham Live” had a good piece on Shakespeare earlier today, but I can’t fnd it at the moment. It seems he ‘drills’ the troops before kick-off, and seems to be a bit of a disciplinarian.

    2. Avatar
      CharlieAitken 59 September 29, 2020 at 6:06 pm .

      Yes Badger. Posts getting through ok now. Thank you

    3. Avatar
      CharlieAitken 59 September 29, 2020 at 6:12 pm .

      Shakespeare was ‘very’ instrumental in Leicester winning the title. Hence why I mentioned him in the sentence about Vardy and Watkins. In short, he got the Leicester team playing a system that best suited Vardy. I believe we are trying the same with Watkins (in some games), especially the ‘winnable’ ones! Just my opinion of course!

  8. Avatar
    nath September 29, 2020 at 9:11 pm .

    i have been really busy i even missed the first two goals and most of first half. but i have watched it all back in its entirely. i thought it was a professional job by us and the first two games had to be 3 points cause i believe they both are in real danger this season. both sheff utd and fulham are below the premiership standards. its hard on utd but they have inferior players last year they massively over achieved. but the surprise element has gone so i expect them down. fulham play decent stuff but as we found out last season where it matters in this league is up front and in your own box, fulham can not defend or score enough to cancel the goals they concede.

    take a breathe, as for Shakespeare he is not the reason we are better or the sole reason. villa have found the formula during the lock down. the penny dropped as they say. before that we were very unlucky in lots of games. injuries totally ruined us. but the lock down came and they got togther and worked out why we made mistakes.

    having survived and the arrival of Shakespeare, along with new players plus the players from last season have now learned their lessons. this all stands us in very good shape for this season. but lets keep our feet on the ground we only beaten two teams that are gonna be in and around the relegation.

    the team is so hungry to prove they are good enough and i like this and our new found mentality to win, liverpool next in league will be a much sterner test. but we will never be more confident as we are now. we are in great shape

  9. Avatar
    Bum Bum September 29, 2020 at 9:24 pm .

    Didn’t Shakespeare have a go in the hot seat when Ranieri was unceremoniously dumped and didn’t do very well.
    Some will always be greats number twos, like Mike Phelan and that’s no insult! It sounds like he’s doing a great job!

    1. Avatar
      nath September 29, 2020 at 9:33 pm .

      yeah he was caretaker for a foxes. not sure how it went. but no doubt he is a fine coach and he will add to our backroom. i like to think they all add something. bigger fish to fry for us before we can single one of the coaches for a knighthood.

      i also believe we are handling the situation of no fans better than other clubs. personally i hate this b/s ko times. they do not give fans enough time to get home and settle down, 5 45 ko is silly why can we not all kick off sat same time

      1. Avatar
        Ardent Villain September 29, 2020 at 10:18 pm .

        The Villa-Fulham game was moved back to 17:45 so that the L’pool-Arse game could also be moved back – idea was that the latter game had to finish before the 10:00 pm pub-closing curfew..

        Football with no fans really won’t survive very long, even with the PL clubs getting TV money; lower leagues (inc. Championship) are already hanging by a thread.

  10. Avatar
    Bum Bum September 30, 2020 at 10:56 am .

    Barkley signed on season long loan!!!

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