AZ Alkmaar – Villa; Only one question really

Thanks for contributing to some good debate in the last thread, chaps. I Really enjoyed that.

Anyway this early evening (thanks for alerting me about that Bum bum) we face an Alkmaar side who are bang in form and have collected a very nice 25 points out of a possible 27, which is second only to Eindhoven, who have won every game.
I’ve never really rated the Eredivisie and it’s certainly not on the level of the big 5 European leagues, but some of their constituents have done pretty well over the years.
As a sidenote it was a bit of a shock to see Ajax second bottom when I looked at the table, but hey ho.

So it’s obvious that Alkmaar are no mugs and are going to be a difficult nut to crack.
Can we do it?
The question that depends on is what side Unai Emery puts out, in my opinion.
I was reading the Brum Mail yesterday and John Townley wrote his guess for a starting eleven and it was basically full strength. It’s an assessment I entirely agree with.
I know we talk about not wanting to burn the players out, but we’ve seen that if we throw too many of the second string in, we’re not strong enough. Possibly not because the players aren’t individually good enough (although I have doubts about most of them), but because they haven’t got to know each other as a unit and it’s well, just too much change in one go.

Townley obviously thinks the same and I actually think that as much as Emery would love to rest half the side again, I very much doubt he will this time.
He hinted as much, I think when he recalled that the Dutch side beat Sevilla in 2012 when he was their manager.
I think he will actually go full strength and he won’t even start Duran, who wasn’t even in the squad on Sunday. Emery says he was injured, but there have been rumours that the lad has been unhappy about not starting enough. That’s fair enough, but if he’s made it be known, you have to wonder if Emery has slapped him down a peg a dropped him, which in fairness, he’s denied. I like Duran, but he’s only a kid and needs to know his place, which is still very much learning.
Anyway, I wouldn’t start him purely because I think Watkins is the better striker at the moment and I want us to win, it’s as simple as that. The lad can come on when/if we’ve got the game wrapped up, by all means.

Squad news and all is the same as previously, with Moreno and Ramsay still working towards fitness.

As for Alkmaar, Mayckel Lahdo is suspended after picking up a red in their victory over Legia.
Goalie Sem Westerveld is out, as is midfielder Mees de Wit, who suffered a foot injury a couple of months back.

Thoughts then?
I think if we don’t go full strength, there’s a very good chance we’ll lose this. Don’t forget, they beat Legia, where we couldn’t and while it doesn’t mean a fat lot, it does indicate that they’re a very decent side.
Even if we do go full strength, I see it being a very tough game with probably only the one goal in it.
Even so, I’m going for a 1-1 draw.
It’s pure guesswork, as I haven’t seen Alkmaar play in years. Either way, I just don’t want to be over confident. The expectation only leads to hurt when it goes wrong.

The game is on TNT sports (the old BT) and kick off is at 5.45 BST



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  1. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 7:29 pm . Reply

    If we win this competition, and get 5th place, do 2 Europa League places equal a Champions League spot??? 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  2. Texas Villan
    Texas Villan October 26, 2023 at 7:34 pm . Reply

    Bailey MOM for me – the most I’ve enjoyed watching him. He looked confident and like he could make things happen each time he got the ball. He’s really gotten better at bringing others into play and learning when to keep the ball for himself.

  3. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 October 26, 2023 at 7:42 pm . Reply

    On a second half watch thought Legolet looked pretty good.

    1. Bum Bum
      Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 7:43 pm . Reply

      Wasn’t Legolet the Elf in Lord of the Rings???

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 October 26, 2023 at 7:59 pm . Reply

        Come on Bum Bum – that was Legolas! The women’s footballing equivalent of Legolet 🙂

        1. BFR
          BFR October 27, 2023 at 1:51 pm . Reply

          I love lego.

          1. The Ron Saunders Stand
            The Ron Saunders Stand October 27, 2023 at 2:30 pm . Reply

            Any moore of that and you could be blocked 😁

  4. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 October 26, 2023 at 7:43 pm . Reply

    Excellent win

    1. Mark
      Mark October 27, 2023 at 9:31 am . Reply

      Don’t you mean Legoland ?

  5. little8
    little8 October 26, 2023 at 7:47 pm . Reply

    Yesss great win really enjoyed that Tielmans finally became an Aston villa player tonight thought he was excellent woo hooo

  6. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 7:49 pm . Reply

    2nd game in our group at 8pm. A draw would do us good…

  7. Holte
    Holte October 26, 2023 at 8:52 pm . Reply

    What a great result. 4-1 despite the boring football 😏
    All this winning makes everything else in life feel better. Even walking the dog on a cold dark night feels good. Roll on Sunday and a nice easy w—! I’m not going to tempt fate yet.

    1. BFR
      BFR October 27, 2023 at 1:53 pm . Reply

      Don’t jinx it! Luton are battling. Coming back from 2 down at Forest shows spirit. The Villa will need to be at it on Sunday.

  8. Ardent Villain
    Ardent Villain October 26, 2023 at 8:56 pm . Reply

    Almost an hour after the game, and I haven’t found any comment yet seriously trying to say that it was ‘boring’.

    Surely someone out there didn’t find a classic away win in Europe, against a team in the same sort of form in their own division as we are, and hadn’t lost at home in their last 29 Euro games, less than entertaing?

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand October 26, 2023 at 9:08 pm . Reply

      Ardent, I was surprised anyone found our demolition of those Hammers boring?
      39 goals so far this season, so if that equates to boring football then carry on Unai and bore me sh**less.

      1. Ardent Villain
        Ardent Villain October 26, 2023 at 9:13 pm . Reply

        However the season ends-up, we can’t complain about how the team have done so far, and as I heard mentioned during tonight’s commentary, this squad is still improving all of the time.

        Happy Days.

  9. Sidforever
    Sidforever October 26, 2023 at 9:04 pm . Reply

    Dear Fellow Villa Fans

    Loved that! Unai knew this was the match to make minimal changes. We beat the second best team in the group. With 2 home games and 1 away to go, we have to go through.

    To reopen an argument in the last post! I loved Martinez with the ball at his feet for a 30 seconds. He epitomised Unai’s philosophy. ‘I’m not kicking this to lose. You come here and break your line for me to pass into. Oh you won’t break shape – well guess what, a draw is a point for us- oh now you want to close me down- now I pass as I have space and we’ve broken your lines’. Absolutely love it.

  10. The Ron Saunders Stand
    The Ron Saunders Stand October 27, 2023 at 2:39 pm . Reply

    “I’ve never played against such a good team. When we tried to press them high they just went in behind us, and when we stayed they played in between us.”

    He also added “But they are boring.”
    (ok I made the last bit up😁 )

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