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. Ardent Villain
    Ardent Villain October 26, 2023 at 2:59 pm . Reply

    Badger, fully agree your analysis of the “2’nd string” players; they’re not ‘bad’ (although I have some doubts about Tielemans…) and when we bring 1 or 2 into a game they generally don’t let us down. The issue always seems to be if Emery starts with 5 or 6 of them, when it always looks like they have’nt gelled.

    This is likely to be a very difficult game, with a crowd as hostile as it was in Warsaw, and again as you say, while the Dutch league isn’t fantastic, they do have some useful players (usually waiting to get a big break in Spain or Germany) and over they years their teams have a pretty solid reputation across all Euro competitions.

    So I’m hoping Emery starts with a very strong line-up, and I don’t expect more than a 1-1 or 2-2 result.

  2. The Ron Saunders Stand
    The Ron Saunders Stand October 26, 2023 at 3:39 pm . Reply

    This Alkmaar look a really useful outfit – second in the league
    Played 9
    Won 8
    Drew 1
    Lost 0
    Scored 25
    Conceded 4.
    This is going to be a tough gig with a full strength side.

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand October 26, 2023 at 3:43 pm . Reply

      Vangelis Pavlidis looks one to watch.

    2. Bum Bum
      Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 6:01 pm . Reply


  3. Texas Villan
    Texas Villan October 26, 2023 at 4:47 pm . Reply

    Strong lineup – although do question resting both CB.

    Aston Villa XI: Martinez, Cash, Carlos, Lenglet, Digne, McGinn, Kamara, Luiz, Tielemans, Bailey, Watkins

  4. Holte
    Holte October 26, 2023 at 5:34 pm . Reply

    I’m concerned about swapping out both CB’s for Lenglet and Carlos who have had just a few minutes together against a high scoring confident team! I hope Emery has got it right.

  5. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 5:55 pm . Reply

    In Kings Cross curry house watching the game! Off to a gig later! Perfect evening…WHEN we win!!!
    What’s with the AZ play acting so early on????

  6. Badger123
    Badger123 October 26, 2023 at 6:03 pm . Reply

    That was handball all day for me, but I’ll take it.
    Seconds after me slating him for making a right Horlicks too

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand October 26, 2023 at 6:07 pm . Reply

      Bailey takes a lot of criticism but there’s a player in there.

    2. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand October 26, 2023 at 6:11 pm . Reply

      2-0 Tell you, all this winning is boring me to tears 😂

  7. Badger123
    Badger123 October 26, 2023 at 6:09 pm . Reply

    Tielemans! Chuffed for him.

  8. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 6:10 pm . Reply

    Wow. 2 up. I thought this would be tougher…

  9. Badger123
    Badger123 October 26, 2023 at 6:14 pm . Reply

    I’m honestly open-mouthed here, because we’re footballing them to death and the oppo have no clue what to do.

  10. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 6:29 pm . Reply

    I’d like one more goal then take off as many 1st teamers as possible. Cash. Luiz. Meatball. Ollie. Kamara.

  11. Badger123
    Badger123 October 26, 2023 at 6:37 pm . Reply

    Pretty much agreed, but I ca see them getting at least one back. We need to be careful, but we look to have more than enough to beat them.

  12. Holte
    Holte October 26, 2023 at 6:40 pm . Reply

    Well that was a comfortable first half. Tielemans playing well so far. Martinez early on just standing there with the ball at his feet for an age was hilarious. We just need to cut out any sloppiness as the back. Hopefully get another one early on so we can rest a few.

  13. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 6:41 pm . Reply

    Our 2 replacement central defenders look as shakey as we’d expect. Obviously going for the ‘Attack is the best form of defence’ adage… 3 goals clear should be enough although it would be awful to go out on GD!!!!

  14. Texas Villan
    Texas Villan October 26, 2023 at 6:46 pm . Reply

    It was a comfortable half, but if they’d taken their 2 chances more clinically, then it could easily have been 2-2. I’d like to see what Diaby and Zaniolo can do in place of JM and Tielemans (who is having his best game for us IMO – not just because of the goal).

  15. The Ron Saunders Stand
    The Ron Saunders Stand October 26, 2023 at 6:58 pm . Reply

    Ollie 3-0 get in there

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand October 26, 2023 at 7:03 pm . Reply

      4-0 simply terrible football 🤣

  16. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 October 26, 2023 at 7:05 pm . Reply

    Missed the first half – ripping them to pieces.

    Is this buccaneering football 🙂 ?

  17. BFR
    BFR October 26, 2023 at 7:10 pm . Reply

    I’m bored shitless…

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 October 26, 2023 at 7:13 pm . Reply

      Shame about their goal though.

      We don’t need to get complacent now!

  18. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum October 26, 2023 at 7:26 pm . Reply

    We are crap. Face it.

    (Had to give up my table as the curry house was getting too busy…).

Right or Wrong? What do YOU think?