Hammered by Design, Arsenal and European Shenanigans

I was reading an article earlier this week which referred to Fan groups of the top 200 ranked EUFA clubs signing a statement against the formation of a European Super League which seems to have reared its ugly head again.

Such a league would be nothing but a self interested power grab by a few select clubs who see it as a way of safeguarding themselves financially and bugger the rest. The proposals are for a 20 team competition with 15 permanent members that would still play in domestic competitions at weekends – so all other teams must bow to these teams with a fixture list designed to benefit them.

Is it mere coincidence then, that The Times and Telegraph are today reporting that EUFA has proposed an extended Champions League from 2024 onwards with ‘Europe’s biggest teams’ being guaranteed a place even if they don’t finish in the top four of their domestic leagues! At the same time the Europa League would be scaled back.

Sounds like EUFA bowing to pressure and a European Super League by the back door!

The rich will get richer etc. and football will be worse for it.

Turning to Wednesday’s game; there is little point in a detailed post match analysis – we were poor and beaten by the better side. Moyes got his tactics spot on – Smith didn’t.

Barkley and McGinn in particular looked way off the pace from the opening minutes.

McGinn showed none of his usual combative edge failing to throw in a tackle or try to nip the ball of the toes of the Hammers midfield leaving Luiz exposed in front of the defence.

Barkley was simply poor throughout the game showing no dynamism, carelessly giving the ball away five times and that on top of a series of inaccurate and misplaced passes.

Whatever the players’ monitors might say, whatever the stats show, sometimes you just have to use your eyes and these two in particular have shown signs of tiredness in the last three games.

We don’t know which players had Covid so are these two in particular suffering fatigue as a result and how many other players are finding recovery difficult between games?

Smith also got his tactics wrong – something he alluded to in his post match press conference. Apart from a short spell at the end of the first half, why did it take Smith until the 80th minute to switch Grealish to the right side when we immediately started to look better – after all he brought in El Ghazi who normally plays on the left?

Arsenal are next up at Villa Park and Smith needs to work out how to adapt our mid field play a bit more to the way other teams set up.

By their own high standards, our mid field three of Barkley, McGinn and Luiz have been poor in the last two games and something seems to be missing at the moment with them being too easily pulled out of position reducing cover to one area of the pitch. This allows opposition teams (that achieve this) a free run at our defence – Lingard for instance continually had acres of space to play in – and its happened in other games such as Leeds.

If we play like the last two games we will get another bashing on Saturday.

Arsenal were on a seven game unbeaten run until Tuesday’s defeat at Wolves which also deprives them of Leno and Luiz both receiving straight reds. I’m not aware of any major injury problems.

Our results have been patchy to say the least and we do have the usual terrible Villa statistics to deal with. It seems we have lost 16 of our last 18 EPL games in February (only winning one) and it’s nearly 30 years since we last did the double over Arsenal and just as long since we last won three in a row against them!

Will Smith freshen up the team – maybe giving Sanson his first start and bring Trezeguet back into the side and, if so who will give way?

Or will he just press a button on the computer and print out his ‘usual’ first team.


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  1. Big Fat Ron
    Big Fat Ron February 6, 2021 at 10:41 pm . Reply

    Excellent result today. Would always prefer a gritty 1-0 victory over a silky 3-2 reverse like at Turf Moor. Analysing the table, had we won in Burnley, as we should have, we would be sitting in the top 6, with games in hand on West Ham and Liverpool, which would potentially take us into the fourth and final Champions League place. Personally, I think that is the manager’s and the players’ aim this season. It has to be. Because it is possible. Not just mathematically, but really possible. IF this group of players can go on a run like they did before the COVID outbreak and be ‘there or there abouts’ come Easter, who knows what fruits this season will bear? We have ‘arguably’ the best player in the league, we have a tremendous defensive unit which is notching clean-sheets routinely, and we have a forward line feared by all, not to mention a powerful midfield, packed with what I would describe as ‘old-fashioned’ midfielders, the sort who can do everything and do it well.

    When Dean Smith took over, promotion looked impossible; he delivered it. This time last year, we looked dead and buried, nailed-on for relegation, having ‘gone up a year too early’; he somehow kept us up. Smith’s Villa have always been a year ahead of schedule in terms of their progress. We know the owners aren’t messing about. To say it’s ‘now or never’ is overstating, but why not now? This season is an anomaly with the empty stadiums, Grealish is in his prime with more to come, everything is in place. The question is, do the players believe they can do it, and if they do, how badly do they want it? In my opinion, the fourth and final Champions League place is there for the taking. I hope the players representing Aston Villa realise that they are capable of making history and catapulting our great club back to where they belong. Here’s hoping!


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