Is El Ghazi the new Ronaldo, Chelsea next and January expectations

Well maybe not but four goals in as many games, spectacular shooting and showing his free kick abilities has certainly caught the eye. But not just that, his all round contribution has shifted to a new level.

I’ve always believed that El Ghazi has the ability to become a very good player but perhaps lacked the physical and mental strength to realise it. Some of the credit must go to Smith and the coaching staff, not least because of the way they encourage the players to express themselves and the way the team is set up to best utilise individual skills.

A great team performance and for me Watkins was MoM. His speed, and non stop intelligent running, had the Palace defence in disarray even when we went down to 10 men. Disappointed for him that he wasn’t able to top his all round display with a goal – but they will come – and at £28m, he’s starting to look like a real bargain.

Mings might count himself a little unlucky with the first yellow but he seemed ‘out of sorts’ making one or two unforced errors and appeared to allow Zaha to unsettle him.

Can’t help feeling for Traore, being substituted following Mings dismissal, when he was playing his best football since joining us – even scoring with his right foot – showing why we spent £17m to acquire his services. However, Smith clearly made the right call.

Three tough games to come, Chelsea and United away followed by a home FA Cup tie against Liverpool (who have still only lost once this season!).

Chelsea were pretty poor against Arsenal and I can’t see them playing that badly again on Monday, although they have lost three of their last four following a 17 game unbeaten run. Our recent record against Chelsea, home and away, is dismal. Chelsea have won 10 of their last 11 games against us including the last six in a row; our last win at Stamford Bridge came in December 2011 which is our only away success in this fixture in the last 18 years.

We’ll be without Mings and Barkley (who is ‘loan tied’) but Konsa looked a class act when he came on in yesterdays forced reshuffle and Hause is proving himself to be a reliable defender. What Mings does is organise the defence well and is known to be very vocal; something we have missed in the past so it will require others to step in. I see Martinez role as being crucial here.

It remains to be seen how big a miss Mings will be and might just be the difference between getting something from the game and coming away empty handed – again.

As we approach the notoriously difficult January transfer window, the old Grealish stories have been dusted off and lazily fill several column inches. It’s plainly obvious that Grealish is going nowhere in January – even if he wanted to leave (which I very much doubt) no one could afford him!

Kalinic leaves on loan to Hajduk Split on 18th January (when the Polish transfer window opens) and there maybe one or two other outgoings. A question mark must hang over Hourihane’s future at the club and it wouldn’t surprise me if he went out on loan; he will have plenty of suitors in the Championship. Similarly will Guilbert go on loan to a French club having (I believe) turned down a loan move in the summer. Elmo, Neil Taylor and Lansbury’s contracts are up at the end of the season and can talk to clubs in January; I really can’t see any of getting extensions although we are light at left back and Taylor is reputed to have a positive influence in the dressing room.

I really can’t see us doing much business in terms of bringing players in, preferring to concentrate our resources on bringing in new recruits in the summer.  Having said that, if Wesley is going to be out for much of the season, which looks increasingly likely, then we may try to bring in striker to help Watkins. I suspect, however, that quite a number of Villa fans are hoping to see Louie Barry promoted to the first team squad!

No doubt there will also be interest in Ross Barkley’s future particularly given the rumours that he is not in Lampard’s plans – but we’ll have to wait until the summer on that one.

It’s been an excellent Christmas bringing cheer to all Villa fans in a horrible year; long may it continue.


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  1. Avatar
    Mark January 1, 2021 at 12:08 pm .

    I always smile when Villa play United, because the build up will, more often than not, emphasise Villa’s extremely poor record against them. What these smug, ‘Sky Big Six’ loving pundits fail to mention is that, virtually all the games, were played during the Fergie era and I doubt that every other club, who played them in that time, has that much of a better record, if at all.
    Regarding this game, whilst it is good to have Mings available, I wouldn’t be too disappointed if Smith stuck with Konsa and Hause. I have mentioned before that, it is my opinion, and don’t forget, we are all entitled to an opinion, that Mings has become a little too big big for his boots, since he became an England player. His second booking against Palace and his positioning, in the opponent’s half for Welbeck’s goal for Brighton are proof, if proof be needed. At times he is too complacent for his own good.He just needs to stick with the basics and do what he does best. I also worry about Barkley.
    I must admit to being a mixture of optimistic and concerned when Villa acquired him on loan. He is certainly a talent that has already enhanced us but, as has been shown, is prone to injury. I get frustrated when the immediate forecast was for him to be missing for 2-3 weeks and, every time there is team news, before a game, it always says that Barkley should be available, only for me to look at the teamsheet to see that his name is missing.
    This sounds like Ron Vlaar all over again.
    I firmly believe that we have a great chance of a result at Old Trafford so, fingers crossed.
    Finally, I would really like to see some positive activity by Villa in the transfer window. Back up for Watkins, in Wesley’s absence, would be important

  2. Avatar
    Sidforever January 1, 2021 at 12:08 pm .

    Can’t wait for tonight’s game. I feel like a kid again with eternal optimism that we will win.

    I want to say a happy new year to our two owners. You are demonstrating how to run a football club the right way. Appoint a manager you believe in, provide the required level of funding needed and stick with the manager during any downturns.

    We all see the benefit. In fact, I believe that the improvements you have made have had a positive impact on the mental health of so many Villa fans – thank you.

    Now a cheeky question. I had previously read that if we stayed up there were plans to rebuild the Mirth stand and increase the capacity. Last season there were 8,000 fans in the season ticket reserve list. Now with us playing such an exciting style of football, is it not the time to start building work – especially if fans can’t access the ground for the foreseeable future. I really believe that whatever the capacity were, we would fill it.

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