Despite Nath’s super optimistic forecast, the stark fact is that we’ve only won one of our last 43 Premier League games against United. That came 11 years ago at Old Trafford courtesy of a goal from Agbonlahor.

But more of that later.

The positives

We completed an unbeaten December with the draw at Chelsea which also saw us move up to 5th place in the table; who would have predicted that having performed a Houdini act in Project Restart to retain our place in the EPL?

Villa still top the table in average shots per game, and the defence registered four clean sheets in December, making eight in total – again the best in the League. Dean Smith claims he has found the balance for the team and tactics and its very hard to argue against it. 

Villa’s squad players have stepped up to the mark to cover for injuries and suspensions and have perhaps surprised us all. Ever since El Ghazi knocked in the late penalty against Wolves, it has lit a fire under them all. This can only bode well as when (rather than if) we suffer more injuries and suspensions players will come into the team wanting to succeed and be part of the team out on the pitch. In fact, apart from the cup game against Stoke, the level of performance from the bench has been first class.

Whilst January is a difficult transfer window, if we could pick up a couple of players to further improve the squad that would give Smith more options and opportunities to rest players when necessary. 

We start 2021 in the best position we have seen for years with real competition for places – absolutely vital for any top team – an excellent management team and two owners who seem to know what they are doing and have the financial clout to deliver.

It’s good to be a Villa fan again

I feel that tonight’s game against United is the real test of how far we’ve come. 

Villa have shown that they can win games playing fast flowing football which is a joy to watch but they can also scrap it out when necessary. Smith has been tactically very good this season (apart from the Leeds game that is, when maybe the Liverpool result went to our heads?) – how much of this is down to Craig Shakespeare’s influence is hard to tell.

Make no mistake, United are a good team with any number of players that can hurt Villa and we’ll need to be right on our game if we’re going to take anything away from Old Trafford. Their stats show that they like possession and to play through teams and 31 goals from 26.22 xG demonstrates their efficiency going forward – although they don’t score many goals at home – reinforcing their standing as one of the most dangerous counter attacking sides in the division. Whilst, defensively they are likely to concede a goal, they are not as weak at the back as some would like to make out.

Much like JG, Bruno Fernandes is the player that makes them tick. He has ten goals and seven assists this season and is at the heart of transitioning the play between defence and attack.

For United, Cavani is suspended and Lindelof may be absent again with a back injury. United played their last game 24 hours after Villa, so we do have the benefit of extra recuperation time. It remains to be seen whether Solskjaer rotates his squad.

Villa have Mings available after his suspension and Barkley should be available after his hamstring – should it be another no show then some questions might be asked given his injury history. If Barkley is fit then I assume he would also come into the team but who makes way – El Gahzi or Traore – or does Smith start Barkley on the bench and keep faith with those who’ve started the last few games?

Will Mings comes straight back into the team? To drop Hause would be very harsh on the big defender who has shown an all round improvement in his game, but how badly would the team miss Mings organisational skills? Is it madness to question Ming’s inclusion in the team or does it demonstrate the current strength in the squad right now? 

United are on a nine game unbeaten run whilst Villa have gone five unbeaten. Smith has to get it tactically spot on tonight and the players have to be on their game from the off if we to get anything from the game.

United are undoubtedly Villa’s nemesis and tonight might be as much about psychology as ability. The law of averages would suggest we are due a bit of luck and a win but probability would have it otherwise. 

2020 has been a terrible year for so many people but we can look forward to 2021 with renewed hope, the end of lockdowns and the return of fans to Villa Park.

Happy New Year


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  1. Avatar
    Bill Pearson.. January 8, 2021 at 7:11 pm . Reply

    Team onodi, Bridge, Bevan capt, Walker, Rowe, Barry, Kesler, Sylla, Raikhy, Bogarde,

  2. Avatar
    nath January 8, 2021 at 7:14 pm . Reply

    just seen the pool team and they are not taking this game too lightly are they??
    seems like they are out for revenge hehehe. i hope our kids enjoy the game and don’t worry about the result. we will love them whatever happens. go out and most importantly enjoy yourselves

    prediction villa 0 pool 7 ( sorry )

  3. Avatar
    Tekkers48 January 8, 2021 at 7:22 pm . Reply

    Proud night for those lads tonight. They will do us proud.

  4. Avatar
    Hitchens60 January 8, 2021 at 7:26 pm . Reply

    Absolute f***ing joke.

    No need to say any more.

    And if the Spurs game is not postponed then this season becomes an absolute farce.

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 January 8, 2021 at 7:28 pm . Reply

      That’s not a criticism of our kids but the ostrich type attitude of the FA.

  5. Avatar
    nath January 8, 2021 at 7:44 pm . Reply

    omg they look like babies 🙁

    pool are out of revenge mark my words kids or not they mean business

  6. Avatar
    nath January 8, 2021 at 7:48 pm . Reply

    started well kept a decent shape whithout the ball

  7. Avatar
    nath January 8, 2021 at 8:27 pm . Reply

    barry equalises great goal. villa kids are growing with each minute

  8. Avatar
    nath January 8, 2021 at 8:38 pm . Reply

    half time 1 1 villa kids grew up years in 45 minutes. they started well even thou they conceded early. they had good shape and not bad pressing but the pressing improved with each minute, they started with 2 and 3 then finished with the whole team pressing pool.

    pool are not strolling it around they are shifting villa kids around. much better than i expected but the main problem will be villa kids are not likely to have played at this tempo \ pace often. they lost to sunderland and a league 2 side. but what ever the final score here they have shown enough to suggest they all have futures in the game.

    great goal for barry the through ball was just a good, pool caught with another high defence again at villa

  9. Avatar
    Bill Pearson.. January 8, 2021 at 8:41 pm . Reply

    A credit to the club, I’m in tears with being proud of kids mocking the league champions, Milner doing his nut over the goal, lads I don’t mind if you get beat you are playing for the shirt.

    1. Avatar
      nath January 8, 2021 at 8:48 pm . Reply

      i love milner bill great pro our kids can look to him and if they show the same determination as milner they can make it for sure

  10. Avatar
    nath January 8, 2021 at 9:41 pm . Reply

    such pride watching our young lions. sadly second was a step too far. they worked so hard first sadly they ran out of steam. pool just wouldnt allow villa youngsters to play with the ball they hustled them and pressure finally tolled around the hour when cramp took us out as well

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