Nemesis

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

119 Comments

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  1. Avatar
    Hitchens60 January 8, 2021 at 9:41 pm .

    We may have lost but it’s Klopp that scores a massive own goal.

    Immensely proud of our kids,

    Post to follow

  2. Avatar
    Roy Bracy January 9, 2021 at 2:02 am .

    Very proud of Aston villa tonight the kid’s held their own till cramps got to them otherwise they might have taken it to extra time maybe penalties. They played a system similar to 1st team and gave mighty Liverpool a game.
    I think under the circumstances Liverpool should have played their youngsters as well not basically the 1st.team squad.
    Where’s the sportsmanship gone, it’s all greed I liked klopp but not anymore he’s a pompous ass scared villa’s kid’s would beat them.
    Villa are the bigger team well done onwards and upwards utv

  3. Avatar
    Tom January 9, 2021 at 9:58 am .

    Every single player Who represented villa last night should be beaming with pride today.
    Stand out performers for me Were the keeper, Row, Revan, Sylla and of course Barry.
    But I have to say it again, every single one of them did fantastic! 1 nill down and they didn’t crumble what so ever. Even at 4-1 there was still a good 25 minutes to play and they held on. This team did better jobs than many premier league teams have and will do.
    The winners last night for me were Villa hands down, even the commentators didn’t have much to say about Liverpool.
    The likes of bidge playering at Centre half at 16 against Mané, salah and Firmino, then set pieces against giants like Fabinho lolol. Half our squad are still due a bloody growth spurt!!
    So much to say on my behalf but I’ll never get it all out. The saves, the defending, the passion, even some passing and of course the finish!
    Agree with previous comments, I used to actually like Klopp but recently he Has lost a little class. His comments after the match were almost t he Through gritted teeth.
    Well done again lads! Wait until you’ve had one last growth spurt, ate a few eggs for breakfast instead of coco pops and spent another 18 months in the gym. You would have given this title winning Liverpool a much much bigger scare.

  4. Avatar
    Bill Pearson.. January 9, 2021 at 12:08 pm .

    Tom, well said it rings in my head the same thoughts, watched it lastnight and again at 6-30 today with pride running through my body. Klop an idiot to me in his attitude and him saying football is a game to win, we know that but we played kids that acted like men and he couldn’t hack it by not saying a praise to them lads. hope utd stuff them next game they play.,

  5. Avatar
    Tom January 9, 2021 at 12:39 pm .

    Can I also say what I think is a worthy mention.Villa did what I would call A very gentlemanly thing is repaying the (the only word I can describe) situation and allowing the game to be continued, not kicking up a fuss and acknowledging Liverpool having to play a youth team this time last year. What I will say is I believe Terry and Smith went into the changing room to acknowledge what they did, praise them and congratulate them on making their debuts. I haven’t heard Klopp doing the same?

  6. Avatar
    DSVilla January 9, 2021 at 1:40 pm .

    Really enjoyed watching the match last night. I thought the young lads were fantastic. Stayed in the game until the 2nd and 3rd goals coming close together. Heads didn’t drop and kept playing. Good experience for them and hope one or two can make the grade for us.

  7. Avatar
    originallondonlion January 9, 2021 at 2:47 pm .

    Louis Barry on the front page of “The Game” section of the Times. A real showcase for the Villa Academy. Such a clean game too, hardly a foul by the Villans – so we know at what level the filth and play acting are introduced, don’t we?

    James Milner has played more games at Villa Park than the combined total by eveybody else who played yesterday.

    Many of that team of Villa kids will not have played at VP, since their junior league matches are usually played elsewhere. That particular squad will not have played together before and its isn’t surprising they got cramp or ran to a standstill – some U-23s last played before Christmas but the more junior players hadn’t played a competitive game since November.

  8. Avatar
    Bill Pearson.. January 10, 2021 at 9:24 am .

    Interesting lads,

    EXCLUSIVE: Aston Villa give transfer green light to Bournemouth’s David Brooks and Reading talent Michael Olise

  9. Avatar
    Holte66 January 10, 2021 at 9:40 am .

    Should football have a circuit break?

  10. Avatar
    Sidforever January 10, 2021 at 11:17 am .

    Just one final thought on Friday’s match. Do you think Klop Wanted to humiliate villa. Remember last year when his team chase the world club championship reporter used to have against us. And earlier this season we hammered them 7- 2. I see no other reason for Salah and Mane being in the team, especially when he has winged about too many games.

    Looked like it backfired Klop and you did not humiliate us like you anticipated.

    1. Avatar
      Originallondonlion January 10, 2021 at 12:05 pm .

      No I don’t think so. Even if they had scored double figures, it would not have been against the first team, and the bragging rights would not count. Klopp could give the stars a run out with little risk of injury.

      Will the kids get another go against Spurs? The EPL has postponed other matches for Covid outbreaks already this season, and I don’t see how they can take Spurs and Villa’s backlog of games as a valid reason for insiting this game goes ahead.

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