Villa 1-2 Leicester; A loss, but not too bad.

So I called the score correctly, where the truth is that I was really fearing a severe beating.
Did I lie convincingly in the preview?
Maybe not.

Ultimately, I think we need to remember that Leicester haven’t just gone second in the league at this past middling stage of the season for no reason.
They’re a very good side; hard working, skillful with good goalscorers and are well organised by a very good manager in Brendan Rodgers.
Am I blowing them up too much?
Possibly so, but it’s only because I think Leicester is exactly the club that I aspire us to be.
The “little” club that doesn’t deserve to be in the top 4.
But sticks it to them.
It’s what I want us to do.

Be honest, how many of us expected to win this game today?
I didn’t by a long shot and the first half hour or so went pretty much to script and we went two down far too easily.
We seemed to lack any confidence with Jack Grealish being out and I know I keep banging on about it, but I thought our defence was shown up for what it is. Poor.
Don’t ask me to go into specifics, because I’m sick of saying it.

That said, our midfield was horrendous yet again.
How long can Dean Smith keep playing Barkley, when he just looks so off his game?
I’ve seen comments suggesting that McGinn’s game suffers when Barkley plays and it makes sense, as I can’t remember the last time the Scot had a decent game either.

The point is, as soon as Barkley went off, we looked better.
Ramsay is not your action man type that Barkley is, but he just got involved and it’s what we were lacking.
It was the same with Trezeguet; he just played.
We cannot go on playing Barkley because he’s costing us.
And if Smith doesn’t see it, he’s going to seriously get marked down as intransigent amongst the fans.

Did Leicester back off?
I’m inclined to think they did somewhat, but also like to believe that we did put them under some real pressure late on.
Certainly Rodgers seemed happy to go a lot deeper and defend the game, but I wouldn’t say Leicester were at ease with it.
We still looked dangerous on occasion.

I’ve seen arguments that say we’re not going to qualify for Europe and we’re not going to get relegated either.
Which means we ought to give the younger lads a chance.
Having seen one of Leicester’s players, who looked like he was about 14, I have some sympathy with this.
In fact, I’m going to put a poll up about it.

A large part of me wants us to go all out for a place in Europe.
But if we are to do that, I don’t see there’s any chance that any of the kids will get the slightest look in.
I’ve never been a big fan of playing the kids, but it seems to me, this is as good a chance as Smith will ever get.

Not that I see it happening for one minute.
The manager seems massively reluctant to bring experienced players on, let alone kids.

So all in all, probably a better result than expected.
Leeds up next then.
At least we’re away.

33 Comments

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  1. Avatar
    Roy Bracy February 21, 2021 at 6:13 pm . Reply

    Smith does seem to be going the way O’Neill do by not changing thing up a bit more.
    Barkley should definitely be on the bench why not give Sanson a go maybe he mcginn forward more like he was doing in the past.
    Ramsey definitely needs to be on I think. Was worried that we’d be hammered after that first 45 Mon.
    Barkley seems to have the wrong attitude too as I he supposed to play every match and not be substituted i hope we don’t buy him.

  2. Avatar
    Warrior February 21, 2021 at 9:13 pm . Reply

    Your spot on Badger Barkley is was good so get rid of the waster, I thought DS was or for blooding the young ones but no warming up the sub bench

  3. Avatar
    VillaAway in div3 February 21, 2021 at 9:28 pm . Reply

    I thought our club policy re the youngsters was that if they are not in around the 1st team by a certain point then we get rid…..if we are safe we DO need them getting time or close the scheme down and just buy 100 mill every year.

  4. Avatar
    Hitchens60 February 21, 2021 at 9:39 pm . Reply

    Badger, wow that’s a lot of points / issues you raise!

    I admit to not seeing much of the game as moving home has taken over my life! But what I did see reinforces my view that Barkley is not for us – well not at £40m or whatever ridiculous fee is being bandied about.

    Now, I’ve always been an advocate (fan) of Hourihane but I also called his loan move on here way before it happened. He’s too good a player for us to let go but he’s marmite with the fans and maybe with the management too. A lot of fans wanted him gone – now they want him back. It’s the old adage – be careful what you wish for.

    Get him back at the end of the season – tell Barkley to go forth and multiply – and offer Hourihane a new contract.

    I don’t agree with your view of our defence. 11 cleans sheets don’t happen by accident. I do agree that the signing of Martinez has delivered the missing link in the chain but all the defence – even Mings – has played superbly particularly when the midfield have offered nothing. You attack from the back and you defend from the front.

    Now back to Barkley – not only is he a liability I, like others, think he’s prevented us seeing the best of McGinn. Did Chelsea put some form of ‘if fit he must play’ condition in his contract. Leave him out, bring in Sanson or Nakamba and push McGinn further up the pitch.

    The next few games are as much a test of Smith’s management as the ability of the team.

  5. Avatar
    Hitchens60 February 21, 2021 at 9:45 pm . Reply

    Oh and I voted no on using the kids on the basis that we’re not in danger of relegation.

    We had a couple on the bench today and I woukd like to see that being a general approach in the future.

    If the game allows then bring one or two on for ten minutes to see how they cope.

    If Smith is not prepared to throw Sanson into the ‘mixer’ why would he do it with the kids?

  6. Avatar
    Hitchens60 February 21, 2021 at 10:42 pm . Reply

    Well, at least we agree on Barkley 🙂

    No arguments that we need to continually find better players but all clubs need good squad players as well. Barkley or Hourihane?

    Hourihane for me.

    Smith is on record as saying he wants Guilbert back next season and no, I don’t think he will offer Elmo a new (or extended) contract. Villa had Hayden on the bench today who got really good reviews in his performance against Liverpool in the Cup. Guilbert’s absence gave him that opportunity.

  7. Avatar
    Sidforever February 22, 2021 at 7:20 am . Reply

    This debate about Hourihane is a red herring!

    Hourihane has a good left foot and excellent at free kicks. And that is it. He was anonymous for long periods in matches. If we want a team of premier quality players, Hourihane does not cut it. Ramsey has made the progress to replace him. Hourihane could see this developing and at his age wants to be playing, hence his agreement to a loan move. I wish him well as he helped us back into the premier.

    Badger I agree with Barkley being dropped. I don’t think there is a line in his contract making him undroppable. I think Smith is giving him every chance to turn his form around. For once dropped, it is unlikely he will get back into the team quickly. With the wages they are paying him that would look like a poor decision to bring him into the club in the first place.

    Since our Covid outbreak we have not really been at the races. Do we know who caught it? Was it the midfield players? Luiz, McGinn, Barkley or Grealish have not been at their best since we started again.

    With these players out of form I would like to see Nakamba, Ramsey and Sanson given more starts.

  8. Avatar
    Holte66 February 22, 2021 at 8:12 am . Reply

    I voted yes for the kids playing more games. Fact is even if not we don’t play the kids, we still won’t make top 4. The Europa league with its Thursday fixtures is a dumbed down version of the champions league. It stretches even larger squads to the limit and we haven’t reached that level yet.
    The jury is still out on a number of first team players too. Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Luiz, Watkins and Grealish this season have performed well and consistently enough to be considered good enough. The others still have more to do to convince me.

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 February 22, 2021 at 7:09 pm . Reply

      Surprised you haven’t included Targett in your list; I think he’s more than proved his worth this season.

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