Villa 4-0: I never expected that. Grealish runs the show.

Let’s get the negative straight out of the way and say that Derby were awful.
I don’t think they had a shot on target all game and reminded me so much of us recently.
By that, I mean that it seemed everything they tried just didn’t come off and it looked like a classic case of a side low in confidence.

But for a side to look awful, it also suggests that the oposition were frankly very good and I thought we were today.

What’s shocked me is how much difference Jack Grealish seemed to make.
I inherently think that there’s no way one player should make such a difference to a side, but that was definitely the case today.

Even though he’s been out for three months, he just oozed confidence from the off and knew he was going to take this game by the scruff of the neck. You could see it.
And the good (or is it bad?) thing is that it rubbed off on the rest of the team.
This was basically the same side that we’ve seen for weeks, but the effort was massively increased.
We were beating the opposition to every second ball in the middle; something I and many of us have been moaning about for ages.


It seems we’re definitely a confidence side, to my mind.

So we cantered to a 4-0 lead at half time and then took our foot off the gas to see the result out.
We still threatened, but the intensity wasn’t there, because it frankly wasn’t needed, as even though derby tried to step it up a gear, they still offered nothing.
Grealish was subbed probably earlier than we would have liked, beccause he wasn’t running smoothly. I doubt it’s anything to worry about though and was probably just precautionary.

On the other hand, Elphick’s injury looks a lot more serious.
For a player to just turn and collapse on the spot, is always worrying.
All I could think, was him thinking “that’s my renewed contract blown”.
I think he has another year in him, myself.

Going back to plus points, we kept a clean sheet, scored four and set ourselves up quite nicely for the scum game.
Grealish is the new Gabby, when it comes to the blues games and while he’s not as vocal, hopefully he’ll be showing it with his silky skills.

And I haven’t even mentioned his volley, have I?
What a stormer, that was.

As for Hourihane, fair play lad.
Let’s see more of it, as we know you have it in your locker.

Confidence is key. As I’ve suggested.


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  1. Avatar
    Bill Pearson March 2, 2019 at 10:57 pm .

    Video bit iffy, but seen some of the second half, should have had more goals Hitch.

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 March 3, 2019 at 7:13 am .

      Yep, I agree Bill – on the goals that is.

      Derby seem to be suffering like us with key injuries – it makes a big difference in the Championship where squads are not as deep in quality as in the Prem.

      Concerned about losing Elphick (on top of Hutton) just when we seemed to be getting a settled defence although Elmo did seem to have a better game. If Elphick is ruled out, got to hope Chester can come in so we can leave Hause at left back.

  2. Avatar
    Big Fat Ron March 3, 2019 at 12:02 am .

    Did Hourihane do enough to satisfy everyone today? Pretty much every club in the league would have him, yet us ‘fans’ give him ridiculous stick. He is an attacking player and his poorer games have been when Smith has played him too deep. Always capable of goals and assists if you play him in the final third. What else can you ask for from a midfielder, at any level of the game???

    As for Grealish, well, today just proves what most of us have been saying. The bad run was due to his absence. We all knew it. Must NOT be sold, even if he does get injured regularly. Apparently, he’s the most fouled player in the league this season, yet he’s missed nearly 3 months! Disgraceful stat – more protection from referees is imperative; Smith needs to make more noises about this!

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 March 3, 2019 at 7:16 am .

      BFR – I have never quite understood the negatives about Hourihane. For years we complained about the lack of goals from midfield – yet when we finally get a player that can do this on a regular basis (not just one season) the ‘fans’ get on his back because he isn’t Messi!

      Back to Badger’s expectation levels?

  3. Avatar
    Bill Pearson March 3, 2019 at 7:46 am .

    He’s like marmite to some fans you love or hate his games, as you’re saying he’s told to play like he does and today showed the doubters with the right team he’s needed in the side , I cannot stop looking back on yesterdays game, 3 of them goals came with the the long ball but Gealish goal was a peach, has to be one for contender of the month or even season. Hope our injuries return soon as I see a chance for play offs here.

  4. Avatar
    Holte66 March 3, 2019 at 8:00 am .

    Hourihane has been playing DM for most of the season and was doing well there when Grealish and McGinn were in the same side. It wasn’t the position he played at Barnsley however so he had to adapt. Against Derby Grealish plays and everyone’s game improves. Coincidence? I think not! Jack is the ‘glue’ that gels the team together and his presence will attract 2-3 players to him, drawing either fouls or space for teammates. However I have to say although his goal was class, for me McGinns goal against Sheffield Wednesday was one of the best ever seen at Villa Park alongside Dean Saunders against Ipswich. I’m open to suggestions on any other goals (at VP) in the same category. I know Dalian Atkinson at Wimbledon and Tony Morley at Everton spring to mind away from VP.

    1. Avatar
      Big Fat Ron March 3, 2019 at 11:50 pm .

      Try these, Holte! 🙂
      Tony Daley on 2:58 (fabulous commentary from Brian Moore)
      Steve Staunton v Wednesday
      Paul Merson on 7:16
      Hourhane vs Blues (just watch it – massively underrated goal)
      Deano vs Wimbledon

      Daley is my personal favourite – left foot volley on the run without breaking stride – more difficult than McGinn’s and Jack’s, who both had more time to set themselves…

      1. Avatar
        Big Fat Ron March 5, 2019 at 10:40 pm .

        A few more. Feeling nostalgic all of a sudden!
        (Carbone’s second)
        (classy chip, on the run…)
        (Kent Neilson say no more – love the commentary from Brian Moore, again)
        Yorke on 25:06 (worth watching Big Ron’s first full season if you’ve got a spare hour and a half!)
        Collymore vs Atletico Madrid – look at the comments about the VP atmosphere – what happened?
        JPA vs Chelsea

  5. Avatar
    nath March 3, 2019 at 8:34 am .

    good game yesterday, that result wasn’t just down to grealish, thou he was magnificent. the TEAM villa are gelling and playing more in the eyes of the manager smith. grealish is a cog in that team, but other departments are now clicking too. massive praise on mings and elphick the two centre backs, they are defending but most importantly they are coming out with the ball. this is major in smiths game plan. whelen was also silently going about his job with military precision, he covers the centre back every time they left their defensive area, he pretty much single handed guarded the rear guard without being seen which is that job to go unnoticed.

    why is it important for the two centre backs to come out and play in smiths system. opposition teams will press passing styles like villa who have players you can hurt you given time to play. but its hard to press all the game and all the players, so teams press areas they might press the full back areas as most teams use this area to increase their attacking outlet. the opposition rarely press all the players, they might say allow the weaker ball players to have the ball because they are most likely to hand the ball over willingly by misplacing the pass. smith wants all his team to be comfortable with the ball. yesterday they played out and scored from derby pressing and we finally beat the press and derby were then short at the back

    grealish scored a cracker of a goal to match scholes at utd. but end of day its just 3 points and we dragged derbys goal difference down to ours. elphicks injury is another example of bad luck we faced this season. but hause will get his chance to shine in the centre which is his position. we are 6 points from 6th and its doable if we continue to play this way and avoid more injuries.

  6. Avatar
    DSVilla March 3, 2019 at 9:26 am .

    Grealish is a fantastic talent. It’s great to have him back, and I’m sure the other players are boosted by his presence. Really interesting that Smith made him captain.

    Mings and Hause have added to the team. They are both composed on the ball, and that can’t help but spread through the team. The balance looked good yesterday. It’s only one game, and it raises questions about McGinns return. Who will he replace? Tough call for Smith. Saying all that, Derby looked awful so maybe we can’t read too much into one game.

    We could be in for an exciting last third of the season. There are only a few teams above us that I expect to maintain form to the end of the season. Add to this we can look forward to Tuanzebe coming back soon. Bring it on.

  7. Avatar
    Adam March 3, 2019 at 12:02 pm .

    On a side note. Anyone seen Hepburn-Murphy goal? Took it well to be fair. His pace is quite frightening i hope we get him in the first team next year a bit more.

  8. Avatar
    Pat 57 March 3, 2019 at 2:09 pm .

    Fantastic game! Only watched the highlights and the only moan I’d have would be that we didn’t get at least two in the second half. Hourihane was immense as was, of course, Jack.

    Hope we keep this up. I’m still not absolutely convinced we can make the play-offs but it might make for an exciting end of season if we’re there or thereabouts.
    Here’s hoping.

  9. Avatar
    AlfieAVFC March 3, 2019 at 5:30 pm .


    I was watching that game and honestly couldn’t pick out a single bad thing in that match. The defence is strong now Jack Grealish can be there to keep up with the counter attacks, Conor can do what he does best (push up and aim for an assist or goal) since Jack can hold off the midfield. In my opinion I feel Conor was told to stay back by Dean. The defensive midfield would really not be the same without Conor staying back but as I said now Jack is back he is fast enough to get back and since he’s fast he can attack as well.

    Goalkeepers… I am honestly Steer to start versus Blues, which I could see a nil nil draw due to recent form until yesterday. Kalinic just can’t start against Blues… he will be receiving abuse from the fans if he doesn’t catch the ball and heads it out instead knowing our childish, impatient type of fans (no offence to anyone here, you are most likely not the people to blame).

    ‘Whelan played well.”
    “Whelan? Played well? I think you may have mistaken him for Jack.”

    Okay I will stop attempting to be funny. Glenn had an amazing game, although I believe he was overrated at Sheffield United he was the game changer. I think it is because Jack can assist Conor so Conor can assist Glenn.

    Was Grealish the game changer? Would like to see what you think, consider replying to this!

    Credit to him for the absolute blockbuster (the Mcginn commentary hehe)

  10. Avatar
    nath March 3, 2019 at 6:36 pm .

    just to elaborate more on the centre backs playing out. if you can watch the second goal yesterday scored by tammy. derby had committed to the press and ball was deep in villa left back area, mings cleared it long because the derby pressed, ball thou came instantly back, hause played it first time to whelen, who picked out hourihane who found elmo who took one touch and then crossed where tammy tapped home.

    that move was being pressed, but we had players wanting to find space to receive the pass, then they didn’t dilly dally on the ball they passed it on one touch.derby were always running back to their own goal, we countered them fast, we beat their press because our defence was comfortable on the ball. hause mings and elmo all made contributions with decisive passes.

    their were many examples of us beating their press and our defenders playing decent balls forwards, i could see the work that smith has been doing finally come to fruition. derby were off form and low confidence, but we still dispatched them with ease and we had enough clear chances to add another 2 or 3 more to that scoreline and we eased up second half some.

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