Villa – Sheffield Utd; A pre Xmas cracker?

Or a damp squib?

I’ll bet you know exactly what I’m going to say, because you’re no doubt thinking the same thing. Even if you’re not, I’m fairly confident that there will be at least a bit of niggle at the back of your mind.
It’s a banana skin game isn’t it?

There’s been quite a bit of talk on the news about the Christmas number one today, with Wham, Slade and that hippy Sam Ryder all in the running. I’m only joking about the hippy bit, but he does remind me of Neil from The young ones.
Anyway, I’m not particularly interested in that, but I am definitely interested in the fact that a win tonight could make us the real Christmas number that counts.
We’d go 2 points clear, which would mean that if Liverpool and Arsenal were to draw, which seems a big possibility to me, we’d be top of the tree (get it?).
And that would be the first time we’ve been top of the tree since the Gregory days in the 1998/99 season, where sort of coincidentally, we beat Sheffield Wednesday to achieve it.

History is on our side for this game.
Utd haven’t beaten us in the league at Villa Park in sixty years, although Chris Wilder has beaten us twice as manager in their home games.
The Blades have lost 27 of their last 32 Premier League away fixtures, winning two and drawing three. Probably worse still, Gustavo Hamer is the only player to have scored a goal for them in all their away games this season. That’s bleak away form, to say the least.

Squad news and for us it could be worse.
Luiz and Digne are both back after suspensions.
The bad news is Kamara begins his 3 game suspension and the less said about that, the better, in my opinion.
Pau Torres has an ankle knock and I think Youri Tielemens has a similar issue. Traore seems no nearer and of course, Mings and Buendia are also out.
Also of some concern, John McGinn, Matty Cash and Jhon Duran are all only a card away from a suspension, although I do realise that the “5 yellows” only stays in place until after the Man Utd game. Hopefully, they can stay card-free, McGinn in particular.

As for Sheffield, they have six players injured, but I’m struggling to find out who they are, exactly. It appears Chris Wilder is keeping his cards close to his chest and there is talk of a squad shuffle. I detect something amiss at the club, because the manager has also talked about how he wants unwanted players gone and quickly. Has serious doom and gloom set in, I wonder?
However, good news for them is that Jack Robinson is back from a suspension.

Aha, more research shows that their injured players are Chris Basham, Daniel Jebbison, Tom Davies, John Egan, Rhys Norrington-Davies and Rhian Brewster.

Not that I’m particularly bothered.

Going back to things we haven’t done for ages, Ollie Watkins has scored 21 goals in this calendar year, the highest since Andy Gray in 1976, where he scored 24.
So a hat trick tonight would give him that new record, but maybe that’s asking too much? He does though, have tonight’s game and the Man U and Burnley games to achieve it, which I’d like to see.
It’s when I see those sorts of stats that it really starts to sink in about how well the lads are doing this year/season.

So tonight should be easy then, eh? Certainly the bookies think so, because they have us as massive favourites.
Rightly so, because we’re doing brilliantly and they’re, on the face of it, frankly awful.

But wasn’t it a similar thing when we lost to Forest? It’s difficult to believe that we’ve beaten Man City, Arsenal and Brentford in our last three games, but somehow managed to get beaten by a team where we were their only victory in 13 games.

And that’s exactly why I’m not counting my chickens for this one. While we’ve done incredibly well, we still have that propensity to lose to even the lowest of teams when things are looking good.

That said, I have to say I think we’re going to win this.
As I suggested above, I think there’s something wrong at Utd. Wilder has talked about how you can’t go into games without belief, which suggests that he has two choices. He either plays some players who don’t believe or swaps them out for possibly inferior players.
Which is intriguing, because if he does shuffle the pack, it could mean that he’s sidelined players and the atmosphere will probably be poor around the club.

I’m speculating though.

The only thing left, is the score.
I’m going for 3-1 to us.
In the hope that Ollie gets at least one.



Page 4 of 4 1 2 3 4
  1. DSVilla
    DSVilla December 23, 2023 at 9:01 am . Reply

    Trying to be objective disallowing the Bailey goal was probably correct. I don’t think any Villa fan would have been happy for it to stand if it was the other way.
    The push on Watkins looked a pen to me, and probably would have stood if the ref had awarded it at the time.

    The handball one was a very clear thrust of the arm to the ball, sending it forward and away from our player and helping to clear it. Regardless of it being high up the arm it’s a clear pen.

    The performance lacked intensity. I agree with an earlier poster, Buendia would have been a real asset in that game. We galvanised after conceding but could have done with that intensity earlier on.

    Duran has a temper that he needs to curb or he will become a liability. Cash was poor (again).

    In truth, it shows us we are still some way off. We aren’t the team that beat Man City or the team that lost to Forest but probably nearer the Man City version.

    I would be overjoyed with a Champions League spot, but regardless of whether we achieve that I have enjoyed watching Villa who are playing better than I’ve seen for years.

    1. Hitchens60
      Hitchens60 December 23, 2023 at 11:25 am . Reply

      Don’t agree DS on the disallowed goal – it seemed to me that VAR, yet again, was looking to interfere and find a reason to disallow a goal. They are draining the life blood out of the game with their subjective, negative and over officious interference. This isn’t the first time Villa have been subjected to VAR going back in play to find a reason to chalk off a decent goal.

      Additionally two issues overlooked – Ramsey was simultaneously being fouled on the goal line by (I think) de Souza and the defence had reset, the ball had traveled outside the penalty area and it was clearly a new phase.

      I agree with you on the handball – the Ramsey ‘foul’ was as marginal as the hand ball – it’s clear he used his arm to control the ball so if VAR ruled the foul by Ramsey was directly responsible for the goal (which they must have done) then we should have been awarded the penalty.

      Webb said it would be wrong to remove VAR – sounds like a turkey voting to ban Christmas 🙂

      1. DSVilla
        DSVilla December 23, 2023 at 11:51 am . Reply

        I watched City v Flumenese yesterday. VAR was used a couple of times on offsides. It took seconds, in stark contrast to its application here.

    2. Roy bracy
      Roy bracy December 23, 2023 at 12:38 pm . Reply

      Yes agree villa been great to watch under emery especially after realising how he wants to play.
      Only under little Gregory and Mon have I enjoyed watching villa since Saunders.
      Oh and Atkinson
      But we need someone to be able to break down low block teams.
      Maybe we should have moved ball quicker or take a few shots from outside box and look for deflection like against Liverpool in that thrashing we gave them
      Maybe put zaniola as cf in such matches with Watkins alongside

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 December 23, 2023 at 6:02 pm . Reply

        Agree Roy, we have to adopt a different approach to teams adopting the low block, comfortable to let us have the ball in front of them.

        Understanding that Emery wants us to control the game but we slow the play far too much against a low block. Move the ball quickly and throw more balls into the box – just work the cb’s as much as possible.

        I also agree that putting Zaniolo alongside Watkins and playing either Diaby or Bailey would be a good move with Bailey / Luiz crossing ability creating more chances.

        As an aside, watching Liverpool / Arsenal and – yet another – debatable VAR review of a hand ball penalty. Interesting that Neville said on commentary that Villa should definitely have been awarded a penalty for the hand ball last night.

        VAR as a process is totally discredited. Either get rid of it or completely restructure how it’s applied.

  2. Adam
    Adam December 23, 2023 at 12:09 pm . Reply

    It’s disappointing to not beat bottom of the league, specially as we have just won the previous 15 at home. But… this is the hardest league in the world and sometimes you have to give credit to the way the opposition played. It annoyed me last night at the time but thinking again this morning, Shef United played their tactics very nearly perfect. If we had gone to City a year or two back and played like that and only 2 minutes away from 3 points we would have absolutely loved it! So credit to Wilder we won’t be the last team to get frustrated by them he knows how to defend ill give give him that. What i will say about us though, time and time again we play to the very end, that goal from Zani again proved to everyone this Villa team will not go down without a fight and I love that about us now. Yes wasn’t our best game and there are certainly things we can still improve on but lets get back to the reality at the start of the season, the only objective was to secure european footy again, we are 2nd in the table and things are looking great to achieve that again. Hopefully we can take our frustration from last night and do a number on Man united boxing day. Merry Christmas all 🎄 UTV

  3. 1874 was a good year
    1874 was a good year December 23, 2023 at 3:15 pm . Reply

    Well, Man Ure lost. They were okay first half but, once West Ham decided to give it a go, they just folded. Zero goals in their last four games now. Really fancy us to bounce back on Boxing Day and give them a going over.
    Fernandes has to be the biggest whinger in the PL and he once again got booked for it. He had the face of a kid who’s just been told that Santa’s dead all game. A quiet bit of shithousery from us and it will wreck his game. Worst captain the PL.

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand December 23, 2023 at 5:13 pm . Reply

      I thought we were robbed by a shite ref and even shiter VAR.
      Bailey’s goal, what happened to different phrases of play?
      Total bullshit.
      And if that’s not a deliberate handball then buy me a pair of clogs, a bike and call me Van Den Berg.
      Merry Christmas.

  4. Badger123
    Badger123 December 23, 2023 at 5:11 pm . Reply

    So Luton beat Newcastle and Burnley win 2-0 at Fulham.
    Maybe we got off lightly against Sheffield?
    It really is a funny old game.

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand December 23, 2023 at 5:43 pm . Reply

      This VAR is absolutely sucking the life out the game, the Goooners score, quite obviously no one’s off but a minute delay whilst they try a find a reason to disallow the goal.
      It’s killing the game.
      It’s got to go but no doubt it never will, too much money involved and too snouts in the trough.

      1. The Ron Saunders Stand
        The Ron Saunders Stand December 23, 2023 at 5:52 pm . Reply

        Odegaard, handball not given.
        Just what is the point?

        1. Hitchens60
          Hitchens60 December 23, 2023 at 6:07 pm . Reply

          Just commented on that and the failure to award Villa a penalty last night.

          1. The Ron Saunders Stand
            The Ron Saunders Stand December 23, 2023 at 6:14 pm . Reply

            A sham run by charlatans Hitch.

          2. The Ron Saunders Stand
            The Ron Saunders Stand December 23, 2023 at 6:24 pm . Reply

            See the one today?
            Can’t recall the match but a VAR call on a potential handball.
            Now VAR decide, in their infinite wisdom, that yes, it’s a handball BUT there’s no camera angle to definitively say it was either in or outside the box.
            So in that case, in the world of the sane, a free kick for the handball outside the box should be awarded?
            No mate, not in this VAR parallel universe.
            It’s f**king crackers.

      2. Roy Bracy
        Roy Bracy December 23, 2023 at 8:34 pm . Reply

        Even more pissed off tonight as arsenal and Liverpool drew,we could have been top for Xmas,
        Bit worried about spurs coming back into form again.
        Think man United will beat us too as they need to find form again and villa starting to get tired I think
        Hopefully I’m wrong and we stuff them.

        1. Bum Bum
          Bum Bum December 23, 2023 at 9:02 pm . Reply

          Ha! The draw we wanted. You couldn’t make it up!!!

  5. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 December 23, 2023 at 10:11 pm . Reply

    We can’t win the title in December.

    We’re actually ahead of where Leicester were after 18 games when they won the Prem.

    Just enjoy the ride and let’s see where we are come the end of April.


  6. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum December 23, 2023 at 10:29 pm . Reply

    We’re disappointed over last night but today Luton beat Newcastle. Crazy times…!

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand December 23, 2023 at 11:51 pm . Reply

      Well yes, because we were, imo, hard done by yesterday.

  7. Holte
    Holte December 24, 2023 at 9:52 am . Reply

    Dear Santa, all I want for Xmas is for VAR to be scrapped and a Champions League position at the end of the season.
    It’s been a fantastic first half of the season but there’s a feeling I have that we might have a second half like we did under John Gregory. We sat top of the table at Christmas and slipped out of the top 4 by the end of the season.
    It could be that Emery gets the reinforcements that Ellis denied Gregory. The squad is being hit suddenly with injuries and suspensions and it is affecting our form. Losing Torres, Kamara and Tielemans in addition to Mings and Buendia means there are a core of players who are called upon too often. Watkins needs someone to challenge him. I’m not sure Duran will be the answer. He needs to control his emotions because he was lucky not to be sent off against Sheffield United. He’s still young though so has time on his side.
    Another signing we need is a right back to challenge Cash who is struggling recently.
    Will Monchi and Emery pull a couple of big rabbits out the hat? Will the owners give them the funds necessary? Let’s hope it’s got nothing to do with Chris Heck!
    Merry Christmas to all the Villans and thank you to Badger for running this site.

  8. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson December 24, 2023 at 12:07 pm . Reply

    I hope you get that wish Holte because I feel the same, Badger yes as Holte has said thanks for this site I have no doubt one of the best bloggers site and please keep us going with your input. Today is the day I have my family with me for a few drinks in my club and hopefully forget the disappointment In having a shit ref with Sheffield and we stuff Man Utd . Lads have a Merry Christmas and happy new year all .

  9. The Ron Saunders Stand
    The Ron Saunders Stand December 24, 2023 at 1:40 pm . Reply

    Is it just me or is Cole Palmer a ringer for Hans Klopek? 😁
    Merry Christmas fellow Villains⛄

  10. Hitchens60
    Hitchens60 December 24, 2023 at 1:54 pm . Reply

    Wishing everyone on this wonderful blog a truly happy Christmas with friends and family.

    Thanks Badger for all your hard work in making this site such and informative and enjoyable experience.


    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand December 24, 2023 at 3:55 pm . Reply

      Echo that sentiment.
      Cheers Badger for all your hard work on the best Villa site out there.
      Merry Christmas all 🎄

  11. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum December 25, 2023 at 7:07 pm . Reply

    Hope you’re all enjoying your respect Christmas’s!
    Anyone looking forward to this time tomorrow?????

  12. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson December 25, 2023 at 7:45 pm . Reply

    Well yes BumBum it’s the ultimate game for us all , a result for us would ideally be a Christmas present. What’s this about Saka wanting a move ?

    1. Bum Bum
      Bum Bum December 25, 2023 at 9:05 pm . Reply

      A move to Villa? I’d take him at the drop of a hat! We’re moving upwards!!! Arse are just getting stale.
      Who else apart from Citeh or Pool? Bayern don’t have the cash, nor do the Italian or Spanish sides. Saudi? Nah.

      1. The Ron Saunders Stand
        The Ron Saunders Stand December 25, 2023 at 11:31 pm . Reply

        Dear me boys, just googled that ( not the most reliable source admittedly) but there’s nought.
        Back to my lager, you lads enjoy your tipple of choice 🤣

  13. Bum Bum
    Bum Bum December 26, 2023 at 10:10 am . Reply

    Let’s start a ‘Saka to Villa’ news story of our own and see if it catches fire 😁
    That’ll piss the Gooners right off!!!
    Amazon tonight boys don’t forget. I think Mr Badger pointed out how good their coverage is. The BBC is unwatchable. Shame Sky have swept it all up again, their coverage has gone right down the pan.
    Not going to make a prediction tonight as I always get it wrong, I do however think it’ll be a corker!

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand December 26, 2023 at 12:55 pm . Reply

      VAR strikes again, Newcastle pen?
      Never in a million years.
      Bent as f@@k.

    2. Bum Bum
      Bum Bum December 26, 2023 at 2:25 pm . Reply

      Bloody hell. Great Forest result!!!!

      1. The Ron Saunders Stand
        The Ron Saunders Stand December 26, 2023 at 3:29 pm . Reply

        Luton doing well.
        I suppose it’s up to Wilder to find a way to break them down 😁

  14. BFR
    BFR December 26, 2023 at 4:01 pm . Reply

    Merry Christmas, everyone! And thank you from me too, Badger (and everyone) for the excellent site and debate. I’m going for a high-scoring draw this evening!

  15. Holte
    Holte December 26, 2023 at 4:44 pm . Reply

    I don’t know if it’s because we have such a poor record against Man Ure, particularly at Old Trafford, that I can’t see us winning tonight. Without Kamara and Tielemans we are suddenly stretched in midfield. Possibly playing Dendoncker as a number 6 will allow McGinn and Luiz to perform their normal roles. I would like to see Zaniolo start ahead of Diaby with Ramsey and Watkins. Konsa will have to start at RB with Cash suspended. So you would expect Carlos alongside either Torres or Lenglet if still not available. Then it’s either Digne or Moreno! Either is fine by me.
    Prediction wise I think 2-1 to Man Ure. The pessimism in me still thinks Villa will provide them a goal and win after their poor run.
    Please prove me wrong 🙏

    1. The Ron Saunders Stand
      The Ron Saunders Stand December 26, 2023 at 5:27 pm . Reply

      Come on Burnley do us a favour.

    2. OLL again
      OLL again December 26, 2023 at 6:48 pm . Reply

      A night match at the Theatre of Screams (for a penalty) and a new owner – is that deal done yet or not? The omens are terrible.

      I can see only 2 possibles in the crystal ball: a Fergie-time winner for Manure: or Villa hit two goals in quick succession, the Reds disintegrate and we bag a 3rd near the end. We have scored one per match since Bournemouth so the freewheeling attacking style seemingly depends on the players missing.

      1. Hitchens60
        Hitchens60 December 26, 2023 at 7:07 pm . Reply

        Yeah Ineos have purchased a 25% stake in ManU.

    3. Bill Pearson
      Bill Pearson December 26, 2023 at 7:23 pm . Reply

      Doesn’t that mean they only owe £350 million to the banks now ?’

Post Comment