A captain is needed for a Villa victory at St James’ Park later today. But can Jack Grealish step up to the plate? Don’t get me wrong, I would never suggest that Jack Grealish is not a hugely talented footballer. Nor would I suggest he wasn’t a considerable asset to Villa after all isn’t that why we extended his contract. Just because you are a hugely talented footballer does not mean you will be a good captain. Jack becoming Aston Villa captain was fortunate but it suited us at the time. I suspect it was a bit of being in the right place at the right time rather than the right man for the role.
We were in the middle of a poor run of results and had some new faces in from the January window, but we were missing real leaders. Having lost Chester to injury we also lost our club captain. Then up steps Jack Grealish and we go on a 10 game winning streak, and the job is his.
Did a lack of captain cost us against Chelsea?
By keeping our shape, defending well and scoring a breakaway goal, we went in at halftime with the advantage. This was a very positive scoreline so there should have been more smiles than frowns in the changing room. Smith will have delivered his team talk, and no doubt, he mentioned that if we did not concede in the second half it would lift us out of the relegation zone, so what happened?.
We came out in the second half looking like we were playing a preseason friendly game. I am not suggesting Smith didn’t play his part in the 2nd half performance as he is the manager and this is his responsibility. But the players need to take some responsibility too.
Nearly every time I have seen Villa play this season the players look like they need some direction, but there is nobody there to give it. I can only recall one occasion, I can’t remember the specific game, but Mings stood up to the plate as a captain. He had a go at El Ghazi for not making a clearance or tracking back or something like that. At the time I recall fans having a pop at Mings for this, but this is precisely what we need. And we need this quickly otherwise we may find ourselves in the Championship next season.
Is Jack Grealish a captain?
Jack Grealish’s leadership style is to lead by example, and yes, this is a necessary leadership quality. However, it is not much use as the only leadership quality because when Jack isn’t scoring or creating, he is not leading. A captain is needed for a Villa victory against Newcastle, but unfortunately, we do not have too many players that can fill that role. Looking at the Villa players and I only see one player with the credentials to be our captain; Tyrone Mings. However, the Danny Drinkwater of 3 years ago would be an excellent addition to Villa and he could also throw his hat in the ring to captain us.
How does Smith avoid relegation?
Making Mings captain for the remainder of the season could be a quick fix but this risks hurting Jack, and it could impact his influence on games. But, Smith must still find a way to get a Roy Keane voice on the pitch as a captain is needed for a Villa victory. Smith must find a way to get Jack and Mings working as ‘co-captains’ while keeping Jack as club captain for facesaving and pride purposes.
Bruce & Newcastle
Anyway, it is time to mention the Newcastle and Aston Villa game because that what this post is meant to be about. There is always a little bit of niggle between the Toon and Villa due to our history and I have many happy memories of these games.
This season has an extra bit of niggle factor since Steve Bruce was sacked by Villa and replaced with Dean Smith. To be honest, I can’t really see any issues between Bruce and Smith as they are both professional managers, and they understand this is part of the job. This extra niggle is really only between the fans. So with this being an away game for Villa, we will benefit more from the lack of passionate Toon fans.
There is no doubt that both Bruce and Smith will show professional pride, and they will both want to win this game. A win for Smith and we will have completed the double over the Toon as Smth got the upper hand at Villa Park earlier this season and Bruce will not want that. But playing the Toon in front of an empty St Jame’s Park will be different, and the game will lose a lot of its punch. To get this punch back, Smith must get a captain and leader barking orders at players on the pitch.
Smith’s team selection for victory
Davis’ play against Sheffield United was excellent, and he deserved to keep the shirt for Chelsea game. However, Davis should start on the bench against Newcastle if we want to take the game to them. We need to go for it against Newcastle and as Samatta is our best goal scorer he needs to start.
Our defence looked better against Sheffield and Chelsea because we kept our shape and discipline. However, I am opting for Elmo to start at right-back as he offers more going forward than Hause does. And yes, I know Hause scored against Chelsea! Also, HenleyVillain, a regular contributor on the avfcvillablog, pointed out we were playing too narrow against Chelsea, and this is something Smith needs to address. Elmo would help give us more width as he is better playing down the line.
Our attacking threat down the right is not there as El Ghazi is not scoring nor creating chances, it must be time to start Trezeguet. McGinn should be dropped to the bench as he is not yet up to match pace. This could be the perfect motivation to turn him into Super Sub John McGinn.
My starting 11 and captain
As a captain is needed for a Villa victory, Mings needs to be the active captain on the pitch
Last night’s results
There were two games that impacted Villa last night, Brighton away to Leicester and West Ham away to Spurs. Brighton followed up their impressive performance against Arsenal with a good point. Brighton even managed to miss a penalty but the point gained makes them look that little bit safer.
For Villa to avoid relegation, the most important result was the one coming from The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. David Moyes did his job by duly obliging with West Ham losing a 2-0 to Spurs. This was a great result for Villa as it means we maintain our post restart advantage over them. If this continues, we will be safe, but we must get the points necessary to leave the bottom 3.
Other important games tonight
There are four other Premier League games tonight with two of these games impacting Villa’s survival fight. Norwich host Everton and a loss will surely be cementing their return to the Championship. Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth makes the trip to Molineux needing a win to boost their survival chances.
The mini-league table is looking good as we are ahead of Norwich, Hammers and Bournemouth. But we need to lift ourselves out of relegation quickly as we have 3 difficult games after the Toon. So tonight’s objective is a win as this will lift Villa out of the relegation zone with a much needed 3 points.
The important stuff
TV Channel: BT Sport 1
Aston Villa & Chelsea team announcements on avfcvillablog.com: 5pm (UK), 9am (Tee time, Vancouver)
Program start on BT Sport 1: 5:45pm (UK), 9:45am (Vancouver)
Kick-off: 6pm (UK), 10am (Vancouver)
Result Prediction: 0 – 2
Match Odds: Newcastle 11/8, Draw 9/4, Aston Villa 21/10
Relegation Odds: Norwich 1/33, Villa 3/10 Bournemouth 1/2, West Ham 11/8, Watford 10/3, Brighton 12/1