Villa Blog

Aston Villa: Getting Worse Or Getting Better?

Is Aston Villa getting worse or getting better? Recent results against West Ham, Burnley and Brighton suggest we may be getting worse. A single point against these three teams was surely only in the thoughts of the most pessimistic. Is it, therefore, a logical assumption that Aston Villa is getting worse? To be honest, I do not believe so. I think it is a combination of things that are impacting our results. However, the overriding factor is that we are finding our level in the Premier League. Last season we were relegation candidates. This season we are potentially pushing for a European place. Just exactly what our level is in the Premier League clearly depends on our capabilities. But more importantly, it depends on how we are relative to others around us.

Our Capabilities

We each have our own ideas of our capabilities as a squad and management team today. We can’t change the players and we are extremely unlikely to change our coaches. So what can this squad achieve and what level is this squad at? Are we at our level now or is Aston Villa getting worse or getting better? On our day, our first 11 is very good. We showed that against Arsenal, Liverpool, Baggies and a number of other teams already this season. But our problem is that lack of top 8 quality squad players when we venture outside of our first 11.

None of Watkins, Barkley, Grealish, McGinn, Konsa, Mings, Targett or Martinez has a replacement that can simply slot into the 1st 11. Highlighting this is by no means a dig at anyone at Aston Villa. After all, it is only about 18 months ago we needed to completely rebuild our squad following years of mismanagement. We have done extremely well to build the squad we have in such a short period of time. But we need to accept where we are in development and the bottom line is that we have a fair way still to go yet.

Strength In-Depth Getting Better

If our players need a rest or if they are a bit out of form Dean Smith needs to rotate the squad. Dean has started to do this a little recently but he simply does not have the strength in depth to do it effectively. Saturday night was a prime example. Our attacking threat of Watkins, Grealish, Barkley, McGinn and Traore were all playing below the standard we have come to expect.

What choices did Dean have to ‘change the game’? Very very few! ElGhazi and Trezeguet are not super sub-game changes. They are competent squad players to be used as a sub on 70 minutes. This in itself shows Aston Villa is getting better, last season they were both 1st 11 players. However, and more importantly, if Barkley and Grealish are off-tune we have nobody capable of filling in. Sanson may grow into the role to replace Barkley but that will take some time.

Summer Recruitment Required

Our next transfer window needs to address the lack of depth if Aston Villa wants to get better. We have now lost Matty Cash to a Hamstring injury. There is no official word on his return but looking at how long Barkley took to get back it will be at least 6 or 7 weeks. And even at that Barkley is still not firing on all cylinders. We are now left with Elmo as our first choice RB. I like Elmo, he has proven an excellent servant to the club. But he is not a first choice RB for a team with aspirations of European qualification.

Our lack of creative midfield is a big gap and we must either buy or replace Barkley and get another creative midfield in. We must be able to cope when players need a rest or have a bad day. Further, we could be playing midweek games which include European travel so the squad needs to be able to handle this. With Cash in the treatment room, the vulnerability of our defence is accentuated. If Targett picks up an injury, our first choice fullbacks will be Elmo and Taylor. That sounds more like our team from dark days under Xia/Bruce than the PL team with 12 clean sheets this season pushing for Europe. We also need to upgrade ElGhazi and Trez into a really good winger.

What Is Aston Villa’s Level?

Where exactly do we sit in the Premier League? This is where I get the chance to bring out my mini-league table. We ‘only’ got a draw this week so just 1 point. However, we have improved our points gained tally against 4 other teams: Palace, Saints, Leeds and Everton. So a valuable point won by Martinez on Saturday night. Gaining points against Saints and Palace is fairly meaningless as I believe we are going to finish ahead of them anyway. It doesn’t make any difference whether this is by 5 points or 25 points.

Mini League Table

However, gaining points on Everton is very significant. My personal opinion is that Everton is best placed to finish in 7th place. Therefore scoring more points than them helps us to try and pip them to the Europa spot. That said, it is not quite the time to crack open the Champagne. We only gained one point against Everton and since the halfway stage both Everton and Villa have each gained a total of 4 points. So no points gain since game 19.

Contrary to my personal opinion, it is not just Everton of concern to our aspirations of getting into Europe. It is how we are comparing to the other teams in the mini-league. West Ham, Arsenal and Wolves each outscored us this week. Arsenal is a significant threat, in my opinion. They have lots of quality and understand how to finish high up the table. Also, we can’t ignore the dinosaur managing The Hammers. It just goes to show the value of having Karen at a club and the recent appointment of ex-porn star Eve Vorley as a director at West Ham, see pics below if you are unsure who these ladies are. Morale is key to getting the best from players, and The Hammers have clearly got this right.

Karen and Eve

It is still very early days in the mini-league but we really can’t afford to let teams pull away from us. It is important we gain some points over West Ham in the coming games. They were very good against The Blades this evening and Lingard looks to be fitting in nicely. That said, The Blades are a really poor side and they helped to make the game as easy as they possibly could for Karen’s and Eve’s boys. Although I don’t think we can finish as high as 7th, looking at the table it is very much on. We have games in hand over The Hammers and if we win our games in hand we could be 4th or 5th, depending on goal difference against Chelsea. At the time of writing, Chelsea are 2-0 up on Newcastle with 20 mins to go so I am assuming a Chelsea victory.

Extra Games

There are two extra midweek games this week in the Premier League. Of interest to us is that our rivals Everton host Man City. On paper this looks like another 3 points to Man City and an opportunity for Villa to overtake The Toffees in the mini-league. The other game is a game I am looking forward to. Fulham travel to Burnley. A very tough game for Fulham but one that I think they can nick 3 points from. I certainly hope they do as it will make the relegation fight very interesting.

I will post another Leader before the weekend and review our chances against Leicester and the other games impacting our mini-league.

UTV

https://avfcvillablog.com

www.avfc.co.uk

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AVFCVillablog
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1 month ago

Interesting projection
a finish thats well beyond any villa fans dreams at the start of season.

I still think 12th or 13th will be where we end up, due to our lack of squad depth.

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HenleyVillain
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HenleyVillain
1 month ago
Reply to  AVFCVillablog

I just love that we are being competitive. It’s been such a long time coming. Just need to recapture that form that has got us to this position and who knows where we can finish come May?

HenleyVillain
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HenleyVillain
1 month ago
Reply to  Begley

Achievable for me. I think West Ham are in a false position, and we have a better than even chance of finishing above Spurs and Everton. A tad concerned with Cash injured and I think it was a mistake letting Guilbert out on loan. Madison and Vardy will give Elmo a tough game on Sunday.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  HenleyVillain

Yeah, West Ham in particular look unlikely to keep it up imo. Agree on Guilbert, struggling to see the logic there, okay not great crossing & forward play but a very solid defender and with Traore ahead of him did we need him to be as good as Cash?
Worry is Elmo is overrun on Sunday, sides have favored attacking us down our right side lately.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  Begley

Assuming one of the top 4 wins the cup.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  AVFCVillablog

Yes, way beyond most fans expectations at the beginning of the season but you know if we can find our form again & maybe more importantly discover some consistantly that all top sides have you never know.
Our inability to get the better of the Brighton’s & Burnley’s frustrating.

Looking at that table what I see is some clubs in false positions, Utd don’t look that great, had some huge luck & pogba now injured, Spam are punching way above their weight, Chelsea now more conservative, lost some threat imo. Leicester now faced with injuries to key players, if Vardy injured again they will struggle. Liverpool with the way they dominate games and their front 3 threat won’t finish outside the top 3 when the fat lady sings.
I think we also have to remember things change quickly with projections & with some of the unexpected results we’ve seen so far I see the places below city open to change.
Not sure how it’s worked out but if our expected goals stats were more of a factor we might even be higher ?

7th place finish would be fantastic but I’d hate us to miss out on Europe because we didn’t show up in one or two games.
Next few weeks should show us how accurate this prediction is. Bias aside i think this one is flawed, but looking at predictions table, WTF do I know 🀣
A couple of wins we might look even better 😎

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  Begley

Yeah, I was thinking that as I wrote it πŸ˜†
I just haven’t seen the same endeavor & attacking intent from Spam & Everton, and in some games even utd. but probably quite rightly you don’t get points for intent.

Bigfatron
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Bigfatron
1 month ago

Fantastic quality , great cause

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Bigfatron
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Bigfatron
1 month ago
Reply to  Bigfatron

They had couple left over, they might take new orders

Bigfatron
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Bigfatron
1 month ago

One for jcv

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Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago

Well that keeps Everton well in range. Need a few wins to get us in with a good shout again.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago

I hope we show up against Leicester and give ourselves a chance. I guess big question is will Elmo start ? I suspect so, with young Kessler on the bench ?
I think I’d be tempted to start young Kessler, last time he played he had to mark Mane, surely can’t be any worse.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  Begley

Yes another alternative, can’t help thinking the youngster is in Smiths thoughts though, otherwise why let Guilbert go.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago

Damb why did Everton have to score ! 🀣

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  Begley

Yep, normal service resumed, lovely goal

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  Begley

There aren’t many city players that wouldn’t fit in nicely at villa 🀣🀣🀣

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  Begley

They worked it well for the equalizer but done next to nothing. I’m expecting city to dominate 2nd half and win comfortably, Everton nothing special.
I do like Bernard & Richardson, both great players.

Last edited 1 month ago by Vancouvervillan
Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
1 month ago
Reply to  Begley

I had same 3-0 πŸ˜†

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
2 months ago

Just watched the CL highlights from today, wow what great goals from Mbappe, hatrick, 1st one brilliant footwork, he never looks like missing the target, great player.

Muz1
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Muz1
2 months ago
Reply to  Begley

Its nearly as cheap to buy a new one, the cost of spares really is ridiculous.

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
2 months ago
Reply to  Begley

Have you tried Amazon or maybe local tradesman who could possibly fix it?
Not sure how handy you are, I fixed the handle on mother in laws fridge with gorilla glue and a bigger screw. She’s 93 God knows how she broke it !

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
2 months ago
Reply to  Begley

Thanks for asking, Not so great really, slow recovery ahead if anything. I was hoping she’d be in a wheelchair at least by now, pretty sure she won’t walk again. Still can’t get out of bed by herself, Dad too old to assist.
She does have carers coming in daily to get her out of bed for a few hours most days, could be worse. I can’t help thinking her rehab is suffering because of covid situation, but little I can do.
At least she’s still fine mentally and hasn’t lost her sense of humor.
Difficult to come to terms with these things sometimes but that’s life I guess.
Your parents still doing okay ?

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
2 months ago
Reply to  Begley

Yeah, quite right I find the same thing, focusing on the positives helps.
I call regularly but there are days when if I don’t feel I can be positive with them both, I don’t call.

AVFCVillablog
Admin
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2 months ago

Sorry for the delay in updating the prediction league points awards
I just added new sheet which covers games till next Tuesday

Will do my best to keep on top of it just been really hectic

Another good leader begley well done and thanks to everyone who is contributing and supporting begley efforts

Take care all
UTV

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
2 months ago
Reply to  AVFCVillablog

No worries bud
πŸ‘

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
2 months ago

On another note, I haven’t got my points yet for wolves & Spam wins and my correct 2-0 Chelsea win, I thought it updated itself but maybe not.

I wouldn’t be quite so concerned if I wasn’t so far behind πŸ˜†

Vancouvervillan
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Vancouvervillan
2 months ago

Not sure we have found our level or not, but one thing for sure we haven’t found any consistency yet.
Don’t get me wrong I’m thrilled at where we are, I predicted 12th to 15th.
I guess given the chances we’ve had to really kick on up the table against opposition you might expect us to beat I’ve ended up slightly disappointed. For whatever reason we haven’t shown the energy & dare I say it desire to take the game to teams and get into the top six, it’s been there on a plate but our form has stuttered.
I expected after the run of games after Christmas, where we had a tough run, utd, city … we would be able to take advantage of the lesser teams we’ve played lately, (lesser teams at least on paper), one point from Burnley, Brighton, West Ham is a real disappointment, but only because of the way I know we can now play. The specter of those damb games in hand appears same as it usually is with us, opportunities missed.

Injuries, 6 games in 18 days, tired legs, lack of rotation has taken its toll. I think we do have a capable squad, there’s some proof of that, it’s the 1st 11 that have struggled lately.

My concern is a lack of ability or urgency to change things up during a game when things aren’t going well, could we move Jack’s position sooner to give him more space?, Must everything go through Jack? What’s happened to off the ball running into space & the passing game?
They’re all learning, it’s been a fantastic season so far, BUT could have been so much better.
I hope we can again rise to the occasion against a very good Leicester and kick on again, what hurts is we know we are capable 😎

Last edited 2 months ago by Vancouvervillan
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