Villa Blog

Aston Villa Reserves v Liverpool

We have a break from league football this week but the FA Cup is back with Aston Villa reserves v Liverpool on Friday night. I would like Villa to progress in the FA Cup as I would love to see Villa win some silverware. However, I believe the league is more important and our entire focus should be on the Premier League. If we manage to get within shouting distance of the FA Cup final, I may change my view. For now though, the focus must be on the league.

So what does that mean for our team selection against Liverpool? Well, it means we should select a team that gives us the most benefit for the league. This does not mean resting players to avoid a potential injury. I don’t really subscribe to that idea. After all, players can get injured in every game we play and we just need to manage that risk. It’s not rocket science what Smith needs to do. Simply look at the elite teams and how they manage their team selections between the different competitions.

Villa’s Fringe Players Game Time

This is a really important part of managing a football team. The lack of this at Villa is also a weakness Smith appears to have. To compete in the cups, the Premier League and in Europe we need a manager that can rotate our players. There are simply too many games to play without proper player rotation. Rotation of players servers three main purposes. Firstly, it makes Villa better equipped to handle injuries and suspensions. Secondly, it gives our first team players a rest. Thirdly, it helps to promote youth players into the senior squad.

In December Villa had injuries to Barkley and Trezeguet. Traore and El Ghazi came in and were brilliant. We had games without one of either Konsa or Mings, Hause came in and was brilliant. We were fortunate that our players came in and were up for it. To remove the fortune factor we need these players to be playing more regularly. We also need to have a mechanism to bring our youth players into the senior squad.

The Reserves

Aston Villa reserves have proven that at 17 or 18 years old they are good enough for the Premier League. Age is not the deciding factor and nor should it be. Wayne Rooney & Mason Greenwood and many others prove that. We have bags of talent in our youth setup and these players need to be getting a look in. We can now put 9 players on the bench and they don’t all have to be defenders. Surely putting Louie Barry on the bench would give the kid a real boost and valuable experience? We don’t have to actually play him but would our bench be any weaker if he occupied a spot on it?

Being able to promote and integrate youth players into the senior squad is also a key part of Purslow’s strategy. It will increase the value of these players while negating the future need to fill every position in the team via the transfer market. Surely against Liverpool in the FA Cup, it is the perfect time to be integrating these players.

Villa Players Need A Rest

I love the never say die attitude that I see from our players. Smith deserves a lot of brownie points for instilling this. But fcuk me! Some of our players are starting to look absolutely knackered in the final quarter of games. Towards the latter stages against Man Utd, I thought Grealish and Traore looked knackered. If we want to win games our players cannot be like that. An argument has been that Smith didn’t have the quality on the bench to be able to rotate. December proved that is not the case. Injuries forced rotation and it worked a treat.

I am a huge fan of Smith. I was very happy with his appointment as our head coach to replace Bruce. Further, I was 100% behind sticking with him last season as I believed he would guide us to safety. It was very clear Smith was the right man for Villa. It was even more clear that Big Sam was the wrong man for Villa last January. But now with two Premier League seasons under his belt, Smith needs to up the ante with this aspect of his management. He has done really well improving us form a playing perspective. Our game management and tactics have improved too. Hopefully, Dean Smith can improve on his weaknesses as this season progresses. There are no free passes nor room for sentiment in managing a Premier League football club. Continuous improvement is a requirement each and every season.


I think Jurgen Klopp has some difficult decisions to make with his team selection. This should have been a fairly straightforward team sheet for him. However, Liverpool is ravaged by injuries at the back and they are starting to shoot blanks upfront. Their last 3 games against The Baggies, Toon and Southampton have yielded a paltry 2 points. This is very unlike the Liverpool we have become accustomed to.

Will Klopp see this as an opportunity for his players to find their scoring boots again? Or maybe Klopp will see this as a chance to give the 1st 11 a complete rest away from football for a couple of weeks? I really do not know what to expect. However, I am fairly sure whatever team Liverpool put out will prove formidable opposition. I don’t expect anything like our 7-2 win earlier this season or the 5-0 last season.

Formation Against Liverpool

It would be nice to see Aston Villa reserves try a different formation, maybe a JCV 4-4-2 or 3-5-2. But that should start at Bodymoor first and not in a competitive game. I think it is important that we play in our regular 4-3-3. The fringe players need to be comfortable with this formation. We need to have players ready to slot in if any of our first teamers get injuries or suspensions.

Aston Villa Reserves

Picking the Aston Villa team should be a fairly straightforward exercise for Dean Smith. I think the first name on the teamsheet must be that of Tom Heaton. He is back from injury and on the bench for our league team. Competitive game time is exactly what he needs. Guilbert, Engels, Hause and Taylor should make up our back four. Midfield should bring Nakamba and Ramsey into the starting lineup. If they have recovered from injury we should see Trezeguet and Barkley get some minutes, maybe as substitutes.

Easy Decisions

I think Davis starting upfront is another easy decision for Smith to make. But it gets a little more difficult after that. I believe this is where we need to blood the youngsters into the team. Louie Barry should make his debut for the Villa senior team occupying Jack’s role on the left. He is the natural successor to Jack at the club and the sooner he becomes his understudy the better. I would like to see Jack under pressure to keep his place in the team and Louie is the man to do this. On the right-wing, I would give Jaden Philogene-Bidace a start. He has played 10 games for the u23s. He started 7 of these games and has 5 goals and two assists.

Team Selection

This is the team I would pick to play Liverpool if I was Dean Smith. I don’t expect Dean to take my advice but that is probably just down to him not reading this blog. I am sure he would see the light if he saw my team.

What the Bookies Say

The bookies have Liverpool as clear favourites to win, however, they are still odds against at 11/10. A home win for the Villa reserves is a reasonably generous 5/2. And a draw is offered at 31/10.



84 Responses

  1. Vancouvervillan

    Reading the nkb I see I’m not the only one who thinks the goblin is a gusty reincarnation 🀣🀣🀣

  2. Vancouvervillan

    Aubameyang just cost me 3 points πŸ™„
    How the hell Newcastle are where they are in the table beggars belief they really are crap.

  3. AVFCVillablog

    John percy

    avfc are in talks with Marseille over Β£15m midfielder Morgan Sanson. Negotiations have started, deal not agreed yet. Villa sporting director Johan Lange very much behind this one, with the asking price now seen as realistic

    1. Vancouvervillan

      Yeah, saw this apparently plays central midfield & defensive midfield. I don’t see this as an indication on any plans for Barkley, more likely insurance for possibly losing Luiz ?
      Either way looks a reasonable addition and unless there are issues with players covid recovery there’s no rush to get him in the starting 11 either.
      It’s great not to be desperate for signings in January, it’s been a while.

        1. Vancouvervillan

          Wish him well if he goes, needs to play and could do a good job for somebody still. Good servant, we never really played him where he loves to play, always filling in.
          BFR going to get happy πŸ˜‰

      1. Vancouvervillan

        Dose have a record for finding gems and improving their value though, plus a Scandinavian accent πŸ˜†

  4. AVFCVillablog

    Will we be mathematically safe after our next 6 fixtures ?

    How many points do you think we can realisticly expect given were coming back from covid and do we really expect players performance levels to be what they were prior

    20/1/2021 Man city v villa
    23/1/2021 Villa v newcastle
    27/1/2021 Burnley v villa
    30/1/2021Southampton v villa
    02/02/2021 Villa v west ham
    06/02/2021 Villa v arsenal

  5. AVFCVillablog

    Hi guys the Prediction sheet & rankings have now updated

    Loved the commentator yesterday saying that man city have a tricky fixture in Aston Villa to overcome on Wednesday


  6. Vancouvervillan

    Smith interviewed from home on villa TV if anyone interested. Says its a staggered return for some and 3 tested positive from the initial team he had picked for the cup game.
    Says one player when told positive couldn’t believe it, said im on fire and ready to go, (El Ghazi ?), 2 days later he’s in bed with symptoms.

  7. Vancouvervillan

    Just what we wanted from city. We’ll and truly lulled into a false sence of security before Wednesday 😁

  8. Vancouvervillan

    Congrats to Dean Smith on his MOTM award, now if he could just do something about that accent … 😎

  9. Vancouvervillan

    What a bore draw that was, like watching paint dry.
    Tomkins looks like someone out of “the English game”, why do referees put up with Saha’s constant cheating & moaning?, why don’t Arsenal shoot more often?, and how crap is Townsend?
    Not many on show today I’d want to see in a Villa shirt.

  10. Vancouvervillan

    Lookman completely changed the game for Fulham, never understood why Everton let him go. Good business by Parker to pick him up in the summer.

  11. Vancouvervillan

    Sorry mate but no way players should jump the queue. Testing is probably done privately anyway so as not to burden the regular NHS channels.
    Players need to be kept in isolation in a club bubble if it’s that much of a risk.
    Fundamentaly wrong for the rich & famous to be allowed to have any sort of priority imo.

    1. Vancouvervillan

      Saying September here latest for anyone that wants it.
      I know in the big scheme of things it’s not a huge amount of vaccines but its the principle for me. What next anyone in high tax bracket ? Anyone that can afford to pay for private ?
      Not right mate and could be thin end of the wedge.

  12. Vancouvervillan

    I’m more & more convinced we won’t be doing much this January. Good players are always difficult to get in January and with the pandemic a factor as well as the possibility of another football lockdown coming I’d be surprised if we did much. Unlike previous January’s we probably don’t need to sign anyone either.

    Begley, agree with your point below regards the clubs staying in bubbles, it is the safest way to proceed and avoid a stoppage. Pick a hotel (all desperate for some business now) and keep the team together in isolation between games and training.

  13. AVFCVillablog

    Prediction form for Tues wed thurs matches now ready, Tottenham now host Fulham with the Villa game being off

  14. Vancouvervillan

    I’m scouring the internet for any news on Wednesday’s game, surely they won’t make us play. I can also see the distinct possibility football in general might be forced to take a break. I know it’s not their fault but the decision to allow limited fans back a few weeks ago was bordering on idiotic.
    Like the cups, euros etc. money talks I guess.

  15. Vancouvervillan

    Reading David Brooke’s is a rumour today, not sure how I feel about this. I was more interested in Mousse Dembele possibly being on the move, still only 24, lyon need the money, would be a great ST addition did great at Celtic & Fulham a few years ago.
    Sarr from Watford also possibly on the move.

  16. AVFCVillablog

    Hello villa mob, as you can see obviously I’m a Liverpool fan, I want to say honestly well done to your kids tonight, they gave us a game, lots on our groups thought we would hammer you 8+ nil, but all credit to your boys, they held us in the 1st half, went at us and deserved their goal, a local lad to be proud of, he won’t forget that goal ever!, the only thing that got them kids was the pace we played, cramps and tiredness got a few but don’t let that score knock them, that bloody keeper stopped us running riot I would mind him over at our place, keep them chins held high there’s no shame to be had in that battle tonight, keep safe villa mobπŸ‘

  17. Vancouvervillan

    Worth noting there was a few young lads missing from tonight’s squad because they are already training with the first squad. I really have great admiration for the way we have turned this club around and got us so organized and in such a relatively short time I think it’s going to prove very successful in the not too distant future.

  18. Vancouvervillan

    What a good ad for Villa’s academy. I think we’ll tire eventually and we’re playing like Newcastle 😁 but some great saves, took advantage of the opportunity and worked really hard. Some great saves, Kessler, Bridge look very good.
    Come on you young lions !

  19. Vancouvervillan

    So looks like we are being forced to play, not the same for Shrewsbury though ?
    I am assuming Shrewsbury don’t have a u23 or youth set up. Or is it more to do with the mighty Liverpool not having time to play ? I’m also assuming replays are a thing of the past for FA cup.

    I’m actually looking forward to seeing some of the players I’ve never seen before play for the shirt, just hope it’s not a complete tonking, and for once surely the media will be very much on our side 😎

  20. Vancouvervillan

    This is not good news, let’s hope all those affected make a full recovery.
    I expect we won’t be playing for 10 days or so.

  21. Vancouvervillan

    Clowns running every country mate. We have a sort of semi lockdown here, but with the new strains we should be in full lockdown to save lives. Economy is barely getting by anyway. Kids at school always spread everything and parents dropping kids off makes a mockery of the don’t go out unless absolutely necessary mandate as well.
    They reckon 1 in 50 infected in UK ! The whole world should be locked down as we were in spring, only thing that makes sense.
    We have politicians here jetting off on winter vacation ! Governments federal and provincial not sitting although we are in the midst of a health crisis !
    Nothing makes sense.

  22. Vancouvervillan

    Watching the city utd game, I’m thinking if city keep that high line we could get some joy.
    So nice to be not scared of anyone 😁

  23. Vancouvervillan

    29 yr old Uruguayan midfielder from Inter is a new rumor i read today, Matias Vecino played all 5 games for Uruguay in last WC and has CL experience.
    Don’t believe the rumours for Eriksson & seems Rachica is again in the news.
    Surely also we must keep Davis with Wesley situation very much uncertain.

    As BFR says it might be a good time to find a few gems with teams in europe finding the financial situation tough but not expecting too much activity.

    Further to yesterday’s discussion, I’m reading Liverpool will likely change the complete back four for Friday, opportunity too good to miss ?

    1. Vancouvervillan

      Yeah it does remind me of mon’s idiotic seasons without rotation. I remember he had that same 13 or so start the season a month earlier for Europa qualification and then threw that away playing the kids in Russia πŸ™„

  24. Vancouvervillan

    I’m always in two minds about the starting selection when the cups come around. Yes, the PL is more important of course but this season it’s not as if we are anywhere near the relegation zone. Tough opposition again, but do we just roll over because it’s Klopp’s team ?
    Players could get injured at anytime including training. They are the youngest team in the PL.
    Jack & others want to be involved with everything, they just want to play football & the 3 games in a week or so Christmas schedule is done.
    Not to mention the recent forced rotation with fringe players has proven to be far from the nightmare I had imagined.

    I agree I think its odds on Heaton will be between the posts but after that I’m still not sure I want radical changes to the group that has performed so well for us.
    Isn’t ours exactly the type of never stop trying, goal scoring, attacking team that could go far in a cup competition ?
    This is our only realistic chance we have of silverware this season and might also be the best chance of a European place next season, don’t we need to give ourselves the best possible chance ? πŸ€”