Aston Villa Relish Proper Away Trips in Europe After Anfield No-Show

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Burnley, Hibernian and Liverpool

What a couple of weeks it has been for Unai Emery’s Aston Villa on the pitch. They continue to dot the I’s and cross all the T’s, at least the commercial team found some paint to do the same in the Upper Holte as well this week. On a run of four wins, nothing bad was going to happen at Anfield, was it?

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The Good

Two games, two objectives achieved, a second Premier League win on the bounce, and progress to the Europa Conference Group stages secured. We’ll talk about the Liverpool game in the next section.

Burnley has been where Aston Villa seasons were defined in recent years. From losing Wesley and Tom Heaton forever in one game to having Dean Smith’s team fall apart after leading twice and losing 3-2. If this performance defines the Emery season, Villa fans are in for a treat.

Except for ten minutes after half-time, Villa put on the same kind of efficient ruthless performance they did against Hibernian and Everton the previous week. Score goals at the right time and control the game. The only blip was a poor goal conceded to Burnley when Diego Carlos mistimed a header, Pau Torres got turned too easily and Robin Olsen, well Olsen gonna Olsen.

Villa’s goals were all expertly crafted, in particular the second Matty Cash goal which saw a 19-pass move as he smashed it into the goal.
Burnley had no answer and this was followed up with a professional display against Hibernian in midweek. Three on the night could really have been many more. Jhon Duran and Omari Kellyman led the line and the two young guns gave the almost full house a reason to keep watching, with Duran scoring his second of the season already.

In truth, the tie was already over, but Villa and Emery took no chances in progressing to the group stage of the Conference League.

The draw threw up Legia Warsaw, AZ Alkmaar and HSK Zrinjski, a delight for football fans of teams with atmosphere and a bit of an edge.

Some people who only have experience of the sanitised world of Premier League Football could be in for a shock. The Ultras’ of those three teams will have no problem making it a hostile atmosphere for Aston Villa and this is a good thing. You don’t wait over a decade to get into Europe to play non-events.

Villan of The Week – Matty Cash

It’s rare that a player can have such a bad first game, and then come back with some of his best performances in a Villa shirt. Against Burnley, Cash was played higher up the pitch and didn’t look out of place as he linked up with Moussa Diaby and new signing Nicolo Zaniolo. If not for a block and a deflection, Cash would’ve had a hat trick, something I didn’t see myself writing after the Newcastle game and he wasn’t really to blame for the own goal against Liverpool.

The Bad

The game at Anfield was very much an early defining moment for 2023/24 version of Aston Villa. Win the game, and they go into the international break as a team that would be knocking on the door of the top six and beyond. That’s not what happened, as a bad day against Liverpool has put Aston Villa in a kind of Premier League limbo.

The game itself was over as a contest as soon as Pau Torres’s early error gifted Liverpool with a corner to open the scoring.

Aston Villa just weren’t a match for Liverpool in intensity, and what was billed as an even fight turned into a training game for Klopp’s side. The inability to take presentable chances stopped them from getting any kind of foothold in the game, in the end, it was lucky to only be three.

Now Villa are in a place many fans didn’t expect. The bad injuries to Tyrone Mings and Emi Buendia and the season-delaying ones to Alex Moreno and Jacob Ramsey, have left Villa looking like a side that have gone through a rebuild rather than a side being fine-tuned to attack the top four.

what was billed as an even fight turned into a training game for Klopp’s side

The Ugly

Another transfer window has come and gone, and despite Villa making moves, the online noise is always wanting more. It’s an ugly trend, influenced by Chelsea spending over a billion since being taken over by Todd Boehly’s group.

While Villa fans shouldn’t care what other teams do, the constant media coverage and cottage industry of transfer deadline day warps perceptions. If you don’t like your transfer business done smartly and want to buy into deadline day high jinx, then go and support Nottingham Forest.

You only need to look online and see how many social media accounts just copy the posts of Fabrizio Romano and just pass them off as their own. Romano saw a niche in the market and has grown himself to be the star of the show, but the amount of fake accounts and others using the aggregate copycat approach chasing followers becomes grating.

The Villa situation at the end of the window is what it seems to be at every window, They could have done with another one here or there, in an ideal world another forward but in all, things are good. The players that have been allowed to leave didn’t play a part last season with Cameron Archer and Philogene Bidace out on loan, and Coutinho spending the majority of Emery’s time injured.

The late signings of Clement Lenglet and Nicolo Zaniolo provide cover for the injured Tyrone Mings and Emi Buendia after injury, and looking across the rest of the league, many of the signings Villa fans are jealous of are forced by necessity. Ansu Fati at Brighton, is certainly eye-catching, but would they have needed this without the injury to Julio Enciso?

Would Spurs have signed Brennan Johnson for such a large amount without the Harry Kane windfall? Forest, clearly have been banking on Johnson leaving for their signings. Deals done in the last moments of the window are borne out of necessity.

Again it’s time to go with what’s in the squad, with the chance to reinforce if needed in January.


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