Aston Villa suffer yet another defeat with the pressure beginning to intensify on Dean Smith!
Adam Armstrong sealed the three points for The Saints with the game’s only goal inside the opening 4 minutes.
Despite our second-half fight-back, we were handed a fifth consecutive Premier League defeat.
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Once again, it was a bitterly disappointing Villa performance; starved of any tactical shape or purpose!
Myself and Luke were in the away end for this one, and following our four-hour coach journey, we had convinced ourselves that we’d be taking the 3 points home with us.
I was encouraged by the starting line-up, coupled with a lively pre-match concourse and a few beers! Right, into our seats, awful, row 5 directly behind the goal – the view is shocking!
Pre-match, all I wanted was the Villa to start well, be on the front foot, be aggressive with the press, and give us a platform to build on for the rest of the game. What did we get? 1-0 down inside 4 minutes! Adam Armstrong with the emphatic finish! PAIN.
I was desperate for half-time, get in there without conceding again, regroup and see if we can get back into the game (story of the season); but I looked at the clock – 14 minutes gone haha; we were under such intense pressure, Southampton stretching us with their superb wide play, they were organised, balanced and had a purpose to their attack, sadly, we lacked all of the above!
We start the second-half determined, there is a direct purpose to our play, which begs the question, why do we always have to wait until we’re a goal down to come alive!
Despite our second-half endeavour to get back into the game, it was a comfortable evening for Southampton, and the introduction of a further two strikers up top with Watkins as we chased a point reeked of Lambert and Bruce Ball desperation! We looked confused, disorganised and uncoached! It’s now a huge two-week international break to strip back, and get back to basics; only time will tell if Dean Smith is afforded that time.
Let’s now see how the fans rated the performances of those in claret and blue, joining me today, Hannah Gowen, Liam Mucklow, Gary Plaza and Liam Davies.
Emi Martinez – 7
Perhaps the only positive to take from the night was Martinez’s ability to make a great save. Stopped the scoreline from becoming more embarrassing and not at fault for the goal. Hannah Gowen
Matty Cash – 6
The Polish Cafu was perhaps slightly unlucky to see the ball bounce off him and into the path of Armstrong early on but this was symptomatic of a sluggish Villa start. Cash was visibly frustrated at times and his effort is never in doubt but his wild miss kick in the area on 88 minutes summed up a miserable evening at St Mary’s. Liam Mucklow
Axel Tuanzebe – 6
Decent performance, many clearances and defensive actions. The midfield is not helping the two centre-backs in front. Maybe should’ve done better for the goal but maybe I’m being too harsh.
He should’ve done better when getting on a cross but not enough effort to get on the ball.
Solid second half and showed he has a lot to offer, but with the centre-backs changing weekly, there is no option to get a decent form from a run of games. Gary Plaza
Tyrone Mings – 5
An okay showing from the captain. Nothing particularly jumps out when discussing his performance on the South Coast. The no.5 returned to the side having been dropped against West Ham in the previous fixture and was relatively solid in the first half, making several clearances whilst sustaining heavy pressure from the Saints. His second-half was also quiet, and the centre-back rarely featured as Villa looked to come back into the game. A long-range effort that was deflected over and a couple of attacking headers won in the box were maybe the ‘highlights’, but some sloppy defensive work, losing a few contests up against Che Adams and co. puts his rating to a 5 out of ten. Liam Davies
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Matt Targett – 5
What happened to Matt Targett? Did Grealish make him the player he was last season? Does he crumble playing in front of fans?
Improved second half but nothing like the levels of last season. He will be lucky not to lose his place to Young after the international break.
From last season to this is shocking. I expect Aaron Hickey to be our main target come January. Gary Plaza
Marvelous Nakamba – 5
Plenty of industry but a familiar lack of quality from the Zimbabwean. He formed part of a Villa midfield that struggled to get any foothold in the game, particularly in the first period. Mercifully hooked on 62 minutes. Liam Mucklow
John McGinn – 3
It pains me so much to score our players so low, especially when I know they are (mostly) all cable of being brilliant. At the minute, our midfield is absent. McGinn was a ghost for a lot of the game and just could not get a foot on the ball apart from a couple of off-target shots and some long range passes of note. Not sure this is even the fault of individual performances, but the midfield is just sliced through so easily lately. Hannah Gowen
Anwar El Ghazi – 2
An awful day for the Dutchman. Having returned to the starting eleven for the first time since Watford on the opening day, it was not the impact he was hoping to make. The winger was lucky to have lasted the duration of the first half after a couple of sinister fouls that both warranted yellow cards. A perceived dive in the box also could have spelled the end of the 26-year-olds day, but referee Andy Mandley decided to keep him on the pitch. A lack of tracking back and poor attacking play on the ball summarised his opening display. The start of the second half was better from the no.21 with some positive, direct dribbling and several shots at goal. However, nothing to get you off your seat, and on the whole, a dim night for Anwar El Ghazi, who was taken off in the 79th minute for Keinan Davis, some would say far too late! Liam Davies
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Emi Buendia – 5
Tough first half played out of position again. Over 30 goal involvement last season from RW but still played in the 10. With that being said, a £35 million player should still pass to a player wearing the same shirt! A poor start to his Villa career.
I am also struggling to understand why he cannot play longer than 70 minutes? Subbed off again. Gary Plaza
Leon Bailey – 5
Absent for the first half an hour with a slight improvement after that. Bailey has so far shown fleeting glimpses of that undoubted talent in a Villa shirt, he can be a game-changer, and we desperately need him to do it consistently. His wasted free-kick from a golden position on 63 minutes was unforgivable for a player of his quality. Liam Mucklow
Ollie Watkins – 3
Again, a difficult one to call for Ollie. Again, didn’t exactly put a foot wrong but when we don’t look like scoring all night, how can I rate the frontman any higher? Can’t recall a shot on target from Watkins, despite his best efforts to make something happen. Still admire his persistent work rate and his running until the final whistle. Hannah Gowen
Jacob Ramsey (on for Nakamba, 63) 5
Did ok, looked to increase the pace in the final third; quite a few spray pass thou! Ryan Mckeown
Cameron Archer (on for Buendia, 71) 5
He looked as confident in the Premier League arena as he does on the Papa John’s Trophy stage; if he’s afforded game-time, his energy and enthusiasm could be invaluable. Ryan Mckeown
Keinan Davis (on for El Ghazi, 79) 5
Keinan was substituted onto the field for the remaining 10 minutes plus added time, making his first appearance of the season. Tough to say a lot about the striker’s performance as he didn’t have the time to make an impact and with Villa wasteful in possession in the closing stages, he rarely got a sight of the ball. Liam Davies
Subs not used: Jed Steer, Ashley Young, Kortney Hause, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, Carney Chukwuemeka, Aaron Ramsey.
Southampton: A.Armstrong (3)
Southampton (4-2-2-2): McCarthy; Livramento, Bednarek, Salisu, Walker-Peters; James Ward-Prowse, Romeu; Elyounoussi (Diallo, 76), S.Armstrong (Lynaco, 56); Adams, A.Armstrong (Broja, 81).
Subs not used: Forster, Perraud,Djenepo, Walcott, Tella, Long.
LINE-UP – 7
Probably the best to expect from players available, but it makes you think when Ramsey got injured last weekend why Young was brought on in front of El Ghazi and Chukwumeka.
I still want to know where Sanson is! The class act we saw for Marseille playing in Europe and bossing it can’t even make the bench against Southampton! Gary Plaza.
IN-GAME MANAGEMENT – 3
Not surprised he never had the bottle to take off El Ghazi despite him being lucky to stay on the pitch in the first 25 minutes.
Second half we looked like a Villa team worthy of winning a game but that soon fizzled out to poor decisions and over hit crosses.
A team that promises so much again lets us down. Players look out of ideas and out of patience with Smith like many fans.
With such a weak bench, you cannot comment on all subs, but JPB surely deserved a runout after his great preseason. Gary Plaza.
FINAL WORD from Gary Plaza.
I’m a massive fan of Smith and appreciate everything he has done, the ten-game winning streak, the playoff victory, last day survival and the 11th place finish last season, but like most good things, they almost always come to an end.
He can hold his head up high and look at his job at Villa with pride but managing a team with a massive budget and high expectations seems to be out of his reach.
I think a lot of questions started with the departure of Richard O’Kelly. A man that had been by Smith’s side through his managerial career.
Results are whats recorded in the history books but fans of this generation will know how poor the performances were during this time. After 11 games only Newcastle and Norwich have conceded more goals!
Not sure if NSWE share the same views as a large majority of the fans but i fully expect a review of Smith’s position during the international break.
If thats the end for Smith i say thank you! Come back as a fan and you’ll always be remembered.
If it’s not and he’s given more time then we all need to get behind him and the team.
We’ve been in worse positions and pulled through and we will again! UTV!
Brighton at B6 | Saturday 20th November 2021
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