Match Report

Reflections on the Aston Villa game

I watched the Aston Villa game on my computer, paying the one-off charge of £9.99. Wasn’t it £7.99 last season? I practiced that I had got the log in details correct a couple of times during the day and sure enough , there I was sat before my computer at 8.00pm, having skipped the hour of the load of bollocks pundits.

There can be no comparison between watching a game on TV or computer and watching it from the stands. I can’t put my finger on it, but it might be the same as watching pornography or engaging in the act yourself.

Also, when watching the game on TV, my mind begins to wander. How do you pronounce Haller? If it’s French, you would definitely drop the H. Then, is it Aller or Allere? I looked up his Wiki entry, which shows you how to pronounce the name but it’s written in Klingon (try it yourself). It took me weeks to learn that you pronounced Payet with a T, because that’s how they pronounced it on Reunion. This is going to keep me up at nights.

What was going on in the game? Wow, it looked like the West Ham side had finally learnt how to pass the ball. Could there be a new found confidence in the side? We beat Norwich, Norwich beat Man City, so that makes us the best team in Europe.

Rice also seemed to have regained his touch. I was getting a bit worried about him. It would seem once a player starts to dream of greener pastures, their game goes downhill. I was beginning to think, if Man U offered £90 million, we should grab it.

OK, back to Heller. I’m going to try and transcribe the phonetic language. The H is definitely not pronounced. The e is pronounced like the e in best. But, the final r is a guttural r , roughly like the ch in loch, or it might be like the r in the french word ‘regarder’, in which case you roll it. So, it’s Allerrrrrrrrr, or Allech. Oh, why couldn’t we buy a player like Wojciech Szczesny, whose name you can pronounce straight off?

Back to the computer. Here we go again with the West Ham speciality, the old one two free kick. It must be absolutely brilliant on the training ground. It’s definitely going to be better against Aston Villa, because Snodgrass isn’t involved. There a saying which goes,’ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ The West Ham version is,’If at first you don’t succeed, try, try , try, try, try, try, try, try, try…………………..

I suffer from Tony Gale syndrome. I was there when he was red carded in 1991 in the seventh minute and essentially, the ref ruined the game. This couldn’t possibly happen with Mike Dean, who has only ever given a few red cards in his career, just over 100. Next down the list is Phil Dowd on 67. But that tackle by Masuaku was brutal, He definitely should have a nine game ban for that offence, which seem to involve touching the opponent’s shirt and spoiling the crease. Or perhaps it’s time to bring Dean’s career to an end and get a new ref who doesn’t need to go to Specsavers.

Wait a minute, this was after I thought Dean was going for new record, red carding an Aston Villas player for head butting his teammate.

So, on we go to the game against Man U. We just have to remember, you can’t win a game if you don’t get a shot on goal.


The GoatyGav Column

A Strong Work Ethic

With exhibition season in full swing, now, I have very little spare time, so it’s another short article from me this week.

Last night’s game started off very promisingly with the boys dominating in territorial and possession terms. Right from the word go, however, I was extremely impressed with Felipe Anderson’s work rate. When he first arrived expectation on the Brazilian was set very high but not so much in terms of his tracking back. This season he seems to be adding a superb work rate to his attacking qualities which is mirrored throughout the rest of the attacking personnel.

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When in full flight ‘Peepay’ , as his younger sister, Juliana, used to call him, is an impressive sight. It’s not just his pace that excites but his ghosting runs that are such a spectacle. There’s a buzz of anticipation when he carries the ball at our opponents but he’s also got that silky, jinking elegance that the likes of Trevor Brooking and Alan Devonshire used to possess that helps make this team so entertaining and such a joy to watch. As well as these offensive skills Anderson is bringing a strong work ethic to his game and is becoming a more complete player as a result. Several times last night he was supporting Mas, or Zabba, winning the ball or closing down to deny Villa space – even winning the ball on occasion.

Frankly, and with all respect to our opposition who played well and threatened in the game, it was simply ‘one of those nights’. On balance the game could have gone either way, with Villa probably having slightly the better chances, but you just felt that our quality up top always made us the favourites in this fixture. If anything we looked the more likely after Masuaku’s sending off as Villa seemed to lose their intensity a little and began to mis-place passes. Right at the death I genuinely thought that we had it when Fornals, who looked improved from his first outing for us, couldn’t quite slide the ball in to Haller for the finish. A few moments before we might have gone one up if Fredericks had have stayed on his feet too.

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Overall it wasn’t a bad point won in Birmingham. A shame we couldn’t win to go third but I can see real progress – especially defensively where we’ve now seen three clean sheets on the spin and have only conceded two goals in the last five. I’m excited about the visit of Man Utd this weekend. I think it’s going to be an absolute cracker of a game which I’m more confident, going in to, than I was about last night. Don’t ask me why – just a feeling. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s at home and that away games are always extremely tough under the floodlights. Maybe it’s just a hunch. Either way I’m confident we’ll see a continuation of the high tempo work off the ball from the whole team.

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Lastly it was another great win for the U23, Premier League 2, team last night. Running out 2-0 winners the boys have kept pace with Manchester United at the top of the table with 13 points out of a possible 15. Dimitri Halajko has done a fantastic job with the kids since joining from Leicester City in the Summer. Long may it continue with youngsters knocking hard on the door of the first team squad.

Have a good week everyone – see you after the big game on Sunday.

Come On You Rip Roarin’ Irons!


Match Thread

Match Thread: Aston Villa v West Ham

Aston Villa v West Ham
FA Premier League
Villa Park
KO 8pm
TV: Sky Sports
Radio: BBC 5 Live

Please comment on the match as it progresses.


Dan Coker's Match Preview

Match Preview: Aston Villa v West Ham

Blast from the past

Engelbert Humperdinck was number one with ‘Release Me’, Don Murray, Carita and Patrick Troughton were in UK cinemas in The Viking Queen and British Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force aircraft bombed and sank the grounded supertanker SS Torrey Canyon following a disastrous oil spill as the Hammers recorded a 2-0 First Division victory on the 28th March 1967 in front of 22,011 at Villa Park.

19-year-old centre-half Paul Heffer and 20-year-old left-back Bill Kitchener made only their fourth appearances for the club while Martin Peters was pushed up front to partner Geoff Hurst. Indeed, it was Hurst who proved to be the Hammers hero as he scored both goals to give the Irons their third consecutive win following a 2-1 Good Friday home win over Villa in the reverse fixture four days earlier, and a 3-2 home win over Burnley on Easter Saturday. Heffer would go on to work for the West Ham Academy for over 30 years and is now a Club Ambassador.

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For the Hammers, knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round by Third Division Swindon and beaten in the semi-finals of the League Cup by West Brom, the three consecutive league wins saw them move into the top ten in the table. However, no wins, one draw and seven defeats from the season’s remaining eight games saw the club slump down the division, despite the presence of three players who had won the World Cup the previous summer.

West Ham would end the 1966/67 season in 16th position, while Aston Villa would close the campaign in 21st place, and were relegated. Hurst was voted Hammer of the Year for the second consecutive season, with captain Bobby Moore runner-up. Manchester United won the First Division title and Tottenham won the FA Cup.

Sadly, three members from each side that day are no longer with us. For the Hammers, Moore passed away in 1993, John Charles in 2002 and Peter Brabrook in 2016. For Villa, John Sleeuwenhoek died in 1989, while Barry Stobart and Peter Broadbent passed away within five weeks of each other in 2013.

Aston Villa: Colin Withers, Mick Wright, John Sleeuwenhoek, Charlie Aitken, Dave Pountney, Lew Chatterley, Mike Tindall, Johnny MacLeod, Peter Broadbent, Barry Stobart, Willie Anderson.

West Ham United: Jim Standen, John Charles, Paul Heffer, Bobby Moore, Bill Kitchener, Peter Brabrook, Eddie Bovington, Ronnie Boyce, Johnny Sissons (Harry Redknapp), Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst.

Club Connections

Former Villans Carlos Sanchez and Robert Snodgrass return to Villa Park while ex-Hammer Henri Lansbury welcomes his former club. Other players who have appeared for both clubs include:

Goalkeepers: David James, Mervyn Day, Les Sealey.

Defenders: Bill Askew, Arthur Marjeram, James Collins, Gary Charles.

Midfielders: Thomas Hitzlsperger, Tommy Southren, Nigel Reo-Coker, Nolberto Solano, Stewart Downing, Ray Houghton, Franz Carr, Fred Norris, Alan Curbishley, Tony Scott.

Strikers: Carlton Cole, John Carew, Marlon Harewood, Robbie Keane, Frank McAvennie, Peter Kyle, Phil Woosnam.

Today’s focus though is on a midfielder who appeared for Aston Villa late in his career after two spells at West Ham United. Joe Cole was born in Paddington on the 8th November 1981 and was a prodigious young talent who was linked with a £10m move to Manchester United before he’d even made his professional debut. Likened to Paul Gascoigne, Cole made his debut at the age of 17 in January 1999 in a 1-1 FA Cup draw at home against Swansea; his league debut arrived eight days later in a 4-1 defeat at Old Trafford. Cole was a key figure in the Hammers’ FA Youth Cup winning team in 1999 and also played his part in the senior team’s InterToto Cup success later that summer. His first goal for the club came in a 3-2 League Cup win at Birmingham in November 1999 while his first league strike came in the 5-4 win over Bradford in February 2000.

Cole scored five goals in 2000/01, including one in the 3-0 win at Coventry and strikes in the 1-1 home draws with Bradford and Coventry. He also notched crucial goals in the 3-1 home win over Derby and 3-0 home victory over Southampton as the under-performing Hammers secured their survival in the top flight the weekend before Harry Redknapp’s departure.

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Cole made his England debut on 25th May 2001 in a 4-0 friendly win over Mexico at Derby’s Pride Park and scored his first goal under new Hammers manager Glenn Roeder in the 3-0 FA Cup third round win at Macclesfield in January 2002. The skilful midfielder was part of England’s 2002 World Cup squad and got his 2002/03 campaign off to a flyer, scoring from distance to give the Irons the lead against champions Arsenal only for the Gunners to eventually claim a 2-2 draw at Upton Park. The season was a turbulent one, with Cole one of the few players to emerge with credit from a campaign which would end in relegation. Joey also scored in the 2-1 home defeat to Birmingham, the 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough, the 3-2 FA Cup third round home win over Nottingham Forest and the 2-2 home draw with Newcastle. He was named captain by Roeder in January 2003 and was voted Hammer of the Year by the club’s supporters at the season’s end. Cole scored his first England goal in his tenth appearance for his country on 3rd June 2003 in a 2-1 friendly win over Serbia & Montenegro at Leicester’s Walkers Stadium.

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The 21-year-old Cole left West Ham United in the summer of 2003 to sign for Chelsea in a £6.6m deal, having scored 13 goals in 150 appearances for the Hammers. He earned himself a place in the 2005/06 PFA Team of the Year and started all five of England’s matches at the 2006 World Cup, scoring a stunning, dipping volley in a 2-2 Group B draw against Sweden, in Cologne on 20th June 2006. In 2007/08, he won the Chelsea Player of the Year Award and played in the Champions League Final – he also scored home and away against West Ham that season, refusing to celebrate his strike in Chelsea’s 4-0 win at Upton Park in March 2008. After seven years at Stamford Bridge in which he won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, two League Cups, two Community Shields and was a Champions League finalist, Cole joined Roy Hodgson’s Liverpool on a free transfer in the summer of 2010. Earlier that summer, Cole had won the last of his 56 England caps at his third World Cup – he had scored ten goals for his country.

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After a difficult start to life on Merseyside, Cole spent the 2011/12 season on loan at French side Lille but, after returning to Liverpool for the first half of the following season, 31-year-old Joey returned to the Boleyn Ground in early January 2013, signing for Sam Allardyce’s Hammers on a free transfer. He set up both goals on his second debut for the club as another ex-Villa man, James Collins, scored twice in a 2-2 FA Cup third round draw with Manchester United and scored himself in the 1-1 home draw with QPR and the 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham.

Cole started the 2013/14 season with a bang, notching the Hammers’ first goal of the campaign in a 2-0 home win over Cardiff in August 2013 before scoring in the 3-0 win over Fulham in November. His final goal for the Hammers came in the 3-3 home draw with West Brom in late December 2013. Cole’s last appearance for West Ham came in the 2-0 defeat at Manchester City in May 2014 and he left the club later that summer after his contract expired, signing for Aston Villa. Cole had scored five goals in 37 appearances in his second spell in east London, taking his totals for the Hammers to 18 goals in 187 matches. The video below shows all 18 of these goals.

Cole made his Villa debut under Paul Lambert in a 3-0 defeat at Everton on 18th October 2014; he scored his only goal for the club in a 1-1 draw at Burnley on 29th November of the same year. Beset by hamstring injuries, he made 15 appearances in 2014/15 but was an unused substitute as Villa lost the FA Cup Final 4-0 to Arsenal later that month, by which time Tim Sherwood had taken over as manager. Cole’s 16th and final appearance for Aston Villa came in a 5-3 League Cup second round win over Notts County at Villa Park on 25th August 2015.

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Following a spell with Coventry which was later made permanent, Cole ended his career playing for Tampa Bay Rowdies in the USL, the second tier of the American soccer pyramid – he retired in November 2018. Now 37, Cole is a technical academy coach at Chelsea.

Referee

Monday’s referee will be Mike Dean; 2019/20 is Dean’s 20th as a Premier League referee. Since West Ham United achieved promotion back to the top flight in 2012 Dean has refereed 24 of our league matches, officiating in ten wins for the Hammers, seven draws (including our last visit to Villa Park on Boxing Day 2015) and seven defeats.

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Dean refereed our final match at the Boleyn when we famously triumphed 3-2 over Manchester United. His decision to send off Sofiane Feghouli just 15 minutes into our 2-0 defeat to the Red Devils in January 2017 was later rescinded. Dean’s two Hammers appointments last season were the goalless home draw with Chelsea last September and our 2-0 win at Fulham in December. His most recent Hammers appointment was our 5-0 opening day home defeat to Manchester City.

The VAR Official is Martin Atkinson.

Possible line-ups

Aston Villa will be without injured captain James Chester and left-back Matt Targett, while centre-forward Jonathan Kodjia also misses out with a fractured cheekbone. Winger Trezeguet is suspended. Villa have lost just two of their last 18 home league games against West Ham, winning eight and drawing eight. However, they have won just one of their last 16 Monday Premier League matches drawing five and losing ten.

For West Ham United, Winston Reid and Michail Antonio remain unavailable – Antonio is unlikely to return until after Christmas. The Hammers have failed to score in five of their last nine trips to Villa Park. Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini has won five of his past six matches against Villa, drawing the other.

Possible Aston Villa XI: Heaton; Guilbert, Engels, Mings, Taylor; Douglas Luiz, McGinn, Grealish; El Ghazi, Wesley, Jota.

Possible West Ham United XI: Fabianski; Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Rice, Noble; Yarmolenko, Lanzini, Anderson; Haller.

Enjoy the game – Come On You Irons!


Opposition Q & A

Opposition Q&A with The Villa

After the International break enforced absence, West Ham return to Premier League action with a visit to Birmingham on Monday night to play newly promoted Aston Villa. Before the game I had a chat with James Rushton, managing editor of Aston Villa blog 7500 to Holte to chat about everything Claret and Blue.
Congratulations on your return to the Premier League after a three year absence, at what stage of last season did you think you had a good chance of promotion?
Cheers Jeff. It’s nice to think about the success of last season, and thanks for bringing me on to talk Villa: honestly, it wasn’t until quite late into the ten game run that we went on that I started to feel like promotion was possible. It was all rather doubtful until we got into the playoffs, and even then it wasn’t a given. The final and the victory was a real ‘pinch yourself’ moment. It didn’t seem possible.
You’ve had a few managers over the past 10 seasons, how does Dean Smith stand up against the rest? Any of those past managers that you wish were still at the helm?
We’ve been all over the place for a long time and the worst thing? Nobody really knows where we stood with certain managers, especially so with the interviews they give down the line… So I can’t really say that I wish any one of them were still at the helm. For instance, we all assumed Gerard Houllier was a great coup for us, but he didn’t get on with our top performers and seemed to be going nowhere. We all assumed Alex McLeish was awful (and the football was), but the players seemed to be galvanized under him according to recent interviews. All of this hindsight has created a mess and leans us into using recency bias. Steve Bruce was decent enough for us, but couldn’t go the distance. Dean Smith has been a breath of fresh air and isn’t afraid to bet on his talent. I love that.
Apart from the loss of a few familiar faces, e.g. Arsene Wenger, and the arrival of your neighbours Wolves as a Premier League powerhouse, what other notable changes have been you seen in your absence?
Honestly, everything is new. The Premier League is a better league than the one we left and each team boasts elite talent. It’s rough! West Ham’s ‘new’ stadium is a big change for us – and in all honesty, most things are new so it’s difficult to pick out a big change. If I had a gun to my head I’d probably go for the elite tactical styles on display. Manchester City and Liverpool are capable of real genius, and that wasn’t so evident in 2015. They are trendsetters.
As expected you’ve had to boost your squad since your promotion, from what you’ve seen of them so far, who of these signings is going to most improve your team?
Tom Heaton, without a doubt. Jed Steer was a top goalkeeper for us, but Heaton is amazing. He’s capable of genius and he’s the type of character we need to keep us up. It’s testament to Tom that I’m saying this with how much we’ve spent. He is superb.
Do you think you are better equipped to survive this season than you were the years ago when you were relegated?
Absolutely. We’ve got a humble manager with the ability to adapt, we’ve got a good setup and we’ve got a strong team. The pieces are in place for a decent season, but nothing is guaranteed.
Where do you hope/think The Villa will finish the season?
I hope for 12th. I think we will finish 16th. That’ll be a good achievement for us, considering that as the Play-Off winners, we enter at the bottom of the pile.
How about West Ham, where will we end up?
Keep this start up and you might hope for 5th or 6th. West Ham are tricky to predict – and anything can happen, but it’s early so why not go overboard with the optimism.
Early days yet, but who do you think will end up being relegated?
I think Watford, Norwich and Newcastle (as well as ourselves) will be in that conversation right now – so I’ll lean with the former three.
Who are your picks for the top 4? In order.
Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham, Chelsea
In the Premier League era you’ve had a few old West Ham stalwarts turning it for you. How do you Villa fans remember the likes of Joe Cole, Nigel Reo-Coker, James Collins and Marlon Harewood?
All of them have fond memories, and some more than others. Harewood is a bit of a cult hero, Nigel Reo-Coker was steady. Collins was a warrior and Joe Cole was sometimes a spark in a dead-and-buried team. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about those lot.
That’s good to hear. Is there any of the current crop of West Ham players that you wouldn’t mind swapping Claret and Blue shirts? If so why?
I’d want to back this Villa side, but I’d like Haller. He’s very good and he’d be a great option for us up front while we find out what we have with Wesley. I’d pick other options but I’d feel then like I’m damning half this Villa team without seeing some of them play!
Any memories of West Ham/Villa games of the past?.
I destroyed my Premier League memories when we got relegated – but I think about our last matchup often. It was the day hope ended for us when Jordan Ayew threw an elbow on Aaron Cresswell. Up to that point every player showed fight. It ended with that game. We died and fell apart.
How will Aston Villa line up against West Ham on Monday? Prediction for players and formation?
It’ll be a 4-3-3 with our DM dropping into the centre halves. Heaton in goal. Fred Guilbert will be the RB and Neil Taylor on the opposite side. Mings and Engels will be the centre back duo. Douglas Luiz will anchor the midfield while Jack Grealish and John McGinn push up.
Trezeguet, Wesley and Jota will be our forward line.
Are you confident that you will be able to best us? Prediction for score?
I think we can be a threat at home, and I think that gives us an advantage in this one. You’re a good team, but sometimes that means nothing when the atmosphere gets going and the game develops. 2-1 to the Villa.

Well many thanks to James for his time and thoughts. I love his optimism for both Villa and West Ham, but, surprise, surprise, I am going to back West Ham to win this one. I am going to reverse his forecast and go for 1 – 2 to the Hammers. COYI

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