Aston Villa - A Tactical Revolution


Nov 26, 2019
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Aston Villa: A Tactical Revolution

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Under the guidance of ex-Arsenal manager Unai Emery, Aston Villa underwent something of a tactical revolution last season after a disastrous opening spell of the season under Steven Gerrard. Emery guided the team to the 7th spot, enough for a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

I've had this save in mind for around a month, so the updated databse is not inclusive of the later summer transfers of the recent window, but the bulk of moves that happened in real life have been translated to the in-game squads. Most importantly, perhaps, is the fact that our own summer additions are here, with Youri Tielemans, Moussa Diaby and Pau Torres all in the squad - and all sure to be important parts of my system. Truly, the only major deal which affects our squad that is not in the game is Phillipe Coutinho's move to Al-Duhail. For the time being, that means the Brazilian has a part to play still - we'll see if he can deliver.

What did Unai Emery change?

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Emery's style of football proved in stark opposition to the Villa that was seen on display in the latter stages of Steven Gerrard's rein. Emery often used the traditional 4-4-2 formation, which became something of a 6-2-2 at times last season. Make no mistake, though, the football was far from negative. Villa used a solid setup to then provide pressure on the opposition and press high with regularity. I'll be looking to implement similar tactics, albeit with a planned 4-3-3 instead. I want to maintain the same intensity that Villa play with, though, as well as being able to work the space as effectively as Emery has got them doing. Certainly, I think the squad has some terrific on-the-ball options, which should make for capable tactical implementation.

The Squad

Make no mistakes, Aston Villa have a strong team with a decent amount of depth. We should aim for a European place this season, and obviously for seasons to come as well. I believe the team to be in a decent position to expect a level of improvement year on year - many of the players are still yet to hit the prime of their careers and that could make for some exciting development.

There are many options within the squad who could be considered 'key players,' but for me there are a few that standout.

One of those is goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. As a World Cup winner, he has the know how and experience to guide the team, as well as being capable on the ball and contributing to our system. The build-up starts with him, so his distribution and ability to remain comfortable and composed when in possession will be a crucial part to whether our tactics succeed or fail.

Another is DM Boubacar Kamara. He's a fantastic player with several key attributes, one of those being class and composure in the midfield. He strikes me as a player who always has a cool head on his shoulders, and will be key at relieving the pressure, and also playing a role in starting attacks. His position is one of the most important on the pitch, and he is a quality option to play that role.

The last which I'll mention in detail is new arrival Moussa Diaby. He has all the tools to succeed in the Premier League - pace, skill and an eye for goal. He had a good time with Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, and his form from Germany will hopefully carry over to England. A great option on the left already, and still just 24, meaning he has plenty of time on his side to become even better.

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I made the one, and just the one, signing this window. That was Leeds' wantaway young striker Wilfried Gnonto. Gnonto was rumoured to leave Leeds in real life amid rumours he wanted to move away from the club, but no deal materialised. I've decided to change that and made the move for the youngster, who seems to have a real bright future ahead of him. He can play anywhere across the frontline and should be effective when we look to play at a fast pace, or on the counter.

As for the departures, and Keinan Davis, Bertrand Traore and Kortney Hause were all sold off immediately. None of them were in my plans, and we have enough depth in those positions to be able to afford letting them go. Hause went to Rennes for 5 million, Traore to Nottingham Forest for 7 million, and Davis on loan to Celtic with a buy clause attached, which is a mandatory one.



Pre-Season went just about perfectly. Yes, we did not have any true 'challenging' opposition, but we beat what was in front of us, and convincingly too. We did not let in a single goal which is a great sign, whilst scoring at least 3 goals in every single on the games.

August Fixtures

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We have a tough opening month, for sure. Not only is it full of fixtures due to the Conference League Qualifying Round, but three of our four Premier League games to open the new season are against teams that are part of the 'Big 6'.
August 2022

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Leon Bailey celebrates scoring for Villa.

EPL Matchday 1: Luton Town vs Aston Villa

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We start off with a win, away to Luton Town. It was a 1-0 win, and they did their best to keep it narrow, but although we only managed to score once, they never truly threatened at the other end. A solid defensive performance, although a more clinical edge may be needed against better teams.

EPL Matchday 2: Aston Villa vs Manchester City

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We lose our first home game of the season to defending champions Manchester City. We played some decent football, notably in the second half, but we still managed to miss a fair few chances. City were the better team and deserved to win, but their were some decent signs from us and there's not too much shame in losing to a team as good as City.

UEFA Conference League 4th Qualifying Round 1st Leg: Rapid Wien vs Aston Villa

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I rotated the squad somewhat, anticipating a relatively comfortable win against Rapid Wien. However, it was not to be. We got an away draw and we should be good enough to win at home, but I was expecting us to play a lot better than what we did so it is still somewhat disappointing.

EPL Matchday 3: Tottenham vs Aston Villa

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We then got another draw but this one was a lot more pleasing, as we took a point off Spurs away from home. Whilst the result was decent, we did have a little luck along the way, with Youri Tielemans goal being a stunner from outside the box and ending up as our only shot on target. It was far from a great performance but to get a result when not playing well is a good sign.

UEFA Conference League 4th Qualifying Round 2nd Leg: Aston Villa vs Rapid Wien

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We progress to the group stages of the UEFA Conference League, winning relatively comfortably 2-0. Moussa Diaby got us off to a lightning start before Youri Tielemans scored his second in as many games to guide us to victory.

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Our group stage draw seems fairly favourable, but we'll make sure not to be complacent.

EPL Matchday 4: Aston Villa vs Liverpool

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It was a narrow defeat to Liverpool in our final game of the month. Youri Tielemans missed a penalty that could've given us a 1-0 lead earlier in the game, and it proved costly as Mohamed Salah scored on the brink of half-time, a goal that would eventually prove to be the winner.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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September 2022

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Boubacar Kamara

EPL Matchday 5: Burnley vs Aston Villa

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I would've hoped for a win against newly promoted Burnley here but we found ourselves 1-0 down for a long time in this match, before Ollie Watkins scored a late equaliser. It was a relatively quiet game and I was disappointed with our lack of attacking intent. We had a lot of the ball but did very little with it.

Carabao Cup 2nd Round: Aston Villa vs Cheltenham

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We notch a routine 2-0 win in the Carabao Cup against Cheltenham. Not too much to note here, but it was good to see young striker Jhon Duran get amongst the goals.

UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 1: Dynamo Kyiv vs Aston Villa

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A good win to kick off the group stage in the Conference League here. We performed well away from home and Phillipe Coutinho capitalised on a rare start by notching a brace.

EPL Matchday 6: Aston Villa vs Wolves

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We then grab a massive win against our local rivals Wolves, thumping them 5-1 at Villa Park. This is much more like what I'm hoping to see from the team, pressing high and creating a lot of good chances. We took those chances today and ended up with a big win.

UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 2: Aston Villa vs Olympia

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It was a comfortable European venture in our 2nd group game, as we beat Olympia 2-0. The damage was done in the first 20 minutes, and from then on we were able to relax whilst limiting their chances as well.

EPL Matchday 7: Aston Villa vs Sheffield United

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However, we then suffered a truly awful defeat to newly promoted side Sheffield United, at home as well. This was a terrible result and there is no way that a side with European aspirations should be losing in this manner at home to a team that was winless and bottom before today.


We did dominate the game, rattling off 25 shots, whilst they only managed the 2 on target. The difference was that they were clinical and our defence was not good enough.

Carabao Cup 3rd Round: Aston Villa vs Luton

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More frustration and disappointment as our Carabao Cup journey ends prematurely, as we exit in the 3rd round after a defeat on penalties to Luton Town. After the month seemed to be clickling with the big win over Wolves and the routine wins in European competition, the last two fixtures have really dampened the mood.

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Again, we absolutely dominated the game, with 70% of the ball and essentially all of the chances. We should never end a game with 0 goals after having an xG of 2.37, at least some of those chances have to put away.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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October 2022

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Emiliano Martinez

EPL Matchday 8: Chelsea vs Aston Villa

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We bounce back from those poor results at the end of the last month with a terrific result, an away win to Chelsea. Chelsea have struggled to make a good start to the season as well, but they would still be a difficult opponent. Wilfried Gnonto picked a great time to get his first goal for the club, scoring the winner in the 84th minute.

UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 3: Aston Villa vs Panathinaikos

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Things continue to run smoothly for us on the European stage, as we grab another routine win. Good to see another goal for Gnonto in this one too, he seems to be finding his feet at the club nicely.

EPL Matchday 9: Aston Villa vs Crystal Palace

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A narrow victory, but a win is a win. We edge out a tight contest as we beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at Villa Park. The game was decided by an early penalty from Youri Tielemans. They were a threat on the counter and Emi Martinez made several decent saves, but we managed to hold on for all three points.

UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 4: Panathinaikos vs Aston Villa

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It was four wins from four, and four clean sheets to begin this month. The return fixture against Panathinaikos here proved another fairly comfortable victory.

EPL Matchday 10: Arsenal vs Aston Villa

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We were close up against Arsenal but it was not to be as we fall 2-1 to the Gunners. It was a decent performance from us, as we caused Arsenal some problems, but a late penalty settled matters in their favour, resulting in our first away loss of the season.

EPL Matchday 11: Aston Villa vs Everton

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Our match against Everton got off to the perfect start when Emi Buendia prodded home after just 3 minutes, but the joy of an early lead soon evaporated as Everton had the game turned completely around by the 20th minute. A red card for Tyrone Mings on the brink of halftime compounded our task and, although we created lots of chances, once again we failed to convert them. Our home form has been surprisingly poor this season and I am, in all honesty, not 100% sure why.

UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 5: Olympia vs Aston Villa

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We fail to win for the first time in our Conference League group, which is somewhat disappointing given that they were a man down after 55 minutes. It's not so much the fact that we drew, but more so that I watched us squander several golden opportunities, something we've done far too often this season.

EPL Matchday 12: Bournemouth vs Aston Villa

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We do end the month with a pleasing bounce-back victory over Bournemouth. It was good to see us put a team to the sword again, because, aside from the 5-1 win over Wolves, we hadn't scored more than once in a Premier League game to date, despite our attacking system.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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November 2022

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Ollie Watkins

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We start off the month with the unfortunate news that Pau Torres will be out for the next month or so after twisting his ankle. We've had a decent run of injury luck thus far, but Torres will be a big absence over the coming weeks.

UEFA Europa Conference League Matchday 6: Aston Villa vs Dynamo Kyiv

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A somewhat underwhelming finale to our Conference League group stage, but a point was enough to ensure that we finished top of our group.

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EPL Matchday 13: Aston Villa vs Brighton

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A draw after domination against Brighton. We were the better team for the majority of the game, but - in what is becoming all too familiar a narrative - we failed to take our chances when they mattered most. I was pleased with how we took the game to Brighton - they are a good side after all - but we should have made more of our performance.

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After being relatively injury free as a squad before November, we now have a second injury this month, with Emi Buendia set to miss between 4 and 5 weeks with a groin strain.

EPL Matchday 14: Fulham vs Aston Villa

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Back to back 1-1 draws in the league as we match Fulham here. We were level on points with them going into the game, and it stays that way after Leon Bailey cancelled out Aleksandar Mitrovic's opener. It was an end-to-end contest and a draw was probably the right result at the end of the day.

EPL Matchday 15: Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa

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Make that three 1-1 draws in a row - and this one was easily the most disappointing of the lot. Forest came into the game winless, bottom of the league, and with just 3 points from 14 games. We expected to win, but we put in a really underwhelming, flat performance, and if anything we were fortunate to draw. We need to be better.

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A huge blow. Starting goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez is out for the next 3 months after a hip injury.

EPL Matchday 16: Aston Villa vs Manchester United

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Robin Olsen comes in and keeps a clean sheet as we manage a 1-0 victory over Manchester United. It was the kind of morale boosting victory we needed after a string of draws, and the disappointment of dropping points against Forest.

EPL Matchday 17: West Ham vs Aston Villa

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We finish the month with a very decent away win to West Ham. All three goals in the game came via the penalty spot, with Youri Tielemans scoring two spot kicks inside 7 minutes of the 2nd half. They got a late goal back but the game was essentially over by then.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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December 2022

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Tyrone Mings

EPL Matchday 18: Aston Villa vs Brentford

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We begin the month with a nice, comfortable 2-0 victory over Brentford. We need to have more wins like this - often I've been made to sweat until the final moments for a victory, so it was nice to put on a convincing display at home here.

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Unfortunately Wilfired Gnonto, who has started to play a more important role lately, picked up an injury in the game that will see him out for the next 3 weeks.

EPL Matchday 19: Newcastle vs Aston Villa

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A terrible performance away to Newcastle where we could have, and probably should have, lost by 3 or 4. We actually managed to go ahead early in the second half, but the lead lasted mere minutes. I'm used to seeing us waste chances but this time the shoe was on the other foot - Newcastle missed a lot of opporunities, however they still managed to win the match.

EPL Matchday 20: Aston Villa vs Chelsea

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An uneventful game sees us draw 0-0 with Chelsea. They've struggled this season but a point is still a decent enough result.

EPL Matchday 21: Sheffield United vs Aston Villa

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I had a little bit of vengeance in mind for this clash, as Sheffield United surprised us in the reverse fixture, beating us 2-1 last time out. However, it was not to be as we were once again frustratred by the Blades, this time the game finishing in a stalemate.

EPL Matchday 22: Aston Villa vs Arsenal

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A solid point and that makes three draws in a row to round out the month of December after a 1-1 draw with Arsenal. We did hold the led for over 50 minutes of the game and a win would've been a truly great result, but a draw remains a decent result against quality opposition.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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January 2023

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Douglas Luiz

EPL Matchday 23: Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa

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Our run of draws continues after an uneventful away trip to Selhurst Park.

FA Cup 3rd Round: Aston Villa vs Arsenal

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It looked like our FA Cup journey was set to be very short lived after we found ourselves 2-0 down to Arsenal within 20 minutes. Even quicker than they found themselves 2 goals ahead, though, we got those 2 goals right back. It means that we'll contest a replay in the coming weeks, although that will be a tough away trip at the Emirates.

EPL Matchday 24: Aston Villa vs Newcastle

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For the second time in as many games, we come back to draw 2-2 after finding ourselves 2-0 down. This time we left it until the final 15 minutes but two quick goals once again meant the game finished level.

Then came our first deal of the January window...

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Boubacar Kamara is my favourite Aston Villa player in real life and has been in the save to date as well, but he's the first major name to leave the club under my watch. He's one of the last players I wanted to sell but he was desperate to move once Tottenham's bid came in, and so he departs for Spurs in a deal that will eventually be worth 50 million.

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Immediately in to replace him is Italian midfielder Samuele Ricci. Whilst I would love to still have Kamara on the team, I was pleased to find a replacement that looks as capable as Ricci does. He is just 22 and has the potential to improve, so he should be a good fit for the side.

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Although Emi Buendia has been a regular starter for us this season, I was not too disappointed to see him leave as he hasn't had the best of seasons for us. Again, he wanted to leave as soon as Arsenal showed an interest in him.

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Just as we did with Kamara, Buendia is immediately replaced. His replacement is the Israeli winger Liel Abada from Celtic. He's had a terrific season so far over in Scotland and hopefully his good form translates to the Premier League.

FA Cup 3rd Round Replay: Arsenal vs Aston Villa

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After that flurry of transfer activity, we were back on the pitch to face Arsenal in the FA Cup replay. We pulled off a terrific 1-0 victory that sees us through to the 4th round. We were on the back foot for much of the game, but a late counter attack was finished off by Ollie Watkins and we progress in the cup.

EPL Matchday 25: Manchester City vs Aston Villa

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Incredibly, we draw our sixth consecutive Premier League match, but this one was a point that I will take every single day of the week, as we pulled off an away draw to the reigning champions Manchester City. I thought we were set for a long trip after they led within the first 5 minutes, but some solid defensive work ensured that their chances were limited, and Leon Bailey applied the finish at the other end to see us take a hard-earned point back with us.

EPL Matchday 26: Aston Villa vs Luton

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We manage to break our streak of draws with a narrow victory over Luton. For the most part it was comfortable, but we did them let back into the game early in the second half. I would've liked to have seen us win by a greater margin, but the three points was the most important thing and we managed to achieve that.

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Phillipe Coutinho, who we weren't able to sell in the window, will miss the next month with a twisted ankle.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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February 2023

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Lucas Digne

FA Cup 4th Round: Aston Villa vs Chelsea

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After eliminating Arsenal from the FA Cup, we see off Chelsea in the next round, winning 3-1 against the Blues. We played very well and deserved the victory, and our FA Cup tournament seems to have potential after seeing off two big sides.

EPL Matchday 27: Brentford vs Aston Villa

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That was followed up by a flat performance against Brentford in the league, but we managed a draw out of it. They dominated and probably should've come away with the win, but we were solid enough at the back to ensure a point.

EPL Matchday 28: Aston Villa vs West Ham

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We lose at home to West Ham in our next match - where we missed a penalty and several other good opportunities. This brings an end to our 8 match unbeaten run in the league, but, in saying that, we have now won just one of our last nine league games, and that came against relegation threatened Luton Town.

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We'll face Swiss side Servette FC in the Round of 16 in the UEFA Europa Conference League.

FA Cup 5th Round: Bournemouth vs Aston Villa

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Through to the FA Cup finals - just. We manage to beat Bournemouth on penalties after a tough clash against them. Both sides had chances, but Bournemouth had the better of them and a Man of the Match performance from Robin Olsen helped us take the game to a shootout, where he was once again the hero as he saved two penalties.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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March 2023

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Moussa Diaby

EPL Matchday 29: Manchester United vs Aston Villa

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We start off March with an uninspiring, poor performance against Manchester United. Going to Old Trafford is never easy but we were shocking in the early stages, finding ourselves 2-0 down inside just 8 minutes. We improved after that but the damage had already been done.

EPL Matchday 30: Aston Villa vs Nottingham Forest

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We rebound with a much needed Premier League win over Nottingham Forest. I was worried when they went ahead after 27 minutes but thankfully the lead didn't last for long after Jacob Ramsey levelled. Phillipe Coutinho got us a winner in the second half in what is an important victory for us.

UEFA Europa Conference League Round of 16 1st Leg: Aston Villa vs Servette

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We managed to edge out our Swiss opponents in the away leg of our Conference League knockout stage game. It wasn't our most convincing display, but a late winner from Ollie Watkins saw us take the victory in the first leg.

EPL Matchday 31: Brighton vs Aston Villa

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Brighton peppered our goal with a high number of shots in this match, but a man of the match performance from Emiliano Martinez ensured they never got on the scoresheet. We provided little threat at the other end and, as a result, the game dwindled out to a 0-0 draw. Given how we played, I'll take a point.

UEFA Europa Conference League Round of 16 2nd Leg: Aston Villa vs Servette

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An Ollie Watkins goal and a 1-0 victory was the outcome of the 1st leg, and the same is repeated here. Again, we weren't at our absolute best, but we were solid enough to ensure victory and progress to the quarter finals, where we'll face Eintracht Frankfurt.

FA Cup Quarter Final: Brentford vs Aston Villa

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Our FA Cup journey comes to a somewhat disappointing conclusion as we lose 1-0 to Brentford. Getting to the quarter finals is not a bad output but it feels like an underachievement after we managed to beat both Arsenal and Chelsea on our road here. It felt like we could've gone further but it is not to be.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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April 2023

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John McGinn

EPL Matchday 32: Everton vs Aston Villa

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We start off the month with a poor performance and result away to Everton. Our inability to string together passes in attack was made even more frustrating by the fact that we had a man advantage for over an hour of the game. They sat back and we were toothless up front, meaning we never threatened their goal all that significantly.

EPL Matchday 33: Aston Villa vs AFC Bournemouth

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We bounced back with a comfortable 2-0 victory against AFC Bournemouth. Ollie Watkins notched a brace which will be good for his confidence in front of goal.

UEFA Europa Conference League Quarter Final 1st Leg: Eintracht Frankfurt vs Aston Villa

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It was a 2-1 defeat in the first leg of our European quarter final against Eintracht. Certainly, it isn't an impossible scoreline to turn around, although it was frustrating to concede so soon after getting ourselves back on level terms.

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Phillipe Coutinho has had his fair share of bad injury lack over this season and in his career, and he will miss the next two months after picking up an injury in the Eintracht game.

EPL Matchday 34: Aston Villa vs Fulham

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A frustrating game. I was hoping to go into the 2nd leg of the Conference League tie on a high with a win in this one, but it was not to be. Instead the match proved to be an affair with very few chances, and those which did come our way, we failed to capitalise upon.

UEFA Europa Conference League 2nd Leg: Aston Villa vs Eintracht Frankfurt

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It is not to be for us in Europe this time around, as Eintracht Frankfurt eliminate us after winning 3-2 on aggregate, despite a draw on the night. The match got off to the worst possible start after Diego Carlos put the ball in his own net just 3 minutes into the tie, but we did put up a fight. Our second half performance was positive and spirited, and we did have the ball in the back of the net a 2nd time late on, but it was ruled out for offside. A disappointing exit.

EPL Matchday 35: Liverpool vs Aston Villa

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An unlucky result, I would say. We worked really hard for large parts of this game to find an equaliser and gave Liverpool lots of problems, so it felt like a just reward when Ollie Watkins prodded home in the 89th minute. However, just a minute later, they'd taken the lead again and consigned us to defeat.

EPL Matchday 36: Aston Villa vs Tottenham

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Two consecutive games against Top 4 opposition to end the month. Both were close, and in both we could have got results, but in the end, we end up empty handed in both games. This time Tottenham manage a narrow 1-0 win via an early goal from Lukas Nmecha that proved to be the winner for them.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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May 2023

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Diego Carlos

EPL Matchday 37: Wolves vs Aston Villa

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We beat Wolves 5-1 when we played them at our home, but I think the fact that we lost to them today shows that we are really out of form at the moment. The team looks like they're ready for the season to be over judging by the lack of overall effort and desire to win games at the moment.

EPL Matchday 38: Aston Villa vs Burnley

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We end the season with a routine 2-0 win over bottom placed Burnley.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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Season Review

A disappointing season, all told. At certain points of it, it looked like we could contend for another European spot, but by the end, we had only just about made top half, finishing in 10th place. At no point of the season, though, were we really playing the free-flowing, attacking football that I was trying to get out of us. Our defence was solid - the 5th best statistically in the league - but it mattered little when our attack was too often toothless. I'm planning a major overhaul in both personnel and the way we play over the offseason because, even though it was not a complete disaster, it is clear that things need to change for us to make progress.

Player of the Season: Leon Bailey


We played a 4-1-2-3 for the entirety of the season. I'll admit, whilst I did try a few different shapes, I was too often stubborn because I believed that the back 4 system was the way to get the best out of the team. However, our performances were simply too flat too often, and so I am planning a somewhat risky, ambitious switch to a 3-4-3 for the next campaign. I am certain we will concede more goals, but it should, hopefully, allow us to play more expansive, exciting football, and hopefully our attackers will contribute a lot more.

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The overhaul begins swiftly. Our back 3 will need to have very capable centre-backs, because our wide players will all be attacking. Tyrone Mings didn't have the best of seasons for us, and so he is out the door in a 20 million pound deal to Leeds.

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The other player out is Phillipe Coutinho. With him having left in real life, I didn't want to keep him around too much longer anyway, and with his constant injuries, it was an easy decision to cash on him whilst he still held some value.
June-July 2023

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Pau Torres

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Our next deal of the window was to offload Calum Chambers. He was never more than a back-up for me, and even then he barely featured, so to get close to 15 million pounds for him is, in my opinion, a really good deal for the club.

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Our first incoming was an important one, with Levi Colwill joining from Chelsea. He's on loan but it will become permanent at the end of the season, a deal structured to leave us room for other deals in the current window. He has all the attributes to work really well in a back three, and I'm expecting big things from the young English centre-back.

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Second through the door was the versatile Million Manhoef, who joins from Vitesse. We don't have a ton of depth at the moment, so a player who can play anywhere down the left or right will be a useful asset to have, and, at just 22, he still has plenty of room to develop and improve.

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Morgan Sanson was out on loan for the duration of last season, and he now leaves the club permanently, joining Fenerbahce for a fee of 6.5 million pounds.

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Much like the aforementioned Calum Chambers, Leander Dendoncker was only ever a bit-part player for me, and so I had no issue with selling him off to his next club.

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Midfielder Oihan Sancet wanted to leave Athletic Bilbao and I decided to take the opportunity to bring him to the club for 26 million pounds. Again, this summer is all about finding players to fit the system we are planning, and Sancet seems to be perfect for that midfield department.

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I highlighted our lack of goals as a problem throughout last season, and so Benjamin Sesko is the big money signing brought in to help change that. At just 21, he's already an accomplished striker, and he has lots of potential to grow at the club. He'll be tasked with a big responsibility up top for us, but I'm confident he can prove his worth.
August 2023

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Ezri Konsa

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Although Jackson Porozo might not seem more than a back-up for the centre-back spot, I believe him to have the attributes to start in the middle of our planned back 3. As has been the case with our deals this summer, we've been looking to find system players, and Porozo is a more aggressive, physical centre-back who should complement Colwill and Torres nicely as they have more ball-playing attributes. Regardless, he was an inexpensive signing and should be a decent addition.

EPL Matchday 1: Aston Villa vs AFC Bournemouth

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Our first game to test out both our new system and our new players was at home to AFC Bournemouth, which was a nice enough fixture to begin with. It ended up a 1-1 draw, but the signs were positive. We were a little too open at the back at times, but the attack looked much more fluid, and Benjamin Sesko got a debut goal which was good to see,

EPL Matchday 2: Manchester United vs Aston Villa

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I don't like to use this word too often, but we were unlucky not to take a point from United. It was a very even game, and a good watch for the neutral, but we end up on the losing side. The improvements are clear, though, and I think results will be merely a matter of time.

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I have a deal for a new goalkeeper in the works, meaning that back-up Robin Olsen became expendable and so off he goes.

EPL Matchday 3: Aston Villa vs Everton

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2 points out of 9 to begin the season is not great, but I'll repeat what I've said before - we look like a completely different side and that will take time to adjust to. Yes, we did also need a 93rd minute equaliser, but we should've been the team in front by then. We create a lot of chances and clinical finishing remains an issue, but there are a lot of positives in the way we play, we just need the results to match.

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Unfortunately Ollie Watkins suffered an injury that'll keep him out for the next month in that Everton game.

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The new goalkeeping addition I mentioned earlier is 27-year-old Ghanian shot-stopper Lawrence Zigi, who joins from Swiss side St. Gallen. Emiliano Martinez has been somewhat unconvincing throughout my time at the club, and Zigi will provide him some much needed competition, and I won't hesitate to switch the two around if one is underperforming.

EPL Matchday 4: Fulham vs Aston Villa

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A result like this was on the cards if we just put away our chances, and, unfortunately for Fulham, today was that day. We smash the Cottagers 5-1 at their own ground. We were unstoppable in the first half, and played with comfortability in the second to ensure we saw out a convincing victory.

Carabao Cup 2nd Round: Leeds vs Aston Villa

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It was back-to-back big wins for us, as we went away to Leeds and won 4-1, with Benjamin Sesko proving his worth by netting all 4 of the goals. We progress to the next round of the Carabao Cup with that win.

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There was one final deal to be made for the club this window, and it came on deadline day, with Yukinari Sugawara joining the team in the final hours of the transfer period. He's capable of playing anywhere down the right and should be a great option to have in that right midfield spot where we needed more depth.

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Benjamin Sesko has made a fantastic start to life for us, with 3 goals in 3 league games, as well as netting 4 in the Carabao Cup. He wins the Young Player of the Month award and deservedly so.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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September 2023

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Jacob Ramsey

EPL Matchday 5: Aston Villa vs West Ham

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West Ham were actually 2nd in the table coming into this game, so to get a win against them is a good result. We played really well, and deserved the three points that we took from the game.

EPL Matchday 6: Brighton vs Aston Villa

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It was two wins from two to begin September and a repeat result, as we won 2-1 again, this time against Brighton. We found ourselves 1-0 down at half-time but we played with resilience and spirit, and had the game turned around in the second half to come away victorious.

EPL Matchday 7: Aston Villa vs Southampton

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It's four straight league wins for us, and although we went behind, we played terrific attacking football against Southampton. Wilfried Gnonto has scored in every game this month and bagged a brace in this one too. Things got a little nervy when they pulled it back to 3-2, but thankfully a goal from Matty Cash put it to bed.

Carabao Cup 3rd Round: Aston Villa vs Chelsea

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We eliminate Chelsea from the Carabao Cup, and new goalkeeper Lawrence Zigi proved the hero as Chelsea missed three penalties in the shoot-out. It was a good game for the neutral as both teams put up a fight, but I'm glad we won, as the Carabao Cup could be a good road to Europe if we can find a way to win such a competition.

EPL Matchday 8: Wolves vs Aston Villa

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It would've been nice to have a perfect month of victories, but I don't have too many complaints about this 2-2 draw to Wolves. Our back three system has meant that we are quite open on the break, and this was probably the biggest case of that issue as Wolves constantly were finding ways through our backline. But what the system does give us is chances at the other end, and that ensured an end-to-end attacking affair with no winner.

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We are becoming more prevalent in the monthly awards categories this season, and Wilfried Gnonto had a fantastic month which saw him pick up the Young Player of the Month award.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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October 2023

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Alex Moreno

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The month starts off with some unfortunate news - Wilfried Gnonto, who has been electric recently, will miss the next 6 weeks through injury.

EPL Matchday 9: Aston Villa vs Brentford

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Thankfully, though, two of our other strikers got the job done in Gnonto's absence, as we managed a 2-0 win over Brentford.

EPL Matchday 10: Arsenal vs Aston Villa

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A respectable 1-1 draw at the Emirates followed that result. We put together some very solid results last month, but to see us go away to one of the top 4 and put in a really good performance was a major positive. I think we should have ambitions for a top 7 finish this season based on what I've seen so far.

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One of the most notable changes to our side has been how incredible all of our strikers have been. The 3-4-3 system has really been getting the best out of our front lads, and so to lose both Gnonto and now Sesko is damaging to that. The front three of them two and Liel Abada has been devastating at times and now the Slovenian will be out for 2-3 months. He'd scored 8 goals in 10 starts and so he'll be a big miss.

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With two strikers out at the moment, I've adjusted the formation slightly, which will see one of those forwards shift to a slightly deeper lying CAM role, most likely to be filled by Oihan Sancet.

EPL Matchday 11: Liverpool vs Aston Villa

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Another spirited away performance and another pleasing result, this time we take a point at Anfield, which is notoriously a difficult ground to go to and come away with anything. Once again, we played with energy and positivity, and we deserved a late equaliser from Liel Abada, who netted a brace to see us earn a draw.

Carabao Cup 4th Round: Aston Villa vs Manchester City

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We've shown how we can come against the big boys and get results this month, and we eliminate Manchester City from the Carabao Cup in our next game. Sancet was brilliant in the new role, and the changed formation has thankfully not affected our attacking qualities so far. A great win, and we should have real belief about achieving something in this competition now.

League Table

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Player of the Month

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