The sights and sounds of a full Villa park were beautiful to see. And I cannot even imagine being there to welcome the team out.
The team was a bit different from last week’s disappointing season opener. Ollie Watkins is still out injured. Add Leon Bailey to the injured list after he picked up a hamstring injury and Dean Smith didn’t want to risk him even on the bench. Also Bertrand Traore is out. So a full potential attacking three miss the match.
Ramsey got the nod in the midfield with Ashley Young keeping the left back role he played in the second half at Watford. Douglas Luiz regained his spot now that he is back.
On the pitch, Anwar El Ghazi started on the left and Emi Buendia on the right of Ings. It was a smart decision after Villa’s midfield were outnumbered and out played.
Emi Buendia created the first Villa attack in the opening five minutes but in the end El Ghazi fired his shot off target after cutting in from the left. A shot we have all seen dozens of time from the winger, Callum Wilson went right down the pitch but put a one-on-one shot wide of the net. Villa wanted fouls called twice during the attack.
The teams finally took a breath after a wide open and entertaining opening 10 minutes.
At the 25 minute mark, Jacob Murphy dove in the box with zero contact from Ashley Young. Mr. VAR took a look but it was dismissed despite many complaints from the visiting players... and equal complaints from Villa for the simulation. No card shown, no penalty given in the end.
Thankfully Matty Cash ran off a sore ankle that kept him down for a few minutes. Villa really don’t need any more injuries. The international break can’t come soon enough to allow some healing and training for the growing medical list.
In the 40’, Wilson was shown a yellow card for consistent fouls, somehow it was only first card of a tense match. The announcer seemed confused but must not be paying attention because there were two conversations with Wilson. Issac Hayden picked up one a few minutes later for pulling back John McGinn to stop a Villa attack. Douglas Luiz got one as well in added time. A slew of cards at end the half.
But it was the final kick of the half that was the most beautiful. A long throw from Matty Cash was flicked on my Tyrone Mings and one Danny Ings hit a perfect bicycle kick into the net.
Put this on loop.
Halftime is much more fun when winning.
Newcastle made one change at the half with Issac Hayden off for Sean Longstaff. Villa made none.
Villa’s midfield continued to play very well at the start of the first half. The three person team of McGinn, Luiz, and Ramsey were comfortable in possession and rotation. They looked to start attack after attack. Sure there were some turnovers but that is going to happen — especially this early in the season and given the fact that Luiz has been in camp for less than a week.
Jacob Murphy picked up a clear yellow card for trying to drag down Ramsey. Could have easily been his second if he was shown one in the first half for simulation. But he wasn’t so carry on.
Tyrone Mings very nearly made it two with a header from a McGinn free kick and Ezri Konsa headed back across. Mr. VAR took a moment after it was shown Laselles’ arm was out and that is what blocked the Mings header from going in the empty net. A penalty was given and it was pretty clear. No legit complaints can be made. The arm was away from the body. Sure it was close range but it was the only thing that prevented the goal.
Anwar El Ghazi stepped up to the spot, and after a long delay, fired it home after sending the keeper the wrong way. 2-0 to the good guys. El Ghazi remains 100% in penalties in the Premier League.
Newcastle pushed Aston Villa back a bit after the goal despite loads of running from Ings and Buendia. Mings got some treatment and more tape around his chest. No idea what injury would need that but I have a strong suspicion the additional tape was more about stopping Newcastle momentum than anything medical. But that is just my hunch.
It worked pretty well.
Ramsey had a shot from distance trying to cap off his excellent game in the 74’.
But then a really poor decision from Emi Martinez could have changed the flow of the game. Callum Wilson beat him to the ball and Emi took him out. It was in the corner of the box and was a clear penalty. Dumb play and the right call.
But..... Callum Wilson was (barely) offside. So no penalty but, interestingly, Martinez keeps his yellow card.
Yellow for Schar for stopping another Villa attack from Ramsey (really impressive) at 84’. Emi Buendia got one also in the next minute.
Then Dean Smith made his first change. Jaden Philogene-Bidace came on for Buendia to play in front of a packed Villa Park for the first time. At 88’ — another sub with Axel Tuanzebe made his return coming on for Douglas Luiz.
The clock ticked up and Villa fans rose as Danny Ings came off at 90’ for Wesley. Three late subs that took some time off the clock. Wesley came on and won the ball right away as six minutes were added to the 90.
A beautiful home opener. Three points. A clean sheet. And a real coming out party for Jacob Ramsey and all the players who hadn’t seen a full Villa Park. A good day.
Up the Villa!