Well the lineup against Brentford is a culmination of a chaotic preseason and opening few weeks of league play. John McGinn and J. Ramsey miss the match under COVID-19 protocols. Tyrone Mings has picked up an injury (cracked rib, which explains the tape around his chest against Newcastle). The good news is Ollie Watkins is back on the bench.
Carney Chukwuemeka makes his first PL start. Targett is back at left back. This likely pushes Ashley Young up to LW and puts Anwar El Ghazi to the right (though I hope it is the opposite). Axel Tuanzebe jumps in as Captain Ezri Konsa’s defensive partner.
The opening set up was a surprise. Ashley Young seemed to be playing in midfield with Emi Buendia out right and El Ghazi to the left. It really is a sign that the adjustment period to the new players and system is going to take longer because this is no where near the first choice 11.
Ivan Toney was left totally unmarked in the middle of the box in the seventh minute and he did was he does scored. The goal came from a over hit corner for the visitors. It was sent back in from the far side past Douglas Luiz who tried to block it. A Brentford player had a clever knock on — right to Toney all by himself. No chance for Martinez.
Brentford continued to pile on pressure helped by giveaways from the Villa midfield.
That pressure allowed Aston Villa to counter attack. A good ball over the top to Ings. He controlled it well and played a good one-two with El Ghazi and gave it to Emi Buendia at the top of the box. The Argentine turned well and fired the ball into the corner of the net to open his account and equalize the match at one. Credit to Matty Cash needs to be given. He made a busting run to draw the two defenders out of the way to clear room for the shot.
Buendia goal for Aston Villa against Brentford pic.twitter.com/Uye4d3YjCO— Live News For All (@LiveNewsForAll_) August 28, 2021
Fifteen minutes of frantic end to end chaos.
The goal gave Villa confidence and they pushed forward. Konsa could have made it two but he didn’t expect to get the header from El Ghazi. It fell right to Ings who forced an excellent reaction save from the Brentford keeper.
Carney Chukwuemeka impressed me in the opening 30 minutes. He never hid from the ball. He wanted it playing as the most advanced in the midfield. He got caught on the ball a few times but he will learn that at the top level he no longer has that extra second on the ball to make a decision. That can be learned his comfort in the team and confidence cannot.
With five minutes left in the half an interesting thing happened. Martinez caught a cross cleanly. He then went to start a counter attack but when he he dropped the ball to kick it a Brentford player hit it and then scored. It was called back for a foul because that isn’t allowed because it was a controlled drop from Martinez. But something I’ve never seen happen in a football match.
An entertaining half of football came to a close at 1-1. Plenty for Dean Smith to tell his makeshift lineup.
No changes to either side were made during the break.
Anwar El Ghazi picked up an early yellow card for taking down Ajer to stop a Brentford attack. Ivan Toney did too in the same spot of the pitch a minute later. Cards for everyone in the foreground!
The opening fifteen minutes of the second half were a more tight and tense affair. Both teams pressuring the other but neither attack quite worked. El Ghazi had an excellent chance to send Ings through but it was slightly over hit.
An El Ghazi attack was stopped by Norgaard just short of the hour mark. Another yellow was shown, but not quite in the same spot as the last two. Cash got one a minute later. Yellow cards come in pairs apparently. For the record all of them have been clear and deserved.
First Villa chance came at 63’ — Marvelous Nakamba on for Chukwuemeka. Pushing Ashley Young up in the midfield. A really positive performance for the young man.
Villa kept trying to counter the Brentford pressure with long balls to El Ghazi and Ings. But couldn’t quite make it happen.
Danny Ings got a yellow for a foul in the Brentford box. He was frustrated because the same tackle on him a minute early wasn’t called. The Brentford defender made a meal of it. But if you took the yellow card over — you are surely winning. Villa were angry over many inconsistent calls in a very physical matchup.
Hey another yellow in 75’. Ashley Young taken out. Card for Janelt. So many cards....
The ensuing free kick lead to a Villa corner that came to nothing.
With ten minutes left a tiring Ashley Young came off for a returning Ollie Watkins.
Back to cards Nakamba got kicked in the head from a high foot — no second yellow shown.
Konsa spent a long time on the ground after a clash with Matty Cash on a Brentford corner (that shouldn’t have been given). Cash went to ground and took out Konsa’s knee. Not a good look. On the restart, Nakamba filled in until Konsa limped back onto the pitch.
Cameron Archer was stripped and ready to come on... but he had to step back from the sub spot for Kortney Hause. Sad for Archer who deserved the appearance after his midweek hat trick. Worst of all is the knee worry for Konsa. Add him to the growing medical list of Bailey, Traore, Mings, Konsa, Sanson — plus J Ramsey and McGinn for Covid rules.
For those curious the arm band went to Emi Martinez after the final sub.
Eight minutes were added after the long Konsa injury delay.
Six minutes into extra time El Ghazi found Watkins at he far post for a header but the keeper had his angles right and easily caught it. Ollie tried against after a counter attack in the final minute but once again it was saved. Would have been a story book ending for Watkins but it was not to be for the forward.
On the whole an entertaining game and a decent point at home against a good Brentford side with so many players out. Never thought I would see Ashley Young starting in the midfield in 2021. Villa’s medical team are going to have a busy international break!
Up the Villa!