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Steve Bruce verdict on Villa, his front three and says “You are always going to miss your best players”

2 weeks ago
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Steve Bruce yet again handed the initiative to the opposition.

Aston Villa totally dominating the first half with 68% possession and some very good chances.

Steve Bruce claimed that ‘First half we were nowhere near where we have been in the past few weeks…’

However, this was very much an action replay of the first 45 minutes against Bournemouth in the last match.

The only difference was that Villa killed the game off whereas the Cherries failed to make it 2-0 and game over at St James Park.

In that Bournemouth game Newcastle fluked it with the two goals helped by lucky deflections putting the ball in the path of scorers Yedlin and Clark. This time NUFC also had plenty of luck but against Villa that only meant keeping the score down.

With particular reference to Jamaal Lascelles, Steve Bruce says ‘you are always going to miss your best players’ but before the match he had said only Lascelles and Ritchie were ruled out through injury (and Sean Longstaff suspended), so you can hardly be claiming bad luck with injuries were the cause of this defeat.

This was down to the usual negative tactics and Newcastle not getting away with it this time, as Villa had the end product to punish them.

Steve Bruce asked about one goal in 35 combined appearances from his front three:

“Every time that they (front three) don’t score I will be asked the same question.

“They have to stay confident and stick with it.

“Unfortunately, all three of them are lacking goals.

“We have to keep working away at it.

“The first half in particular we did not do enough with or without the ball.

“We felt we were harshly done by with two free-kicks…but the way Conor Hourihane has executed them made it a difficult night.

“Conor is very good, I have seen it many times and he has the accuracy and power to score.

“On the second one, our defenders have to defend better, too many stood and watched it.

“The game was gone in two minutes, although we had chances before and after half-time when Tom Heaton made some good saves.

“Jamaal Lascelles is our captain and has been playing very well.

“Last week the defenders were excellent but you are always going to miss your best players.

“The supporters make it the club that it is and it was fantastic support and they were there in their thousands.

“We have tried hard but we weren’t good enough, at least there was a response…

“It would have been a bit interesting had Allan’s shot (just after half-time) went past Heaton.

“We were too passive in the first half, we had opportunities on the counter but should have held onto the ball better and should have created a bit more, we surrendered it too quickly in the first half.

“We had one or two opportunities but we weren’t quite there.

“First half we were nowhere near where we have been in the past few weeks but until the free-kick there was nothing in the game.

“We could have defended better but it changed the game.

“The key was whether we could score after half-time and the more we chased the game the more open we become.

“We are up against one of the best teams (Man City) in the world next and we will have to do better than tonight if we want to get anything out of the game, we need to roll our sleeves up and get ready for that.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0  – Monday 25 November 8pm

Goals:
Aston Villa:

Hourihane 32, El Ghazi 36

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Villa 62% (68%), Newcastle 38% (32%)

Total shots were Villa 17 (5), Newcastle 11 (5)

Shots on target were Villa 8 (3), Newcastle 5 (2)

Corners were Villa 11 (4), Newcastle 6 (5)

Crowd: 41,821 (3,000 Newcastle)

Referee: Lee Mason

Newcastle team v Aston Villa:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Dummett (Carroll 63), Clark, Willems, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin, Almiron (Atsu 79), Joelinton (Gayle 72)

Unused Subs

Darlow, Krafth, Matty Longstaff, Schar

(Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Dean Smith spells it out to Steve Bruce “We controlled the ball really well and dominated possession” – Read HERE)

(Chris Sutton on Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – ‘Steve Bruce could have thrown cabbages at his own players’ – Read HERE)

(Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Monday’s defeat – Read HERE)

(Aston Villa 2 Newcastle 0 – Watch official match highlights and goals HERE)

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