Game #5603

Season | 2020-21 |

Matchday | #15 |

League Match | #12 |
Manager Game | #99 |
Sunday, 20 December 2020
Premier League | Away | West Bromwich Albion | The Hawthorns | Behind closed doors | 

20-21 Match #15-1 Matty Cash
20-21 Match #15-1 Matty Cash

Sunday, 20 December 2020 | Matty Cash bamboozles West Brom's Diangana in the opening minutes

20-21 Match #15-2 Anwar El Ghazi
20-21 Match #15-2 Anwar El Ghazi

Sunday, 20 December 2020 | Anwar El Ghazi scores on 5' from a Bertrand Traoré cross

20-21 Match #15-9 Ollie Watkins
20-21 Match #15-9 Ollie Watkins

Sunday, 20 December 2020 | Jack Grealish, Bertrand Traoré and Ollie Watkins celebrate at the final whistle

20-21 Match #15-1 Matty Cash
20-21 Match #15-1 Matty Cash

Sunday, 20 December 2020 | Matty Cash bamboozles West Brom's Diangana in the opening minutes


Game Summary |

Manager | Dean Smith | 

KO | 19.15 |
Referee | Martin Atkinson |

 HT Score | 1-0 |

 FT Result | Won |
 FT Score | 3-0 |

Last 5 Games | LLWDW |

Scorer(s) | Anwar El Ghazi | 5' | 88' (pen) | Bertrand Traoré | 84' |

Assists | Bertrand Traoré | 5' | Jack Grealish | 84' |

League Position | 9th | +2 |

Team News |

Midfielder Douglas Luiz and right back Matty Cash return after suspension with Marvelous Nakamba and Ahmed Elmohamady dropping to the bench. Ezri Konsa remains sidelined with illness whilst midfielder Ross Barkley and winger Trézéguet miss out once more due to hamstring injuries.

Line Up |

GK Emiliano Martínez | 

RB Matty Cash |

CB Kortney Hause | BOOKED | 39' |

CB Tyrone Mings | BOOKED | 65' |

LB Matt Targett | 

M John McGinn | 

M Douglas Luiz |

M Jack Grealish | ASSIST | 84' | 

W Bertrand Traoré | ASSIST | 5' | GOAL | 84' |

W Anwar El Ghazi | GOAL | 5' | GOAL | 88' |

CF Ollie Watkins |

Substitutes |


Unused Substitutes |

GK Jed Steer

RB Ahmed Elmohamady

CB Björn Engels

LB Neil Taylor

RB Frédéric Guilbert

M Marvelous Nakamba

M Conor Hourihane

M Jacob Ramsey

CF Keinan Davis


Cards |

Yellow | Kortney Hause for a bad foul | 39' |

Yellow | Tyrone Mings for a bad foul | 65' |

Match Stats |

Possession F | 67%
Possession A | 33%
Shots F | 19
Shots A | 1
Shots on Target F | 10
Shots on Target A | 1
Corners F | 7
Corners A | 1
Fouls F | 8

Fouls A | 14

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 25.48 | 

Oldest Player | GK Emiliano Martínez | 28.32 |

Youngest Player | M Douglas Luiz | 22.63 |  

Not Selected |

GK Lovre Kalinić

Unavailable |

Injury | 4 |

GK Tom Heaton | Knee, ACL 1 Jan 20 - 28 Nov 20 |

CF Wesley | Knee, ACL 1 Jan 20 - 1 Jan 21 |

M Ross Barkley | Hamstring, 30 Nov 20 - 1 Jan 21 |

W Trézéguet | Hamstring, 17 Dec 20 - 1 Jan 21 |


Illness | 1 |

CB Ezri Konsa | 17 Dec 20 - 20 Dec 20 |

Loaned Out | 2 |

W Indiana Vassilev | Burton Albion | 17 Sep 20 - 31 May 21 |

CF Cameron Archer | Solihull Moors | 2 Oct 20 - 3 Jan 21 |

Unregistered | 1 |

M Henri Lansbury |

On this day 20 December 2020

After failing to score with 8 shots against Burnley in Thursday's stalemate at Villa Park, Anwar El Ghazi scores with his first shot in the fifth minute - his fifteenth goal for Villa on his 84th appearance.

Villa had now kept seven clean sheets in the League this season, the most of any side - and as many as they kept in the entirety of the 2019-20 campaign.

Match Report

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith:


"A very good performance again, following on from Burnley and West Ham when we came away with nothing. To win three games away form home 3-0 shows we are in a good place.

"We started really well and expected that against a side with a new manager bounce. Our energy levels were there to see we controlled it form start to finish.

"You cannot lunge and Jake Livermore is frustrated he has been fouled and lunges in. He catches Jack Grealish on the calf and by the letter of the law it is a red. It was a bit of red mist, you cannot tackle like that.

"Jack was fantastic and he looks like he is playing on the playground with his mates. His balance is incredible, he is so hard to knock off the ball.

"There were times last season when the opposition went down to 10 men and we tried to force it but we were patient. We missed a number of chance to make it 2-0. The offside call for Ollie Watkins was very marginal. I don't think they has a shot on goal against us all game.

"Anwar El Ghazi's performance levels were good against Burnley and did well tonight and scored two goals."

Two goal hero Anwar El Ghazi:


"Amazing night for me and Aston Villa, another derby we have won. I am proud and happy.

"Against Burnley we were unlucky and I was a bit upset and played a good game against them and should have scored two. I could have done something against West Brom and I did.

"We had space in the second half and it could have been faster but it is a good result.

"Before the red card it was easier and after they sat back, playing on the counter so it was harder.

"Bertrand Traore scored an amazing goal and we have learnt from last season. Aston Villa were afraid and shaky but we have to keep working hard and looking forward to what the season brings us."

Goalscorer Bertrand Traoré:


"We drew against Burnley, it was not good enough but we took positive things and created a lot of chances. Tonight we were clinical at the right end of the field.

"I was waiting for the first goal and happy to get that. The early assist gave me confidence and showed me how I have to go through the game.

"We need to stay focused on our own goal and object of staying up, then we want to do great things for the club and the fans."

*BBC Sport*

Sunday, 20 December 2020


Sam Allardyce's reign as West Bromwich Albion manager got off to a miserable start as Aston Villa brushed aside the 10-man Baggies.

Anwar El Ghazi's improvised close-range finish gave Villa an early advantage in a West Midlands derby that was one-sided even before Baggies captain Jake Livermore's red card.

The visitors were utterly dominant once Martin Atkinson consulted his pitchside monitor and decided to dismiss Livermore for a studs-up lunge on Jack Grealish before half-time.


They sealed the points with two goals in the closing stages as Grealish set up Bertrand Traore's cool side-footer and then won the penalty converted by El Ghazi for the Dutchman's second.


Albion might be aggrieved that the VAR did not request Atkinson take a second look when Kortney Hause trod on the ankle of Baggies midfielder Grady Diangana shortly after Livermore's sending-off.


But it was still a night to forget for Allardyce, whose side remain three points from safety in 19th, as he returned to a Premier League dugout for the first time since May 2018.


Much has been made of Allardyce's record of never suffering relegation from the Premier League as a manager but he will already be aware he has an uphill task to maintain that proud statistic.


While his new charges showed the sort of resilience that earned them a point at Manchester City in midweek in Slaven Bilic's final game in charge, they lacked the quality and potency to trouble Villa even before going down to 10 men.


Albion did not collapse after Livermore's ejection like they did following Matheus Pereira's red card in their last home game when Crystal Palace cruised to a 5-1 victory but, in truth, the scoreline could have been even more embarrassing than that.


John McGinn headed a Grealish cross wide, Ollie Watkins saw a sliding finish scrubbed off for offside by VAR and Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone twice superbly denied El Ghazi before the incessant pressure told late on.


With the January transfer window looming, Allardyce will need to bolster a defence that has conceded 29 goals - a tally only surpassed by Leeds - while reinvigorating an attack that has netted just five times in their past 11 games.


They failed to force Emiliano Martinez into a save of note as Allardyce suffered only a second opening-game defeat in a 20-year

Premier League managerial career now spanning eight clubs.


The fixture list will not make pleasing reading for the former England manager, whose side face Liverpool, Wolves and Manchester City among their next six as they seek to add to their solitary win this term.


Vibrant Villa terrific on travels again


While it will be their shortest trip of the season - just four miles down the road from Villa Park - the impressive victory was still another away win for Dean Smith's men, their fifth in just six attempts.

It's a far cry from their form on their travels last season when they collected just 11 points, a total Villa - who have now kept seven clean sheets in 12 games - have already comfortably surpassed.


Smith's team look transformed from the one that narrowly stayed up on the final day in July and once El Ghazi used the outside of his boot to flick Traore's teasing cross past Johnstone five minutes in, the outcome was rarely in doubt.


The goals had dried up in recent weeks - three in the past four games after netting 18 in their opening seven - but if Traore and Grealish, in particular, continue the type of irresistible display each produced at The Hawthorns, that will be just a blip.

Traore's composed finish, almost passing the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box after a surging run, made him Villa's ninth different scorer of the campaign, while the excellent Grealish was again a target for defenders as Semi Ajayi barged into him to give away the spot-kick.


El Ghazi, making only a second start of the season, was equally influential and has clearly developed a liking for Midlands derbies - he also netted twice against the Baggies in the Championship in 2018 and scored the winner at Wolves recently.


Victory lifted Villa back up to ninth, with games in hand on the sides above them, as they seek a first top-half finish since 2010-11 in Gerard Houllier's sole season in charge.

Aston Villa head coach Dean Smith: "To win three games away from home 3-0 shows we are in a good place. We started really well and our energy levels were there to see - we controlled it from start to finish.


"There were times last season when the opposition went down to 10 men and we tried to force it but we were patient.


"We missed a number of chances to make it 2-0 and the offside call for Ollie Watkins was very marginal. I don't think they had a shot on goal against us all game."

*The Guardian*

*Sunday, 20 December 2020*

Paul Doyle at the Hawthorns

Anwar El Ghazi's double for Aston Villa ruins Sam Allardyce's start at West Brom

Thirty-five minutes into his return to management, Sam Allardyce must have started wondering about the wisdom of abandoning a life of leisure.

The 66-year-old had said he accepted West Brom’s appeal for help on Wednesday partly because he grew bored of an existence in which the toughest decision he had to make concerned his lunch menu, but he certainly did not relish the pickle in which his new team found themselves here when their captain, Jake Livermore, was sent before half-time with his team already trailing 1-0 to an early goal by Anwar El Ghazi.


Things soon got more unpalatable for the man hired to haul West Brom out of relegation trouble, as Bertrand Traoré added another for Villa before El Ghazi claimed his second goal of the game with a late penalty.

In the time between Allardyce’s dismissal from his last job, at Everton in May 2018, and this first match in charge of West Brom, there has been one obvious development in football: VAR. Allardyce had said at his unveiling that he dreaded being caught up in controversies involving the technology, and that fear was realised before even one half had elapsed here when Livermore had a yellow card upgraded to a red after the referee, Martin Atkinson consulted the pitchside monitor and then, for reasons unclear, similar action was not taken moments later when Villa’s Kortney Hause was merely booked for lunging into Grady Diangana.

“I don’t know why the VAR didn’t tell the referee to look at it; it was a ankle- or leg-threatening challenge,” said Allardyce. “I find myself talking about VAR when I really didn’t want to.”

He had no quibble with the decision to send off Livermore, whose recklessness he condemned.


“I couldn’t be anything but upset when you tell the players when you first arrive that the one thing we can’t afford to do is have more sendings-off because we’ve already had two this season before I came,” said Allardyce, adding that his captaincy is up for grabs. “It depends now on who wants to be captain and how he can handle the armband.”


Allardyce has other worries, too. He had hoped to see some consistency of performance when he began his reign by selecting the same team that drew at Manchester City in what turned out to be Slaven Bilic’s last match. But the rare solidity that Albion showed at the Etihad was nowhere to be seen when they fell behind in less than five minutes at the Hawthorns.

Traoré created the breakthrough with a dainty cross from the right-hand corner of the home box, before El Ghazi finished with improvised excellence at the back post, angling his leg like a chicken wing before guiding the ball into the net with a beautifully feathered volley. It was an artfully taken goal but Allardyce lamented the defending. “It was hugely disappointing to lose such a soft goal,” he said. “We’ve got to stop that or we’ve no chance of getting out of trouble.”

At least Albion mostly restricted Villa to long-range shots for the remainder of the first half, apart from when Ollie Watkins headed just over from eight yards after a flowing move by the visitors and a fine cross from the right by Matty Cash.


But the hosts, admittedly deprived of their most creative player, the suspended Matheus Pereira, never looked capable of threatening at the other end. Emiliano Martínez had one shot to save all match, a harmless free-kick by Darnell Furlong after Hause’s tackle.


Villa could have played most of the second half in slippers. With Jack Grealish prompting brilliantly from a central role behind Watkins, the visitors appeared to be having fun. “At times it was like Jack was playing in the playground with his schoolmates,” said Dean Smith.


McGinn headed wide from a cross by Grealish in the 52nd minute. Sam Johnstone made two strong saves to stop El Ghazi from scoring after moves orchestrated by Grealish. Watkins had a goal ruled out after another sweet cross by Cash, VAR reprieving the hosts this time.


With 12 minute to go Allardyce changed tactics, introducing two substitutes and switching to a back three. West Brom improved and began to push Villa back a little. But not for long. Villa struck on the counterattack six minutes from time when Grealish released Traoré, who curled a nonchalant finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.


There was time for things to get worse for West Brom, as El Ghazi converted a penalty after the umpteenth foul on Grealish. This was only the second time in his long managerial career that Allardyce has lost his first match in charge of a club. He has a heck of a job trying to figure out how to get his first win with West Brom.