Game | #5558 | 

Season | 2019-20 |

Matchday | #16 |
League Game | #13 |
Manager Game | #54 |
Monday, 25 November 2019
Premier League | Home | Newcastle United | Villa Park | 41,821 | 

19-20 16 10
19-20 16 10

19-20 16 9
19-20 16 9

19-20 #16-2
19-20 #16-2

19-20 16 10
19-20 16 10


Game Summary |

Manager | Dean Smith | 

KO | 20.00 |
Referee | Lee Mason | 

 HT Score | 2-0 | 
 FT Score | 2-0 | 
 FT Result | Won | 

Last 5 Games | LWLLW | 

Scorers | Conor Hourihane | 31' | Anwar El Ghazi | 36' |

Assists | Conor Hourihane | 36' |

 League Position | 15th | +2 | 

Team News |

Tom Heaton and Jack Grealish returned after injury and Conor Hourihane replaced Marvelous Nakamba with the latter dropping to the bench.

Line Up |

GK Tom Heaton |

LB Matt Targett |

CB Tyrone Mings |

CB Ezri Konsa |

RB Frédéric Guilbert |

M Douglas Luiz |

M John McGinn |

M Conor Hourihane | GOAL | 31' | ASSIST | 36' | SUB OFF | 90'+1 |

M Jack Grealish |

W Anwar El Ghazi | GOAL | 36' | 

CF Wesley | BOOKED | 80' |


M Henri Lansbury | for M Conor Hourihane | 90'+1 |

Unused Substitutes |

GK Ørjan Nyland |

M Marvelous Nakamba |

W Trézéguet |

CF Jonathan Kodjia |

RB Ahmed Elmohamady |

CB Kortney Hause |

Cards |

Yellow | Wesley for a bad foul | 80' |

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 25.36 | 

Substitute Average Age | 29.14 | 

Oldest Player | GK Tom Heaton | 33.64 |

Oldest Outfield Player | M Conor Hourihane | 28.83 |

Youngest Player | M Douglas Luiz | 21.56 |

Not selected |

LB Neil Taylor |

CB James Chester |

W Jota | 

GK Lovre Kalinić | 

M Jacob Ramsey | 

CF Cameron Archer |

Unavailable | 

Injury | 3 |

CB Björn Engels | 10 Nov - Late Nov |

GK Jed Steer | 25 Nov - 2020-21 |

CF Keinan Davis | 2 Nov - Late Jan |

Loaned Out | 6 |
GK Matija Šarkić | Livingston | 1 July 2019 - 31 May 2020 |
CM Jake Doyle-Hayes | Cheltenham Town | 1 August 2019 - 31 May 2020 | 
CF Rushian Hepburn-Murphy | Tranmere Rovers | 2 August 2019 - 31 May 2020 | 
CF Scott Hogan | Stoke City | 7 August 2019 - 31 May 2020 | 
RB James Bree | Luton Town | 8 August 2019 - 31 May 2020 | 
CF Callum O’Hare | Coventry City | 22 August 2019 - 31 May 2020 | 

Match Stats |

Possession F | 62
Possession A | 38
Shots F | 17
Shots A | 11
Shots on Target F | 8
Shots on Target A | 5
Corners F | 11
Corners A | 6
Fouls F | 10
Fouls A | 9

 On this day 25 November 2019 

Dean Smith on the return of Jack Grealish:

It makes a big difference, because he’s a top player and when you’ve got top players in your team you’ve got better chances of winning football games. You can always try to improve. The aim of the game is to score goals, so you need to create chances, but the downside of that is you maybe leave yourselves a bit more open. But our last performance here against Liverpool, we were very unfortunate to lose that game, it was a terrific performance and we need the same again tonight.

Steve Bruce on Villa:

I had the privilege to manage the club for a couple of years. It didn’t quite go the way we wanted but I’ve been in football a long time, so you understand that’s what happens. But of course when you get the sack you want to come back and haunt a few. But look, I had a tremendous time here but if we could win, that would obviously be great.

Steve Bruce on the cabbage:

It was one of the most unsavoury times of my career. I thought it was a ball to begin with, it was a big old thing. How the fan got it into the stadium I don’t know. It didn’t miss be my much. The fans can throw some things, but a cabbage? I went the next day so I didn’t have time to get angry about it. “I got criticised [by Villa fans], but for 18 months only Manchester City scored more goals than us ... they’re a difficult lot. Great club, great support with great history, but it was in a mess.

It was arguably my most difficult job, even more difficult than this. We didn’t know if we were going to get paid in May and June. It was practically close to the wall. It never got that far but there was a threat at the end of the month that we couldn’t pay the wages. It was the worst and probably the most difficult six weeks after the play-off game, it was unrivalled from where we were. To be fair to the chief executive at the time he had kept it quiet for three or four months. We were aware we couldn’t bring anyone in but financially we didn’t realise the enormity of it until he got the sack. It was a really difficult time. Then...the new owners came in and everything changed very, very quickly. If they hadn’t come in so quickly I would have feared for a great club the way it was, because we were practically bust.

Match Report

*BBC Sport*

*Monday, 25 November 2019*

Aston Villa ended a run of three successive Premier League defeats as they beat Newcastle United to ruin Steve Bruce's return to Villa Park.

Conor Hourihane's curled free-kick gave Villa the lead before his enticing set-piece set up Anwar El Ghazi to finish from close range four minutes later.

Bruce, sacked as Villa boss in October 2018, saw his side denied by goalkeeper Tom Heaton, who saved from Federico Fernandez and Allan Saint-Maximin.

The win takes Villa up to 15th place.


Newcastle would have moved up to ninth with a win, but the defeat keeps them 14th, one point ahead of Villa.

Newcastle undone by free-kicks


Newcastle paid the price for some defensive indiscipline as they conceded twice from needless free-kicks just after the half-hour mark.


A two-handed push right on the edge of the penalty area from DeAndre Yedlin on Jack Grealish, who had got the wrong side of the Newcastle right-back, led to the opener.


Hourihane nudged the stationary ball to Grealish, who stopped it and, from the better angle, the Republic of Ireland midfielder curled the ball around the wall and into the net.


The lively Grealish, back after missing three games with a calf injury, saw a fine run crudely ended when he was brought down by a clumsy Federico Fernandez challenge, again just outside the 18-yard box.


This time Hourihane - back in the Villa side after being an unused substitute in the loss to Wolves - was the provider as his excellent delivery was steered in by El Ghazi.


The Netherlands winger thought he had scored Villa's third before half-time, but he slightly mis-timed his run onto a John McGinn pass and was adjudged offside after putting the ball into the net.


Grealish was a constant threat with his dribbling ability and came close to getting the goal he deserved but curled over from 15 yards after neat link-up play with El Ghazi.


Wesley should have added a third in the 77th minute but failed to beat Martin Dubravka from close range but Villa, who had been beaten in successive Premier League matches by Manchester City, Liverpool and Wolves, suffered no late scares and collected three points.


An unhappy return to Villa Park for Bruce


This was Bruce's first game on the touchline at Villa Park since he was sacked by the club just over a year ago, when they were in the Championship.


He had a two-year spell in charge of the Birmingham club and nearly took them into the Premier League - losing in the play-off final in May 2018 - but lost his job after a poor run saw a section of the fans turn against him.


Before Monday's game Bruce described his final days as Villa's boss as "one of the most unsavoury times of my career", culminating

in a fan throwing a cabbage at him in his last match in charge.


There was to be no happy return to Villa Park after his side fell two goals behind, with Heaton in fine form.

The England keeper, who held a Jonjo Shelvey free-kick when it was goalless, preserved Villa's advantage with an excellent reaction stop to push Fernandez's header over the bar at the end of the first half.


He then produced a good save low down to his left to keep out a well-struck effort from Allan Saint-Maximin and was well placed to deny Isaac Hayden.


Bruce, who received a polite if unenthusiastic reception from Villa's fans before the match, brought on striker Andy Carroll in an attempt to get back in the game and the former England man did well to volley on the turn but his effort was straight at Heaton.

Dwight Gayle also came on for the ineffective Joelinton but could not make an impact in a disappointing evening for Bruce and Newcastle.


'Entitled to chuck cabbages at his team' - analysis

Former Aston Villa striker Chris Sutton on BBC Radio 5 Live


"I think Steve Bruce will feel humiliated. He would have been quite entitled to chuck cabbages at his own team at half-time.


"Villa really deserved their victory. They needed the three points, they got the three points and Dean Smith got his performance.


"It was important Villa stepped up and played with confidence after three defeats.


"Newcastle helped them immensely by the fact they were so passive. Villa did have to weather a little bit of a Newcastle storm at the start of the second half but it was a big performance and they're back on track."

Man of the match - Conor Hourihane, Jack Grealish was also excellent but Conor Hourihane gets the nod for scoring one goal and making another. Since the start of last season, he has been involved in more league goals for Aston Villa than any other player currently at the club - nine goals and 13 assists (excluding play-offs).

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith speaking to Sky Sports: "This is a really tough league and we have just gone through a period of playing Manchester City and Liverpool, which were games I thought we actually played well in.


"The table is so tight but you need to put a run together, be tough to beat and keep a clean sheet. I'm really pleased with the clean sheet as we haven't had too many of those this season. Our form has been good; we knew it would be hard, but I think we've been competitive. It takes time to gel defensively but we achieved that against Newcastle."


On goalscorer Conor Hourihane, Smith added: "I explained to Conor why I left him out against Manchester City [on 26 October]. He has scored goals in every league he's played in and I always had him earmarked to come back in and he showed us what he was about."

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce told Sky Sports: "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. 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 [out with a knee injury] 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 Guardian*

*Monday, 25 November 2019*

Steve Bruce’s return to Aston Villa ends in more misery for Newcastle

Villa Park remains a joyless place for Steve Bruce. On his first return since being barracked out of the job as Aston Villa manager two years ago, he saw his latest team, who had been in decent form, perform so badly that Newcastle fans may now get on his back. Again.

Villa fans, meanwhile, have mostly moved on to hailing Bruce’s successor, with Dean Smith asked to wave to them even before the end of this convincing – and important – victory.

Bruce, admittedly, was invited to do the same but was in no mood to satisfy fans he had previously found so hard to please. At least no one threw a cabbage at him unlike, infamously, on the day before he was sacked by Villa in October 2018 after a two-year reign that he has described as “one of the most unsavoury times of my career”, even though results were never as dire as the treatment of him suggested.


The win was as deserved for Villa as it was encouraging after a run of three defeats. Conor Hourihane, signed for Villa by Bruce three years ago and reintroduced by Smith to the starting lineup after being omitted for the past three matches, opened the scoring in the 32nd minute before setting up Anwar El Ghazi for the second goal four minutes later. “For £1m he’s not too bad,” said Bruce wryly of the Irish midfielder.`

Although Villa looked shaky a few times in the second half when Newcastle ran at them, the visitors were too weak in midfield and ragged in attack to do that often. Villa would have won by an even higher margin if not for Newcastle’s goalkeeper, Martin Dúbravka, and some scruffy finishing.


Villa had been vulnerable to counterattacks in their previous match, a defeat at Wolves, and Newcastle troubled them with one in the third minute. Joelinton led the charge before the chronically wayward Miguel Almirón finished in all-too-familiar style, wafting a shot way off target from 20 yards.


Newcastle did not threaten again until just before the break, by which time they were 2-0 down. “What was disappointing was that we were too passive with the ball and without, especially in the first half,” said Bruce.


Villa, by contrast, were vibrant, continually probing as they dominated possession. Newcastle initially defended well and it took a moment of delicious subtlety from Jack Grealish to create the first opening, the forward dummying a pass by John McGinn into the path of Matt Targett, whose probing low cross from the left practically pleaded with a forward to tap it home. El Ghazi did not react sharply enough to do so.


Villa’s relentless passing eventually worked chinks in the visitors’ defence. Douglas Luiz forced a fine save from Dúbravka with a wicked curling shot from 20 yards on the half-hour after a tee-up by Grealish.

One minute later the goalkeeper had to pick the ball out of his net after DeAndre Yedlin barged into Grealish at the edge of the area. Hourihane rolled the free-kick short to Grealish in order to improve the shooting angle and then curled a wonderful shot around the wall and in at the near post.


Four minutes later Grealish won another free-kick. Hourihane, owner of a cultured left foot, sent a gorgeous ball across the face of Newcastle’s goal and El Ghazi – perfectly alert this time – gave his markers the slip to finish from inside the six-yard box.

Heaton made sure Villa got to the interval with their two-goal lead intact, turning a header by Federico Fernández over the bar after a corner.


Newcastle briefly hinted at a comeback at the start of the second half but Tom Heaton tipped a fine shot by Allan Saint-Maxim round the post.


For a while Villa became jittery but they still created the better chances, with Wesley twice denied from close range by Dúbravka.

Bruce replaced one of his three centre-backs with Andy Carroll and switched to a 4-4-2 formation. The striker soon showed his menace by chesting down a cross by Yedlin and firing a ferocious volley goalwards from 16 yards. Heaton held it well.


After that Newcastle never hinted at a comeback on what proved an unhappy return for Bruce.

*Sky Sports*

*Monday, 25 November 2019*

Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle: Conor Hourihane stars for Aston Villa


Conor Hourihane scored one and made one for Aston Villa in a 2-0 win over Newcastle as the midfielder haunted Steve Bruce, who signed him for Villa.


It was an inspired decision from current Villa boss Dean Smith to start Hourihane as he looked to arrest a run of three straight Premier League games. The Irishman curled home the opener with a clever free-kick (32) before laying on the second for Anwar El Ghazi (37) via a delicious left-wing set-piece.

Chances came and went at both ends in an entertaining second half but it was Villa that held on for victory and got one over their former boss Bruce, who was returning to Villa Park for the first time since being sacked in 2018.

Newcastle were looking for their third win on the bounce but didn't carry much attacking threat in the early stages with their counter-attacking struggling to trouble Villa.

Douglas Luiz tested Martin Dubravka from range which the goalkeeper helped over the crossbar as Newcastle seemed to be comfortable in dealing with Villa's timid threat. However, Hourihane changed the game on 32 minutes.

DeAndre Yedlin gave away a silly foul on Jack Grealish on the edge of the area which handed Hourihane an opportunity. The Irishman switched the angle of the free-kick with a quick one-two with Grealish before whipping a clever effort around the wall and into the net.

Four minutes later it was 2-0 as Bruce's boys went to sleep from another Hourihane delivery from the left. This left-footed cross took the Newcastle defence out of the game which left El Ghazi with the simplest of finishes from close range against a poorly positioned Dubravka.

Allan Saint-Maximin set the tone for an improved Newcastle performance after the break with a fine run and strike that was clawed away by Tom Heaton.

Newcastle's willingness to open up created more space for Grealish to work in as he drove his team forward at every opportunity, registering five shots and making six key passes over the course of the 90 minutes in an inspirational performance.

Hourihane almost grabbed his second assist of the night with 13 minutes left but Wesley was denied from six yards by Dubravka when it seemed easier to score.

The introduction of Andy Carroll gave Newcastle an increased threat but apart from a smart volleyed effort from the striker, the visitors rarely caused concern in the final third.

Villa couldn't find the third goal late on but two was more than enough to see off a wasteful Toon outfit.

Man of the Match: Jack Grealish

Jamie Carragher said: "Grealish was outstanding. Aston Villa were dominant, and they will be disappointed they didn't score three or four." Gary Neville added: "He's a talisman and I have to say it was a good night for him. They love him.

"When asked if this is the form that can get him into the England squad, he just has to do it consistently. England have got a lot of very good players. You think about what James Maddison is doing at Leicester at the moment, playing at a high level. Grealish has got to do that week in, week out and he's made a good start after coming back from injury.


"I was impressed with him. He wanted the ball all the time. He didn't get quite the output he'd like because he'd want a goal and an assist and all the things that'd go with it, but he ran the game. He'll be happy with his performance and so will Dean Smith."

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith said: "This is a really tough league and we have just gone through a period of playing Manchester City and Liverpool, which were games I thought we actually played well in. The table is so tight but you need to put a run together, be tough to beat and keep a clean sheet. I'm really pleased with the clean sheet tonight as we haven't had too many of those this season. Our form has been good but we knew it would be hard, but I think we've been competitive. It takes time gel defensively but I think we achieved that against Newcastle."