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Game #5635

Aston Villa

Saturday, 3 September 2022


17th (+2)

Last 5: 🟥 🟩 🟥 🟥 🟨

Premier League

Attendance: 41,830

Manchester City

Villa Park

🕒 | FT Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester City. Improvement beyond recognition in a fixture feared to be the nadir. Changes: resilience, speed, opportunism, solidity, togetherness. Never changes: Refereeing ‘errors’. A euphemism if ever there was one. Credit to Gerrard for setting the side up to succeed.

Aston Villa


Manchester City

Assist(s) | Jacob Ramsey | 74' |


Leon Bailey, hit the equalising goal before Villa were robbed of a winner.




Saturday, 3 September 2022

🟨 | 26’ Booking, Matty Cash
🔁 | 27’ Sub off, Matty Cash, Sub on, Ashley Young
🕒 | HT Aston Villa 0-0 Manchester City
🥅 | 50’ Goal, 0-1 (Manchester City), Erling Haaland
🔁 | 65’ Sub off, John McGinn, Sub on, Philippe Coutinho
🟨 | 71’ Booking, Lucas Digne, Bad foul
⚽ | 74’ Goal, 1-1, Leon Bailey, Assist by Jacob Ramsey
⚽ | 79’ Goal, 2-1, Philippe Coutinho, Assist by Ollie Watkins
💥 | 79' Referee signals (incorrectly) for offside, blows whistle against FA Directive to prevent VAR review
💥 | 80' Goal Disallowed, 1-1
🔁 | 90+1’ Sub off, Leon Bailey, Sub on, Emiliano Buendía
🕒 | FT Aston Villa 1-1 Manchester City


Still in search of their 2000th League win, although few are expecting it to arrive today, Villa hand Ezri Konsa his 100th start for the club, still aged just 24, whilst Jan Bednarek is handed his first squad appearance since joining on loan on 1 September.

Aston Villa

European Cup / Champions League: 🏆
UEFA Cup Winners Cup: ❌
League Champions: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆
FA Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆
League Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
Last Trophy: 1995-96

Manchester City

European Cup / Champions League: ❌
UEFA Cup Winners Cup: 🏆
League Champions: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆🏆
FA Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆
League Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆🏆
Last Trophy: 2021-22


Manchester City

Previous 5 vs. Abu Dhabi: 🟥 🟥 🟥 🟥 🟥


Season | 2022-23 |
Matchday | #7 |
League Game | #6 |
Manager Game | #35 |
Saturday, 3 September 2022
Attendance | 41,830 |


Manager: Steven Gerrard | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Merseyside, 2021-2022
Referee: Simon Hooper | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Wiltshire, 2008-
Kick off: 5.30pm
Half Time Score: 🟨 0-0
Full Time Result: 🟨 Drew
Full Time Score: 🟨 1-1
Last 5: 🟥 🟩 🟥 🟥 🟨


Steven Gerrard | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |


🕒 35 | 🟩 | 12 🟨 | 6 🟥 17 | 1.20

Career Form:

Bottom 8

Steven Gerrard | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |


Referee: Simon Hooper | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Wiltshire, 2008- 🆘
Previous 5: 🟨 🟥 🟩 🟩 🟩
Last Match: 🟩 10 Mar 22, Villa 3-0 Leeds (a)
Incidents: 🟨 🟨
Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Dan Robathan.
Fourth official: Peter Bankes.
VAR: Mike Dean.
Assistant VAR: Lee Betts.

Simon Hooper



🟨 🟨

Manchester City



Emiliano Buendía is dropped whilst the recently sidelined Douglas Luiz is given the nod after his move to Arsenal failed to transpire on Thursday.

Centre back Jan Bednarek makes his squad debut after joining on loan from Southampton.


Starting XI Average Age: | 26.07 |
Bench Average Age: | 28.81 |
Squad Average Age: | 27.44 |
Subs Average Age: | 31.16 |
Oldest Starter: GK Emiliano Martínez | 🇦🇷 | 30.02 |
Youngest Starter: M Jacob Ramsey | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 21.28 |
Oldest Squad Player: RB Ashley Young | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 37.18 |
Youngest Squad Player: CF Cameron Archer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 20.75 |
Oldest Substitute: RB Ashley Young | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 37.18 |
Youngest Substitute: W Emiliano Buendía | 🇦🇷 | 26.04 |



Steven Gerrard | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

Pep Guardiola | 🇪🇸 |

Aston Villa

GK Emiliano Martínez | 🇦🇷 |
RB Matty Cash | 🇵🇱 | 🟨 | 🔁 |
CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CB Ezri Konsa | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
LB Lucas Digne | 🇫🇷 | 🟨 |
M John McGinn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | ©️ | 🔁 |
M Boubacar Kamara | 🇫🇷 |
M Jacob Ramsey | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🔥 |
M Douglas Luiz | 🇧🇷 |
W Leon Bailey | 🇯🇲 | ⚽ | 🔁 |
CF Ollie Watkins | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

Manchester City

GK Ederson | 🇧🇷 |
RB Kyle Walker | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🔁 |
RB João Cancelo | 🇵🇹 |
CB John Stones | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CB Rúben Dias | 🇵🇹 |
LB Rodri | 🇪🇸 |
M Kevin De Bruyne | 🇧🇪 |
M Ilkay Gündogan | 🇩🇪 |
M Bernardo Silva | 🇵🇹 | 🔁 |
M Phil Foden | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CF Erling Haaland | 🇳🇴 | ⚽ |


🔁 | W Ashley Young | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | for RB Matty Cash | 🇵🇱 | 27’ |
🔁 | M Philippe Coutinho | 🇧🇷 | for M John McGinn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | 65’ |
🔁 | W Emiliano Buendía | 🇦🇷 | for W Leon Bailey | 🇯🇲 | 91’ |


🔁 | W Riyad Mahrez | 🇩🇿 | for M Bernardo Silva | 🇵🇹 | 73’ |
🔁 | CB Nathan Aké | 🇳🇱 | for RB Kyle Walker | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 80’ |


GK Robin Olsen | 🇸🇪 |
CB Calum Chambers | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
LB Ludwig Augustinsson | 🇸🇪 |
CB Jan Bednarek | 🇵🇱 |
CF Danny Ings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CF Cameron Archer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |


GK Stefan Ortega | 🇪🇸 |
LB Josh Wilson-Esbrand | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
LB Sergio Gómez | 🇪🇸 |
RB Rico Lewis | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Jack Grealish (ex) | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Cole Palmer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CF Julián Álvarez | 🇦🇷 |


1st XI Cost: £166.19m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 5/11
Homegrown: 1/11
Subs Cost: £59.60m
Team Cost: £218.75m
Squad Cost: £245.23m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 9/20
Homegrown: 2/20


GK Emiliano Martínez | 🇦🇷 | £19.58m |
GK Robin Olsen | 🇸🇪 | £3.15m |

LB Lucas Digne | 🇫🇷 | £27.00m |
RB Matty Cash | 🇵🇱 | £14.18m |
RB Ashley Young | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |
LB Ludwig Augustinsson | 🇸🇪 | Loan |

CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £20.60m |
CB Ezri Konsa | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £11.97m |
CB Calum Chambers | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |
CB Jan Bednarek | 🇵🇱 | Loan |

M Philippe Coutinho | 🇧🇷 | £18.00m |
M Douglas Luiz | 🇧🇷 | £15.12m |
M John McGinn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | £2.79m |
M Jacob Ramsey | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
M Boubacar Kamara | 🇫🇷 | Free |

W Emiliano Buendía | 🇦🇷 | £34.56m |
W Leon Bailey | 🇯🇲 | £28.80m |

CF Danny Ings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £31.59m |
CF Ollie Watkins | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £27.72m |
CF Cameron Archer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |


1st XI Cost: £501.43m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 3/11
Homegrown: 1/11
Subs Cost: £101.79m
Team Cost: £603.22m
Squad Cost: £735.97m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 7/20
Homegrown: 3/20


GK Ederson | 🇧🇷 | £36.00m |
GK Stefan Ortega | 🇪🇸 | Free |

RB João Cancelo | 🇵🇹 | £58.50m |
LB Rodri | 🇪🇸 | £56.43m |
RB Kyle Walker | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £47.43m |
LB Sergio Gómez | 🇪🇸 | £11.70m |
RB Rico Lewis | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
LB Josh Wilson-Esbrand | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |

CB Rúben Dias | 🇵🇹 | £61.20m |
CB John Stones | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £50.04m |
CB Nathan Aké | 🇳🇱 | £40.77m |

M Jack Grealish (ex) | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £105.75m |
M Kevin De Bruyne | 🇧🇪 | £68.40m |
M Bernardo Silva | 🇵🇹 | £45.00m |
M Ilkay Gündogan | 🇩🇪 | £24.30m |
M Phil Foden | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
M Cole Palmer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |

W Riyad Mahrez | 🇩🇿 | £61.02m |

CF Erling Haaland | 🇳🇴 | £54.00m |
CF Julián Álvarez | 🇦🇷 | £15.30m |


Injury | 3 |
GK Jed Steer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Achilles
CB Diego Carlos | 🇧🇷 | Achilles
M Leander Dendoncker | 🇧🇪 | Illness

Out On Loan | 13 |
W Indiana Vassilev | 🇺🇸 | Inter Miami
GK Viljami Sinisalo | 🇫🇮 | Burton
M Finn Azaz | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Plymouth
CF Louie Barry | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | MK Dons
CF Wesley | 🇧🇷 | Levante
W Jaden Philogene-Bidace | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Cardiff
M Aaron Ramsey | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Norwich
RB Kaine Kesler Hayden | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Huddersfield
CF Keinan Davis | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Watford
W Bertrand Traoré | 🇧🇫 | Basaksehir
CB Kortney Hause | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Watford
FB Ben Chrisene | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Kilmarnock
M Tim Iroegbunam | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | QPR

Not Selected | 1 |
M Marvelous Nakamba | 🇿🇼 |

Bomb Squad | 2 | 💣 |
RB Frédéric Guilbert | 🇫🇷 |
M Morgan Sanson | 🇫🇷 |


Not Recorded

Player Positions:

GK : Goalkeeper
CB, D, B : Centre Back, Defender, Back
FB, LB, RB, WH : Full Back, Left Back, Right Back, Wing Back, Wing Half

M, CH, LH, RH : Midfielder, Centre Half, Left Half, Right Half
W, OL, OR : Winger, Outside Left, Outside Right
F, IF, IL, IR : Forward, Inside Forward, Inside Left, Inside Right, Second Striker, False 9
CF : Centre Forward

Match Symbols:

⚽ | Goal
🔥 | Assist
🔁 | Substitution

🟨 | Booking

🟥 | Sending off

🆘 | Poor refereeing performance
🟢 : Debut 🔴 : Final Game


🟢 CB Jan Bednarek | 🇵🇱 | First Squad Appearance



Possession F | 28%
Possession A | 72%
Shots F | 3
Shots A | 13
Shots on Target F | 1
Shots on Target A | 4
Corners F | 1
Corners A | 4
Fouls F | 7
Fouls A | 6


2021-22 Matchweek 38.jpg


Quotation Marks.png


“No-one gave us any hope or any chance before a ball was kicked.

“I’m really pleased and proud of what the players gave us and no-one can begrudge us a point, and it’s a big point.

“But the players need to take that confidence moving forwards. You hope it’s a foundation but it’s only a big point if you reset and back it up against Leicester and Southampton.

“The danger is if you think you’re moving in the right direction but don’t reset. There has been a lot of external noise and rightly so, but it’s now for me to lead even more and be stronger.

“We need to stick together and keep developing.

“I’m not sure on the Coutinho goal because we might have had a second. I’ve seen a legitimate goal but obviously I am going to be biased.

“I’ve spoken to the officials calmly, and given them enough time after and asked for their side of it.

“The referee blew the whistle too soon. When something is so tight it’s worth an extra bit of time and we could’ve scored a second goal.

“The referee did the same at the other end when Ezri Konsa challenged the goalkeeper.

“Why did he not wait… Why not wait and then check or let other people check whether it’s a foul?

“He was straight on the whistle and that is twice over the 90 minutes.

“Fair play to the officials, they recognised that afterwards. It was nowhere near offside.

“I’ve just finished my chat downstairs with the players. I tried to be brief because they’ve probably heard enough of me, especially over the last couple of days and weeks!

“Losing Matty Cash was a blow because he’s important in how we play because we need his energy and his legs.

“Cashy’s got a hamstring situation. We’ll check it out in the next couple of days. He’ll have an MRI scan.

“I’m disappointed with that injury but I thought Ashley Young epitomised everything we needed today and he has since I come through the door.

“I think when you take over a challenge like this so early in your managerial career it’s vital you have the right senior players.

“I’m working with the senior players in situations and Ash is someone who I haven’t had to work with because he’s been there, he’s done it and he’s got that winning mentality. He’s got the standards.

“I thought his performance epitomised everything about us today and the supporters… a lot of that should be for Ashley Young because he drove a lot of our players when he came onto the pitch. He was magnificent.

“This performance was about team, guts and togetherness.

“My message to the players was, ‘Listen to your fans’ reaction, it doesn’t matter if I’m proud, it matters if the fans are proud and they were!’”

“I’ve had to tweak a few things and look at myself behind the scenes.

“This is not just about the players and pointing fingers. This is about, ‘What can I do better?’

“Do I need to sacrifice what I want to see in the bigger picture? Do I have to sacrifice things in the short term given where we are?

“Sometimes you’ve got to take a bit of quality - maybe a few technical and the nice bits - out of your team to put some real blood, thunder and passion in. I think we saw that in abundance.

“We went with Ramsey, Bailey and Ollie because we felt that if we could regain the ball in certain areas we would have areas of the pitch we could break in.

“We were 1-0 down and wanted to be a little bit braver and brought JJ Ramsey down [into midfield] who gave us more energy and more bursts forward from midfield.

“Bouba and Douglas were keeping the ball well for us but we needed someone to release from the middle three and to be more of a threat going forward.

“There’s no need to make anything big from it [John McGinn’s substitution on 65’]. John’s important. John contributed today and it was a collective effort today.

“This needs to be the base to grow to improve our results and, if that means us waiting a bit more patiently for the nicer football and if it means parking our technical players or play up to be more powerful and more strong and more pragmatic, I’ll do it.”

“It’s now for me to lead even more and to be stronger and, for us, I need that support around me. We need to stick together and keep driving this and we will.

“It was a nice moment because we’ve worked hard and we haven’t had the rewards in the last couple of fixtures. It was a nice little moment for us as staff because we’ve had to stick together a little bit more over the last few weeks.

“We said it to the players, ‘Listen, outside of the dressing room and outside of Aston Villa nobody gave us a glimmer of hope!’

“Inside was about us being galvanised. Nobody gave us a chance outside of that dressing room. Of course our supporters did because they love Villa but that helped us, nobody on the outside gave us a glimmer of hope. Sometimes as a manager that can help you.

“If we can take a point off City, we’ve got to have confidence in every game. If we back it up next week then today’s a good point. If we don’t, this will be forgotten about quite quickly.”

Steven Gerrard.


“We talked in the week about commitment, every player who came on or played in the XI gave that extra 1% to get the result.

“Even when we win and I concede I can’t sleep at night.

“I barely slept last night, I went to bed at 6:30 and woke up at 7:15 so I struggle with defeats, I struggle when I concede goals. But that’s me, I move on.

“I love this club, I said it since day one, I love this club and I love being here, I didn’t want to go anywhere.

“I owe the fans for always having my back, so I want to repay them, when I see kids with my shirt in the crowd and they shout my name, it makes me want to stay and obviously I fell in love with this club.

“I really care about this club and I want to take this club to Europe.”

Emiliano Martínez.


“When you look at that disallowed goal from Coutinho, I think Stevie [Gerrard] is right - it should have been a goal. It was a huge mistake from the referee’s assistant and the referee to blow the whistle.

“You see so often now, when players run offside and they do not put the flag up even when it’s four or five yards offside. That one is actually onside, it’s really tight. You could argue they had been hard done by toward the end of the game.

“Man City have got away with one. Then the linesman thinks he’s come back from an onside there again. Is it because the whistle’s been blown beforehand [so VAR can’t intervene]?

That is a major mix-up between these officials, it really is. That is a mistake. I wouldn’t want to be the man who tells Steven Gerrard after the game.”

Jamie Carragher.


“Them need fi know u name bang!!!!!.”

Usain Bolt hails Leon Bailey.


“Anywhere I go he (Bolt) is going to be a fan so of course right now, he is a Villa fan.

“I don’t need to make him, he automatically becomes a fan of the club. I have known him for a long time.

“He is a good friend of mine and an inspiration. I am sure he will want to come and see Villa against Manchester United.”

Leon Bailey.


“These last few weeks have been very hard psychologically, a lot of doubts, a lot of disappointments. Apparently that’s the job!”

Frédéric Guilbert reacts to his abominable treatment by Steven Gerrard.


“First and foremost in football you have to motivate yourself. But in terms of the collective I try to motivate the players for every single game. But you’ve got to be professional, that’s what you’re paid to be.

“Nothing can change as of now, the window’s shut so there should be a hunger and a will to want to perform and do the best they can.

“They are contracted here and I’ll certainly get a feel of all those players of where they are at with their thinking, with what they tell me and the feedback I get and we’ll go from there.

“There are obviously a few players who I assume would have liked, or had the opportunity to go elsewhere, like Morgan Sanson, or Nakamba for example.

“It is important I have a chat with all these players face-to-face. But they are very much human beings with feelings. You have to understand everyone’s situation.

“That is the issue the window brings for a lot of managers and a lot of clubs, when it is five or six games into a season.

This is the reason I think collectively managers would like it to finish before the first game of the season because it can affect how people feel at different times.”

Steven Gerrard refuses to back down on the self inflicted damage of the bomb squad.


“I’m very pleased, from a personal point of view [over the retention of Douglas Luiz].

“He is a player I rate very much. It boiled down to being a collective club decision.

“Obviously the timing, coming so late in the window, we felt it wasn’t the right decision.

“He continues to be an Aston Villa player. I will speak to him this morning and I have no doubts he will reset himself to help us move forward. I don’t see any problem.”

Steven Gerrard on a player he had played for just 191 of 540 minutes so far this season.


“100% focused here!”

Douglas Luiz


“Tough gritty performance. Proper team togetherness, disciplined and hard working. Proud of my Team! Ice bath needed for these legs. UTV.”

Ashley Young



Lucas Digne


“Gutted to have conceded but the lads did great today to get the point! Villa park was rocking!!”

Emiliano Martínez.


“You fans were amazing. Thank you all for the support. Definitely a performance to build on.”

Leon Bailey.


“Tough game today.”

Erling Haaland.


“It was an error from the assistant - I don’t think it was an error from the referee. The assistant has flagged when he’s not offside. Referees are encouraged to let the game flow, but bear in mind that Coutinho came back six, seven or eight yards to fetch the ball.

“At that point, if the referee has seen an assistant’s flag, even if he’s encouraged to delay and delay blowing his whistle, given how long it took for Coutinho to come back, in your mind you’re always going to whistle. By the time Coutinho shot, the whistle had long gone.”

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher, not known for his judgement blames the linesman for Hooper blowing the whilst against all FA directives. You really couldn’t make up the incompetence of match officials.


““We’re in our fourth season of VAR and we’re not operating it well.

“These officials don’t get to the Premier League without being good referees. In some ways they have been made to look foolish this weekend by what has happened. They must feel that they’ve been let down.

“They have been hung out to dry because there’s no leadership. There’s no guidance, there’s no coaching.

“That ultimately has to come down to the person running the organisation (Riley). The interaction between the referee and the VAR is suspect.

“One of the reasons for that is you’ve got current referees who might referee on a Saturday suddenly becoming a VAR on a Sunday. I don’t think that’s conducive to good officiating.”

Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett tells us what we already knew… it’s never the referees fault.

Maybe, just maybe therein lies the problem.

*BBC Sport*
Saturday, 3 September 2022

**Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard hopes his side can use their draw against champions Manchester City as a foundation to kickstart their season.**

City missed a chance to go top of the Premier League as Leon Bailey’s equaliser earned Aston Villa an excellent draw at Villa Park, while the point took Villa out of the bottom three.

“No-one gave us any hope or any chance before a ball was kicked,” said Gerrard.

“I’m really pleased and proud of what the players gave us and no-one can begrudge us a point, and it’s a big point.

“But the players need to take that confidence moving forwards. You hope it’s a foundation but it’s only a big point if you reset and back it up against Leicester and Southampton.

“The danger is if you think you’re moving in the right direction but don’t reset. There has been a lot of external noise and rightly so, but it’s now for me to lead even more and be stronger.

“We need to stick together and keep developing.”

The league’s top goalscorer Erling Haaland got his 10th goal in six games when he was in the right place at the back post to volley in Kevin de Bruyne’s superb cross.

After scoring in the 50th minute, Haaland had another two efforts saved by Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez and De Bruyne also hit the crossbar with a 22-yard free-kick.

Those missed chances proved costly as Bailey struck a sweet first-time shot into the top corner from Jacob Ramsey’s square pass to make it 1-1 in the 74th minute.

Officials admitted they were wrong - Gerrard

Villa thought they had scored a winner when Philippe Coutinho put the ball in the net off the underside of the bar.

However, the assistant referee had already put his flag up for offside - even though Coutinho was actually onside - and some of the City players stopped before the ball went into the net.

Gerrard revealed he had spoken to the officials about the decision after the match, and they admitted they had made an error.

“I’ve spoken to the officials calmly, and given them enough time after and asked for their side of it,” said Gerrard.

“The referee blew the whistle too soon. When something is so tight it’s worth an extra bit of time and we could’ve scored a second goal.

“Fair play to the officials, they recognised that afterwards. It was nowhere near offside.”

Gerrard’s Villa show fighting spirit to earn draw

Villa had only won one of their first five matches of the season and had been booed off after their last game at Villa Park, a 1-0 loss to West Ham.

The pressure was mounting on the former England midfielder after a 2-1 loss at Arsenal in midweek left Villa 19th in the table, but this point was enough to take them out of the relegation zone and to 17th.

But Gerrard, who called for his side to “surprise the footballing world”, will be delighted with the spirit and fight his team showed to come back from a goal down as City, champions four times in the past five years, looked to claim their fifth win of the season.

City had 73% possession but Bailey scored with Villa’s only shot on target, while Pep Guardiola will see this as two points dropped and will wonder how his team did not claim the win.

They would have moved above Arsenal, who play at Manchester United on Sunday, with a win, but instead are second, one point behind the Gunners.

The visitors should have gone ahead in only the fourth minute but England defender Kyle Walker shot wastefully wide with only Martinez to beat.

Haaland, a £51m summer signing from Borussia Dortmund, had scored back-to-back hat-tricks in City’s wins over Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest and only touched the ball 10 times in the first half.

However, he showed his class within five minutes of the restart by scoring from close range after De Bruyne’s cross had looped over Martinez.

Haaland became a handful for the home defence and twice was denied by Martinez and also won a free-kick, which De Bruyne hit the bar with.

Villa’s equaliser came against the run of play but City still had chances to win it late on but Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden both missed opportunities as Villa held on for the draw.

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