R24Shirt1Well, September is over in the Aston Villa save, so it’s update time again. In the last update we covered August, the anti-climactic end of the transfer window, and our start of the season that included Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. Easy. Then again, there aren’t many easy games for Aston Villa anyway, as the real life side showed this past season. I wouldn’t have been surprised had we come out of the month bottom of the table with nul points.

However, we actually came out of the month sitting 12th in the Premier League table, having drawn with City at the Etihad after Kompany got himself sent off – admittedly meaning we are as good as 10 City players – and beaten Liverpool 3-2 at Anfield, with Jordan Ayew tearing Skrtel and co. to shreds. Added to a very respectable 1-0 loss to Chelsea and a tactically important 2-0 loss to Arsenal that led me to move to a 4-1-4-1, and things were actually looking up for Villa. Next up, Newcastle, Palace, Spurs in the League Cup and Leicester. So, how did we do?

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 16.46.06

Well, not bad really, although I feel we’ve missed opportunities here. We opened up the month inviting Newcastle to Villa Park, and promptly demolished them, with goals from Sanchez – from a frankly ridiculous 35 yard assist from Grealish – Ayew (after a through ball from Ashley ‘Xavi’ Westwood – who replaced the injured Veretout fantastically) and Bacuna. In reality, Newcastle never even got a look in, and they ended the month in the relegation zone. Looks like McClaren is well on his way to the sack in this virtual reality as well. Hopefully I can nab a fair few of the players I loved with Newcastle.

We then travelled south to London to face Palace, themselves in the relegation zone at the time. We took the lead early on through Jordan Ayew – who else – but were quickly pegged back after some shocking defending at a corner. The game then took a wild swing in Palace’s direction. With us on the attack, the ball was played out wide to Grealish who just stopped and pulled up. He was unable to continue, our most talented player, and would be out for 3 weeks with a twisted knee. However, that wasn’t the only issue, as Yannick Bolasie – the scumbag – picked up the ball, didn’t put it out of play, ran down the flank that Grealish would have been covering, and crossed the ball from the byline for Sako to put Palace ahead 2-1. After that I tried to even things up through some changes, but Palace scored a 3rd in the 90th minute, and we came away from Selhurst Park with a poor 3-1 loss.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 16.43.19

Grealish pulls up as Bolasie motors away, crossing to put Palace 2-1 up.

Next up was Spurs in the League Cup. I rested a fair few players – although due to injuries had to irritatingly play some first choice players – thinking of the fixture against Leicester a few days later. Of course, FM wouldn’t let us just simply go out of the cup, and had us go to extra time – tiring out a few first team regulars – on the way to a 1-0 loss through a late goal. At least let us get to penalties.

So our tired first team players then trudged into a game three days later against the real life Premier League champions, who are lower than we are in this reality. Leicester went 1-0 up through Vardy (who else?) and continued to pummel our goal, before a shocking mistake from their defenders allowed Ayew the ball around the penalty box, and he comfortably finished the chance, levelling the game at 1-1. After that, we had several chances – including one that Jordan Amavi really should have put away – but wasted them, and in the end a 1-1 draw seemed a very fair result. Considering how much better Leicester are than us following the winter update – I’d give my left arm for players like Mahrez, Kante (who was incredible) and Drinkwater – a 1-1 draw is a fantastic result.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 17.22.48

So, 4 points from the month of September and again we remain in 12th, a position I’m more than comfortable being in. There’s not a huge gap down to the bottom 3, but there’s not a huge gap up to the top half of the table either, and once Grealish is back – who I was correct in predicting we’d badly miss if he got injured – and a few further things are sorted, I’m confident that things will be fine. 4 points from this month is still good, and we’re not that far away from the 40 point marker than usually means safety in Premier League football. Again, I still feel that central defence is the weakest area of the squad. They have good games of course, but Lescott is the only one I feel I can rely on at the moment. For now, that’s the area I feel I need to look at first, hopefully in January if Mr. Lerner can loosen his purse strings.

I’ll update again at the end of October, hopefully with everything still going well for the claret and blue, and Grealish back fit and providing assists once again. Until then, thank you very much for reading, and as always with my saves and updates, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section, or on Twitter (@JLAspey). Thank you very much for reading.

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