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‘Southgate was long gone’ – How the national media viewed Aston Villa’s missed West Ham chance


BBC Sport

Aston Villa moved out of the relegation zone by drawing against a West Ham side who finished with 10 men after Arthur Masuaku’s red card.

Masuaku was dismissed with 23 minutes left after picking up two bookings.

Before that, the game’s major talking point saw Anwar El Ghazi clash heads with Villa team-mate Tyrone Mings, although no action was taken.

Villa’s John McGinn had plenty of the game’s better chances, forcing Lukasz Fabianski into two saves.

Both sides had frantic attacks late on, with penalty shouts at both ends, but neither could find the decisive touch.

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Referee Mike Dean in action during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and West Ham United

There were plenty of big hits and tackles, more so than major goalscoring opportunities.

The major incident in the first half involved two Villa players – Mings was furious with El Ghazi’s lack of defensive help and started shouting in his face.

At that moment, Netherlands winger El Ghazi nudged his head into Mings’ face. He could have been sent off, but referee Mike Dean and the video assistant referee decided the contact was not sufficient to produce a red card.

The Times

This was an opportunity for Jack Grealish to impress the watching Gareth Southgate, who is searching for a player to bring some invention to England’s midfield. In a disappointing game that will not occupy the highlights packagers or archivists for long, Grealish never stopped running, and collapsed exhausted at the final whistle, but he needs work on his decision-making to make the step up.

John McGinn was the more effective Aston Villa midfield player on view while there was a maturity and intelligence to Declan Rice’s work for West Ham United, making most tackles and passing accurately, if too squarely, and hitting a fierce shot that Grealish blocked.

But Grealish can change games with his dribbling, winning free kicks or creating opportunities for others, which is why England are looking at him. He has a belief in his own technique that means he dribbles from his own box, twice steering the ball around Sébastien Haller and gliding upfield.

Just turned 24, Grealish clearly has no fears about the Premier League stage. But there is more to come from him, a touch more thought and finesse that will surely arrive given his accelerated development over the past couple of years.

He was the last off the field, having lifted his drained body to lap the ground and salute the Villa fans, before talking to Smith, who was waiting for him by the tunnel. Southgate was long gone, but there was enough in Grealish’s performance to warrant another look.

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Guardian

West Ham arrived here on a quest for the victory that would have lifted them to third in the table but they ended up relieved to take a point. They did not deserve more. Nor did Aston Villa, and that was frustrating for the hosts, who spent the last portion of the game mostly failing to trouble 10 men after Arthur Masuaku was sent off.

Nearly all the home players threw themselves to the ground at the final whistle: this was an opportunity missed. Dean Smith has said since the start of the campaign that he expects home wins to form their basis for surviving, maybe even thriving, in the Premier League. So being unable to punish West Ham here hurt.

While Villa lacked precision when it mattered most, there could be no questioning their desire – at least not after an extraordinary incident in the first-half between Anwar El Ghazi and Tyrone Mings. When the defender lambasted the midfielder for not tracking back hard enough, El Ghazi responded by pushing his forehead into that of his teammate in what could easily have been construed as a headbutt, albeit not a hard one. At least the referee, Mike Dean, remained level-headed and, after a review by VAR, he let El Ghazi off with a lecture. Smith said that, while El Ghazi was out of order, his players dealt with it so well that he did not have to address it at half-time.

 

Independent

Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has said that Anwar El Ghazi and Tyrone Mings have “put to bed” their bizarre clash in the first half of Villa’s 0-0 draw with West Ham.

Mings and El Ghazi squared up after the centre back expressed his displeasure at the Dutchman’s failure to track back on the left, with El Ghazi appearing to move his head towards Mings’ as they nearly came to blow.

The incident was checked by VAR, with referee Mike Dean giving both players a firm talking to, and Grealish has suggested the matter was moved on from swiftly in the dressing room.

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“It’s all handbags. When you’re out there, [it’s] heat of the moment. As soon as we got into half-time, it was all put to bed. Shake hands. We all said that can’t be happening out on the pitch.”

Newcastle’s Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer were infamously dismissed after a scrap in a game against Villa in 2005.

And while this incident did not escalate to the level of that particularly heated fracas, the Villa players would have had a nervy moment while the clash was checked.

Daily Mail

Of all the incidents that VAR will pore over this season, checking a potential red card for a headbutt between two team-mates can be filed under the ‘bizarre’ category.

That clash, which saw Anwar El Ghazi nudge his head into Tyrone Mings during an argument about tracking back, was the standout moment of a match in which West Ham missed out on moving third.

Villa captain Jack Grealish chalked it off as ‘handbags’ and manager Dean Smith said they shook hands at half-time. Certainly it summed up the feisty nature of this 0-0.

A win for West Ham would have taken them level with Manchester City, the side that defeated them 5-0 on the season’s opening day. In the end, they had to hold on with 10 men.

On a night when referee Mike Dean was dishing out yellow cards for fun at Villa Park, Arthur Masuaku committed a foolish foul when already booked and was duly sent off.

Fortunately for El Ghazi, Dean decided against sending him for his own early shower. He and Stockley Park perhaps showed leniency given the bizarre circumstances.

 

Mirror

Referee Dean appeared to consult VAR before deciding the spat did not need punishment.

Villa boss Smith added: “I wasn’t worried about that. What I do know is the lads sorted it out themselves. I didn’t need to say anything. The players dealt with it.

“It went over the edge of what we want but the lads dealt with it discreetly. There’s a great togetherness in our dressing room.

“I didn’t think about taking him off. That’s the end of it as far as we are concerned. They shook hands and got on with it.”

Despite seeing the Hammers reduced to 10-men in the second half as a result of Arthur Masuaku’s red card, Villa were unable to take advantage and had to settle for a draw.

The point leaves Villa 17th in the Premier League table, with Smith’s side taking just four points from their first five matches since returning to the top flight.

Meanwhile, West Ham missed their chance to move into third place and currently sit in eighth on goal difference, with only Liverpool and Manchester City earning more points than the eight managed by Manuel Pellegrini‘s men.



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