Time to leave you with Paul Doyle’s report, rewritten at impressive speed. Thanks for joining me. Goodnight.
Villa’s fixtures up until Boxing Day: Leeds (H), Southampton (H), Arsenal (A), Brighton (H), West Ham (A), Newcastle (H), Wolves (A), Burnley (H), West Brom (A), Palace (H). You’d back them to win seven or eight of those on current form.
“Count on Peter Oh to cover all the Engels,” offers John Peeler. Indeed, it was not so long ago we turned to puns as the game drifted towards a goalless draw. Villa had other ideas though, and their winner means every game today saw late drama. Proof that for last-gasp excitement, you can’t beat the Barkleys.
Here’s Ross Barkley: “We started a bit slow, but got a bit of momentum in the second half and I think the win was deserved. In the first half, I played as the 10 but I dropped a bit deeper in the second half and it worked.”
On his goal: “I saw the goal, the space opened up and I thought I’d have a pop,” he says with a wry smile. Barkley went over to the bench after scoring, and says he was only “50-50” to play, having barely trained all week. Which makes his game-winning effort even more impressive.
Having had another look, Schmeichel is beaten by the sheer pace of the shot, and perhaps unsighted by Evans. It’s a terrific finish, particularly in the context of the rest of the game.
Full time: Leicester 0-1 Aston Villa
Villa are up to second, and have won their first four league games for the first time in 90 years!
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Just as the board went up to signal four added minutes, Villa burst forward again and Barkley, on the periphery throughout, took centre stage. The midfielder collected Grealish’s pass and from 20 yards, drilled a low shot beyond Schmeichel, who at first glance perhaps could have done better.
GOAL!!! Leicester 0-1 Aston Villa (Barkley 90′)
Oh my days. Ross Barkley has won the game for Villa!
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89 mins: Another big chance for Villa! McGinn’s cross is met by Traore, but his header is straight at Schmeichel …
87 mins: Jack Grealish’s moments of magic are worth the £15 alone*. He dances through an impossible gap in the Leicester defence, but his prodded pass doesn’t quite fall for Barkley, whose eventual shot is a little desperate.
*this is a gross exaggeration
86 mins: Traore’s cross deflects away from Watkins, who had for once got away from Fofana and Evans. The corner is collected by Schmeichel.
“Villa need to change something in order to Steer clear of a disappointing draw, but I’m not sure what their options are. Watkins they do?” asks Peter Oh. “As for Leicester, their chances of grabbing a win without Vardy look Slimani to none, but it’s not over until Under comes on.” Extra credit for including a sub keeper.
83 mins: Maddison is adding a bit of sparkle to what has been a stodgy attacking display from Leicester. He finds a pocket of space here, but is let down by Tieleman’s pass, which is hit really hard for no good reason.
81 mins: Just before the substitution, Tielemans went down but Leicester played on, Slimani heading Castagne’s cross high and wide.
80 mins: Maddison is brought down by Douglas Luiz, who needs to be careful. Bertrand Traore is Villa’s first sub – he replaces Trezeguet.
78 mins: Barnes twists, turns and fires over from 20 yards. Hamza Choudhury is on for Leicester, replacing Nampalys Mendy.
76 mins: On the break, Grealish has Watkins to his left, Barkley to his right – but he reckons without Fofana, who steps forward and seizes on his opponent’s indecision. Grealish is forced wide, his low cross eventually cleared away.
75 mins: Villa have a free kick 30 yards out, which Targett prods for Barkley to run onto. He tries to play a one-two, but the fiddly training-ground routine unravels pretty quickly.
73 mins: … make that seven, as Watkins nicks the ball away from Mendy, then goes past Evans, who has little option but to bring him down. Were it not for Justin covering, that might have been a red.
72 mins: The yellow-card count rises to six, as Castagne gets booked for another poor challenge …
71 mins: Maddison’s first involvement sees him hauled down by Douglas Luiz, who becomes the latest name in Jon Moss’s book. Iheanacho, who has disappeared in the second half, is replaced by Islam Slimani. It’s the Algerian’s first Leicester appearance since January 2018.
70 mins: Villa starting to look the likelier team to score, with Watkins finding a yard of space, but only briefly as his shot is closed down.
68 mins: Praet makes way for Maddison as Villa win another corner, taken by McGinn. Mings does really well to keep it alive down by the opposite corner flag, and finds Grealish. He pulls it back to Douglas Luiz, in space – but his shot is straight at Schmeichel!
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66 mins: Villa win a corner, which Schmeichel claims easily. James Maddison is coming on, hoping to boost this game’s End Product quota.
65 mins: Signs that the game might be opening up as Villa get in behind, thanks to Grealish’s through ball to McGinn. He has Watkins and Trezeguet in support, but his pull-back is poor and cut out by Tielemans.
63 mins: … Leicester break, and Justin forces Cash to haul him down on the edge of the box. Leicester appeal to Jon Moss, for a penalty, or a second yellow card for Cash, either is fine. The referee says no, and a free kick only is probably the right call. Tielemans takes it, but his shot doesn’t have the power to test Martinez.
62 mins: Cash floats a dangerous cross towards Watkins, but Fofana is there again to head emphatically away …
“These puns need to have some Konsa-quences,” says Zain Dada.
60 mins: Tielemans has a sight of goal, and his shot takes a nick off Mings, making it a little trickier for Martinez, who gathers at the second attempt.
58 mins: Sky are highlighting the performance of Wesley Fofana, who’s been solid as a rock alongside Evans in central defence. He’s only 19, bought for the future as much as the present, but looks at home already.
56 mins: Nice build-up play from Villa, Grealish picking out Trezeguet on the right. His cross is cleared by Justin. The visitors have been on top since the restart, but Watkins needs some help up front.
“As usual, Peter Oh is Justin time to Cash in on the puns. I’ll show myself out” says John Peeler. This MBM needs a goal.
54 mins: Oof, Villa so nearly take the lead here! From Grealish’s corner, Esri Konsa gets away from Justin and connects with a header – but sends it a foot wide of the post!
52 mins: Grealish’s calves are taking a real battering out there. This time it’s Castagne who hacks at him above sock height. Not sure why he’s not been booked – that’s his second tackle on Grealish that was clumsy at best.
“We fans have just become spoiled,” says Peter Oh. “After seeing so many matches in which players score Fofana, we feel cheated when they miss the Targett.”
49 mins: Grealish, the only player who’s looked anything close to ‘box office’, finds Targett with a slipped through ball, collects the return and wins a corner which Evans clears under pressure from Konsa.
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48 mins: Trezeguet with another needless foul, clipping Jonny Evans as the defender skips past him.
46 mins: Almost immediately, Trezeguet concedes a free kick with a clumsy foul. Tielemans’ delivery is dangerous, ricocheting to Perez who takes his time getting it out from under his feet. When he does, his shot is deflected behind, almost spinning into Iheanacho’s path.
Leicester begin the second half. This one is very much up for grabs after that first-half statemate.
An excellent half-time email from David Wall:
“Will players get fed up of taking a knee, yet nothing actually happening as a result? Raheem Sterling said last year that as important as stopping particular incidents of racist abuse was addressing the under-representation of people of colour in boardrooms and other positions of power in football.
“For the Premier League, Richard Masters could start sorting this out with the stroke of a pen, putting forward a requirement for clubs to reach specific targets for boardroom diversity within 5 and then 10 years as conditions of entry to the Premier League (say, so that representation in the boardroom matches the degree of diversity among players).
“He could do similar for something like the Rooney Rule for hiring for coaching and managerial positions. The players should be asking why that kind of thing isn’t happening, it’s not as though there hasn’t been time for people at the Premier League to do something.”
46 mins: Oof, what a bit of skill from Grealish, who makes two defenders look very silly with a backheel to Targett, whose cross is just too high for Trezeguet. Villa ending the second half well, after a stodgy start.
45 mins: Ollie Watkins has touched the ball six times; he just hasn’t been able to get into the game. His seventh touch takes him past Evans, but he’s a fraction offside. Two added minutes.
44 mins: A reminder that these sides have collectively beaten the league’s two best teams by an aggregate score of 12-4 this season.
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42 mins: The free kick is five yards to the right of goal, 20 yards out. Douglas Luiz and Targett are standing over it, and the full-back will take it. Can he get it on Targett? He cannot.
41 mins: Another yellow card! This time it’s Tielemans, who goes in late on McGinn as Villa break. Moss plays the advantage, Trezeguet tumbles over Evans’ leg on the edge of the box, and Villa have a dangerous free kick …
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39 mins: Another Villa booking, this time for Matty Cash, who is beaten for pace by Barnes and resorts to grabbing at the Leicester man’s shorts.
38 mins: Cash’s hopeful long ball is chased down by Watkins, who lofts the ball back across goal towards Barkley. He can’t find room to get a shot away and passes to Grealish, who heads down a blind alley before conceding a cheap free kick.
35 mins: Barkley is forced to go backwards by Leicester’s press, but hooks a nice ball out wide to Grealish, who is fouled by Castagne. At this moment in time, a red card feels more likely than a goal.