The news that we all feared was announced this evening, Bouba Kamara has suffered a serious knee injury which will almost certainly rule him out for the remainder of the Premier League season, at least.
Kamara becomes the fourth player in 18 months to suffer a serious injury following Diego Carlos, Tyrone Mings and Emi Buendia.
This follows a gut-wrenching defeat to Manchester United yesterday in a game that Aston Villa would have walked away wondering how they didn’t take all three points.
Villa’s next three games are away at Fulham, home to Nottingham Forest before a trip to Luton and they feel so important as we attempt to steer our season back in the right direction.
Unai Emery made just one change from the side that lost to Chelsea in mid-week as Jacob Ramsey replaced Youri Tielemans who dropped to the bench. Pau Torres was once again named amongst the substitutes and was joined by Lucas Digne, both returning from injury.
Villa controlled the game from the off but the visitors always looked a threat on the counter-attack with Rasmus Højlund and Alejandro Garnacho wasting early opportunities.
Then the goal we all feared arrived. Bruno Fernandes, who was booed at every opportunity by the home faithful picked out Harry Maguire from a corner, he got away from Kamara allowing Højlund to simply tap in giving United the lead.
Emery’s side upped their game with John McGinn forcing André Onana to acrobatically tip it over the bar. Ollie Watkins was the next to come close but once again Onana was equal to the effort.
Next up was the returning Ramsey, who cut inside onto his right foot but his shot went agonisingly wide.
United were forced into a change at half-time when the injured Luke Shaw was replaced by Victor Lindelöf and the Swede nearly cost his side just three minutes after his introduction.
The big defender gifted the ball to Matty Cash who squared it for Watkins who looked certain to score but once again he was left kicking himself as Onana denied him again.
Following two more chances for Ramsey, the equaliser deservedly came. Clément Lenglet was denied by Onana from a corner, the ball fell to Leon Bailey who then picked out Douglas Luiz who was able to fire into the net.
Garnacho almost put the visitors straight back in the lead but his effort went wide of the goal. Villa stepped up again and piled on more pressure on United.
Luiz should have doubled his tally on the day when the ball fell to him in the box but he mis-kicked the ball and then substitute Moussa Diaby had a good chance when he cut inside but fired his effort high and wide.
And then came the moment that all Villa fans feared. They always seem to find a way – a United winner.
Diogo Dalot sent in a wonderful cross and substitute Scott McTominay was first to the ball heading home for United to blow the Champions League race wide open.
It doesn’t seem to matter how well we play, United seem to always find a way against us. Thats two games against the Red Devils this season where we would have been wondering how they got away with it but ultimately games like this could cost us when the season comes to its end in May.
Unai Emery: “We did a good plan. We controlled the game, we avoided the transitions. We didn’t concede a lot of chances to them and we got control of the game, not only controlling possession, we were even having chances. And we didn’t score some clear chances.
“I am very proud of our work and our players. We are being more consistent in the league matches. But it is a tough evening for us and tough to accept. But that’s football, we have to score more.
“We had the chances and sometimes we are being clinical, sometimes we have days like today. Against Manchester United you can lose, because they’re clinical, but this is the way.
“I’m very proud of our work today, the players are proud. At the end we didn’t win because we weren’t clinical.”
Erik Ten Hag: “I liked especially the first 20 minutes, after that we were dropping too much. We had our moments in the counter-attacks, but at 1-1, we had to fight back.
“It was really high intense, and you could see how many players were fatigued by the end. It was so open and it could have gone two ways. They had the mentality to win this day, especially the substitutes.”
Villa return to Premier League action next weekend when they play Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Man United will also be on their travels when they take on Luton on Sunday.