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vs Fulham: Match Report


JohnCresswell
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Aston Villa 2 Fulham 1

Saturday 25th August 2007

FA Barclays Premiership

Villa Park

Ahhh that's better. A win in a game which looked destined for a draw. Villa got the deserved three points after the two players who look genuinely comfortable with ball at their feet worked a bit of magic.

Pre Match

Going into the game is was in two schools of thought. My head was telling me that Fulham seem to be a pretty tidy team and that it could be rather close, especially as we hadn't started all to well this season. My heat said we'd click into gear and put in a pretty decent score today. The bets placed really reflected the second - Villa to win to win 2-0 or 4-1, first goal scorer to be Barry or Laursen and a cheeky 14/1 punt on Villa to be winning at half time, drawing at full time was made. Money wasted then. Had I know that Fulham had already dropped six points after being in front before today's game, I'd have gone on the 22/1 Fulham half time, Villa full time. And been a bit better off too!

After such a miserable summer so far, we got the best day of Sun we've had - the scene was set for a perfect game. That was until he walked in. More on him later, but when an odd looking man comes in and sits next to you, immediately sits on the top of his seat and takes his shoes off, you know everything isn't going to go your way. And yes, his feet stank. At one point it was actually nausating - it was that bad.

The Goals

I'll be honest, I was still trying to get over the fact I had to sit for 90 minutes when Fulham scored, and can't remember too much about Dempsey's goal after six minutes. Fair play to Fulham, for sixty minutes they put in a perfect away team performance. Dempsey managed to get inbetween Mellberg and Laursen from a through ball on the edge of the area and planted a decent shot past Carson. It was a poor goal to conceed if you were a Villa defender, and worried thoughts began to creep into people's minds.

Not the smelly bloke next to me though. His tirade of swear words began and didn't stop until the end of the game. Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude and go mad myself. But he was something else, even throwing in a bit of what could be described as racism, if he didn't give off the air (and by that I don't mean the actual smelly air) of being a bit devoid of education.

Villa's two goals were scored by players who look at ease when asked to do something a little bit different. Ashley Young, Villa's man of the match, terrorised the right hand side of Fulham's defence time and time again (getting Chris Baird sent off in the process) and scored when taking the ball down the left, cutting in and firing past Keller. Picture Young's goal last season against sheffield Utd - it was almost a carbon copy of that.

I've made no secret of my admiration for Shaun Maloney as a player. I think he's a smashing little player and gives Villa something different. That's why I was delighted to see him bag his second Villa goal on his first appearence of the season, and what is probably only his tenth game for the club since joining last year. Young played Maloney through, who got a good first touch, managed to stay on his feet when it looked like he'd tumble, and pushed the ball into the net on the stroke of full time. Good lad.

Thoughts on the performance

Performance. Hmm. First half I felt Villa's attacking was a little too one dimensional. Once again we often tried the through ball without really attempting anything else. Ashley Young was the star performer, constantly attacking down the left hand side, but often found himself with support. Most, if not all of Fulham's attack seemed to go down their left handside, our right. Gardner struggled against Kamara once again showing in my opinion that he's a fine footballer but not a fine right back. O'Neill had swapped the midfield around, with Barry pushed inside along Reo-Coker and Petrov playing down the right wing. Petrov, unfortunately, failed to shine again. It's deeply frustrating as he's a good player, I really believe he's got it in him, but he just doesn't show enough to justify being picked at the moment.

His substitution at half time, meant that Gabby was placed out wide and Luke Moore brought on up front. Gabby, who had an average first half where his final touch let him down failed to really impress down the right either.

As well as Petrov not coming out for the second half, neither did Martin O'Neill who was forced to sit alongside the press to watch the second. O'Neill had been angered by referee Steve Bennett not clamping down on Fulham's time wasting before the end of the first half, and went up and told him so as the teams went to the dressing room area for half time. Bennett saw this as the perfect excuse to send O'Neill to the stands. Had a player questioned his decisions, it'd have been ignored, so why it's any different for a manager I don't know.

Naturally, Bennett went on to rule out a goal scored by Villa in the second half, which I'm told SKy Sports have said should have actually stood. No doubt Mr Bennett will come out an apologise for his mistake. What? No? Oh I forgot, referees are above the idea of making mistakes.

We may have had an aqful lot of chances compared to Fulham, but they had two other good chances to get a goal. Closest being when Kamara turned Gardner and Mellberg inside out before a lovely side footed shot hit the inside of the post and out. He was already celebrating the goal, bless.

The Ref

Despite the above paragraph, he did OK, did Steve Bennett. He let the game flow often but let himself down with the sending off of Marton O'Neill. I'd thought that the goal Villa had disallowed was in fact offside, mainly due to the smelly man sat next to me having sworn (literally) that it was a legal goal.

He was left with no other decision possible than the send Chris Baird off for Fulham. You had to feel slightly sorry for them though - he'd only brought Young down twice, and his first yellow card was the first foul he had committed.

Positives

THREE POINTS! Even better when it didn't look like it was going to be a win. Ashley Young looked an absolute superstar today, and he is the difference for Villa when before we may have struggled to breakdown opposition teams coming to Villa Park happy for a point. Shaun Maloney's goal will help him settle further - and hopefully convince the manager to start him. Scott Carson didn't have much to do, but made an absolutely fantastic save in the second half which, if had gone in would have meant the three points were out of reach.

Negatives

Petrov's performance again was disappointing. Going forward we looked good until the final it - putting the ball in the net. Carew had two chances where he had to run past the defence, but was caught by the defender both times. Pace isn't his strength at all. He did play well, mind.

Our defence once again let in a soft goal. Oh, and the bloke next to me was definately a negative.

The Opposition

Fair play to Fulham. Only brought about seven fans but they put in an almost perfect away performance. They work hard and definately have a chance of doing better than 'just staying up' - they've just got to learn how to hold onto leads - this is their third game they've lost after taking the lead. Kamara and Collins John both guilty of some pathetic diving though.

They had some lad in the midfield that looked rather good. Steve Davis was his name.

Next up in the Premiership for us is Chelsea - and hopefully for me the aroma around my seat will be a bit better! With a couple of signings this week, maybe a bouyed Villa might be able to shock them, eh?

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  • VT Supporter

....I thought Agbonlahor's performance was apalling today in terms of comittment and willingness to help his mates change the game.All players have bad games but he looked lost and uninterested.

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I think Davis put in his normal performance today, when on the ball looked nifty. When off it, might aswell be sat in the stand. Reo-Coker did indeed tear him a new one in that 2nd half.

I agree, kept things ticking over at times but not a great deal more.

The report says Gardner struggled and is not a right back. A few lines later it criticises Petrov who played on the right. Now I'm not really sure if he was supposed to on the right side of 3 in the centre or one of 4, but he was poor and left our right side very exposed for Gardner to deal with on his own, so give the lad a break. Petrov also left us with no options down our right - what exactly was he doing?

Also, I don't know how you can feel sorry for Baird as he only brought Young down twice. The first was a textbook yellow card, and the second he brought him down as he drove into the box - another sure yellow. Perhaps we would have had 2 more goals if he hadn't commited those fouls.

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I think Davis put in his normal performance today, when on the ball looked nifty. When off it, might aswell be sat in the stand. Reo-Coker did indeed tear him a new one in that 2nd half.

I agree, kept things ticking over at times but not a great deal more.

The report says Gardner struggled and is not a right back. A few lines later it criticises Petrov who played on the right. Now I'm not really sure if he was supposed to on the right side of 3 in the centre or one of 4, but he was poor and left our right side very exposed for Gardner to deal with on his own, so give the lad a break. Petrov also left us with no options down our right - what exactly was he doing?

Also, I don't know how you can feel sorry for Baird as he only brought Young down twice. The first was a textbook yellow card, and the second he brought him down as he drove into the box - another sure yellow. Perhaps we would have had 2 more goals if he hadn't commited those fouls.

So let me get this right don't blame Gardner because he plays out of position, it was Petrov's fault because he was playing out of position. not sure I understand the logic of that

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I think Davis put in his normal performance today, when on the ball looked nifty. When off it, might aswell be sat in the stand. Reo-Coker did indeed tear him a new one in that 2nd half.

I agree, kept things ticking over at times but not a great deal more.

The report says Gardner struggled and is not a right back. A few lines later it criticises Petrov who played on the right. Now I'm not really sure if he was supposed to on the right side of 3 in the centre or one of 4, but he was poor and left our right side very exposed for Gardner to deal with on his own, so give the lad a break. Petrov also left us with no options down our right - what exactly was he doing?

Also, I don't know how you can feel sorry for Baird as he only brought Young down twice. The first was a textbook yellow card, and the second he brought him down as he drove into the box - another sure yellow. Perhaps we would have had 2 more goals if he hadn't commited those fouls.

So let me get this right don't blame Gardner because he plays out of position, it was Petrov's fault because he was playing out of position. not sure I understand the logic of that

Can you tell me what position Petrov was supposed to be playing? Then I might be able to answer.

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Well that is a good question, I thought he was on the right of a central three personally and if thats the case its the tactics more than the player that left Gardner exposed. Others will tell you Petrov was playing wide right but I saw little or no evidence of that tbh

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Mighty fine article, just an observation about Carew's pace that's all:

Carew's record on 40 meters sprint (recorded at the Norwegian Top Athletes Sports Centre) is 4,67. That is only 4 hundreds of a second slower than the best time ever recorded by a footballer in Norway. I have read somewhere (but never confirmed) that Michael Owen's record is 4,80.

Carew's fast, although it doesn't always look that way because of his long legs, giant body and somewhat "lazy" attitude.

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i havent seen much from petrov so far this season and i feel that if he was as good as his value then he should be extremely capable of playing 1 game out of position (even though he hasnt played brilliant in position).

I think people shouldnt be so hastey to criticise Gardner's performance as he is playing make-shift right back (out of position) and he hasnt been what we would want but he has shown commitment and determination in his performances and that is all we can ask of a player who isnt in his favoured position i was pleased with the result and hopefully it can lead to further points on the board, even though we have a difficult few weeks.

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Quite a lot of the players who played midweek internationals were below par for their clubs this weekend, or faded as the game went on.

In our game, Healey, Davis, Petrov, their right back (Baird?).... Even Olly and Martin Laursen didn't look as solid as usual.

Just thought I'd mention it.

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