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Outfoxed!


John
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So, what had seemed to represent potentially our easiest route into Europe has now gone west and the trophy will no doubt again be left to the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool’s fringe players to fight for down Wembley Way!

Although Bouma and Carew’s absence were enforced, Carson, Laursen, Young and Moore’s additional absence, along with Barry’s change of role (where I think many of us had expected that Stephen O’Halloran would have been given an outing) proved too much change for us to cope with last night. Have we become blasé about this trophy in the way that many teams have who see this competition as just a distraction these days? Or, did Martin and many of us (myself included), think that we had already reached the point where we were good enough to be able to make widespread changes, give fringe players the chance to stake a claim for a first team berth and still sweep aside the challenge of a former bogey side who now managed by Megson were likely to have been as fired up for this game against us as they were when they faced us in the past when then managed by our present manager?

OK Leicester are not as good a team as they were in the past but the cup is a great leveller and this time we did a little too much to help make the opportunity for this giant killing happen. I suspect this defeat will be harder for us to take than will Manchester United’s, after all they have bigger fish to fry and we do not.

I think this game probably turned on pushing Barry back from the role in which he has proved to be so effective for us and England this season and in resting both Moore and Young, on a night when we were already going to miss the sort of problems that Big John would cause Leicester’s defence. It was also influenced by our substitutions being made after they had scored a goal in what became increasingly likely to be a game that would be decided by the team that scored first, if not by penalties. The substitutions when they did come gave us some urgency and made us look like scoring where before that we seldom did. So, it could also be argued that if Leicester had scored earlier then we would have been forced to make our changes earlier and this would have brought an equaliser that we were unable to fashion in the just over twenty minutes of play that was left to us after their goal last night.

But, it could also be said that we are at risk of becoming an inconsistent team who follow a good win with a disappointing defeat, as was the case after our win at home to Chelsea and now Everton. What is for sure is that last night represented a reminder of the bad old days that we don’t want to see too often, fortress Villa Park was breached last night and it was not pretty!

My player ratings from a game that is best forgotten and during which our ground staff may have soon wished they had eased off with the sprinklers a little are:

Stuart Taylor - 5 – Very little to do but his kicking looked unsteady more than once.

Olof Mellberg – 6 – Worked hard but might have done better with their goal.

Zat Knight – 6 – A steady enough performance.

Curtis Davies – 6 – Did not always look as comfortable as might have been anticipated, although it is early days. Will have far better games than this debut!

Gareth Barry – 7 – MOTM – The one player to rise above the average last night but we missed his regular inspiration further up the field by pushing him back to cover for Bouma’s absence.

Shaun Maloney – 6 – When he found his feet produced some decent forward movement and was unlucky to see a good effort go over the bar for a corner after a splendid one two with Petrov. But, Shaun has show a bit more when given opportunities like this previously this season and this display is unlikely to force Martin to look again at changing his normal starting XI.

Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – Solid but might have been expected to step up to have had a greater influence in the middle in Gareth’s absence.

Stiliyan Petrov – 5 – Hit a decent free kick on 85 minutes that their keeper saved well. But, we need to see more than he has showed over the past year and last night. I would have liked to have seen more signs in his performance that being out of the side is hurting.

Isaiah Osborne – 5 – Disappointing, has reached the point where he needs to show more signs of fulfilling his promise when given first team opportunities like this.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – A couple of late efforts and had a decent strike tipped over on 21 minutes but struggled to show his best last night as did the team as a whole. Gabby might reasonably been expected to have proved to be more of a handful for the Leicester defence than proved to be the case.

Marlon Harewood – 6 – Did what could reasonably be expected of a squad player but less than we would have expected from Big John, another striker who might have been expected to offer more of a threat to their defence.

Substitutes:

Ashley Young - 6 - Replaced Osborne on 70 minutes. Looked sharp and hit a couple of good crosses, he seemed most likely to bring us back into it but needed longer to make it happen.

Luke Moore – 5 – Replaced Marlon on 75 minutes and made little impression.

Patrik Berger– 6 – A welcome return, showed some urgency that had been lacking when coming on for Curtis on 79 minutes.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Gutted we were given 15 corners and couldn't produce anything from them.

We had a handful of chances that simply thrown away.

I honestly think that if Laursen and Bouma had been in the side, they wouldnt have made it through our defence.

Oh well, one teams gotta lose..too bad it was us.

Let's hope for 3 on Monday.

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