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vs Derby Match Report: Rams Raided


JohnCresswell
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Aston Villa 2 Derby County 0

Saturday 3rd November 2007

FA Barclays Premiership

Villa Park

Sorry about the headline - and whilst I know it's not true when did that stop the tabloid headline writers - and why should I be so different?

Pre Match

Most talk before the game had most, if not all predicting a Villa win. Unusual, in that respects, really. But Derby have had a poor, really poor start to the season and haven't looked up to Premiership standard so far. I must admit I thought that if Villa were going to get four without letting in four in the other end, then today would surely be the day.

Other match day news is that Villa have released a new third strip on the quiet - no publicity, nothing. In fact, if I hadn't been at the game today then I wouldn't have realised one was out at all. Which asks a few questions - including why such silence? I suggest that perhaps this is an agreement with Nike, and that the club didn't fancy releasing a third strip as in all honesty there's no point to it - but if they were to have an agreement with Nike, then they would have to release one. Especially as it's November and we're likely to be replacing all of the kits come July again.

We don't reaally need one, afterall. I can't think of many teams we are likely to clash with both our home and away shirts - not many teams that use claret and white in their shirts - noen at all, in fact. The third shirt is in the same style as the home one - except it is a charcoal black colour all over, with a white triming.

Back on the pitch, I had expected Zat Knight to be dropped but again, he kept his place with Curtis Davies staying on the bench. Petrov stayed in the team but was stuck in the position he doesn't look comfortable in - right wing. Up front, Luke Moore returned.

The Goals

Oh lordy. We had to wait for them, didn't we? Just when the crowd began to get nervous that we might drop another two points against a team down the bottom, a bit of luck and Villa finally breached the Derby defence. An Ashley Young free kick on the left went deep and looked like a lost cause, but Gareth Barry, whom I thought had a much better game than recent performances got his head to turn the ball back into the six yard box, and Martin Laursen was cleverly right on the scene to get on to the ball, scoring from close range.

The second, whilst benefiting from a poor defensive mistake, was a decent goal to score. Gabby Agbonlahor pressured the Derby player (I'm sorry, I can't remember his name) to surrender the ball and Gabby ran straight through on goal. His shot was a tame one, saved by Bywater, but rebounded to Nigel Reo Coker, now operating on the right wing. Nigel produced a really good cross and Ashley Young tucked in the ball from a tight angle. Reo-Coker was clearly very happy with his pat, running straight to O'Neill to celebrate.

Thoughts on the performance

A really tricky one, it's hard for me to get it straight in my head.

Throughout the game, Villa were on top and never looked in any danger of conceeding. Yet, despite the possession, Villa only managed one shot on target in the first half - a volley from Zat Knight saved at point blank range.

Villa, for what I could see, had two major weaknesses. The first was the style of play. Yet again, there were too many hoofs up the pitch. Many more than previously, in fact. Frustrating, as this Derby team - possibly the worst oppositiong I've seen at Villa for many years - can deal with hoofs. They'll just get a head, or foot onto it and kick (not directed anywhere, mind, just kick and hope). When Villa played football in that first half, they frightened the opposition. There just wasn't enough of it. We shouldn't be looking and hitting it long, and hoping for a defensive mistake for Gabby to latch onto. We should be using the ball on the ground, running at weak defenders. Gabby, Ashley and even Luke Moore - all had the ability to scare these players and had they be unleashed to do this, I am certain we'd have scored more.

It wasn't hard to see how Derby had conceeded six at Liverpool. They were absolutely clueless. Sorry Derby fans, but they really were.

The second weakness, which will be of no real shock, was our right hand side. Derby did try a few attacks in the first half, and they were all down that right. Olof Mellberg was again looking like a central defender being played at right back, struggling to win the battle with his opposition number and failing to support his right winger at the other end of the pitch. Petrov, who did have a good game, was operating more centrally than on the wing, so Derby were given a clean run onto the Swedish defender. Luckily, Derby are toothless.

For the second half, Petrov was placed in the center and Nigel Reo Coker allowed to attack more, placed on the right side. Nigel played well out there and seemed to be enjoying it. This switch also led to the two goals.

Villa Park also got to see Curtis Davies make his League Debut, at last. I've heard of his fee being anywhere between £7 million and £10million - and it shows how far we have come that we can spend that type of money on a player in august and for him to only have managed about 47 minutes of football since joining. He replaced Knight, who seemed to be injured. Curtis did show signs of the nerves that we were told of after the Leicester game, going on one run into the oppositon half and giving the ball away. He looks like a Rio Ferdinand type defender to me - once he gets used to the pace and what is expected of him, I'm sure he'll be a fine defender.

The Ref

I could probably say "Mark Halsey" and that'd be enough. Halsey put out the usual Mark Halsey performance. You know the type - the special ones he saves up especially for Villa games. I felt very sorry for Martin Laursen in particular, who spent all of the game with Steve Howard's elbow in his face. He managed to get simple throw in decisions wrong, however, he did one thing that really did sum Halsey up.

Villa had a free kick in the first half, and it was right in front of me, so I got a really good view of it. Ashley Young placed the ball down, Halsey retreated to get the wall ten yards away. Looking back at the ball, something obviously triggered an alert. You know the one. The alert to make him the center of attention. He marched straight up to Young. Picked up the ball, and placed it no more than six inches to the right. It was really unbelievable. Anything to get people looking, I suppose.

Positives

It's a win, after two poor results. A clean sheet, and a big attendance for what is poor opposition.

Negatives

Not a great performance, and that right hand side is now being targeted by teams every week.

The Opposition

Won't be in this division next year.

Next Up is some team I can't remember the name of. Some small time club that wear blue, apparently.

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a bit of luck and Villa finally breached the Derby defence. An Ashley Young free kick on the left went deep and looked like a lost cause, but Gareth Barry

That's interesting, I thought it looked like a well-worked free-kick. Something I haven't seen very often in my years following Villa!

You could well be right though JC, I'll watch it again.

Cheers for the report.

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Good report- but it was a very well worked free kick !

We did look better with NRC on the right - an interesting development and not one I'd forseen.

Yes we do hoof it too much at present. Every time we get it down and play we look a far better side.

we did only have one on target 1st half but came close on a few other occassions, notably Gabby putting one millimetres wide.

I was staggered at the booing at half time - anyone here join in ? If so, any chance you could say why ? Apart from the obvious "it helps the oppostion etc" what on earth deserved boos ? it seems to be an increasing trend, at a lot of clubs, and at the Vila I find it both embarrasing and enraging.

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