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Another lack lustre display as our season implodes on us!


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The three hard earned points we gained at Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal were lost yesterday when we allowed relegation threatened Sunderland their first away win of the season!

A capacity attendance witnessed a second consecutive none performance at Villa Park yesterday and how many of them will be enthused enough to buy tickets for another dose of the same unpleasant medicine against Bolton in a fortnight (I wonder what the odds will be on Gary Cahill scoring their winner)? A point against Boro was bad enough but to follow that up with this 90 minutes was far from acceptable. One point from nine over our past three games has put paid to any hopes of a top five finish and on a day when we could have gone back to sixth with a win due to Portsmouth’s defeat this tame performance was hard to accept.

It seems to me that the season has gone pear shaped since the threat of Intertoto football was first mentioned a few days ago. But, where once this would have led to an early start to pre-season it is now just two pre-season competitive games replacing what would otherwise be two friendly games, so why would this be something the players might not want? Is it that our small squad of “good honest lads” is understandably tiring as we reach the finishing straight of what has up until now been an encouraging season where we have been punching above our weight? Conspiracy theorists might also suggest that a win for Sunderland and three points for Bolton and Wigan at Villa Park in our remaining home games might send our near neighbours down. But, whilst these teams will now travel to us with hope rather than fear so will our neighbours and can we guarantee keeping up our end of the deal by beating Small Heath and so completing the favour for those other relegation haunted sides?

My player ratings from a game that gave Sunderland a more comfortable 90 minutes than they could reasonably have hoped for are:

Scott Carson - 4 – Missed a punch on 38 minutes having earlier fumbled the ball and handled it outside his box on 22 minutes, so he was lucky to stay unpunished until Chopra beat him all to easily for their winner. The FA paid compensation following the physical injury Owen sustained when playing for England but the shell shock Carson has suffered from since his England debut has left similar deep scars and although he has at times seemed capable of putting these behind him these still clearly threaten his future along with his status in the game. This was a game that he would have waltzed through before his England nightmare but it is now one which one that again brings into question whether he like David James before him can overcome early errors in what will be a long career to avoid the “calamity” tag sticking. I think the break from the spotlight of England duty may be just what he needs in that it will provide him with time to take stock of his current situation and to try once and for all to put that awful England debut that hangs around his neck like a millstone behind him.

Craig Gardner – 4 – Despite what Martin has suggested this is not a position in which Craig looks at all comfortable. His fitness may also have been in doubt yesterday but Olof’s suspension and our lack of a natural full back this season left us with no options. Another difficult game for a player who is much more effective in the middle.

Zat Knight – 3 – Left for dead when Chopra raced passed him to get on the end of Richardson’s clever through ball and looks a shadow of the player he appeared early in the season and of the player whose untimely injury gave him back a starting role.

Martin Laursen – 6 – Solid enough, although not at his commanding and dominating best.

Wilfred Bouma – 6 – His usual solid performance. How about getting his contract sorted now before we go into the last year option Martin?

Shaun Maloney – 5 – A couple of nice early touches, put in some good early work but faded later and failed to create anything as did others, so he might have reasonably felt a touch unlucky to have had to make way for Osbourne.

Nigel Reo Coker – 5 – Another who like Bouma in the past may have reasonably felt unfortunate to be the one hauled off when a tactical change was necessary.

Gareth Barry – 6 – Worked hard and looked a fair bit brighter than of late, without taking the game by the scruff of the neck.

Ashley Young – 5 – When Ashley does not play nor do we. Enough said on a day when he could not get past his man, lacked his usual threatening runs and had little opportunity to work his magic from anywhere near the edge of the box. Had his omission from the England squad been leaked to him or was this just a day when nothing would go right?

John Carew – 5 – Things could have been much different if his overhead kick had have gone in rather than gone just wide on 8 minutes. Now 5 games without a goal since that hat-trick brought his goal tally to 9 and did not really look likely to get into double figures for the season after that early effort.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 4 – Had a shot saved by Gordon’s legs on 83 minutes but this was far from the sort of performance that will see him retain a place in any England squad and on current form may have been surprised to have got into the provisional selection.


Marlon Harewood – 6 – MOTM - Replaced Reo on 56 minutes and within a minute put a great opportunity just wide when he really needed to have been on target. But, he still had a positive enough effect on what was otherwise a very negative day to make him our most effective performer and our only serious threat in the time he was given.

Isaiah Osbourne – 4 - Replaced Shaun on 73 minutes and in 20 minutes made no really significant or noticeable impact.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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cant for the life of me figure out why MON changed Maloney for Young early in the game, Maloney was doing well on the left, had plenty of space and always wanted the ball and tried to take players on, then MON swaps him and puts Maloney on the right and young on the left, from that moment we didnt look like creating anything.

Reo-Coker was shocking, always looked like he was 2 passes behind the game, when he had the ball he could have played it out wide, instead he waited, waited and waited before deciding to pass, only for the ball to be charged down and sunderland to attack us on the counter. really disapointing performance from a player that cost nearly 9million english pounds.

Gardner? he looked like he hadnt played football before, every time he got the ball he gave it back to a sunderland player, and although he isnt a defender, he didnt do the basics. if in doubt, kick it out. to often he let sunderland players run past him.

Zat Knight, as MON said when he signed him, Zat can play extremely well one game, then very poor the next, this was a performance from the latter. failed to mark his player on numerous ocaisions.

Carson? he is trying to hard, coming to claim balls he shouldnt be, if you look at sunderlands goal, he runs out, stops, steps back before running out again.

a very disapointing performance, not helped by our bench, Maloney for Osbourne says it all.

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well, i pickked a hall of a game to go to!

very poor, from 1 to 11. The wheels appear to have come off.

nobody could really hold their head up high after that. I fail to see how Zat Knight is a better player than Gary Cahill, i really do.

I think M

Barry & Coker don't seem like they can play together, either.

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