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Happy With The Performance, Happy With The Result.


JohnCresswell
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I must admit to thinking that we’d only manage a draw on Saturday. I felt that Bolton would be fighting to stay up and I’ve felt that we’ve been looking tired and stale for a period even before our March madness.

However, a couple of clever switches by O’Neill and the team looked rejuvenated – so well done that man!

Yes, I know Bolton were particularly poor but you can only beat what is put in front of you. And yes, I know we still showed the customary defensive mistakes when Carson nearly punched the ball into his own net and Olof Mellberg tried to up his assist numbers for the season with a deft (or should that be daft?) header to Kevin Davies but the team performance was ten times better than anything we’ve seen at home since at least Christmas.

Better even than the Newcastle game – where we had an awful first half but rallied in the second. This time, we came out and played from the first whistle – kept our heads and played the ball. We looked to pass and we looked to attack.

We’ve looked stale for a while now, and the problem as I saw it was that our squad size didn’t allow for much of a swap around. One thing I’ve felt we have missed is that by playing Gareth Barry down the middle his influence when attacking diminishes. But employing the diamond on Saturday it allowed both Barry and Nigel Reo Coker to not need to be so disciplined in the center and Ashley Young was able to see more of the ball to create.

I guess at this point too it’s worth saying that Stillian Petrov had, for me at least, his best game in a Villa shirt so far. He made some very good interceptions and then foraged forward with Barry or Nigel taking his place in front of the back for.

We were back to playing quick flowing football with the ball played on the ground. The movement and play we produced for Gabby’s goal was top quality – as was the finish.

I’m going to keep the feet firmly on the ground, I know it was only Bolton. They are not a good football team and anyone replacing Nicolas Anelka with Helgar Helguson is showing that they have almost resigned themselves to being relegated. But, it does give hope for the remainder of the season as we go on to try to secure Intertoto Cup for next year. It’ll still be a squeeze, but it’s still possible.

Before the game on Saturday I’d said that despite thinking that it’d be a draw, it’s still more exciting going to Villa than it was even a year ago – because there is always the chance that it will be one of those days where everything clicks. I guess the challenge for next season is getting that to happen more often.

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Yep, agreed on all points. It's interesting to note that Petrov was employed in the role he is more familiar with in his national team, rather than the one he played at Celtic. Perhaps Bulgaria knew something that we've only just found out!

Thankfully for us, our next 2 opponents are of a similar quality to Bolton whereas Blackburn our main rivals for Intertoto have Liverpool and Man Utd :thumb:

Feet are definitely on the ground because, as you say, on the days when we don't click we can be awfully stale.

It'll be interesting to see if the diamond is here to stay (for now anyway). It'd be foolish to go back to the previous system after such an impressive display.

It seems as though a change was as good as a rest for most of them out there.

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It'll be interesting to see if the diamond is here to stay (for now anyway). It'd be foolish to go back to the previous system after such an impressive display.

not having seen the game, can i ask who played in the diamond, and in waht positions?

Stan at the base?

left (barry), right (asher) & Pinnacle (Coker)?

is that right?

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And the key to it all was Petrov sitting back and letting the others do the biz, while pulling the strings himself. If anything it let NRC play the destroyer further up the park. Young started at the point of the diamond but as Wiggy says, it was a free role and they just didn't seem capable of picking him up. Barry just used the extra space and diminished responsibility to indulge in some forward forays and did it pay off or what :)

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And the key to it all was Petrov sitting back and letting the others do the biz, while pulling the strings himself.

And very refreshing to see too.

There has always been a footballer in Petrov, please let this be the release of it.

When he plays well, we play "football" not "hoofball". This was the best passing game that Villa have played for quite a while.

He is one of those players that gets lost in certain games, but when he has time in front of the back four and the game ahead of him he is a different player.

This formation may not work against stronger teams but MON got it spot on against Bolton.

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