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A Portrait of a Season


JohnCresswell
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Villa89 casts his eye over the 07/08 season (sorry about the title I couldn't think of anything better)

With the season over its time to take a look back at the highs, lows and creamy middles of a great season for the claret and blue. I have picked out a few matches that I feel reflect the season.

Saturday 11 August 2008

Aston Villa 1-2 Liverpool

The season started with Liverpool being touted as title contenders and villa as mid table also-rans by the so called experts. Neither was ever going to be the case. The game was even enough and when Gareth Barry dispatched a penalty a draw looked a cert. Unfortunately the referee remembered that Liverpool were one of the 'Big 4' and awarded them every decision possible until they equalised from a non-existent free kick. Some Liverpool player scored it, I don’t remember his name but he dived a lot ;).

Sunday 2 September 2008

Aston Villa 2-0 Chelsea

Villa defended stoutly and hit Chelsea on the break whenever possible. We did not know it at the time but our pace on the counter attack would be crucial over the course of the season. We deserved the win and we started to believe something special might happen this season. We had Europe on our minds.

Monday 1 October

Tottenham Hotspur 4-4 Aston Villa

We played badly and somehow found ourselves 4-1 up! Away from home against a side that was supposed to be challenging for a champions league place. Then Marlon Harewood came on...

Saturday 20 October

Aston Villa 1-4 Man Utd.

We took the lead early and remembering the Chelsea result we all started to think this time we could finally beat them. Unfortunately our early goal just spurred them into life and Rooney et al destroyed us. Who'd have thought a little fat boy from Liverpool could have so much talent. Dreams of Europe looked just that, dreams.

Sunday 11 November

Small Heath Alliance 1-2 Aston Villa

Liam Ridgewell played the best game I have ever seen him play for villa, getting on the scoresheet and generally being a menace to the SHA back four. It became a tight tussle in the second half and looked like it would end in a draw. Young crossed to Gabby and the rest is history.

Wednesday 28 November

Blackburn 0-4 Aston Villa

Nobody likes going to Blackburn. Mark Hughes always has his troops well organised and tough to beat. We walloped them 4-0 and it looked easy. The odd thing was that we seemed be winning away from home and had no trouble scoring goals. This wasn't Aston Villa as we knew it. Harewood scored the last and had captured some fans hearts, not everyone had forgiven him though (yet).

Saturday 1 December

Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal

We took the lead. Then they took us apart.

Wednesday 26 December

Chelsea 4-4 Aston Villa

Ballack dived and Knight looked like a child whose sweets have just been stolen as he walked down the tunnel. Justice is seldom done in football but a 92 second minute penalty from Barry was just that. McInally went ballistic. Legend.

Saturday 5 January

Aston Villa 0-2 Man Utd.

We drew Man Utd. in the 3rd round of the FA cup and we lost. It'll be the same again next year and the year after that and...

Monday 21 January

Liverpool 2-2 Aston Villa

Liverpool took the lead and looked reasonable value for the win. Then Marlon Harewood came on and changed the game. For the better. The mood on VillaTalk changed as suddenly Marlon was fast becoming a cult hero. Europe now looked a real possibility. The transfer window shut and we had only signed Wayne Routledge. Prophets of doom lurked around VillaTalk.

Saturday 9 February

Aston Villa 4-1 Newcastle

Newcastle started better than us and went in 1 up. Then someone whispered in John Carew's ear that there were 40 odd Norwegians from the villa fan club that had travelled over especially for the game. He destroyed the Newcastle defence in the second half. Gareth Barry handed him the ball, more a matter of self preservation than an act of comradeship and Carew completed his hattrick with a bullet penalty.

Saturday 1 March

Arsenal 1-1 Aston Villa

We needed the win. We deserved it. We got 5 minutes of injury time and a 95th minute equaliser. More precious points dropped and with not long left thoughts started to tend towards what might have been.

Saturday 29 March

Man Utd. 4-0 Aston Villa

That fat boy again. March was a bad month for Villa with 5 games and only two points to show for it. Martin O'Neill was getting some flak for not strengthening in January and the season looked like it would peter out.

Saturday 5 April

Aston Villa 4-0 Bolton

We needed a win badly. We massacred a terrible Bolton team and scored arguably our goal of the season, a lovely counter attacking move with quick passing and a tidy finish from Gabby.

Saturday 12 April

Derby 0-6 Aston Villa

We scored six goals away from home against the worst team to ever grace the premier league. SIX!

Sunday 20 April

Aston Villa 5-1 Small Heath Alliance

Full of confidence we battered our local neighbours. I was going to call them rivals but they are no rivals of ours. They are a poor quality championship team. They were soon to be relegated and lost from our lofty radar. Thank God. The only saving grace for them was that their manager had the sense to admit "they're a better team than us". We always were, and always will be. Forever in our shadow.

Sunday 27 April

Everton 2-2 Aston Villa

Sky billed it as the UEFA cup decider and in the end it decided nothing. It did show our great fighting spirit and never say die attitude. If ever a team reflected their manager it was us in this game.

Saturday 3 May

Aston Villa 0-2 Wigan

Ollie's last game at Villa Park and with the party atmosphere of the final home game of a great season a win was always on the cards. The problem was that Wigan got our copy of the script and we got theirs. They counter attacked well and we looked like a team with our minds on the summer holiday in Torremolinos. Everton just needed a point from their final two games and our hopes of direct UEFA qualification were dashed.

Overall I had expected an 8th place finish for Villa this season and we got 6th place and a place in the UEFA cup via the InterTwoBob. I think our performance this season and level of improvement has exceeded the expectations of most, if not all, Villa fans. We ended the season as the 3rd highest scorers in the league and looked very dangerous away from home.

However there is one caveat to this season’s performance. I think we have seen Martin O’ Neill get the best possible performance out of the players we have this season. That means in order to improve next season we need additions to the squad and more importantly quality additions to the first team. I expect a busy summer for Villa and the expectations for next season will be largely based around who O’Neill spends the pennies on. Our manager has been at pains to point out that he wants to sign the players that are right for us.

The supply and demand of quality players means that competition is intense especially in the market in which Villa will be shopping in this summer. If we are to improve next season and really push for a 5th place finish (or better) O’Neill will have spend more money, buy his most expensive player(s) ever and dare I say it, gamble on a few overseas imports. Whether he will do any of these things remains to seen. One thing is for certain, we do indeed have both a Proud History and a Bright Future.

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Nicle article, only thing I would disagree wth was this

Saturday 1 December

Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal

We took the lead. Then they took us apart.

We took the lead, they played perfect football till half time at which point MON had his words and we got in their faces and deserved a point would be a better summary IMO

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Nicle article, only thing I would disagree wth was this

Saturday 1 December

Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal

We took the lead. Then they took us apart.

We took the lead, they played perfect football till half time at which point MON had his words and we got in their faces and deserved a point would be a better summary IMO

I agree with that, though I thought the article was very good and a useful reminder of a good season.

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