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Thoughts On The Man City Game: That Was Rather Pleasing.


JohnCresswell
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Some top quality attacking play, a defensive mix up and a late goal conceded. The first game of the season ws just like the majority of last season, wasn't it? Well no, not at all actually.

I know we should judge a team on one game, and I know that this rule certainly applies to the first game of the season, but heck, keep it up, make the additions O'Neill is talking about and we could have a very exciting season ahead of us.

There have been a few similarities between Villa and City over the past two years. We were both taken over by new owners at roughly the same time. In fact, had thing worked out differently and a different bid to Randy Lerner's had been accepted we may have had Sven Goran Erickson as our manager instead of City last year. Thank goodness for so many reasons that Doug Ellis who did have many faults - did the best thing he did in his many years at Villa and sold the club to the right man. Whilst Lerner remains popular with the support, and as evident before today's game still only too happy to talk to the 'normal' fans whilst signing autographs, Man City's chairman is not even welcome in his homeland and if reports are true the club has had to take out a big loan just to guarantee the player wages for this season.

If that wasn't enough for them, then whilst Villa put in a dominating and confident performance in the UEFA Cup on Thursday brushing aside their opposition, Man City lost their first leg. So whilst the journey that both teams have been on is similar, If I were a City fan I'd be looking on at Villa with a rather large slice of envy.

Martin O'Neill is desperately trying to plug up villa's leaky defence. Signing three defenders and two goalkeepers means you don't need to be a genius to work that out. And yes, he has managed it. Having Friedel in goal gave the defence a sense of calm - they trusted the goal keeper behind him, which wasn't something that you could say last year. He has hands like magnets - he made three or four saves where last season we'd have seen a parry or a punch - Brad simply caught the ball.

We also got to see Villa with a right back. A proper right back. And if Luke Young plays the way he did today in every game he plays in then he'll rapidly become my favourite player at the club. Young is much more or a tough tackling kind of player - I'd never got that impression from him when in opposition - quite frankly the only thing he got wrong all afternoon was the penalty - which he wasn't all the blame for. The addition of a proper right back really did show what we were missing last year. Gabby's second goal was all down to some good play by Luke Young previously. And he knew it looking at his celebration when Gabby stuck it into the net.

Shorey too looked good. He was steady, perhaps liked to hold on to the ball a little too long at times (something the whole defence were guilty of at times - it was a little like Arsenal's pass not hoof policy at times) but his distribution with the ball was impressive. so it's a shame that a defensive mix up between the two new full backs let Johnson in on goal - but not for long as Young brought the midfielder down with a spectacular foul - no nonsense again.

At that point, 1-1, I must admit I was a little worried. Man City had begun to get into the game and I was wondering if Barry's missed chances in the first half would cost us. Our midfield was, ad you would expect, pulling all the strings in the Villa performance. It's not possible to comment on Villa these days without having to talk about the 'Barry situation'. Barry gave his all, he wanted to win and he tried his best but to me there was just something that wasn't 'there'. The sparkle didn't seem to be there. The alertness. I don't know if his mind was elsewhere, or whether I'm being paranoid - but he still managed two assists, so I can't be that harsh.

Ashley Young was terrific, yet again and despite picking up a knock in the first half (Hughes's tactic at Blackburn of fouling any man who has the ball seems to have quickly bee learnt by Manchester City) showed exactly why Capello was a fool not to call him into the England squad.

Carew and Agbonlahor must love it on days like this when the service they are getting is of such a high quality. Carew needs to be protected at times as he easily picks up little knocks, but his sheer strength is a joy to watch - and his header today is hopefully the first of many. Gabbys hatrick will take all the headlines tomorrow - and they were three excellent finishes - but had he not got the goals then the reaction to his performance would have ben much, much more negative. But I guess that's what the best strikers do - even if they are out of the game, they can pop up and get a goal - just as Torres did on Saturday. His third goal was just so pleasing - where before he may have lost discipline and wandered off side he realised how close he'd have to be, and then still with the power of Micah Richards chasing him he switched it to his left foot - something which this time last year I don't think he'd have done.

It's worth mentioning Stan Petrov too. He's had his critics, but today was possibly his best game in a Villa shirt. He passed the ball superbly, retained possession and made interceptions when needed. The only criticism, as with the defence, he tried to overplay it at times.

It was a really good attacking display, with a defensive show that gave promise of being a much stronger rearguard this year. It's all rather exciting, isn't it?

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Fantastic start to season and it looks like things are going to get better at villa park. We havn't had a squad this good since the days when Gregory first came in.

Barry and A.Young were amazing and are unstoppable when at their best. But im still abit disappointed in shorey and petrov.

Quite clearly from that game our best play comes from down the left. If we can get a decent attracking right winger we could make the top 4.

Where was Maloney BTW, i think we should be playing him on the right.

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How can you have been disappointed in Petrov? He was great yesterday.

Ok, Shorey did make a few mistakes, but he played better than he did in the FH game. Give him another game or two and he'll have settled in nicely.

NRC wasn't that good I thought, he isn't comfortable playing on the right. But the biggest disappointment was Barry. He looked like a pretty average player yesterday, there was no sign of the play-making, commanding Barry yesterday.

I didn't think that we were that great yesterday. Citeh were dreadful. Our main problem was our defence, throughout the whole pitch. That last goal that we conceded was a dreadful mistake, it was scored because our defence was poor. That goal should not have gone in. We have no problem scoring goals, we have a problem in the goals we concede, same old story.

A great attacking winger on the right will NOT get us a Top 4 slot. Scoring goals is not a problem for us (we were the 3rd highest team for scoring goals last season and we finished 6th!). It's our poor defensive play that holds us back, we score enough goals, but we let far too many goals in. Hopefully MON will sort it, as we won't make a Top 4 spot with poor defensive play, no matter how good we are at scoring goals.

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I just still expect more from Petrov, i feel like he hasn't lived up to his name and isnt consistant enough.

I dont how you can say Barry played like an average player, he was part of nearly every creative move in our attack. Without him we would'nt have won so easy.

And as for the right wing, do you expect all of our play to come from left and one serge down the right every game.

Goals will become a problem when playing the big teams & they're the ones we need to start beating if we want to make the top 4

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Barry missed chances and shot wide. We would have been a goal ahead in the first half if Barry hadn't missed that fairly easy chance from 10 yards and shot wide. For someone of Barry's calibre that really is poor.

Scoring goals is not our problem, as I said we would be 3rd last year if the league was based on goals scored. Our problem is, and has been, the goals we let in. The goals we let in were the reason we didn't finish higher than 6th (which was a great finish for last year, but if we had not let so many goals in we would have finished higher). Winning is not just about scoring goals, it is about stopping goals going in. We're very good at the former, but pretty poor at the latter. Of course I would love us to score more goals, but surely the priority must be sorting out the major weakness we have in letting goals in.

Even look at yesterday's game. Ok so we scored 4 goals, but Citeh would have scored 2 more if it hadn't been for Friedel. Citeh were rubbish, but even they opened us up at will whenever they made an attack. You knock Petrov, but it was Petrov that was breaking up play, gaining possession and holding Citeh back, he did his job very well. But look at the goals Citeh scored. The penalty was conceded because Luke Young challenged Michael Johnson and he went down, after the midfield just let him through and our defense seemed to be half asleep. What a fabulous debut Luke Young made yesterday, he was a joy to watch! And the last goal Citeh scored was a disgrace, we just let them score, the whole team (apart from Friedel) seemed to be asleep. No wonder Friedel was pissed off at our defence yesterday, he would have come away with a clean slate if we had done our job defending yesterday.

If Barry hadn't missed an easy shot and we hadn't have been so rubbish defensively, the score would have been 5-0 yesterday. I am of course pleased with a 4-2 win (my leg was scraped and bleeding all down the front from jumping up and down and scraping it on the seat in front yesterday), but we could have done a lot better and we were facing pretty rubbish opposition.

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I never said that we did'nt have defensive problems. But i think MON has signed his last defender this summer. Cueller was great last season, we brought in a decent right back (named mr.consistant at boro), davies is more experienced this season and hopefully bouma should be back in a few months. Fingers crossed things will get better.

But we still need another striker and maybe a right mid. MON has already made an approach for doyle and why do you think he's been trying to sign J.Cole, bentley, milner .etc

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I never said that we did'nt have defensive problems. But i think MON has signed his last defender this summer. Cueller was great last season, we brought in a decent right back (named mr.consistant at boro), davies is more experienced this season and hopefully bouma should be back in a few months. Fingers crossed things will get better.

But we still need another striker and maybe a right mid. MON has already made an approach for doyle and why do you think he's been trying to sign J.Cole, bentley, milner .etc

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