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Gabby grabs a 7-minute hat-trick to clinch our victory!


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So Gabby just needs just 17 more goals from our remaining 37 league games to prove that he can be the 20 goal a season striker that we need!

“Going down with the chairman” and “Where’s your money gone”. How funny were those chants? I’m sure that the Manchester City fans that sneaked out of the ground after our fourth goal will have seen the funny side as will their chairman as he clings to his freedom. OK they probably would not have, in the same way as those fans would not have seen their late consolation goal. By the way, we really do need to kick that habit of conceding a goal after we hit our fourth one!

We owed Manchester City this one. In recent seasons they have been our bogey team and one that we have rarely bettered but that all came to an end yesterday, despite a debatable penalty in what was an entertaining six goal thriller at the Villa.

This was not quite as easy as the score suggests. We were well worth our victory but at times we were stretched at the back by their fast raiding breaks and the goals that clinched our win were a long time coming. But like the proverbial London omnibus, when one goal did eventually come so did two others to put the game out of their reach where our first goal had failed to do so. Its early days but there were a lot of positives to be taken out of this. OK Martin will not have been happy to see his new look defence concede two goals but if we score goals as regularly as we have been doing towards the end of last season and now at the start of this one, we will win more games than we lose this season.

My player ratings from a game that left us second in the league and two points ahead of last season’s champions are:

Brad Friedel - 7 – A confident keeper who will rarely be beaten so often at home. Brad made a good stop from Elano on 29 minutes and several others particularly two from substitute Ireland later on that could have put a different complexion on the game. Was sent the wrong way from the penalty spot by Elano for their first, but you can’t stop them all.

Luke Young – 7 – Strong tackles, looks hungry for the challenge and looked unlucky to have conceded their penalty. Oh what a joy it is to have a real right back again!

Curtis Davies – 7 – Hasn’t he done well to get fit so soon? Looked very good particularly early on and once he has proved his fitness looks destined to join Gareth in the England squad.

Martin Laursen – 7 – Our new captain produced his usual determined performance but will not have been happy to have seen his new look defence concede two goals. I’m sure that once they become familiar with each other’s game any initial teething problems can be ironed out.

Nicky Shorey – 7 – A pretty competent performance but will be unhappy to have let the ball run loose within the box for their equaliser when he had seemed to have it.

Nigel Reo Coker – 7 – More comfortable when in a central position but made some strong challenges and worked hard throughout. Hit a great cross on 25 minutes that Hart touched onto Barry whose shot brushed the side netting rather than nestled into the back of the net and was near to scoring himself when just failing to reach a cross.

Stiliyan Petrov – 8 – Ran the show for us in the midfield particularly in the first half. Some strong runs and is looking increasingly more like the player we had thought we had signed two years ago.

Gareth Barry – 7 – Not quite at his dominant best in the first half when on another day he might have scored but it was nice to see him still in a Villa shirt and now looking down the table at the club he might have joined. His perfectly timed pass set up Gabby’s third and he had a hand in the last three of our four goals.

Ashley Young – 7 – Did more than enough to show there should have been no question of his not being included in the latest England squad.

John Carew – 7 – Probably not fully match fit but was still a potent threat and popped up with our opener a minute into the second half when he headed in Ashley’s pin point cross having earlier glanced a header just wide of the far post from a corner on 5 minutes and having had another header from a corner saved comfortably 4 minutes later.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 9 – MOTM – On 67 minutes after failing to convert what seemed a decent goal scoring opportunity I said that he really needed to be turning opportunities like that into goals and on 69, 74 and 76 minutes he did exactly that. Gabby started by clipping the ball into the net after a corner had been headed back across goal by Carew to regain our lead, 5 minutes later he applied the perfect headed finish to Barry’s perfect cross and 2 minutes later he completed his hat-trick with a Jimmy Greaves like finish when he pushed the ball past the oncoming Hart having broken clear and run onto Barry’s well placed pass. This second fastest Premier League hat-trick which was scored in front of the Holte End will do his confidence no end of good and should give him something to build upon during the season.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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I think most of the marks are a tad on the generous side, though I do agree on Curtis Davies, who was very good, like wise Stan Petrov. I suppose you can't knock the forwards when we score 4, too.

I felt NRC was nowhere near a 7. I'd give him 10/10 for sheer effort, but for me his use of the ball, with one exception, an excellent run and cross, was pretty awful. Overall I'd rate his contribution as 5 at best, probably 4. I know he was wide right, not his natural position, but for a Premier League footballer his distribution and the tendency to run into blind alleys is at times alarmingly bad. He'll have much better days, I'm sure.

Still City have a lot of good players, and will do quite well themselves, I feel, so a good performance and a good result against a previous bogey side is a very good way to start the season.

We do need to keep hold of the ball better, because not every team we face will be as shambolic at the back as City were yesterday, at times.

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I think the first game of the season, turning over Citeh for once and the 4 goals may have led to a more generous marking on this occasion Blandy. I also agree with the points you make concerning Reo's work rate v his distribution and this was something I had looked at when marking his contribution in the wide role he is currently filling. I promise to give the odd 6 or below next time. :winkold:

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