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Villa move into the top three, pinch yourself folks!


John
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An early goal from them and the perfect response from us!

So where did the referee get those 4 minutes of injury time from and we did he miss that obvious hand ball in their penalty box? Who cares? I really enjoyed that last 4 minutes. For once instead of looking in danger of conceding a late goal as we so often do we played the game out near the corner flag in our opponents half. James Milner showed if he has learned one thing at Newcastle it is the art of killing off a game in injury time and what a pleasure it was to see us denying Sunderland the ball and the opportunity to steal a late goal and a late point.

Can anyone else take their eyes off the league table after we leapfrogged Arsenal into third ahead of next weekend’s table topping clash at Stamford Bridge? If we get something out of next week‘s game people really will need to sit up and take notice of us and bring us into top 4 consideration. I know it’s a big if, but who knows and isn’t it nice to be looking at the results of the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea as our competitors rather from the outside looking in?

When we went a goal down we might have feared the worst. But, the advantage of going a goal down early is that you have plenty of time to turn it around and we did so in just 24 minutes! Sunderland did not make it easy for us and kept the ball very well at times but this was a thoroughly professional and committed performance from us and one that gives real hope that we can stay in the mix at the top this season.

My player ratings from a game that has left us still well clear of Fergie’s boys is:

Brad Freidel - 7 – Oozed confidence when tested and was a commanding figure.

Luke Young – 6 – A solid display. Strong tackling but does need to work a little on his contribution when moving forward.

Martin Laursen – 7 – Blotted out any threats that Sunderland were able to present. Headed the ball straight at Gordon when unmarked from a Barry corner on 8 minutes and they then went straight up the other end to steal the lead.

Curtis Davies – 7 – A couple of rare mistakes late in the game that will have offered Carlos a little encouragement but a very good performance on the whole and Curtis is showing that competition for places does produce consistently good performances.

Nicky Shorey – 6 – A steady enough performance until replaced with 20 minutes and injury time remaining. Why do we always take off a full back?

Nigel Reo Coker – 7 – Showed us what we were missing in mid-week. Battled hard to claim the midfield and was always pressuring Sunderland when they had the ball.

Stiliyan Petrov – 8 – MOTM - Really thriving in his role in the team now and looking the player we knew he was when he signed from Celtic. A fine display.

Gareth Barry – 6 – Not at his best but did do some decent stuff at times, nearly added a third on 43 minutes when Gabby’s pace presented him with a half chance that Gordon smothered and hit a fierce shot over the bar on 72 minutes.

Ashley Young – 7 – Hit a terrific free kick past Gordon from outside the box on 17 minutes and was a constant threat. Stole the ball from the keeper on the edge of the box near the end of the first half and found Reo who shot into the stand due to a bobble when faced with a difficult angle and an unguarded net. Nice to see Ashley and James Milner threatening in tandem on both wings in the last 20 minutes.

John Carew – 7 – Worked hard and his back heal on 32 minutes sealed the win from Petrov’s firm ball into the danger area.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Some decent build up work and was just wide from outside the box on 66 minutes but did not pose a threat as often as he needs to and may need to work on the basics of the striker’s art. Pace is a great weapon but there are other tricks of the trade and a couple of days talking to and learning from someone like Jimmy Greaves would be beneficial.

Substitutes:

James Millner – 7 – Replaced Nicky on 70 minutes and looked very good. Showed a lovely touch just after coming on when cutting in from the wing and beating a couple of players and played a leading role in choking the life out of the game in the closing minutes.

Carlos Cuellar – A late arrival brought on to stiffen our defence in the dying minutes, not on long enough to rate.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Some decent build up work and was just wide from outside the box on 66 minutes but did not pose a threat as often as he needs to and may need to work on the basics of the striker’s art. Pace is a great weapon but there are other tricks of the trade and a couple of days talking to and learning from someone like Jimmy Greaves would be beneficial.

I'll see what I can do.......... :lol:

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Villa move into the top three, pinch yourself folks!

Nice upbeat article, but it's not as if we havent been close to the top of the table since 1935 or some such.

We were up as high as third going into November just two years ago, but then fell away badly.

So long as we're in an around the top 6 come the end of the year- and Europe doesn't take too much out of us- we'll be in a good position to push on.

It's quite obvious that we do still need to strenghthen the squad though. A forward or two in January (with hopefully the Mare going in the opposite direction) plus full back cover should see us right.

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it's not as if we havent been close to the top of the table since 1935 or some such

Yes, we have been in this position before HolteExile but this time for the first time since the late 70s, I see signs of a gradual development of what could become a very good team and a top 4 place may then become the norm rather than the exception in the coming years.

I like yourself and bromsgove-avfc think we will push on with a couple more signings come the next window. A fox in the box type striker and a back up for Young would do for me.

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Totally agree with several of the above comments. I keep banging on about this, but when Spurs failed to sign Arshavin, why did MON not go and sign him? He most certainly would have added the creativity we needed! MON was told that he could have spent 30m on one player. Arshavin would have cost 10m less to buy, but then again, Arshavin is foriegn and MON likes to buy british. I think this is a rather narrow minded attitude. If your good enough, it doesn't matter what nationallity you are!

I also agree that we need a 'fox in the box' and a decent replacement for Carew when he picks up one of his monthly injuries! I would just love to see us pick up an unknown gem which Wigan have done with Zaki. Maybe our scouting system needs to be looked at! Do we have a scouting system abroad?

I just hope our key players stay free of injury untill January, when MON must sign full back cover, a creative midfielder (please MON, Arshavin) and certainly two forwards who are better than Harewood, which shouldn't be hard to find! Anyway, well done to the lads for the great start and lets hope MON signs the players we need in January to give our boys a well needed rest!

Ciaran Doherty.

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I'm not sure Arshavin would have come in the summer Ciaran but it would seem Manchester City have shown that money is a great motivator in the transfer market and if we are in or around the league postion we hold now come January we might just be able to attract a big name that will make a big difference to our season then. The one I would like plays up front for Ajax and it seems looks like Steve Stride's son. :lol:

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Yeah, i know who you mean and yes he would be a fantastic signing, eh, i mean, Huntelaar and not Steve Stride's son. However, would MON buy foriegn? I believe Heskey may well be on his way to us in January, which MON would feel more comfortable with. A striker that certainly gives all to the team, but doesn't score a lot!

I think Arshavin would have come to us if the money was there. First of all Arshavin heard that Barca was interested and he told everyone that it was his dream move, then the same thing with Spurs! I think if Randy and Woody Allen, eh, i mean MON, had spoken to Arshavin at the European Championships, when he was for sale and before he played in the final game of the group stages, then we would have gotten a great player for £11m which was his price at that time! Is it just me, or do we really have Woody Allen as our current manager. I mean there is more than a likeness to Woody!

Ciaran Doherty.

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