Jump to content

Onto the group stages!


John
 Share

Recommended Posts

My pre-season European goal was achieved last night when we qualified for the group stages. Anything else would be a bonus but we like bonuses do we not? Bring on Feyenoord (I fancy a return to the scene of our last European conquest)!

This was a solid and a professional display in which we drew a second consecutive home game in European competition having already all but settled the tie away from home with a team that was much changed from our usual starting line up. The difference between these games and the QPR game was that we had a 3 and 2 goal lead in these two games so the pressure was off and an odd goal would not send us crashing out of the competition. That luxury will not be with us in the group stages where our home games will be vital to our potential progress and resting players against the likes of Ajax or Milan will not be an option.

This was a better display than that we produced against Hafnarfjordur or QPR. It seemed to me that the players who came in last night were more match ready than in those previous two games and I’m sure Martin had made it clear that a repeat of our defeat against Rangers was not an option. It also looked like players such as Zat Knight and Marlon who had now got a few first team games under their belts had used those first team outings to good affect.

My player ratings from a game that will see us going head to head with some really good sides in the coming weeks, with a couple of potential full houses at Villa Park and with a couple of tempting away days on the continent are:

Brad Friedel - 6 – Rarely tested and sent the wrong way from the spot but he is so re-assuring to have between the sticks and shouts a good game as we all heard last night.

Luke Young – 6 – Good to see us with two proper full backs for this game, solid enough when tested down his flank.

Zat Knight – 7 – Looked solid and untroubled last night.

Carlos Cuellar – 6 – Unlucky to concede a penalty against a player who was going away from goal and took the opportunity that his challenge presented to go down in the box. Carlos has yet to look the assured player we know he will become. He needs a run in the side and that will not happen yet with the way both Curtis and Martin are performing. He will take time to settle into a new league and the strength we have at the back gives Martin the luxury of being able to give him all of the time he needs to get up to the level we and he expect from him.

Nicky Shorey – 6 – Steady at the back and his fine delivery from free-kicks that he was responsible for at his former club gives us an option to Ashley when we want dead balls played into the box.

Wayne Routledge – 7 – MOTM – Looked very much better last night. Wayne enjoyed this rare start and looked a real threat as he has when appearing for England U21s in the past. He might just prove to be a bargain after all. A sharp turn on 67 minutes and his decent effort was pushed out for a corner, also cut inside well on 83 minutes before being stopped in the only way the defender could see how by fouling him first outside and then inside of the box.

Stiliyan Petrov – 7 – Given the captaincy against a club from his homeland and this was well deserved on his displays so far this season and in Martin and Reo’s absence. Always showed a cool head last night and he has the very good habit of finding another Villa shirt with the ball. Beginning to look a bargain at the price we got him from Celtic.

Moustapha Salifou – 6 – Worked hard and did some decent work in the middle but I’m yet to be convinced or to see what Martin clearly does in him.

James Milner – 7 – I would have liked to see how he performed on the other side last night and I’m sure he would have liked to have seen more of the ball than he did. He looked a threat when he did have the ball at his feet.

Ashley Young – 7 – Not quite at his very best and played in a more forward role, a couple of rare disappointing free kicks from decent positions but he was still very hard to handle. Almost turned Marlon’s shot into the net on 4 minutes, had a dizzy run into the box on 40 minutes and hit a cross that only needed a touch applied to it that it did not get. He was then unlucky to hit the woodwork on 78 minutes.

Marlon Harewood – 7 – Took his goal really well and held the line pretty well as well. Got on the end of a great ball into the box on 10 minutes but his effort was deflected wide, then on 27 minutes he finished off a strong run with a fine shot into the far corner for the goal that effectively ended any realistic or otherwise hopes that Litex may have entertained.

Substitutes:

Isaiah Osbourne – A late replacement for Ashley on 86 minutes who was not on long enough to earn a rating. I’m sure that but for their equaliser Martin would have looked to give Delfouneso half an hour or so.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • VT Supporter
. I’m sure that but for their equaliser Martin would have looked to give Delfouneso half an hour or so.
I thought Delfouneso was away with the England U19's, rather than on the bench?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi John. As usual a very nice report on the match.

LV: Thanks for the input Ciaran,please see your PM I just sent, am happy do discuss but this is not the place for such discussion

Also like to say that i have been very impressed with our start to campaigns on all fronts, apart from the loss to QPR! We still need to buy quality for cover in the full back and striker departments and please MON, a little russian called Arshavin would be a great late Christmas present in January!

Ciaran Doherty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice review of the game which was quite enjoyable in an unpressured way. Really impressed by Wayne Routledge. Some of his turns to throw off defenders were superb. Even with the replay it was hard to see which way he had turned. I agree that Stan Petrov is fast becoming ‘The Rock’ in the centre. Marlon even had moments of excellence, the key word being ‘Moments’. I hope this will improve his confidence and like Petrov, will continue to grow and perform. Especially glad we appear to have avoided any injuries. I would have liked to have seen Nathan Delfouneso come on for the last 10 but hey I’m not the manager and MON knows his onions.

On the funny side the score board operator appeared to be having an off day. Litex’s goal was recorded as 68mins only 13 minutes after the commencement of the second half (58 mins) and for a while Litex had 23 yellow cards (over 2 per player!) before this was noticed and increased to 1923 (approx 174 each) before setting down to a more reasonable brace. Sadly I missed recording the evidence on my camera.

Zanev (23) suffered a blow to his pride from a driven Wayne Routledge ball, which went out for a corner. He fell like a stone right in front of the Holte and duly got the expected sympathy from the thousands above him. The physio duly did the leg bends and extensions to pump the little chaps down from their new location just behind his ears and when this didn’t work Zanev performed some amusing little jumps to try to make ‘em drop. Most males in the crowd were probably like me, laughing whilst feeling sorry for the chap and very glad it wasn’t us trying to restore the crown jewels in front of an unsympathetic Holte End and Trinity Road. My toes eventually uncurled and Wayne Routledge looked totally unconcerned by the discomfort he’d bestowed upon the poor Zanev. Hope the lads are OK Zanev.

27,000 is a good crowd for a Thursday night UEFA match but I really do hope that we will pack the stadium out when we play the group stage matches and of course subsequent rounds if we proceed further. European nights at VP should be something to be experienced and savoured.

Good pricing policy from the club – applause and acknowledgement to the marketing folks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Zanev (23) suffered a blow to his pride from a driven Wayne Routledge ball, which went out for a corner. He fell like a stone right in front of the Holte and duly got the expected sympathy from the thousands above him. The physio duly did the leg bends and extensions to pump the little chaps down from their new location just behind his ears and when this didn’t work Zanev performed some amusing little jumps to try to make ‘em drop. Most males in the crowd were probably like me, laughing whilst feeling sorry for the chap and very glad it wasn’t us trying to restore the crown jewels in front of an unsympathetic Holte End and Trinity Road. My toes eventually uncurled and Wayne Routledge looked totally unconcerned by the discomfort he’d bestowed upon the poor Zanev. Hope the lads are OK Zanev

Yes it was a priceless moment for all but one at the game last night. I love the detail in the description. :clap:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have to agree John - Had a good chuckle at "The physio duly did the leg bends and extensions to pump the little chaps down from their new location just behind his ears".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...
Â