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Villa enter the exclusive top 4 club & apply for members


John
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Shock - Manchester United left Villa Park winless yesterday. The points were shared and no right minded person could argue that on the balance of the play we were well worth a point. Now the trick is to stay in the top 4 for the rest of the season.

This was a little like the Liverpool game for me, with two good teams cancelling each other out and with chances being few and far between. We came at them more in the second half and I thought Big John’s introduction was a positive one as it showed we were not looking to just hang on to a point but to go for all three. But, at the end we did fall too deep and ran the risk of them getting another underserved winner at Villa Park. But, for one this did not happen and our games against Arsenal and Manchester United have got us the 4 points that we might have expected to have got in the two earlier games against Newcastle and Boro. The trick now is to not let things slip next week against Fulham.

So, what was the difference between this one and other games at Villa Park between the two clubs over the past dozen years? I think this time Fergie’s boys arrived on something less than the crest of a wave. I think they arrived for probably one of the few times for many a year not expecting just to need to turn up to grab the points. I think having won at Arsenal the week before they had lost there had the belief that we could go head to head with them. I also think that after this one our rivals will know we are in it for the long haul. Because with over a third of the season gone this is no early season fluke. We are where we deserve to be, catch us if you can Arsenal!

So was it a penalty. It would have been if it had been pretty boy Ronaldo. Gabby was being pulled back before he got into the box and we should have had a free kick then. If referee Foy was allowing advantage then fair enough, but he was not. Vidic did not learn and he continued to hinder Gabby after he had taken his run inside the box and the penalty for that should have been a spot kick and probably Vidic’s marching orders. But, Foy was too busy wondering how long it would be before he could award them another dubious free kick to make the right decision. The only question was do I blow my whistle now or when Gabby eventually goes down? He ducked the question which was one he did not have the nerve to make. I trust it will win him a Christmas card from Fergie!

My player ratings from a game that has left Arsenal trailing in our wake are:

Brad Friedel - 7 – Solid on the rare occasions he was called upon and when was the last time we could say that after a game against this lot?

Nigel Reo Coker – 8 – MOTM – I think a few of us had our doubts when it became clear it would be Reo rather than Shorey who would have the job of containing Ronaldo. But, he did the job tremendously well to the extent that Ronaldo’s main contribution to the evening was as a tumbler who hit the floor at every opportunity. No doubt Fergie will claim he lacked adequate protection. But, his contribution to the game was minimal because Reo made sure it was and he did that fairly. Did well on 18 minutes when winning the ball inside his own half and then running on to the edge of their box before hitting a firm low shot that Van der Sar gathered just inside the post. But, he remains a short term alternative here because he is no full back, he will need to be found a place somewhere in the starting line up after this performance though.

Curtis Davies – 8 – Showed why he was worth that trip to Berlin that the likes of Rooney and Ferdinand cried off from.

Martin Laursen – 8 – Another tower of strength in our defence that contained whatever Manchester United could throw out us.

Luke Young - 7 – Very solid performance particularly when you consider he was playing on his wrong side.

James Milner – 8 – Did so well on 86 minutes when his run took him to the edge of the box and his measured cross from the touchline looked likely to bring a winner until it was smothered a yard or two out by desperate defending. Another display and he is beginning to show what we knew he could in our shirt.

Stiliyan Petrov – 8 – He was immense last night. Here there and everywhere throughout the game and gave a tireless all action display. It is no coincidence that when he was missing from our team we looked less resolute in the middle.

Gareth Barry – 8 – Got better and better as the game progressed and by the close he was running the midfield, rather than the pretender to his England spot Carrick. Hit a nice effort that drifted wide on 65 minutes.

Steve Sidwell – 7 – Another very convincing performance in our midfield, Steve is settling in well.

Ashley Young – 8 – His best moment came in defence when he did so well to get back and take the ball away from Park when he was about to pull the trigger from what appeared an unchallenged position within our box. The challenge needed to be perfect for the referee to keep his whistle in his pocket and it was. But, he had his moments up front as well and was our main threat. Forced a finger tip save from Van der Sar on 50 minutes when hitting a measured effort from distance and from a wide position that had threatened to find the top corner of the net. Cut inside on 72 minutes and forced a low save from the keeper.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 7 – Little service and was marshalled pretty well by their defenders. But, kept running in the lone striker role and deserved a penalty when only Vidic’s clumsy challenges stopped him having a one on one with the keeper, after Barry had put him through with a great pass.

Substitutes:

John Carew – Replaced Sidwell on 81 minutes and not on long enough to earn a rating or really pose the threat to their defence he might have with more time. Can we afford to leave him on the bench but can we also afford to leave out a midfield player to accommodate him?

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Hi John. Again, a great report! Disagree with your comment about Liverpool, as they were missing their two best players when they played us and if we had been more pro-active in that game, we could and should have beaten them! However, it's really great that our team is now in the top four and on our present form, we deserve to be there. I just hope MON buys the two strikers we need to give Carew and Agbonlarhor a well earned rest, cover in the fullback positions and a out and out creative midfielder! If he does this, then we could very well stay in the top five, so signing more quality is essential! Ciaran.

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Yes Ciaran, I think we do need a big name striker but will probably get Doyle to give us some options up front and one full back should be enough as I trust Bouma will be available in the next couple of months.

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Reo-Coker MOTM?

Thought he did an excellent defensive job on Ronaldo for sure, but practically every pass he made went astray. As usual. If the guy could pass he'd be absolutely top-class... but he can't.

I thought Barry or Petrov MOTM myself, classy all round displays from them both.

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Hi John. I hope your wrong about us signing Doyle in January. He is doing well in the 1st division with Reading, but i don't think he has the quality to keep us in the top four!I think Zaki from Wigan would be a much better signing if Wigan can't afford his transfer fee. However, knowing MON, you may well be right, as he may indeed sign Doyle, or Heskey, both of which, wouldn't give me a lot of confidence that they would score enough goals to keep us in the top four! I think Elano would also be a good loan signing from Man City. He would add a little more flair if MON were to play him behind Agbonlahor, if Carew had one of his injuries. Also glad to see the above comment about Reo-Coker. According to the press, MON paid 8 million for him. I still can't see why. Would really like to see his stats for misplaced passes. A really poor MON signing and although i really didn't approve of the Sidwell signing either, at least Sidwell can pass the ball four yards and we look far stronger with Sidwell in midfield, than can't pass Coker! Ciaran.

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Reo does seem to divide opinions. Yes his distribution is not great and he holds onto the ball a touch too long for his own good sometimes but I think he will become an England player during his time with us because he does the other jobs very well, gives 110% and is a natural leader. Some of us once thought Petrov was not a good signing, I back Martin on Reo coming good in the same way that Petrov has. As for man of the match it was a difficult one as there were a few who could have easily been given it. I gave it to Reo given the job he did was not one he prefers and the quality of the player he kept in his pocket. But, its all about opinions folks.

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Yeah John. I was one of the people to whom you referred to about Petrov. However, Petrov could always pass, while Reo Coker has shown many times this season and last, that he simply can't! A very interesting opinion on Reo-Coker playing for England. I remember hearing a rumour a few years ago that Vinny Jones was close to an international call up. At least Vinny put the fear of God into the oposition. Reo may well play for England, but do you think he would be better in the holding midfield role for England, than say, Vinny, Gareth Barry, Carrick, Lampard, or Gerrard? Nevertheless, Reo-Coker might be looked at for a friendly, or if England had a lot of injuries, but i don't think Capello would have our Reo-Coker playing in his team due to being a great leader! Maybe a spoiler. Will be very interested to see if your comment about Reo comes true? O.K, now Fulham and i'm a little worried about this one. Fulham are no pushovers and pass the ball well. We are expected to win, so lets do it! Ciaran.

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Vinny is a better actor than he ever was a footballer. Which is not saying a lot Ciaran. :lol: Reo is a far better player than he was although I think Vinny did play for Wales?

As for the holding role I think that is Barry's with Carrick and Hargreaves looking to compete for that position. I don't see Reo getting in front of them in the short term but who knows he might get a game at full back! :lol:

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Think membership might be dependant on a bit more than two decent results against the Sky 4.

Everton have been 'best of the rest' for the past few years, thats how the rest of the country view us at present.

No mean feat in itself, many sides would swap places with us in an instant.

But to be thought of as part of the 'establishment' means operating towards the top end of the table over a consistent period - 3/5 years minimum, and being genuinely in the hunt for the games biggest prizes.

We are closer to that aim than we were in 2006, but there is still a long, long way to go yet.

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But to be thought of as part of the 'establishment' means operating towards the top end of the table over a consistent period - 3/5 years minimum, and being genuinely in the hunt for the games biggest prizes

I see your point HolteExile and agree. The first target is to be the new Everton but if we do that by ending the season in the top 4 as they did once then I think we stand a better chance of actually joining the club than they did.

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i'll admit, i'm a man united fan from solihull and i know i'll recieve abuse for this, but i have never really liked villa. however their achievements so far this season and so far under o'neill demand respect and i must say i've enjoyed seeing villa doing so well. i think its important that a club from the second city does well in our top league, its always been so dominated by northern teams or cockneys and its really good to see villa right up there with the big boys. i hope villa go far in uefa and get in the top 4 this season, time for one of the cockney teams to take a backseat IMO. also i reckon villa are definately a good shout for the fa cup this season.

O'neill is a legend and i really hope villa keep it up, always been my favourite midlands side.

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i'll admit, i'm a man united fan from solihull and i know i'll recieve abuse for this, but i have never really liked villa.

O'neill is a legend and i really hope villa keep it up, always been my favourite midlands side.

:?

ok sorry i can understand that being confusing, i meant that i have never really liked villa, however i have always prefered them to the blues, the baggies and so forth. not a big fan of the midlands to be honest.

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