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Agent Carson hands us points in a ding dong derby!


John
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Yesterday’s win left us in third place sitting just 5 points behind leaders Liverpool and three points clear of Arsenal. We are now in the thick of things, have gone two months without a league defeat and are founder members of what must now be accepted as the new big five.

This was a proper derby. Albion started brightly and had the better of the early part of the game. But, we went in two goals up and anticipating another 5-1 derby rout. Albion might think they deserved a point. They did not. On the weight of chances created we might have scored 5. The fact that we did not and they were powder puff up front demonstrated that both sides need to sign a striker in this window albeit for different reasons. A striker who can give us 10 league goals between now and the end of the season should secure us Champions League football next season. A striker for Albion which is for them their missing link might well see them stay up to give us another 6 points next season. Let’s hope we both get what we need in this transfer window because it would be a pity for both clubs to risk failing to achieve what they have both worked so hard for, for the want of just one player.

Another local derby double was secured yesterday and that left us in third place sitting just 5 points behind leaders Liverpool. The title might be just beyond us this year and I’m still aiming for fourth. But, Arsenal now know they are in for a real battle and they only scored a late goal to prevent a 5 point gap opening up between us. We are now one game into a run of five games that could allow us to develop a healthy gap between Arsenal and ourselves before we go into UEFA Cup action again. A home game against Wigan and away games at Sunderland, Portsmouth and Blackburn are all winnable although these are also the sort of games that have proved banana skins for us in the past. But, what would we give for maximum points from these games or to extend our present unbeaten league run from two to three months?

My player ratings from a game that extended our run without home defeat against Albion beyond 30 years of hurt are:

Brad Friedel - 6 – Unfortunate to be beaten by a deflection for their goal when he appeared to have had the shot covered.

Nigel Reo Coker – 6 – Not quite at his best today, kept busy at the back which limited his opportunities to get forward.

Curtis Davies – 8 – MOTM – Our best defender today stopping everything that was thrown at him by his former side with some ease and popped up on 17 minutes to guide Barry’s cross into the corner of the net for our first. His muted celebrations did much to answer his critics from the club he once captained, as did his overall performance and his excellent headed goal

Martin Laursen – 6 –A surprise earlier than hoped for return. Nice to see him back but he will be better for this game. Beaten by Morrison’s turn on the edge of the box for their goal.

Luke Young - 7 – Another solid performance and became an increasing threat to their defence in the second half.

James Milner – 7 – More involved today and worked hard. Hit a fierce shot just over the bar on 41 minutes

Stiliyan Petrov – 8 – Another solid midfield performance and he held our midfield together when it was put under pressure by our opponents in the first half. Always has time on the ball and seldom loses possession of finds anything other than a Villa shirt.

Gareth Barry – 7 – Did not look at his best on his return from injury but he became more like his influential self as the game wore on, particularly in the second half. His crosses and intelligent passing had been much missed. Unlucky when his 52nd minute effort found the side netting.

Steve Sidwell – 6 – Might have scored a hat-trick and should really have had one on the half hour when he pushed Milner’s inviting cross wide when he needed to be on target. Twice denied by blocks off the line on 17 minutes in the lead up to our opener and was thwarted by Carson twice in 2 minutes, when a shot was blocked on 50 minutes and then our ex-keeper made a great save from an excellent top corner bound effort on 52 minutes. Does well to get into the positions to score, but having done so needs to convert more of these opportunities.

Ashley Young – 7 – Placed a shot only inches wide of Carson’s far post on 24 minutes. A constant threat to their defence and had the beating of their defenders all day. Once again faced late claims for a penalty but again was rightly adjudged to have not committed any infringement.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Was not match fit and this excuses some of his less than convincing moments yesterday, such as the lack of challenges and runs on some occasions when the ball was aimed forward towards him. But, he showed his value when he cut inside from a wide position on 40 minutes to find no Villa player in a position to receive a cross and so chanced his arm with a shot that Agent Carson somehow fumbled into the net. Had a shot at the end of a decent run pushed wide by Carson on 46 minutes.

Substitutes:

Carlos Cuellar – Replaced Sidwell on 86 minutes to stiffen our defence in the dying minutes. Nice to see him back but not on long enough to rate.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Hi John. Nice to see another excellent report by yourself and you must be in the top four of written reports this season, including the tabloids! Watched the West Brom match on Sky yesterday and agree with your comments that we deserved to win. However, i also agreed with Dion Dublin's after match comments about Villa being quite lucky over the last several matches, as we haven't played at all well. Our luck will soon run out and we will not always get presents from Premiership defences, including own goals! Nevertheless, even though we have had our fair share of luck, every villa player is giving 110% and we are winning, even when we are not at our best, which is a fantastic habit to have! I totally agree with you that we desperately need another striker and hopefully MON will take advantage of the January transfer window to do so, as Gabby, although not being well yesterday, is still showing the first signs of fatigue! I am also worried about Petrov, as i have noticed, his legs are starting to go around the 70 minute mark in in our last few games, which means our back four are not being as well protected as they should be and it is allowing teams to play through us more in the last quarter of our games. At the moment i have stumps where my nails used to be and hopefully MON can also purchase a midfielder to give our Stan a well earned rest! I'm also a little alarmed at the way MON is treating Shorey and it is obvious that, after buying him, MON doesn't now trust him to play in the left back position. The tabloids are now suggesting that Newcastle are interested in a swap with Shorey going to Newcastle and Charles N'zogbia coming to Villa? In my humble opinion, this would be a good deal for us, as, again, according to tabloid reports, MON has been interested in N'zogbia for some considerable time and MON, clearly doesn't fancy Shorey as a Villa player! However, i disagreed with your comment about Reo Coker not being up to his usual standard. I thought he did quite well in the right back position and defensively he was sound. Just as long as he doesn't venture over the halfway line where he can give the oposition a twelfth player with his many misplaced passes! Lets hope the luck stays with us to the end of the season and the two Youngs don't get injured? I also hope that Arsenal's interest in Arshavin doesn't come to fruition, as if he appears in an Arsenal shirt by the end of January, then our chances of finishing fourth will be slim! Arshavin is that good! Regards, Ciaran.

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Thanks for the kind words again Ciaran. I agree that we have rode our luck a little in recent games but Arsenal always enjoyed the "Lucky Arsenal" tag so I am happy for us to be known as "Lucky Villa" in the future if it brings us the sort of results they used to grind out week after week. I also consider good teams make their own luck and I'm happy we are getting our fair share for once. I agree on the Shorey situation. I thought that he would be a good signing and he has the potential to prove that he is in the way that Petrov has, if he works on his game and earns his place, rather than looks for a move so soon. As far as N'zogbia is concerned, I don't think that what he has said about prefering a move to Arsenal rather than to us or to Spurs will go down too well with Martin. Turning to Arshavin, he does look Arsenal bound subject to them finding the fee and meeting his wages demands. If they won't I would like to think we might But, if they do get him I'm hoping that the players we bring in will prove to be more than a match for him.

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The Olbiyun fans did a pretty decent impersonation of being small heath knuckledraggers

Surely they have not quite sunk to those depths? :lol:

Not quite but they're trying :-)

We had 3 or 4 renditions of "Shit on the Villa"

And a few "We hate Villa"'s

Even the old "Chim-chimmeny" golden oldie, hahahahaha, sad stripey jealous guys :crylaugh:

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Very fair report there, can't disagree with much of that.

My thoughts;

- Having watched the full game again, we created a slew of presentable chances, 2-1 flattered them a bit really although they held their own in the 2nd half.

- Some people say we are lucky at the moment, I think Steve Sidwell would disagree. I am sure he will hit a patch some point this season when he will be scoring regularly. This will help us immensely in the run in.

- Luke Young continues to impress and it was nice to see him getting up the flanks as well.

- Credit to Gabby for his efforts as he was sick all last week. Well done son !

- Solid outing from Milner who was involved a lot. I think he needs to work on his left footed crossing when he cuts back inside. From memory he seemed to hit the first man quite a lot when doing this.

- Laursen looked a little off the pace as may have been expected, didn't look overly comfortable up against Bednar who was a strong physical challenge. As for Luke Moore..oh dear.

Overall, job well done, on to the next one.

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I agree on the Shorey situation. I thought that he would be a good signing and he has the potential to prove that he is in the way that Petrov has, if he works on his game and earns his place, rather than looks for a move so soon.

can't really say i agree re: Shorey. I think he has looked extremely ropey, and i guess martin has thought the same.

His position is nothing like Stan's either. MON played Stan through thick and thin, stuck with him and insisted to us that Stan was a quality player who would come good.

MON has ditched Shorey quick sharp. I guess that he simply doesn't rate him, so IMHO it's the end of the road at Vila for him. I expect to see him leave sooner rather than later ....

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Hi John. Many thanks for your considered reply. Just thought and i'm sure MON did too, that in the purchase of Shorey, we were buying an England International, who we didn't have to wait on to come good. I believe also that Steve Sidwell influenced MON's purchase of Shorey, so maybe MON has learned a harsh lesson to never buy a player on the basis of another player's advice! I also sincerely hope you are right about the players we bring in and are going to be the same quality of an Arshavin? I just feel that we are a team at the moment who need a bit of extra quality to allow us to pass through teams, when they sit back and invite us to try and break them down. Arshavin has that ability, but if he does go to Arsenal, then who else is available to give us that creative spark? I would also like to see us being more comfortable on the ball in midfield, especially when we are under pressure! Maybe a bit more easier on the eye, to add to Young's and Agbonlahor's class up front! Certainly, now is the time to strengthen our squad when we are fourth in the Premiership! Whats the point in waiting until the end of the season, when our chance may have gone to qualify for the CL, through not having the numbers, or quality in our squad to deal with the amount of games we have coming up If MON can find us a top quality creative midfielder, and a striker (please not Heskey, or Doyle) and with Boom Boom to come back into the left back position, then we have every chance of being called lucky Villa by the Arsenal fans at the end of the season! Regards, Ciaran.

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Certainly, now is the time to strengthen our squad when we are fourth in the Premiership! Whats the point in waiting until the end of the season, when our chance may have gone to qualify for the CL

I agree 110% Ciaran. Too many times in the past we have missed the opportunity to build when in a position of strength and when players would to join us. This time we have the board in place that will not be adverse to backing the manager. The only problem may be getting the quality we need in this window as clubs may be reluctant to sell.

MON has ditched Shorey quick sharp. I guess that he simply doesn't rate him, so IMHO it's the end of the road at Vila for him. I expect to see him leave sooner rather than later

I see your point Jon. Shorey was withdrawn from the firing line very quickly after making a mistake in the same game that Sidwell did. Sidwell was given games to shake off the error but Shorey was not. I read that Martin has told Shorey to fight for his place, if he would prefer the option of a move that will say more about his being prepared to back himself to become a Villa regular as has Petrov and he may well be on his way out of the exit door this month as you suggest.

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Hi John. Many thanks for your kind reply. I see we are now being linked with Kenwyne Jones, who would be a fantastic signing for us, if you could believe the tabloids? Imagine a forward line of Jones and Agbonlahor. I think that forward line would put the, you know what up the usual top four defences! However, would Sunderland sell him, even for the £12million quoted? Again, if you can believe the tabloids, Martin has sent his top scout, Ian Storey for a little look, but i think our manager will already know all about him and what he can do. Far better to spend £12million on Jones, than 8million on Doyle, if Martin can get him? I just wish the powers that be would decide to return to the old transfer policy of all teams being allowed to buy a player whenever they wanted throughout a season, instead of trying to purchase players in four weeks, which is difficult for any club! This might also stop the smaller clubs from going out of business, if they can sell their best players and get some, much needed money in! Regards, Ciaran.

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I think a lot of clubs would like to see an end to these windows albeit for different reasons Ciaran. I can't see it happening soon with Blatter involved though. Jones looks decent from what I have seen of him and we have yet to deny an interest which suggests he may be one we are looking at or of course Ian may just have been weighing up forthcoming opponents.

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