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Just 270 minutes away from an FA Cup Final appearance now!


John
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We earned a rare win against Doncaster last night to set up a mouth watering tie at Everton in the Fifth Round, which should we emerge from victorious will leave us just 90 minutes away (probably at Old Trafford) from our second FA Cup semi-final appearance in 9 years. This is a competition that now surely warrants being taken seriously!

Doncaster and their fans gave a good account of themselves last night. I loved their rendition of “your ground’s too big for you” from a North Stand they packed into to bring our gate up to half its capacity. Donny rallied back on the stroke of half time after going two down within the first 20 minutes to make sure this would not be a stroll for us in the second half and they put our defence under more pressure than might have been expected for a side who have found scoring difficult to date. But, our defence coped with what they had to throw at us and showed only a minimal change in personnel for the game which again Martin adopted a rotation policy for, which worked well enough on this particular occasion. But, although the defence was solid enough a midfield missing Barry, Petrov and Milner were always likely to find it harder going and did. In attack we had Big John gingerly making his way back to full fitness after a long break and a young striker who may well follow Gabby into both the Villa and England forward line in the fullness of time.

My player ratings from a game that our win took us one step nearer ending those 52 years of FA Cup hurt are:

Brad Guzan - 7 – Looked confident and did particularly well to deny Doncaster’s Stock an equaliser on 62 minutes with a splendid save at full stretch.

Luke Young – 7 – On a couple of occasions in the first half I thought he looked a little uncomfortable to be back on the right rather than filling in on the left as he has done for much of this season. But, Luke gave another solid overall display.

Curtis Davies – 7 – Marshalled the defence well when it was placed under more threat than may have been anticipated by our plucky visitors and had time for a one man surging run up-field in the first half to put their defence under pressure in an unexpected way.

Carlos Cuellar – 7 – Looked comfortable in the centre alongside Curtis and Martin will have been looking closely at how these two worked together as a potential central pairing.

Nicky Shorey - 7 – This game will have done Nicky nothing but good. A steady performance and an excellent cross to Nathan for our third rounded off a much more encouraging performance last night.

Craig Gardner – 6 – A decent enough first half and it was his low shot that Sullivan was only able to parry into Sidwell’s path for our opener but Craig was less effective in the second.

Moustapha Salifou – 6 – Showed a couple of decent touches in the second half but very little in the first.

Steve Sidwell – 6 – Was in the right place at the right time on 15 minutes when Sullivan pushed Gardner’s shot towards him and he side footed the ball home from close range to convert a simple chance. This goal can do his confidence no harm and it is one that he needed and that we needed to give us an early advantage.

Ashley Young – 7 – A welcome return from his three match suspension, which made him one first team regular who had already had his rest before last night. Had the captain’s armband until he was substituted on 78 minutes and handed it onto Curtis Davies. This outing will have shaken off any cobwebs and made him ready for the weekend. Ashley although I thought playing at understandably less than full throttle worried Doncaster when he was on the ball as he does any defence.

John Carew – 7 – A good run out for Big John tonight and a welcome goal on 19 minutes albeit one that took a wicked deflection off a defender to leave Sullivan standing on the other side of the goal as a mere spectator as it went in. At times he looked not unsurprisingly rusty but his match fitness will come as will his challenge to Emile for that starting role.

Nathan Delfouneso – 8 – MOTM – A goal in front of the Holte End to seal an FA Cup win on the week of your 18th birthday, Nathan must wonder if things can get any better than this. They can! He has pace and showed it along with no little skill and a will to run at defenders. Got better as the game wore on and particularly after he applied a very neat headed finish to Shorey’s cross for our third on 61 minutes. Nathan’s one blemish was being beaten when trying to play his way out of defence on the edge of the box and this led to their goal. That is a lesson for him to learn as it is for the more experienced Ashley Young who in the first half was also caught in possession when trying to dribble the ball out of his own half. But in Ashley’s case the resultant opportunity did not lead to a goal.

Substitutes:

Isaiah Osbourne - 6 – Replaced Ashley on 78 minutes and showed one nice touch.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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You believe right OBE. Both semi finals will be at Wembley (they have to find some way to pay for it) :winkold: I would prefer them to be on a neutral ground as a traditionalist but I would not want to miss out on a ticket because of it being held elsewhere. So its two visits to Wembley this year then.

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Nice report John on our expected F.A Cup win last night. Nice to see Sidwell scoring and i hope we will now see the player MON thought he had purchased from Chelsea? However, thought Salifou again played his way into a transfer at the end of the season although he did give GB a rest!

I see Arshavin has gone to Arsenal and it's a pity that we didn't at least compete for him. He will gave all Premiership defences a lot of headaches in the coming seasons, and i hope it will take him a while to settle in at Arsenal, thereby allowing us to get further ahead before he starts to weave his magic!

I think Wenger has done it again and concluded the best bit of business in the January transfer window! Buying a world class player for less than 15million is some signing, when City were prepared to buy Kaka for 100million!

I just hope we don't see Martin on Sky, or MOTD stating his regret at not even looking at the possibility of putting Andrei Arshavin in a Villa shirt? Regards, Ciaran.

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Thanks again Ciaran. I thought that it was a big positive that our big hitters were able to get as near a rest as is possible by staying on the bench during the whole game. I liked the look of Arshavin as well and it was nice to see that he waited until the window had closed before he agreed to do a deal with them in case we had made a late bid for his services. :lol: I also think Martin's signing of Heskey might prove the best bit of business in this window if we secure our top 4 spot with his assistance, as I think we will. We may yet find the likes of Arshavin pressing for a move from Arsenal to a team who have qualified for the Champions league in the next window (us)! :winkold:

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Nearly spilt my sides laughing at your comments about the Arshavin transfer John, many thanks for that! Not sure however that Heskey will score enough goals to prove he has been the best bit of business in the January transfer window, but with James on the right and Ash on the left supplying him with plenty of crosses to feed on, Heskey will never have a better chance to improve his goal scoring record! Regards, Ciaran.

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Nearly spilt my sides laughing at your comments about the Arshavin transfer John, many thanks for that! Not sure however that Heskey will score enough goals to prove he has been the best bit of business in the January transfer window, but with James on the right and Ash on the left supplying him with plenty of crosses to feed on, Heskey will never have a better chance to improve his goal scoring record! Regards, Ciaran.

It isn't all about scoring, Heskey's assists may well make the difference between 4th and 5th.

And £3.5m for a current England player is certainly a great bit of business.

As for Arshavin, he has to turn his potential into something solid in the Premiership, but would agree, he could be something special, but only time will tell.

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Hi Randy. Thanks for the comments and i agree Martin has bought Heskey for his hold up play and his assists, rather than his goal scoring, which leaves me a little worried. If Agbonlahor's goal drought continues and Carew takes his time in getting back to full fitness, who is going to score the goals which cements our fourth place?

Arshavin is a world class player and will light up the Premiership, so why wasn't Martin interested? I believe our manager will live to regret not showing an interest in Arshavin! Regards, Ciaran.

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Hi Limpid. You are correct in your asumption that i don't really know for sure who Martin was interested in. Nevertheless, i do know Martin could have signed Arshavin when our manager was working for the BBC at Euro 2008. Indeed Zenit St Petersburg had made it known at that time, that they were prepared to sell Arshavin for 10million before he appeared in the tournament. Arshavin was suspended for the first two group matches and after watching Arshavin play previously, i knew Arshavin's price would go up when he played in the Euro finals! My point is if Martin had been interested in Arshavin, as he certainly must have been aware of him, then the Euro finals was the time to buy him! I also believe if Martin was going to compete with Arsenal for Arshavin's signature in the January transfer window, then the media would have been all over it! As it is, and believe me, it pains me to say it, Arsenal and Wenger may have just signed a player that will make the difference between either us, or Arsenal finishing fourth! You will find out very quickly Limpid, that Andrei Arshavin is that good! Regards, Ciaran.

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You know no such thing. You don't know he would have joined a club he'd probably never heard of regardless of what was offered. This isn't Football Manager where hitting the "buy player" button means a done deal.

I don't know enough about Arshavin to comment on whether one man can make so much difference. Personally I doubt that anyone can. If we don't finish in a CL position it will be down to us, not Arsenal.

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Hi Limpid. Are you saying that Arshavin hasn't heard of our great club Villa? I also think your opinion on either Arsenal, or ourselves finishing fourth, is rather narrow minded! Of course both teams will have a say who finishes fourth. I think we could also pip Chelsea for third after our fantastic result against Blackburn. Take it easy Limpid. We all want the same thing here, for Villa to finish as high as possible and to start enjoying the success we all have ahead of us. However, by the end of the season, i think everyone will know enough about Arshavin to regret that he is not on their team sheet! Regards, Ciaran.

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Yes, I'm saying exactly that. We'd barely avoided relegation at the time you are saying MON should have signed him. However, I'd agree that if we were to approach a similar player this summer coming that things may be different.

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Hi Limpid. I can't really remember when we were under threat of relegation since MON has been manager? So your reply is really totally out of context and doesn't warrant any further reply from me! Regards, Ciaran.

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