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Wagner classic threatens another cup exit!


John
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So we will need to score 2 goals in Moscow or win away from home to go through to the last 16. We scored 2 goals the last time we travelled to Moscow in this competition at Spartak. We have made a habit of winning away from home this season. So do you want to bet against us?

CSKA failed to win their first UEFA Cup game of the season last night. This is a team who have already qualified for next season’s Champions League. This is the quality of opposition we can expect to face next season if we do finish this season in the top 4 to join them. This is also the sort of team that a Villa side that was missing Cuellar, Reo-Coker, Heskey, Milner and Laursen, through injury would have had to play at their very best to better.

It was important that we did not go into the Chelsea game on the back of two successive cup defeats. Although we went a goal down we battled back after a pretty innocuous first half display to have the better of the second. Had CSKA tired due to their recent inactivity or had Martin’s half time message stung our team into action? Whatever the reason, we were much more effective in the second half and put some real pressure on their defence.

Clinching the tie in Moscow will present a tough ask and CSKA look likely to put us under considerable pressure next week. But, we are suited to playing on the break and using the pace we have in our side. We also might have a couple of players back from injury by then. So, we will not be waving a white flag just yet instead of the commemorative one we were given at the game last night and let’s hope we can come away from Russia with a win if not with Love next week!

My player ratings from a game that has left us with a mountain to climb in order to go through next Thursday are:

Brad Guzan - 6 – Perhaps surprisingly given a game ahead of Brad Friedel last night in what was our one unforced change. Not given much opportunity to shine by CSKA, other than when he had the ball pushed past him by free scoring Wagner Love for what may prove to be a crucial as well as a terrific away goal.

Luke Young – 6 – Another solid display, this time in his right position.

Curtis Davies – 6 – Worked well alongside Zat.

Zat Knight – 7 – A good solid confident display last night against more than capable opponents.

Nicky Shorey - 7 – Given a rare first team outing. Nicky looked good coming forward although that is not where Martin has had his reservations with some of his past performances. But, on this occasion he looked steady enough at the back as well and would have some grounds to be disappointed if he does not keep his place at the weekend after this performance and with our limited current options.

Craig Gardner – 7 – Hit the bar with a header from Ashley Young’s 52nd minute corner and had a penalty claim ignored 4 minutes later when another header was blocked with what appeared to be a defender’s arm. Did well last night and worked tirelessly.

Gareth Barry – 8 – MOTM – Without him we are only half as effective as we are with him in the starting line up. He stood out in a solid enough midfield unit last night and the confidence and polish he has developed as an established international was there for all to see last night.

Stiliyan Petrov – 7 – Gave another impressive all round midfield performance, the only negative was a silly booking due to kicking the ball away after a free kick had been given against him.

Ashley Young – 7 – Not showing quite the same consistent accuracy and threat he did before his suspension from dead balls but he was as he invariably is the player who makes things happen up front or the player who creates opportunities that could have won matches had they been taken, as was the case last night. Hit a shot just wide on 80 minutes having been fed on the edge of the box by Gabby.

John Carew – 7 – Not up to peak fitness yet after a long lay off but Big John is increasing his contribution to the overall team performance in each game he plays. He was inches over with a header from a Young cross on 32 minutes and then on 68 minutes hit our equalizer with a well hit shot that their keeper will have been disappointed not to have got in the way of.

Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – He is doing well to get into the positions to score but he is not putting those opportunities away often enough of late. Did a lot of good work and hard running outside of the box but was unable to get on the end of a great Shorey cross on 20 minutes and failed to get any significant connection on another good cross, this time from Ashley 9 minutes later.

Substitutes:

None.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Good article - and a great European night at Villa Park. A real 'cauldron of noise'. CSKA were a very tidy outfit - so much for hopes of them not being match-fit! I just hope we've got enough in the tank for the trip to Moscow. The flags were a nice touch too. UTV!

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John, a good report, but Petrov was the outstanding Villa player last night IMHO.

Also, I don't think next week is necessarily a mountain to climb based on last nigh., If we can overcome the plastic pitch, our speed up front might cause more tha a few problems, and we just need one goal if we can keep a clean sheet.

Difficult, yes, but if we have CL pretensions, this is what we need to do.

Just hope we don't lose too many through injury at the weekend, after all, Chelski have big Russian connections and also the Russian national coach. :winkold:

UTV

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John, a good report, but Petrov was the outstanding Villa player last night IMHO.

I agree with this and a seven for Zat Knight? What game were you watching? He was brutal. Lunging into silly tackles high up the ptich and then being left out of position after he missed the ball. It cost us the first goal and really could have cost us two more. We really need to get him out of the team when we are playing a passing side.

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Gareth Barry – 8 – MOTM

John, a good report, but Petrov was the outstanding Villa player last night IMHO.

It's all about opinions, and some have said Gardner.

I would agree about Petrov or Barry if it were a question of who was the most influential. But central midfielders are supposed to be influential aren't they. Full backs are rarely influential but I really thought that Luke Young and Nicky Shorey put up a tremendous show against same dangerous Russian wing play. Shorey's support of Barry and Ashley Young going forwards was I thought excellent. Whereas Petrov got a silly and unnecessary booking and Barry was, in the first half, passing to the opposition rather often for him.

I feel everyone in the team upped their performance so much in the second half that I would make MON my Man of the Match on this occasion because the improvement when they attacked the Holte End was no accident. I wonder what he said.

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Gareth Barry – 8 – MOTM

John, a good report, but Petrov was the outstanding Villa player last night IMHO.

It's all about opinions, and some have said Gardner.

I would agree about Petrov or Barry if it were a question of who was the most influential. But central midfielders are supposed to be influential aren't they. Full backs are rarely influential but I really thought that Luke Young and Nicky Shorey put up a tremendous show against same dangerous Russian wing play. Shorey's support of Barry and Ashley Young going forwards was I thought excellent. Whereas Petrov got a silly and unnecessary booking and Barry was, in the first half, passing to the opposition rather often for him.

I feel everyone in the team upped their performance so much in the second half that I would make MON my Man of the Match on this occasion because the improvement when they attacked the Holte End was no accident. I wonder what he said.

Certainly as a team they all performed well last night, and it's true midfielders are most times going to have a greater impact than full backs. Shorey had a good game and perhaps is getting back to the form that got him an England cap, although some of his passing was woeful at times. Gardner really got involved, but overall, I stick with (IMO) Petrovas slightly above others.

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Hi John. Many thanks for another good and very fair report on the match last night. As i watched the game, memories of our performance against Hamburg came flooding back. I couldn't believe how so many professional footballers were unable to pass to a player wearing the same shirt. There were a lot of international footballers on view and and if my old school team manager had been watching this game, he would have been trying to wave the smoke away coming out of his ears! We were the main perpetrators, but the Russians also suffered, although the rubbish that both teams were playing was interrupted by a fantastic goal scored, unfortunately, by Vagner Love, that somehow didn't fit with the match!

Nevertheless, i don't know what Martin said to our players at half time, but if it had been our school team manager, our Villa team would have been coming out for the second half with very raw backsides that you couldn't strike a match on!

Consequently, our second half performance was much better and more in keeping with our Premiership form, although we might rue the chances missed? I think Gabby should go to the same Barber Shop as one particular Everton player, then he might be able to get sufficent contact onto the fantastic delivery he has been recieving from wide areas. Shorey also had his best performance in a Villa shirt to date and our own Messi got better as the match progressed!

Even though i have criticized CSKA, they did show more than enough to suggest that we are in for a tough time on their plastic pitch. The thought of watching our present central defensive partnership trying to stay afloat on this type of pitch gave me nightmares last night and every time there was a close up of Vagner Love, just like in the game last night, he had this wicket smirk on his face. I wonder why?

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Yes I thought Petrov had a very good game too, but I thought that Barry just shaded it and its all about opinions folks, your opinions on MOTM & Zat's display have the same validity as my own and carry the same weight. As for what Martin said and how he said it we will most likely never know but it sure was effective. I have not written off our hopes as I trust what I have said about the forthcoming away leg shows. I think it will be difficult but it was always going to be. This is a good test and I think the tie is still in the balance.

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Why do we need to score 2 goals ? - a 1-0 would see us through , surley ?

2-2 would see us through on away goals Hippo where 1-1 would lead to pens. But I would be more than happy with 1-0 and so doing it with a win. :winkold:

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I don't mean to be the doom moungerer here, but we are good away from home because teams are expected to play at home in front of their fans for the win. This gives Young and Agbonlahor the space needed to destroy teams.

CSKA don't need a win next week. Their fans will be happy with 0-0 unlike every other Premiership away game we have played this season.

I still think we will go through, but I dont believe using the "we are awesome away from home" reasoning quite adds up here. Expect CSKA to field 11 men behind the ball, and expect a very nerve racking, compact and scruffy game.

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I dont believe using the "we are awesome away from home" reasoning quite adds up here. Expect CSKA to field 11 men behind the ball, and expect a very nerve racking, compact and scruffy game

Interesting point VillaLi0n. I rather expected they would go for goals at home and be confident that they had already done the harder work by returning home level and with an away goal. I back us to score in Moscow and if they want to play a negative game then I'm not sure that would be their best option.

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its what they call 'delicately poised', could still go either way imo

I think, apart from the missed chances (becoming a bit of a 'thing' that) that we played pretty well. Barry and Petrov were the outstanding Villa players, that really is quite some combination in there, tenacious, but also with alot of skill. There was one little cameo turn and run from Barry that was total class.

I guess in the second leg they will be quite a bit sharper (they looked a long, long way from 100%). As for whether Villa can progress or not, I think it depends alot on what team O'Neill sends out in moscow. the mood music says alot of changes will be made, in which case our quest for cup glory will end there and then. A full strength team has a 50/50 chance of going through

As for Love's smile, I reckon I'd be pretty chirpy too knowing I'd just earned myself a move to the Premiership and £50k a week ++ Now there's a player that would give us something different

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