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Claret & Blue Blood #31


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After taking a sneaky week off thanks to a crippling bout of laziness, ChrisVillan returns with his latest column (now featuring CV's MLS Betting Tip of the Week!). Fans of David Moyes need read no further.

Is it just me or are things on the up? Yeah, we've had a stinking run. Yeah, we've bollocksed any chance of fourth. But we're fifth, we've taken four points off Everton despite huge adversity in both games, and the vicious prospect of Liverpool-United-Everton is now firmly behind us. With six games to go, our destiny is in our own hands - well, if one can call fifth place "destiny". Tomorrow, we have a nice low-profile 3pm Saturday match against West Ham United. No undue disrespect to the Hammers, but if we're ever going to give this awful run an exit wound, this is the game that will do it.

Ginger Ferguson

I may not be speaking for everyone, but here's my take on the refereeing decisions last Sunday against Everton. Tony Hibbert committed four yellow card offences, all on Ashley Young. He was punished for only one, and the referee let him off enough times for it to be considered a very clear signal to David Moyes to substitute him. The fourth of these offences should have resulted in a penalty, regardless of Young's "slip" in the area shortly afterwards which has caused Everton fans to suggest that his diving is tantamount to shagging their mums - not that you would.

What is utterly despicable is Marouane Fellaini's consistent elbowing. The difference, for any Everton fans reading, is that diving (which Ashley does do, but wasn't particularly noticeable last weekend) does not involve trying to embed a fellow professional's eyeballs into his brain. For a man named after a narcotic, Fellaini's not exactly chilled out. If he conducted himself like that in the street, he'd be in prison. As for the penalty, variously described as "spawny", "wrong" and other assorted whinging scouserisms, I fail to see how almost kicking a player's head off in the penalty area can result in anything different.

Clearly, the Ginger Ferguson saw things differently. First, he moaned his boring, graceless arse off about our goals, failing to notice that the two from set pieces were from fouls that were correctly awarded and that a couple of theirs were pretty dodgy. Then, after Match of the Day 2 had the barefaced cheek to prove that actually Fellaini is a dirty elbowing bastard by showing some clips of him doing it (presumably all done in CGI, eh Moyesy?), Moyes banned the BBC from Goodison Park - which does beg the question of where Fighting Talk will take its scouse-loving roadshow for its next appalling live episode.

Now, of course, Moyes is bleating about Mike Riley being given Everton's cup semi final with Manchester United. Well, boo hoo. We get Mark Halsey far too often for my liking, but the club never moans about it. As always, it's just Moyes playing the odds. If he moans enough about something, he thinks it'll go his way the following weekend. So Riley will be eager to give as much to Everton as possible, Fellaini will get away with attempted murder and Everton will beat United. You read it here first. Or second, if you listen to the Soccerlens podcast, but then you'll have heard it, not read it.

It's worked well for Moyes in the past. Every time cheating little scumbucket Andy "Andrew" Johnson dived, Moyes bitched about it. Unsurprisingly, our spineless good-for-nowt referees started giving penalties. Moyes, graceless though he is, is a very clever man.

Bring out The Fonz!

It's time, ladies and gentlemen, to release The Fonz. With Gabriel Agbonlahor missing out on tomorrow's visit of West Ham United, the choice between Emile Heskey and Nathan Delfouneso is staring Martin O'Neill in the face. For me, this one's a no-brainer. I don't have the overly negative view of Heskey which is shared by many of our posters here at VillaTalk, but to play him alongside John Carew would create a style of play we really don't want to see at Villa.

This has to be the time to chuck The Fonz in at the deep end. We're not on the telly for once, we've six games left in which we're realistically just fighting it out with Everton for fifth and sixth, and Gabby's crocked for a while. Fonz looks sharp every time I see him play and one day, we're going to have to find out if he can cut the mustard. What better time than now?

CV's MLS Betting Tip of the Week

So, four weeks in a row now I've won a bit of cash on goings-on in the USA's Major League Soccer. My completely irrelevant to Villa MLS tip this week is (drumroll please) Toronto FC to win away at FC Dallas. Okay, so it's hardly a shot in the dark, but I found surprisngly good odds of 9/5 on what I see as a nailed-on result. Dallas are appalling, Toronto quite the opposite. Enjoy your winnings.

Don't forget, folks - you can follow me, VillaTalk and a whole bunch of feckless celebrities on Twitter.


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Not so nailed-on

Kenny Cooper scored two goals, including a game-winning penalty kick in the 84th minute, as FC Dallas finally broke through with their first win of 2009, a 3-2 decision against Toronto FC on Sunday evening at Pizza Hut Park.

In their first five games of 2009, FC Dallas had gotten few breaks en route to a 0-3-1 record. But after jumping out to a two-goal lead through Drew Moor and Cooper, FCD saw TFC come back with two goals of their own by Adrian Serioux and Chad Barrett.

But with six minutes left, Cooper converted a penalty kick when referee Tim Weyland ruled Marvell Wynne handled the ball after David Ferreira popped it up in the air while tyring to cut back on the TFC defender in the penalty area.

The late penalty provided an interesting twist, considering that on two occasions in 2009, FCD has surrendered game-winning goals from the spot. In a 3-1 season-opening loss to Chicago on March 21, it was Brian McBride who converted a spot kick in the 51st minute. And in a 2-1 loss at New England on April 4, Steve Ralston nailed a PK with about 10 minutes left.

While TFC head coach John Carver went with the same first XI that he employed a week ago when the teams played to a 1-1 draw at BMO Field, FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman made one change. Marcelo Saragosa came on at right back to make his '09 debut after missing part of preseason and tt he first five games of the regular season with a knee injury.

The home side drew first blood in the 25th minute when Moor headed one in off a set piece. Dax McCarty took the free kick about five yards from the left sideline. McCarty's well-placed service found Moor just inside the six-yard box, and the Dallas native headed it into the right side of the net to put the home side in front.

About four minutes before Moor scored the game's first goal, he also figured in a goal-saving play at the Reds' expense. After TFC rookie Sam Cronin hit a nice cross from the right flank that traveled across the field to Fuad Ibrahim, the second-year player sent a ball towards goal. Chad Barrett hit it squarely but Moor was right there on the line to block Barrett's shot with his chest and keep things scoreless.

Cooper gave FCD a two-goal cushion in the 44th with his third goal of the season. The sequence started when TFC rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei threw the ball out to Dwayne De Rosario on the right wing. De Rosario quickly lost possession to FCD's David Ferreira, who had the presence of mind to quickly feed Cooper, who was making a run in the middle of the pitch.

The big FCD striker then took a shot that Frei had little chance of stopping as the ball settled in the far side of the net. The home team had a 2-0 advantage and was feeling pretty good about their chances of getting their first win of the '09 campaign.

However, that momentum was stopped cold just before the break when Serioux drew one back for the visitors. Amado Guevara started things off with a corner from the left flag. His booming ball was corralled by TFC's Carl Robinson beyond the far post, who was inexplicably left unmarked.

Robinson had ample time to send the ball into the fray in front of the FCD goal. His cross found Serioux, who got enough on his shot that it hit the right arm of FCD goalkeeper Ray Burse, the post and then went over the end line.

Serioux's goal came in his first appearance for TFC in Frisco since FCD traded him to the Reds on Feb. 24. The Canadian international was with FCD for both the 2007 and 2008 seasons before the trade.

Not only did his tally continue a disturbing FCD trend of surrendering goals right after scoring themselves, but it also marked the fifth time this season that the club has allowed a goal courtesy of a set piece.

Last week it was a long Serioux throw-in that led to DeRosario's goal in the draw in Toronto. FCD has allowed one goal off a free kick, two off penalty kicks, one from a throw in and another from a corner so far in 2009. Five of the nine goals they have surrendered have come in such fashion.

At the break, TFC had a slight edge in shots, 8-7. Both clubs had five attempts go on frame and each 'keeper was forced to make three saves in the opening 45 minutes of play.

Neither Carver nor Hyndman made any changes to start the second half. FCD made their first change in the 64th minute when Eric Avila came on for Andre Rocha, who had a relatively quiet performance.

Barrett pulled TFC level after a great sequence of play. Ibrahim lit the fuse with a pinpoint cross from the left flank. Guevara got his head on that cross, sending it toward the FCD box and a streaking Barrett. George John gave a valiant effort to stop Barrett but was just a second too late as the Reds' striker beat Burse far post for the equalizer.

Hyndman went back to his bench in the 71st, subbing out McCarty for Jeff Cunningham, who spent parts of the 2007 and 2008 seasons in Toronto. FCD's first shot of the second half didn't come until the 74th minute when Dave van den Bergh sent one wide left.

Other than the Barrett goal, FCD only had three shots for much of the second half. However, that all changed in the 83rd minute.

A van den Bergh cross to Ferreira came up off the FCD forward's foot and struck Wynne on the right hand. Referee Tim Weyland quickly signaled a penalty kick, which Cooper stepped up to take. After a stutter step, his shot went into the left side of the net for his second goal of the night and fourth of the year.

Both clubs have little time off before their next matches. TFC return to the field on Wednesday night against Chivas USA and will then turn around and face Kansas City on Sunday afternoon. Both matches are at BMO Field.

FCD, on the other hand, will face D.C. United in a U.S. Open Cup play-in game on Wednesday night at RFK Stadium. Then comes a cross-country trek for a Saturday night game with Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center.

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