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Pompy sunk for a sixth time but we stay afloat in sixth!


John
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There will be more entertaining games at Villa Park this season but this second successive home win is slowly making Villa Park into a fortress again and points gained on the road unlike last season are not being negated by dropped points at home!

This was a game we had all wrapped up by the end of the first half. We then coasted through the second half and allowed Portsmouth more possession than we really should have done in the knowledge that they were unlikely to be able to pose much of a threat to our goal.

We rarely needed to get out of second gear to secure the spoils yesterday and rarely showed any will to do so. Had we at least continued at the same level we had in the first half another 2 goals or so looked there for the taking. But, we seemed to hang the banner “mission accomplished” out at half time and showed no real desire to press home our advantage and strike the final blows that would send our already groggy and well beaten opponent to the canvas.

My player ratings from a game from which we collected the expected 3 points with the minimum of fuss are:

Brad Freidel - 7 – Dealt well with Portsmouth’s better efforts including a good stop on 59 minutes and was kept a lot busier than he might have expected during the course of this game albeit mainly by speculative long range efforts which found him in the right place at the right time to collect with the minimum of bother.

Carlos Cuellar – 6 – Asked to again play out of position after looking increasingly good in his preferred position of late but Carlos has reacted to that much better than has another Villa man. Another good steady display pending Luke’s awaited return.

Richard Dunne – 7 – More no nonsense defending. Richard gives 110% and is forming an increasingly solid central defensive partnership with Collins. Their test will come when they line up against teams with a more effective strike force but they won’t be lacking in desire to add to what is now 2 clean sheets from their first two games in Villa shirts. Richard reminds me a lot of ex-Villa favourite Shaun Teale and that can’t be too bad.

James Collins – 7 – MOTM - I’m much impressed by the start James has made to his Villa career. A dominant display yesterday and he shares Laursen’s desire and will to be first to any ball that is played into our box.

Stephen Warnock - 6 – Has yet to show us all of what we know he is capable of and Shorey will probably get an opportunity to remind Martin how unlucky he sees himself to have lost his starting place on current form with his performance against Cardiff rather than by using press column inches to make his case.

James Milner – 7 – Spot on with his 34th minute penalty which he blasted past David James with great confidence. A better performance than last weekend but not quite at his optimum level.

Steve Sidwell – 6 – Quietly did his bit but gets more opportunity to make his presence felt up front in a five man midfield.

Stiliyan Petrov – 7 – Kept our pattern in his deep lying role and was brought down in the box by a rash challenge for our opener. Hit a nice effort from the edge of the box from a deflected Young free-kick on 51 minutes that James did well to keep out.

Ashley Young – 6 – Did not make his usual telling impression on this game. Hit a fine cross on 10 minutes and James was forced to push a header from one of his own defenders onto the top of the net for a corner.

John Carew – 6 – A surprisingly quiet afternoon for Big John prior to his substitution on 65 minutes.

Gabby Agbonlahor – 7 – Used his new found muscle to shake of a defender and then ran onto the edge of the box where he picked his spot in the corner to leave James with no chance and to effectively settle the game on 43 minutes. Three goals in successive games have built up his confidence and he now looks twice the player he has done at times in the past. The task is now to sustain this level of performance and make this a 20 goal season.

Substitutes:

Emile Heskey – England’s centre forward replaced Norway’s on 65 minutes and was then himself replaced 15 minutes later having picked up a knock.

Fabian Delph – Replaced Emile on 80 minutes and like the player he replaced was not on long enough to rate.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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