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Dunne shines in the battle of the former club captains!


John
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This game had it all and was only missing the second Villa goal that may well have sealed the win for us!

This was a proper football match played under floodlights with a healthy helping of big match atmosphere. It was a game where a bunch of hastily and expensively assembled individuals took on an old fashioned English type football team who were prepared to battle and fight for each other. It was a game of pace and end to end football and one that pushed us up to seventh spot as Manchester City edged into fourth thanks to an equaliser that always looked likely. It was also a game that on the balance of play neither side could argue that the other deserved to go home pointless from.

Manchester City looked what they are last night a team of talented football mercenaries who have yet to gel into a team. But their individual abilities make them a constant threat up front and they will I consider be a real threat to the established and up to now relatively complacent so called big 4. But, we showed we were up for it last night. We raised our game from the low point of our last game at Blackburn and fought toe to toe against what is opposition that many clubs will wilt against and have lost a game before it starts on reading the team sheet. On last night’s performance we may yet challenge in and around the position that Manchester City now occupy and if we can find consistency then we might yet apply pressure to the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool this season.

The returning Gareth got his expected chorus of boos during and before the game. He also had fake £50 notes waved at him when he took corner kicks as well as a decent round of applause when the game was over and he applauded all corners of the ground. But, he had a quiet night and the telling contribution to the game came from City’s former captain rather than from our own. David Dunne’s reception was so different to the reception that Gareth received because he was a player who did not want to leave where our former captain made no secret of his desire to move on. For me though its now time to put thoughts of Barry to one side and to concentrate on the players who still wear our shirt rather than on one who once did but then chose to wear another.

My player ratings from a game from which we seemed to get very little from the officials other than an extra 5 minutes injury time (which seems a Manchester thing) are:

Brad Freidel - 7 – Solid and dependable again. A good reaction save to an Adebayor header on 40 minutes and was in the right place at the right time when called into action.

Carlos Cuellar – 6 – Steady enough but found difficulty in coping with Bellamy but name me a full back who does not when he is up for a game as he always seems to be against us.

Richard Dunne – 9 – MOTM – He really wanted this one. Climbed well above our former captain on 15 minutes to power home a header past Given to give us an early lead and might just have got the decisive second on 58 minutes when his header from a Milner corner went wide. He powered forward more than once and dealt with everything in the air and on the ground.

James Collins – 8 – Solid in the air perhaps looked a little less comfortable when he was tested on the deck last night but seldom over the course of this season will Manchester City have so little to show for what was considerable time spent in an opponent’s half.

Stephen Warnock - 7 – Solid at the back and got forward more than he has since joining us up to now.

James Milner – 7 – Hit a shot across the face of the goal on 49 minutes that went just wide and was his usual all action self.

Steve Sidwell – 6 – Quiet again and what he does do is not always very noticeable. Steve does not get the opportunity to get forward as often as he likes to when playing in a midfield four and that is what he is most effective in doing.

Stiliyan Petrov – 6 – Stiliyan plays a large role in our midfield retaining possession of the ball better than it has done at times in the past albeit at the expense of hitting more balls behind him than forward. Hit a measured shot on 10 minutes which went just wide although Given had it covered.

Ashley Young – 7 – Carried an injury for much of this game and got very little protection from the officials. Ashley did some good work when tracking back into his own half particularly after the break and was lively enough up front although too many of his crosses continue to be over hit. Replaced on 80 minutes.

John Carew – 6 – Another quiet game and was too easily handled by their defence prior to his substitution on 68 minutes.

Gabby Agbonlahor – 7 – Unable to add another goal to his recent tally but his pace caused Manchester City’s cheque book defence a couple of second half problems and he kept busy last night. Might have opened the scoring in the first minute when his flick on from a Young corner forced a stop on the line from Given.

Substitutes:

Emile Heskey – 6 - Replaced Big John on 68 minutes and won his fair share of aerial challenges.

Nigel Reo Coker – Replaced Ashley on 80 minutes to a surprisingly warm reception given the reason for his recent absence from first team action. Not on long enough to earn a rating but he is a player we will need to call on and both he and the manager need to work out any remaining differences for the good of the club in the coming months.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Have to disagre with a lot of those ratings John.

Petrov, for me, was immense, at least for 70 minutes or so. I'd have given him an 8. Sidders ran his row out, and contributed well to the CM battle, amd i'd have given him a 7.

Big John was deployed quite a buit deeper at times last night, but still contributed greatly. He ran his socks off, which he doesn't always do for us, and was also a menace up front. I even saw him defending in our own penalty area at one point! an 8 for me for big john.

I also thought Ash was very ineffectual, and probably deserved only a 6 at best.

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Thanks John. I broadly agree with your ratings but would have given Cuellar, Sidwell and Petrov 7 rather than 6. Carew was disappointing again. Heskey 6? Sorry, I don't see that one, but then I'm one of those that can't see what MON and Capello see in Heskey :wow: What's this about DAVID Dunne, though? :shock: :winkold:

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But, he had a quiet night and the telling contribution to the game came from City’s former captain rather than from our own. David Dunne’s reception was so different to the reception that Gareth received because he was a player who did not want to leave where our former captain made no secret of his desire to move on. For me though its now time to put thoughts of Barry to one side and to concentrate on the players who still wear our shirt rather than on one who once did but then chose to wear another.

Who?

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Some good points on our differing views on last night's game Jon, we can't always agree can we? :winkold:

Fantram & NulliSecundus I would love to be able to say Richard's name change was a deliberate mistake it was not! :oops: Obviously that goal the other one got against us last weekend is still on my mind. :?

As for Heskey's mark Fantram I did not think he had been on long enough to merit less than a 6. :lol:

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Some good points on our differing views on last night's game Jon, we can't always agree can we? :winkold:

Fantram & NulliSecundus I would love to be able to say Richard's name change was a deliberate mistake it was not! :oops: Obviously that goal the other one got against us last weekend is still on my mind. :?

As for Heskey's mark Fantram I did not think he had been on long enough to merit less than a 6. :lol:

John, It would have been kinder to say he was not on long enough for a mark. He was ineffectual IMO.

I thought MON had made a good deal when he bought him, but he's been poor most of the time. Villa do not play like England and don't have the same quality of player, so comparisons to his international role are not relevant, again IMO.

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I see where you are coming from AVFCin Spain but he was on for 28 minutes + 5 minutes injury time so he had time to merit a rating I just did not think he did enough to merit something below 6. I agree with what you have said about his performances for us the good ones have been rare and he needs to up his club form and get the fans behind him with some hard working displays.

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