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Villa hit five to go fifth!


John
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Villa lit the blue touch paper we stood back and enjoyed the display but Megson might just find himself in danger of being the fall Guy after this one!

We bounced back from a dire midweek result to put our season back on track yesterday with a fine win in front of a healthy Villa Park crowd. Our home performances are so much more convincing than they were last season and Villa Park is in clear danger of becoming the fortress it will need to become if we are to maintain a top 6 placing.

Bolton may not have had their best of days yesterday. They are a workmanlike side under Megson who did keep them up but his appointment to replace Big Sam was not well received and no doubt the calls for his head will grow louder following this result. They have their place in the top flight and have kept it by being a battling side, it just seems that Martin’s side has developed the knack of beating them by a country mile at Villa Park.

Martin shuffled his pack in the absence of Petrov and Collins but the changes he made worked very well and showed the depth we now have in our squad. Reo’s appointment as skipper smacked of a Brian Clough type move. Have a heated argument with a player, reprimand him, leave him simmering on the fringes of the team then play him as captain to give him the opportunity to show his true worth and take out his frustration on our opponents. That was a master stroke!

Gary Cahill returned to Villa Park again yesterday as did Villa fan Zat Knight who may have enjoyed this five goal salvo less than he would have our last one against Small Heath as he found himself in the firing line this time. I thought Cahill looked pretty good yesterday (which is some achievement given that their defence leaked five goals) and although he will hold his hand up for our second he was a major threat on his forages up front and his effort which was deflected onto a post produced their goal. But, his three returns to Villa Park have been bitter sweet affairs with this 5 – 1 beating now being added to two earlier 4 -0 and 4 – 2 defeats. Long may his run continue!

My player ratings from a game that I thought the poppy on our shirts and on our opponent’s ones demonstrated an appropriate mark of respect are:

Brad Freidel - 7 – Dealt well and with a minimum of fuss with what Bolton were able to produce yesterday.

Luke Young – 8 – Welcome back Luke! Showed what we have been missing this season and he will surely take some shifting now. Linked well with Milner and gave us the overlap option that we have been missing. Solid at the back and a threat when moving forward which he demonstrated on 50 minutes when he won the ball near the edge of the box and hit a well struck shot that forced a save from Jaaskelainen.

Richard Dunne – 7 – Got forward regularly but was well marshalled by Cahill at dead ball situations and found Davies a handful as do most defenders. Unlucky with a good block that deflected Cahill’s otherwise goal bound effort onto the post only for the deflection to fall kindly into Elmander’s path for their 44th minute goal.

Carlos Cuellar – 8 – Looked very comfortable on his return to his best position which is undoubtedly the centre of our defence. Carlos hit a shot from the first of our 7 corners in the first 30 minutes that Jaaskelainen kept out 3 minutes into the game. He was then in the right place at the right time 4 minutes later to clear a Davies effort that had Brad beaten. Carlos then rounded off a splendid display by scoring our fifth and his first goal in a Villa shirt on 75 minutes when he nodded on a Milner cross into the back of their net and past the keeper.

Stephen Warnock - 7 – Another good solid display.

James Milner – 8 – Failed to convert a second penalty on 71 minutes when Jaaskelainen pushed his penalty out but tucked away the rebound off a post after Sidwell had hit it when Jaaskelainen’s save had fallen invitingly into his path.

Steve Sidwell – 6 – Did not maintain the level of performance he produced in the first half during the second and had his blushes spared on 71 minutes when Milner got his goal after Steve had somehow hit a post rather than score when faced with an open goal after Jaaskelainen’s penalty stop landed at his feet.

Nigel Reo Coker – 7 – A captain’s performance. Kept things ticking in the middle and encouraged those around him both verbally and by his own example. We are a stronger team with him in it.

Ashley Young – 7 – As Madonna says it only takes 4 minutes and we were a goal up in that time after Milner had crossed for Carew whose header was pushed out only for Ashley to pounce on the rebound and hit the ball into the roof of the net and past Jaaskelainen with a good finish. Might have had a second late into stoppage time when his well hit free kick was only kept out by a good save by Jaaskelainen who was kept very busy all day and whose display kept our score in single figures. Much better dead ball delivery than of late and whipped in some testing corners. Two goals in two games may well boost his confidence to the levels that will produce the Ashley we know is there and waiting to come out.

John Carew – 9 – MOTM – His header led to our first goal, his tenacity and squared ball for Gabby produced our second and on 52 minutes he got his name on the scoreboard himself when he turned inside the box did well to stay upright and put the ball past Jaaskelainen for our third and decisive goal which restored our two goal advantage. But, Big John was not prepared to settle for that and it was he who was brought down inside the box to claim the penalty that ultimately produced our fourth goal.

Gabby Agbonlahor – 7 – Another encouraging display from Gabby and another goal. Ashley Young did well to keep the ball in play on 42 minutes and then found Big John with an overhead kick that Carew did not at first get under control, but Cahill spurned the opportunity to clear the danger with a hoof out of play and was caught in possession by Carew who then left him trailing squared the ball nicely to Gabby who took a touch to tee himself up before nutmegging both a defender and the keeper with his shot that provided us with a two goal cushion for two first half minutes.

Substitutes:

Nathan Delfouneso – Replaced Milner on 81 minutes. Not on long enough to rate.

Fabian Delph – Replaced Reo on 85 minutes in a double substitution with the game well won and was another who was not on long enough to earn a rating.

Craig Gardner – Replaced Sidwell on 85 minutes and managed to get himself booked within 2 minutes without having touched the ball. Not on long enough to earn a rating but might have earner himself a sending off had he had more time on the field.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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He started very well villan-007 but fell away for me. I just think given the run of games he has had he should be nearing the level he produced at Reading for the whole 90 minutes and being more of a threat when he gets an opportunity although I accept he has to get in the positions to miss them.

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