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The cup that cheers!


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A win from the first of our January trilogy of cup ties against Blackburn extinguished their hopes in the FA Cup and proved a welcome tonic to us on the back of two successive league defeats!

This was a game that showed there is sadly something missing from the glamour of the FA Cup (if only from the early rounds). It was understandable that both sides had one eye on next week’s semi final first leg, that both teams showed massive changes from their normal line ups and that some fans pockets could not stretch to paying for another home game that followed hard on the heals of our game with Liverpool. But, this game had the atmosphere of a friendly both on the field and off it at times (with the clear exception of Diouf whose two footed lunge from behind on Beye will produce an extended holiday period for him this month). But, it’s the result that counts in games like this and a 10 men Blackburn although they had more of the game in the second half than they should have done never really looked likely to come back from 2 goals down.

My player ratings from a game that has left four ties in this tournament from a potential second Wembley final in 2010 are:

Brad Guzan – 7 – Made his usual cup tie appearance and made another penalty save on the half hour that left David Dunn with a red face to match his blue nose. Blotted his copybook on 55 minutes when he spilled a corner on his goal line when under pressure from the unmarked scorer Kalinic.

Habib Beye – 6 – A solid first half performance but he had lapses of concentration in the second half that might have proved costly such as on 65 minutes when he was easily beaten in his own half and the Blackburn player ran half the length of the field and hit a shot just wide of the post.

James Collins – 7 – A solid enough display on those occasions he was tested.

Carlos Cuellar – 8 – MOTM – Another very good display. Scored our second on 37 minutes when he guided a nice cross from Ash into the corner of their net and was only inches over on 67 minutes with a good solid header.

Stephen Warnock - 6 – Might have produced a bit more coming forward to exploit the open spaces the sending off produced but steady enough at the back.

Ashley Young– 7 – A welcome return two of his crosses produced the first two of our goals. Might have done better on 20 minutes when clear and his shot hit the keeper’s legs but a good return after suspension.

Fabian Delph - 7 – Sprayed some good passes around and looked good in the 45 minutes he had available to make an impression.

Nigel Reo Coker – 7 – A silly pull back earned them a penalty on the half hour but was otherwise tenacious and a steadying influence in our midfield. Has again made a case for further games in our midfield and might have added a goal on 86 minutes when a good strike from the edge of the box forced a decent save.

Stewart Downing – 6 – Might have benefited from a game off today after his recent run of games and what had been a long injury break.

Nathan Delfouneso – 6 – Showed clear signs of the potential Martin sees in him particularly before he sustained that knock with some good strong runs and a sweetly taken header from Ashley’s precise cross on 12 minutes that produced our opening goal. Faded as the game wore on.

Emile Heskey – 6 – Again produced a good performance in the target man role.


Steve Sidwell – 5 - Replaced Fabian at half time failed to make an impression on the second half.

John Carew – 6 – Replaced Nathan on 75 minutes and was felled for the penalty he scored on 90 minutes. I think everyone including their keeper expected the penalty to be blasted down the middle but Carew fooled us all by stroking the ball wide of the keeper to put the result belatedly beyond any possible doubt. Unable to get above the ball on 75 minutes when his header bounced off his head and over.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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