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Villa lack the goal threat to pip Valencia!


John
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Valencia head up to Manchester City for their second game in 24 hours after this one and may have Milner hitching a lift with them on the team bus!

This might have been viewed as a meeting between two cashed strapped clubs who may struggle to repeat the third and sixth places that they secured last season. But, where Valencia are clearly weaker following the sale of their three big hitters we may yet find say Ireland, Keane and McGeady coming in to replace want away James gives us a stronger squad than we had last season.

There were some encouraging signs last night. Although Valencia are less further forward with their pre-season than us and they were those three stars short of what they had last season we were also missing Gabby, Cuellar, Collins and a midfield player who did quite well for us last season and less well in South Africa in the summer. But three of our players will be back for the new season and so we will have potentially only one man missing from the squad that gave us sixth and two Wembley appearances last season. Add a goal scorer to that squad (which we so badly lack) and we might just have progress again this season despite what has been a gloomy pre-season news wise up until now.

My player ratings from a game that brought our warm up games to a close and the games that matter to the fore are:

Brad Freidel – 6 – Rarely tested before being replaced by Brad the Younger on 62 minutes.

Habib Beye – 7 – Did all that could be expected of him on the right and in the centre for the second half of the game. Solid defensively and will not let us down when called upon. Players like Habib will be needed if we are going to do battle in three cup competitions this season.

Ciaran Clark – 6 – Replaced by Lowry after 81 promising minutes but will face some tougher tests than this.

Richard Dunne – 6 – Replaced by Warnock at half time having picked up a slight knock half way through the first half. Not really troubled by Valencia’s attack prior to that.

Luke Young - 7 – I can’t help but think we will struggle to find a better full back for the £2m or so a move to Fulham might bring in. Solid both on the left and on the right in the second half. Tried to turn a Downing header from an Albrighton cross in on 32 minutes but his effort was blocked and a minute later covered well at the back with a challenge that denied a scoring opportunity.

Marc Albrighton – 8 – MOTM – Marc showed he was up for this as early as 2 minutes into the game when he beat his man on the wing and hit a good cross into the box. Took players on and whipped in some good crosses last night to show we might just have Milner’s replacement on the books already. He has had a good pre-season and will get even better with a run of games and although he may find a Celtic import competing with him for a starting place this season he will still be likely to get a decent number of games in over the course of the season.

Nigel Reo Coker – 7 – Nice to see Reo back and fully fit again. He has been a regular in our side in pre-season games and we have a stronger squad with him in it than without him. Looked good last night and might yet hopefully have a future with us.

Stiliyan Petrov - 6 – Replaced by Sidwell on 62 minutes after what had been a quiet night at the office.

Stewart Downing – 7 – Started very brightly with a full pre-season behind him this time and unlucky to see his 89th minute free kick from the edge of the box strike the under side of the bar with the keeper just a spectator. Found well by Ash on 18 minutes, cut inside and having beaten a defender hit his right foot shot just wide. On the down side he did not always get all of the crosses in he would have been expected to in the middle of the game.

Ashley Young – 8 – May well have played himself back into the England squad with Fabio watching a good display from him last night. Looked more comfortable when he drifted wide than when he may have been keeping the hole behind our lone striker warm for Keane.

John Carew – 6 – A decent first half display before being replaced by Emile at half time. Had the ball plucked off his foot as he turned to shoot having been found by a good cross from Ash on 12 minutes.

Substitutes:

Emile Heskey – 6 - Replaced Big John at half time. Got a good head to a Warnock free kick on 54 minutes that went a couple of feet wide and was unlucky to be wrongly adjudged offside when he ran clear 14 minutes later onto a defence splitting ball from Ash having been level with the defender when the ball was kicked.

Stephen Warnock – 6 – Replaced Dunne at half time not overly tested.

Nathan Delfouneso – 6 - Replaced Albrighton on 62 minutes. Looked lively enough in the time available to him and just failed to turn in a good cross from Reo at the near post after Reo’s good driving run on 68 minutes.

Brad Guzan – 6 – Not tested in the last half hour of this game after replacing Brad the Elder on 62 minutes.

Steven Sidwell – 5 – Made no impression other than of a player who has his bagged packs with nowhere to go in the 30 minutes he was on last night. Really needs to do more to force a future for himself here or somewhere else and could take a leaf out of Reo’s book. He has shown he has the ability in the past and needs to find it again now.

Andreas Weimann - Replaced Ash on 72 minutes and took up some decent positions in the time he had available.

Eric Lichaj – Replaced Luke Young on 72 minutes did not have enough opportunity to earn a rating.

Shane Lowry – Replaced Clark on 81 minutes another who did not have long enough to earn a rating.

Moustapha Salifou – A short cameo role but did find Emile with a good pass and showed a nice touch or two.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Thought we played some good stuff.

Thought Ash, beye, clark, and Reo-Coker were all excellent. I thought Heskey was good when he came on as well. Bar Sidwell (who i didnt notice) everyone else was good too. Downing showed glimpses of brilliance and even Salifou pinged a crossfield pass inch perfect.

A lot of positives!!

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I'd agree with most of the ratings there, apart from Downing. His crossing was very poor, especially in the second half.

Reo Coker deserves a shot. His passing can be dodgy, but he makes up for that with his work rate. Petrov again looked pedestrian despite some good touches.

What worries me is that if we are not getting much joy out of the wings, we don't look like creating anything. We could do with a central midfielder who can play a good pass through the middle that will turn the defence around - that sort of service would bring the best out of Gabby with his pace. Maybe Ireland can bring that sort of vision to the middle of the park.

Can we afford to let Luke Young go? I like him a lot, but Beye won't let us down if needed and I think Lichaj could do a job too. So maybe we don't need to be paying Young's wages, really. Having said that, I'm not sure how well we would cope if Warnock was out for a while.

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I'd agree with most of the ratings there, apart from Downing. His crossing was very poor, especially in the second half.

Reo Coker deserves a shot. His passing can be dodgy, but he makes up for that with his work rate. Petrov again looked pedestrian despite some good touches.

What worries me is that if we are not getting much joy out of the wings, we don't look like creating anything. We could do with a central midfielder who can play a good pass through the middle that will turn the defence around - that sort of service would bring the best out of Gabby with his pace. Maybe Ireland can bring that sort of vision to the middle of the park.

Can we afford to let Luke Young go? I like him a lot, but Beye won't let us down if needed and I think Lichaj could do a job too. So maybe we don't need to be paying Young's wages, really. Having said that, I'm not sure how well we would cope if Warnock was out for a while.

Agree with much of this. I think we will look more of a threat from the wings when Ash is back out left. Ireland could well be the answer, but I would like to see DJ have a crack in the middle.

The weakest link in the starting line up for me was Stan as you point out - did very little and I worry that he will play every game again irrespective of form or contribution.

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Yes there were a lot of positives last night and a couple of players will have given Martin cause to think of them when he selects sides in the coming weeks.

you'd struggle to play football with your packs bagged too!

Sadly spell check does not spot gibberish like that rjshare. :oops:

Typical negative headline. It was their good defending and the bar that kept up out, not our lack of goal threat

It is not all about the headline Lex whether it may appear negative or positive and I think most of us would agree that we do not convert enough of the chances that we make into goals. Sure Valencia are solid but we have failed to break down less effective defences in the past at Villa Park and risk doing so again without a regular goal scorer.

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It is not all about the headline Lex whether it may appear negative or positive and I think most of us would agree that we do not convert enough of the chances that we make into goals. Sure Valencia are solid but we have failed to break down less effective defences in the past at Villa Park and risk doing so again without a regular goal scorer.

I'd argue that a lot of our chances are half-chances at best. I don't think we miss many gilt-edged chances, apart from the odd one where Gabby takes it too wide and kills the angle for himself. A proven goal scorer would help, but I reckon our main problem is the way we attack rather than anything else. We need to create a greater variety of chances. If we could turn defences around, there's not many that will cope with Gabby going at them, but last season he had to play as much as a target man as anything else, holding the ball up. He's improved that part of his game a lot, but I'd rather he was always on the shoulder of the last man looking to go forward, not back.

If we had a creative player with a bit of guile and craftiness in the centre of the park, we might find that we don't need/already have a 20 goal a season striker at the club.

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I have to agree with you there Straygoat, we don't exactly create great chances for our strikers. Crosses into the box are 50-50 and there are a lot of defenders out there who would prefer to face that kind of threat week in week out.

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It's something we've not really had in the side since Paul Merson - he used to play some lovely little through-balls. Trouble is, there's not that many players around with the vision to do it, certainly not in the British market anyway.

Stephen Ireland could be just what we need.

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Good points Straygoat & keefa. A Merse or a Cowans would be a great help as might Ireland if he can secure the wages he wants to move to us. I think Keane could also score some and make some for us.

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