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Remember the Alamo!


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By John Lewis

Yes it was a little reminiscent of that yesterday. A third of the possession, 4 corners to their 18 but it is goals that win matches and the only goal of the game was ours and took us into the top four with only Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United standing above us.

So we can hold onto a lead after all. We had what I have always felt is our best available back four out yesterday. There is an argument to be had that Carlos is worthy of a place but for me that place would be in the centre of our defence rather than at right back. However, I doubt there is much argument that this back four and goalkeeper would not have conceded the three goals that took us out of the Europa Cup on Thursday evening.

This was an important win for us after what has been a very embarrassing week for our football club. We claimed the points due to a sweet early goal and some dogged resilient defending. Everton did have the better of the game overall (albeit aided and abetted by some outrageous referring decisions) and they will have had good cause to feel unhappy about going home pointless last night. But, we will play better than this and lose and Everton will play worse and win.

Any prospective manager will look at the league table after this weekend and see us as being a much more attractive proposition to take over after this game than we had looked before it. The fact that our caretaker manager was given until after this game to start thinking about whether he wants to be considered for the job does suggest that the transfer window will be closed and players we might have wanted to sign will have gone elsewhere before a permanent manager is put in place. But, two wins and a defeat brings 6 from 9 points and represents a decent start to the season on paper where being unbeaten by drawing two of three games still leaves clubs looking up the table at us.

My player ratings from a game that took us back to our rightful place above the heathens of Small Heath as well as Milner, Barry and the rest who now choose to wear the shirts of Mercenary City are:

Brad Freidel – 8 – MOTM - A good one handed save from Saha on 59 minutes was followed by a combination of Dunne and himself blocking another effort from the same player in the second minute of the five added on for stoppage time. Two minutes later he again denied Saha by turning his shot around the post and had by then shown how determined he was that nothing would get past him when a punch out of his area almost made it to the half way line in that injury period time period. His saves secured the win and defied the belief that with all that possession a goal would be inevitable for our opponents.

Luke Young – 8 – Made a good run into the box on 8 minutes and Ash hit a wonderful ball into his path which he curled with his left foot past the keeper and into the corner of the net for a finish any striker you might wish to name would have been proud of. Luke also won some vital challenges at the back. What a loss it would have been to have let him leave for a couple of million in this window.

James Collins – 7 – Got better as the game wore on.

Richard Dunne – 7 – Solid central defending and he works well with James.

Stephen Warnock - 6 – Not at his best during this game or in previous early season games as of yet.

Stewart Downing – 5 – Seemed uncomfortable on the right early on when he and Ash appeared to be getting into each others way. Not near his best yesterday.

Nigel Reo Coker – 7 – Gives a tougher edge to our midfield and worked very hard today.

Stiliyan Petrov - 7 – Another who worked very hard to secure our second win of the season and put in some decent challenges along with a couple of good passes that might on another day have produced goals.

Ashley Young – 8 – Worked himself into the ground yesterday. Picked up the ball just inside the half way line on 48 minutes after Petrov had threaded the ball through to him and ran on to the edge of their area before he hit his shot wide (which I think Howard probably had covered in any case). Ten minutes later Howard pushed a decent Carew effort out towards him but a combination of a good half block from Jagielka and Howard’s good reaction save kept the ball out of the net when it had seemed destined for it served to keep us on the edge of our seats for the rest of the game.

Marc Albrighton – 7 – Looked again what we all now know he is and that is a tremendous prospect who is prepared to run at defenders and to use his guile go past them Should have done better on 74 minutes when Howard had only been able to push an Ashley shot out to him after Petrov had found him inside the box but his shot was badly miscued when a vital second killer goal had looked more likely than not.

John Carew – 6 – Unable to get quite enough on a 46th minute cross that skimmed off his head and went wide. Replaced by Gabby on 68 minutes after what had been a difficult game that he had seemed to become more of a threat in during the second half.

Substitutes:

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 7 – Replaced Big John on 68 minutes and again looked lively and harder to push off the ball than in the past.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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I don't think Everton are as good as many think. A solid defensive unit they offer little in attack without Saha, other than from set pieces where Cahill and Felaini are a threat.

They seem to have the opposite problem to us. They have a strong CM with Felaini sitting, Arteta in front of him and Cahill off the striker but they lack width. Rodwell, who I think is a fantastic player (from what I have seen) was wasted out on the wing and Pienaar is not a natural wide player IMO. Not sure why he didn't bring Saha on earlier and Billyletdinov who would give them more natural width.

The defence was fantastic.

Our middle three just isn't balanced for me. I would like to see NRC sitting BUT he can't do this when played with Stan or else no-one would be making any runs forward! We desperately need another deeper CM'er - Flamini pleese. Ashley Young worked his socks but, for me, is much more effective as a wide player. I hope that this is the position that Ireland ultimately takes, and would rather see Bannan deputise in there for him, allowing us to rotate the wingers.

Downing had a poor game. I, unlike some, don't expect him to put in a mammoth defensive shift BUT he didn't really contribute offensively yesterday. I would have bought him off for Bannan and pushed Ash out on to the left wing.

Carew was generally poor and we would look much livelier with Gabby. I think age and injuries have got to JC and he is now an impact player off the bench at best when we need to switch a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 to chase a result as we did against Blues (a) last season. We need another sole striker to rotate with Gabby and Kevin Doyle would be my ideal pick.

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We stood firm and defeated the enemy. More like Rourke's Drift if you ask me

Agreed C4rvillan I had been tempted by using Rouke's Drift as well. :winkold:

Not sure why he didn't bring Saha on earlier

I'm just glad they didn't barry'sboots because he was a big threat.

I do rate Everton but they like us need another striker but I can't see Doyle going anywhere just yet or us signing anyone in this window with the name of our manager still undecided. Good points well made. :thumb:

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Agree with all except your mark for Carew. I thought Carew was very good up on his own. Caused them problems all over the park and fought the good fight until being taken off exhausted. His performance only lacked a goal but I'd go with an 8.

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Agree with all except your mark for Carew. I thought Carew was very good up on his own. Caused them problems all over the park and fought the good fight until being taken off exhausted. His performance only lacked a goal but I'd go with an 8.

Come on Bri...you know everyone on here thinks he's crap ;-)

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Most of the ratings were spot on I though except to give big JC a 6. Maybe in the first half, but in the second he really caused Everton all sorts of problems with his strength and pace. A couple of mazy runs could easily have resulted in a goal.

I still think we look much more of a goal threat with JC and Gabby upfront.

I thought 5 was a bit generous for Downing also. He had an absolute shocker beyond belief.

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Agree with all except your mark for Carew. I thought Carew was very good up on his own. Caused them problems all over the park and fought the good fight until being taken off exhausted. His performance only lacked a goal but I'd go with an 8.

Come on Bri...you know everyone on here thinks he's crap ;-)

Carew on form is unplayable, teams just cant cope with him.

He had is moments vs Everton but still sruggled to find the target.

As for Reo Coker, he allowed Fellaini far too much space in the first half, corrected at half time when Petrov was swapped to look after him allowin Reo Coker that bit more freedom

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