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Milner & Barry - What was the Score?


blandy
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By John Lewis

Gareth Barry headed one just wide of the post before his 57th minute substitution and James Milner sat watching throughout the game from the bench as we took the vital three points that dented Citeh’s title chances and took us three points clear of the bottom three. Still at least these two former Villa heroes were there to witness a game that could prove to have been the turning point in our season.

This was much more like it. Players worked hard as a team throughout and battled for everything. Darren Bent got the early goal that we so needed and his arrival and this win has given us a shot of confidence which we badly needed. Citeh arrived I suspect thinking that the win was already in the bag after our abject surrender less than a month ago but we were made of sterner stuff yesterday. But they just failed to break our defensive barricade although they came jolly close to doing so as we became increasingly pegged back into our own half and defended deeper and deeper to the point where an equalizer that may have led to a second had appeared inevitable. But, that goal never came and our rearguard action claimed the three points that we desperately needed and the more they threw at us the harder we worked.

With this win we have leapfrogged Small Heath and GH’s problem now is fitting the players he has into a starting eleven. Playing Albrighton, Young, Gabby and Downing in the same team was a courageous decision and it got its just reward. But Heskey and Makoun will be available for Wigan so do we change a winning team and if we do who makes way to accommodate these two? Do we play one or two from Bent, Heskey and Gabby? Do we play two battling midfield players from Petrov, Makoun and Reo Coker along with two wide men where they are most effective from Young, Downing and Albrighton? These are difficult decisions to be made and we do now appear to have the opportunity to consider some rotation and of picking horses for courses.

Now we have to follow this hard earned win with another at Wigan in what is a six-pointer for us both. That win would leave us just four more wins from safety and nearing mid-table. As things now stand do you want to bet against us doing just that? Can we stay up? Yes, we can!

My player ratings from a game that we emerged victorious from the battle of the big spenders in this transfer window are:

Brad Friedel – 7 – A solid display. Did very well to help a goal bound Kompany header from a corner over the bar on 21 minutes and made a good one handed stop on the hour from Boateng.

Carlos Cuellar - 7 – Does not offer Walker’s speed or threat up front but he was very solid when we were under pressure which we were for much of the game.

Richard Dunne – 7 – He really wanted to win this one didn’t he?

James Collins – 9 – MOTM - Exceptional. Back to his very, very best. Got in the way of so many things last night and James was the defensive rock on which our win was built. Blackburn can forget getting him as a makeweight in any deal for Samba!

Ciaran Clark - 7 – He is a better central defender but is giving everything he has in this position and like Albrighton has a very big future at our football club. Ciaran played a key role in keeping Citeh’s attacks at bay and in securing our first clean sheet since October although he was fortunate to see a shot deflect off him and onto a post on 83 minutes.

Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – Looks uncomfortable if not frustrated playing wide as did Heskey when GH moved him there at Liverpool. We have enough wide players to fill this role and they will do so more effectively. He needs to pay as a striker where he can use his pace to run at defences and where he is more involved in games.

Stiliyan Petrov – 7 – Particularly impressive in the first half and ran himself into a standstill prior to his late substitution. Asking him to hold an offensively minded midfield together which was put under so much pressure was a very demanding task but one he proved up to.

Stewart Downing – 7 – Had a solid shot stopped by Hart on 77 minutes. But playing him in the centre makes him less effective for me as we lose the killer crosses that he delivers so well and that Bent would feed so freely from. We have midfield players who can put a foot in and battle as well as well if not better than can Stewart but out wide he has very few that can come close to his ability in the league and that is where he needs to play and where he has been so good so often this season to date.

Ashley Young - 8 – It was his fine shot that Hart was only able to get his finger tips to that led to our winner. Tried another from 30 yards on the hour that had it been a yard either side of Hart may have had him in trouble, hit another from the edge of the box on 65 minutes that Hart pushed out for a corner with Bent on hand to get to any loose ball again and then almost forced a good Albrighton cross in on 86 minutes that went just wide of the post. Back to near his best yesterday after his enforced rest and worked tirelessly.

Marc Albrighton – 8 – Worked so very hard and was a constant threat to Citeh when he was running with the ball out wide. This is really some player we have on our hands!

Darren Bent –7 – Darren is that fox in the box that we have been lacking since the days of Dean Saunders. What he did he did well and like Gerhard Müller at the end of a game you may wonder what he actually did for much of it but it will be his name that is down as the goal scorer and that is what counts as it wins games. Darren got his debut goal and the match winner on 18 minutes when he demonstrated a regular goal scorer’s anticipation to get in front of his defender and be in the right place at the right time to apply the finish of an £18m striker after Ashley’s shot had been pushed into his path by Hart. I anticipate this will be the first of many goals that Darren will get in a Villa shirt and these will soon have him in the England reckoning as Fabio gets to Villa Park more often than he does to Sunderland and might that have also had a role to play in his decision to head to us? Price wise, players who near a goal every two games do not come cheap, particularly when they are English but they do win games and keep teams up so it has to represent money well spent for me.

Substitutes:

Nigel Reo Coker – Replaced our captain on 88 minutes. Not on long enough to rate but provided much needed none weary legs.

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Good account - though I think pretty much the whole team were guilty of some very sloppy passes and losing posession too easily. At times it looked like a training game (ok, you attack and we'll practice our defending).

Having said that we defended extremely well and looked far more organised than any game I can remember this season (or certainly under Ged).

Agree Gabby looked lost out wide and I think Young also looked out of sorts at times (though had really bright flashes, including for the goal).

I thought Clark looked great at left back (as he did in the last game) both defensively and supporting the attacks.

Particlarly loved Petrov's foort-in-chest tackle on De Jong. How do you like it then baldy?

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I don't think we can start with all the "What's the score...." taunts, particularly after:

1) They flayed us 4-0 a few weeks ago, and

2) We escaped with a 1-0 win.

Does that matter?

A win is a win. We've taken as many points off them as they have off us.

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I don't think we can start with all the "What's the score...." taunts, particularly after:

1) They flayed us 4-0 a few weeks ago, and

2) We escaped with a 1-0 win.

We had more shots on target!

Seriously though, we did ride our luck somewhat yesterday. Tevez missed a sitter at the start, Dzeko should have buried that header at the death, City hit the post via Ciaran Clark's arse and I dread to think what the possession stats were. But then I think it was Houllier's plan to park the bus (so to speak) as City have struggled against sides who pack the middle of the pitch this season.

I dont want to say doing what we did yesterday was the only way we could have beaten Manchester City, but it was certainly the most obvious way to play. The team stuck to the plan and got rewarded with three points. It was a great ending to an exciting week, and if we cant be happy about that on an Aston Villa forum of all places, where can we?

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Milner rotting on the bench pleases me in some ways but in others, makes me feel :cry:

He could have achieved so much with the villa, he would have been IMO our best player and loved like a super star at VP!

Now he's banking in a shed load of money by warming up a bench.

Its all good winning the medals, but wont mean as much if you havent contributed! I'm kind of hoping for him to do a 'Santa Cruz' and return to his former club

As for the game.... BRILLIRANT 3 points and over joyed to see Bent scoring right away. It would have been a horrible situation if he'd hadnt scored within the first 3-5 games after the position we are in and the transfer fee which people keep on moaning about

UTV!!!

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I don't think we can start with all the "What's the score...." taunts

The Holte started it Sit-Down-Potato-Head :winkold: and I'm sure Gareth & James would be laughing along with us or possibly not as I would guess any defeat for them at Villa Park would go down as well for them as spending the whole game sitting on the bench and the crucial last 33 minutes on it. The earlier defeat at their place is now history (grim as it was) and although they had a lot of the ball we had the will to deny them a goal and clung on to a much needed win.

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Good article and i agree with your player ratings but would prefer it if we looked to the future rather than the past (Barry and Milner). They've gone and we need to get over it and support this 'new' team

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would prefer it if we looked to the future rather than the past (Barry and Milner). They've gone and we need to get over it and support this 'new' team

Agreed Gillz but I just could not resist the temptation. :winkold:

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would prefer it if we looked to the future rather than the past (Barry and Milner). They've gone and we need to get over it and support this 'new' team

Agreed Gillz but I just could not resist the temptation. :winkold:

Tbh i don't blame you, it is always nice to add a little spice to a fixture i guess

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