Jump to content

Now those bells may be tolling softly for anothe


limpid
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • Administrator

by John

On a bleak and worrying weekend for most of the relegation threatened clubs we were the only team in the bottom half of the table to come away with a precious win and with three vital points that may yet see someone else’s head replace our own on the relegation chopping block.

Newcastle came into this game feeling safe from the threat or relegation and we really could not have hoped for any less threatening opposition yesterday. We clearly played them at the right time as they already had their buckets and spades out and were picturing themselves on a post season beach rather than walking out into the April sunshine at Villa Park yesterday. After this win we sit just two points behind them and five points clear of the bottom 3. Safety has yet to be secured but these three points have gone a long way towards achieving it before games 37 & 38.

The first goal in a Villa game is often crucial and so it proved yesterday. We got our winner with 66 minutes of normal time still remaining plus 5 minutes of added time. The second that we really needed to ease our nerves never quite came and although we at times played some nice football the killer touch was missing when we got near the box. So the game was always on a knife edge and one error or one lapse of concentration could have cost us what was a so vital win. For once though we kept a clean sheet and did not concede a late goal and Newcastle’s belated search for an equaliser came to nothing.

My player ratings from a game that has left us 3 – 5 points from safety are:

Brad Friedel – 7 – There is life in the old dog yet! A quiet day at the office mostly but he made a couple of crucial late saves that stopped us dropping two all important points. He was also more commanding in the air than of late. Brad was in the right place at the right time to gather a Lovenkrands header on 88 minutes and denied the same opponent on 92 minutes when he used his feet to block a goal bound effort.

Kyle Walker - 6 – A touch unconvincing at the back early on but ironed out those flaws to give a solid enough display until replaced on 77 minutes by Carlos no doubt with a view to making us more solid in the face of the always likely late pressure that was to come from Newcastle.

James Collins – 7 – MOTM – Solid and at times almost commanding at the back and to this James added a crucial goal. It was the reliable Collins of last season that turned up yesterday. James drifted inexplicably into the centre of the field on 19 minutes rather than to stay on Ranger who was left free to test Brad with a low shot but he more than made amends for that rare lapse of concentration when he headed home the vital winner 5 minutes later glancing Ashley Young’s perfectly placed free kick into the far corner of the net with Harper left as just a spectator as the ball flew in.

Richard Dunne – 7 – We needed our senior players to stand up and be counted yesterday and both our central defenders did just that to play a big part in us achieving a rare clean sheet.

Luke Young - 7 – A sound performance and he was particularly impressive with his forward runs in the second half.

Stewart Downing – 7 – Did well to claim the ball on the edge of the box on 37 minutes and then hit a great cross into Bent who mistimed his move and headed the ball harmlessly over.

Jean Makoun – 6 – Always looking for the defence splitting/telling ball but more than a few passes went astray yesterday.

Stiliyan Petrov – 7 – A welcome outing for our now rested club captain. We have missed his steadying influence in games like this one and he was somewhere approaching his best for the first hour.

Ashley Young - 7 – Took some heavy hits but kept coming back for more where others would have limped out of the action. If this was to be one of his last games for us he has shown he is willing to give everything he has to keep us up in the top flight. Hit the perfect free kick for our winner and hit a shot from the edge of the box on 54 minutes that Harper turned wide for a corner that we were not given. Five minutes later he hit a good cross that Harper got one hand to in order to push it clear of danger.

Gabby Agbonlahor – 6 – Another who worked very hard and put in a big shift for the shirt he wears. He has been well below the standards he sets himself this season but the lack of his name on the goal scoring chart yesterday was not for want of trying and his pace frightens defenders and was there to see more often yesterday than it has been in most of his appearances this season. Petrov found him on 48 minutes and he cut inside the box to force a one handed save from Harper. Tracked back often and to good effect.

Darren Bent – 6 – Too many long balls yesterday and this was not the sort of service he thrives on. But he looked level rather than offside when Makoun hit a good ball through which found him clear inside the box on 44 minutes and he applied a sweet finish which could have gave us a 2 goal cushion. Darren was also perhaps unfortunate to have his penalty claim brushed aside when Taylor’s arm did the same to him inside the box on 59 minutes.

Substitutes:

Nigel Reo Coker – 6 - Replaced Makoun on 67 minutes and played his part in securing the points by steadying our midfield.

Carlos Cuellar – 6 - Replaced Kyle Walker on 77 minutes to stiffen that side but his rash challenge on the edge of the box in injury time could have cost us very dear had Taylor’s free kick been a foot or two lower.

Robert Pirès – Replaced Gabby on 86 minutes. This was a substitution that was unfathomable. If Gabby was to be replaced surely replacing pace for pace by giving Albrighton a run was the more likely call or had we been looking to stiffen things up we had Clark on the bench who could have done that job. On for just 9 minutes and so not on long enough to rate but those minutes passed him by as did the odd opportunity to put a foot in. Not a substitution to make with the game still to be won and this seemed like Gerard wanting to prove as he did against Wolves in that debacle that it is he who makes the substitutions no matter how unlikely they may seem to us.

Stay up the Villa!

John Lewis

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Houllier said in his press conference on Friday that Albrighton felt a tweek in his groin in training, maybe they just didn't want to risk him for the last 10 minutes of the match?

Would it have been worth injuring Albrighton for 10 minutes of football?

Maybe he thought bringing Pires on would be better because he's an older player and should be wiser with the ball.

I don't agree with you giving Gabby a 6, that's the best I've seen him play in a long while...He held the ball up well and turned and ran at players.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderator

Would it have been worth injuring Albrighton for 10 minutes of football?

If a manager is worried that a player can't last ten minutes of football, then he really shouldn't be on the bench imo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Would it have been worth injuring Albrighton for 10 minutes of football?

If a manager is worried that a player can't last ten minutes of football, then he really shouldn't be on the bench imo.

If he had a slight tweek then maybe he shouldn't have been, Houllier did say he would be in the squad and maybe he was only put in the sqaud because he was the only person apart from the players already on the pitch who could create something down the wing if we badly needed a goal.....We didn't need to create one so maybe it just wasn't worth risking him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • VT Supporter

Would it have been worth injuring Albrighton for 10 minutes of football?

If a manager is worried that a player can't last ten minutes of football, then he really shouldn't be on the bench imo.

Maybe he was there simply as a precaution for if anything happened to either winger early on. Its not as if we have another winger as an option.

Concerning the OP it was a good summary as usual but I have to disagree with the Pires write up, far from being 'unfathomable' I would have thought it rather obvious why he was put on. I cant see a better option to add into the last few panic filled minutes of a game than a seasoned veteran, someone to add a bit of nous to the team to calm the situation down.

There is the argument that since we won it worked too!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If Albrighton was a possible injury then I can understand him being on the bench.

It's like on Football Manager when you put a player with a yellow/ orange injury on you bench, just incase he's needed.

:winkold:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Houllier said in his press conference on Friday that Albrighton felt a tweek in his groin in training, maybe they just didn't want to risk him for the last 10 minutes of the match?

I had not heard that Cracker which explains things to some extent and yes I thought Gabby had his best game for a long time and ran a 7 close for me.

I have to disagree with the Pires write up, far from being 'unfathomable' I would have thought it rather obvious why he was put on. I cant see a better option to add into the last few panic filled minutes of a game than a seasoned veteran, someone to add a bit of nous to the team to calm the situation down

I would have gone for one of the other options I mentioned Nigel and given what has been said on Marc I would have brought on Clark if I had made a change at all. Pirès made no impact on the game and for me at his age needs more time to influence a game than a few minutes at the end. But as you say all is well that ends well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...
Â