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Wolves 2 - 3 Villa


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by Srathem

Well what can I say, I have waited 12 years to see Robbie Keane in a Villa shirt and it was well worth the wait.Two great goals on his starting debut and at 31 it is clear he still has a lot to offer. He has always been an intelligent player, never blessed with blistering pace but we have been reminded of his ability to read and influence the game on numerous occasions at Villa Park over the years so it was nice to see the boot on the other foot yesterday when he ran the show against Wolves!

I remember in the 98/99 season when we were trying to buy him from Wolves and how excited my mate Jimmy and I were at the prospect of such a talented young player joining us, we were top of the table at the time and flying under Gregory and an addition like this along with Juninho (who was apparently also close to signing) would put us in pole position to cement our challenge for our first Premiership title. That season he rattled in 16 goals and you could see then he would go on to become top draw.

You can imagine the disappointment when the rumours went round we had lost out to Coventry for the sake of an extra 500k as Doug didn't feel he was worth the extra cash. So Cov snapped him up for £6m and the great Marcello Lippi picked him up for Inter a year later paying £13m for his services. Of course I am in no doubt that Doug would have also sold him for that sort of money so we would probably only have had him for a year anyway! I know some people have knocked Doug over the years for the way he ran the club but this period will always stand out for me as the one time we could have and should have signed a couple of quality players and become real contenders for the years to come, we were close. So close.

But I digress, 12 years later and 3 well deserved points in the end following a good old fashioned display of determination and commitment spattered with 2 great finishes by the player we should have signed all of those years ago.

I have never been a fan of McCleish and like most Villa fans was gutted when he was appointed, given the ease of our first few fixtures most of us expected us to have more points than we do at the moment but he seems to have the knack of picking up just enough points to keep his head above water without us looking particularly threatening to the rest of the league. But I think he deserves a lot of credit for the performance yesterday, he dropped Warnock on the back of a couple of poor displays (although I would say he is having a decent season), shifted Clark to left back and started Keane, also giving Gary Gardner a start in midfield.

Gary is a player I have watched closely over the past few years from youth, reserves and now finally the 1st team. He reads the game well, gets in good positions, good passing ability and can certainly strike the ball. They way he plays reminds me of the drive and hunger that Gerrard had as a young kid coming through, always getting into space, wanting the ball and making great runs. I am not saying he will be as good as Gerrard was but if he can keep playing his way I expect him to be a big player for us in the future.

So Alex set the team out to attack and we got off to a great start, Bent proving that if you chase down defenders you can reap rewards. After the pen though we dropped off a bit as Wolves bossed the game, Kightly running Clarke ragged on the right and causing him no end of problems until he ran into the box, cut inside and rolled a shot into the bottom corner. I can't really fault the goal, yes Clark should have been tighter on him and certainly been goal side to stop him getting the shot in but he is young and will hopefully learn from these errors. Sometimes though you just get left for dead.

The second goal however highlights what is so frustrating about us this season! the lino (sorry assistant referee) stopped Wolves taking a quick corner, great you think, time to regroup and get organised for the set piece, or not. As the ball comes in everything looks ok, everyone looks like they have been picked up, Collins is behind his man but will get a challenge in, the only danger he could cause with his back to goal being the flick on back onto the back post. Then for some reason Dunne decides to leave his man Edwards and race to help Collins despite the fact he would have to get through two players to get the ball! We know the rest, the ball comes in Dunne leaves Edwards unmarked and the ball is flicked on for Edwards to score.

While you can forgive errors player make (everyone is human) I find an error like Dunne's yesterday simply mind boggling! All season we have been rubbish at defending set pieces and seem to take a schoolboy approach to them. When you know these players are capable of more, it is beyond frustrating.

So half time and Gabby goes off with a sickness bug. Alex to be fair to him identified that Clark was having a tough time, brings Warnock on and pushes Clark into his more familiar midfield role. Warnock did well, shutting down Kightly and we were able to push on in the second half and get the goals we needed. I won't talk too much about Keane's goals other than the fact that they were both excellent finishes, the second one in particular where Keane orchestrated the move from the middle of the park and then hung back on the edge of the box to smash home the winner was simply brilliant to watch. I am sure he will be going back once his loan deal expires but I would be more than happy to keep him on a permanent deal.

The red card was a no brainer for the ref, Marc may have initially fouled Henry (not intentionally I would add) but nothing can excuse his reaction. If you look at the replay Marc is actually lying on the floor with his hands held in the air when Henry lashes out with his heel, he wasn't expecting it nor able to protect himself so I don't think Marc over reacted which is some peoples opinion, let's see Lawro get booted in a surprise attack and see how he reacts, I am sure we could find some people willing to help test the theory.

Looking forward to Arsenal away, Keane being an ex-Spurs player will love to score against them. Just need to see what trains we can get there and back and find a decent away pub so if anyone knows one near the Emirates let me know this week!

UTV

Srathem

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by Srathemit was nice to see the boot on the other foot yesterday when he ran the show against Wolves!

I do like Keane, although I could think of more urgent requirements that we have than a new striker, although one positive is that it has allowed Nathan to go out on loan and, hopefully, get some game time. However, I do think your fantasy of him joining us has coloured your view of the match. I thought Keane was poor in the first half - touch and passing - and added very little, only really starting to look like a player (other than the two very good strikes) after Frimpong went off and they went down to ten men. Prior to that we looked poorly balanced with two lightweight CM'ers and two strikers that didn't really look like a pairing.

by SrathemI think [McLeish] deserves a lot of credit for the performance yesterday, he dropped Warnock on the back of a couple of poor displays (although I would say he is having a decent season), shifted Clark to left back and started Keane, also giving Gary Gardner a start in midfield. ..........

So Alex set the team out to attack and we got off to a great start, Bent proving that if you chase down defenders you can reap rewards. After the pen though we dropped off a bit as Wolves bossed the game, Kightly running Clarke ragged on the right and causing him no end of problems until he ran into the box, cut inside and rolled a shot into the bottom corner.

.....................

So half time and Gabby goes off with a sickness bug. Alex to be fair to him identified that Clark was having a tough time, brings Warnock on and pushes Clark into his more familiar midfield role. Warnock did well, shutting down Kightly and we were able to push on in the second half and get the goals we needed.......

I think you have given McLeish way to much credit in your appraisal:

1. we were set up very poorly for an away derby match initially with a very lightweight CM. Stan + a creative youngster has never worked for us and actually damages the youngster's career IMO. Ever since Delph's first game against Wigan (2-0 loss at home in the season opener) this has been evident. He just doesn't have the energy to play alongside that type of player in a pairing, particularly not in a high tempo derby game. Frimpong and Henry were owning the CM and you conveniently forget to mention the loss of Frimpong and the effect of them being reduced to 10 men on the outcome.

2. if Gabby had not been unwell do you think he would have made the change?? I don't. Even though it was clear we were short in CM and Clark was getting murdered by Kightly.

3. Keane is a fine player but he is not a partner for Bent. This was evidenced at Spurs when Keane was probably playing at a higher level.

Yes we looked better second half but that was only because McLeish was forced, by injuries and lack of options, to set the team up and play the way we should have played from the off.

by SrathemIf you look at the replay Marc is actually lying on the floor with his hands held in the air when Henry lashes out with his heel, he wasn't expecting it nor able to protect himself so I don't think Marc over reacted which is some peoples opinion.

Sorry mate but your C&B specs have fallen over your eyes again. It was a red card but Marc made an obvious meal of it. Having said that, his reaction/overreaction was no different to that which 90% of professional footballers would have made.

by SrathemLooking forward to Arsenal away, Keane being an ex-Spurs player will love to score against them.

I really hope he doesn't start against the Arsenal. We will get mullered, as we ususally do against Arsenal, if we play 4-4-2 and leave their three in CM against Stan + 1. Many people see 4-4-2 as the much more attacking option BUT you cannot attack if you don't have the ball and we won't see much of it if we go in with this set up.

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Barry'sboots, I think you're a bit harsh in this very detailed analysis of what I thought was a good article. Obviously you want a detailed blow-for-blow report, but perhaps that is not the writer's style? Give him some space for goodness sake. ;-)

Yes, it left out the bit about Frimpong (and that - considering his impact on the match - is admittedly a glaring omission), but in respect of what he did write I rather agree with his assessments. Some of our opinions clearly difer to yours though I think you tend to make out that yours is the right version.

Though I share your dislike of AM being at Villa Park, I think perhaps we should lighten up a bit on this occasion, especially as this is a debut writer (I understand).

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Barry'sboots, I think you're a bit harsh in this very detailed analysis of what I thought was a good article. Obviously you want a detailed blow-for-blow report, but perhaps that is not the writer's style? Give him some space for goodness sake. ;-)

Yes, it left out the bit about Frimpong (and that - considering his impact on the match - is admittedly a glaring omission), but in respect of what he did write I rather agree with his assessments. Some of our opinions clearly difer to yours though I think you tend to make out that yours is the right version.

Though I share your dislike of AM being at Villa Park, I think perhaps we should lighten up a bit on this occasion, especially as this is a debut writer (I understand).

John. Not trying to be overly aggressive just trying to debate the points as I see them. I clearly think that I am right, or else I wouldn't write it :winkold: - but I also respect that people are entitled to a different view and am more than happy to debate these points.

I liked the article but felt that it was overly positive about McLesih, Keane and our performance and I think I have set out why it was so?

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Thanks for the comments, useful stuff. You make some good points but I would just point out this is just a snapshot opinion of mine about the game, sure I talk about some key points and I usually concentrate on the Villa side of the story rather than reviewing each player etc. I do try and look for the positives when I can, there is enough negativity around the club but it won't stop me writing a damning article when one is warranted.

It could have been a very different game had Frimpong not gone off injured, he was immense for Wolves but we did kick on second half, no reason to think we couldn't have won the game regardless of injuries or red cards.

I do like Keane, although I could think of more urgent requirements that we have than a new striker, although one positive is that it has allowed Nathan to go out on loan and, hopefully, get some game time. However, I do think your fantasy of him joining us has coloured your view of the match. I thought Keane was poor in the first half - touch and passing - and added very little, only really starting to look like a player (other than the two very good strikes) after Frimpong went off and they went down to ten men. Prior to that we looked poorly balanced with two lightweight CM'ers and two strikers that didn't really look like a pairing.

I can see your points but we do lack that link up player behind the frontman, Ireland is coming good slowly but Keane made more of an impact in 45 mins than Ireland has to date. He is better than Heskey and the Fonz, I am under no illusions about Keane by the way and I agree he was off the pace in the first half and I could understand why a lot of fans wanted him subbed at half time but a game lasts 90 minutes and he more than made up for it. Surely the manager should get a slight nod for leaving him out there and having faith rather than pulling him off the pitch?

I think you have given McLeish way to much credit in your appraisal:

1. we were set up very poorly for an away derby match initially with a very lightweight CM. Stan + a creative youngster has never worked for us and actually damages the youngster's career IMO. Ever since Delph's first game against Wigan (2-0 loss at home in the season opener) this has been evident. He just doesn't have the energy to play alongside that type of player in a pairing, particularly not in a high tempo derby game. Frimpong and Henry were owning the CM and you conveniently forget to mention the loss of Frimpong and the effect of them being reduced to 10 men on the outcome.

2. if Gabby had not been unwell do you think he would have made the change?? I don't. Even though it was clear we were short in CM and Clark was getting murdered by Kightly.

3. Keane is a fine player but he is not a partner for Bent. This was evidenced at Spurs when Keane was probably playing at a higher level.

Yes we looked better second half but that was only because McLeish was forced, by injuries and lack of options, to set the team up and play the way we should have played from the off.

1. I think he did set us out to attack, the trade off being we were a bit lightweight in the middle of the park. Certainly Frimpong going off had a big impact on the game but the lads and even the manager deserve some credit for pulling it round.

2. I do yes, I think he would have brought Warnock on and moved Clark into MF, probably sacrificing Gardner but we have no way of knowing I guess.

3. I don't think they played together that often to be fair and I think they could click together but it is a moot point I guess as he is off in a few weeks.

Mcleish wasn't forced to make those changes, he could have just plonked Bannan on as a replacement but he did change things so why not give him the benefit of the doubt? As I said I don't want him in charge and he seems to be doing enough to stay in a job which is frustrating but if he can't get even the slightest bit of good feeling from the fans after a derby win away from home (whatever the various scenarios were) then there really is no chance for him.

Sorry mate but your C&B specs have fallen over your eyes again. It was a red card but Marc made an obvious meal of it. Having said that, his reaction/overreaction was no different to that which 90% of professional footballers would have made.

Perhaps, the reaction was on a par with 90% of professional footballers but this was unprovoked violent conduct, not someone cheating to get another player sent off.

I really hope he doesn't start against the Arsenal. We will get mullered, as we ususally do against Arsenal, if we play 4-4-2 and leave their three in CM against Stan + 1. Many people see 4-4-2 as the much more attacking option BUT you cannot attack if you don't have the ball and we won't see much of it if we go in with this set up.

I don't think we will lose, we should have got at least a draw at Villa Park earlier this season and our record at the Emirates is good. This is a very different Arsenal team than last season, suspect defence, short on recognised full backs and when you compare the midfield 3 of Song, Ramsey and Arteta (probable) compared to Wilshire, Nasri and Fabregas I really do think we can go and get a result. I do agree though we need to go 4-5-1 to achieve it.

Thanks again for the comments.

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