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We have never had it so bad at Villa Park!


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by John

Our grim defeat last night has secured an unwanted club record. We have had 4 home wins to date this season and even if we were to make it 5 by beating Spurs in our last home game it would still be the lowest number of home wins in any season in the history of our football club. We have a proud history and we were promised a bright future which did not include making history of this sort!

This was grin to grimace in 2 short stunning minutes. On balance of play we did not deserve to lose but you do not always get what you deserve. Defeat in a relegation 6 pointer has left us relying on other teams failing to gather the points they need to overtake us because we seem incapable of getting the points we need to secure safety for ourselves because where the teams below us are winning games we are losing or at best drawing them (although I would welcome another draw or two now).

These are sad days indeed and as Shay Given said after the Sunderland game, “I think we have underachieved as a club and as a team. I think we are lacking experienced players”. He added “We don’t want to stumble the wrong side of the line. We can’t rely on other people. It’s very important we try to win tomorrow”.

We did try but sometimes trying is not enough. It was once said that you can’t win anything with kids. It is now for us to show that you can stay up with them. They do not deserve this sort of pressure and we failed to get the points we needed earlier in the season when the side looked different to what it did last night. Let us hope that we can find a point or more in the three remaining games but it is really unacceptable that we find our club in this situation.

This was a game that we had much the better of for 61 minutes but one which once we had scored we then proceeded to throw away in a fateful 2 minutes that has seen the relegation trap door open wide for us. The team fought hard for the cause but our confidence bubble was well and truly burst when they equalised within moments of us going ahead. Their confidence soared and our own crashed and when they then added a second to go in front there was no coming back from that from us as Bolton remain good at holding onto a lead (at least against us) and so cruised to a second away win at Villa Park this season without us threatening seriously to produce a fight back. Embarrassing is it not?

Other teams have been there before we have not been there for a long time and many of those that have at our club still have the scars from losing relegation scraps. When the going gets tough the survivors of relegation battles get going. We showed signs of getting the right result last night and created plenty of opportunities but we had little to offer during the last half hour and we now face 3 nervous Cup Finals.

My player ratings from a game that has our manager on the ropes and suffering from a case of déjà vu are:

Shay Given – 6 – Little to do other than pick the ball out of the net twice. Some of his kicking was not up to scratch but he gathered a low shot on 32 minutes and punched away an Eagles free kick from distance on 54 minutes to keep a clean sheet up until the final third of the game.

Alan Hutton - 6 – Solid enough on this occasion. His second half attempt at a header on goal from the edge of the box might have been funny on a less grave occasion.

Carlos Cuellar – 5 – A rash challenge on Davies led to their penalty on 62 minutes and neither we nor Carlos were the same after that.

Nathan Baker – 6 – Solid tonight and looking increasingly comfortable with each game he plays.

Eric Lichaj - 6 – A good overall performance although he found Eagles a handful at times.

Charles N’Zogbia – 7 – He might yet produce a moment of magic to get us a point from nowhere before the season is done for and he almost scored with a cracking free kick from outside of the box in the last minute of the first half which shaved the outside of the post with the keeper beaten. He earlier hit a nice cross that was just too high for Weimann to be able to get high enough to get a header on target from.

Stephen Warnock– 7 – MOTM - Did very well in an unfamiliar role. Hutton pulled a cross back into the box on 37 minutes which Stephen ran onto and rattled the crossbar with a shot hit from just inside the box. Hit home our goal on 61 minutes when doing well to slide in to put a fine N’Zogbia cross past Bogdan and into the back of the net.

Chris Herd – 7 – Worked hard again, kept us moving forward for an hour and hit some nice balls to colleagues. Headed just over in the first minute from an N’Zogbia corner. He is fast developing into a very effective midfield player.

Marc Albrighton – 5 – Lacked the confidence, cutting edge and delivery he has shown earlier.

Andreas Weimann – 6 – Made his usual runs but the ball did not run for him last night but he kept looking for it. Might have got to a good chest down by Heskey on 19 minutes had his run not been slowed by his looking across to the linesman to check if he had his flag up for offside but he will learn from moments like that.

Emile Heskey - 7 – Walked off on 71 minutes to rare and well deserved applause. He gave us everything yesterday except a goal and those as we know are a rare commodity for him. But he did show how well he can do in other aspects of the game when at his best as a target man who wins headers, holds the ball up and creates chances for his team mates. Turned and hit a shot that was collected by Bogdan on 22 minutes and then 10 minutes later turned past a defender on the edge of the box before hitting his shot down the keeper’s throat. He headed a good N’Zogbia cross wide on 36 minutes.

Substitutes:

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 - Replaced Emile on 71 minutes. Injected some pace and tried to make something happen.

Barry Bannan – Replaced Albrighton on 77 minutes. A late effort went past the post but he was not on long enough to get a rating.

Nathan Delfouneso – Replaced Herd on 88 minutes so had insufficient time available to earn a rating.

Stay up the Villa and Stay Strong Captain!

John Lewis

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Not good enough for me. We deserve to go down.

My best players were:

Herd, N'zogbia and Warnock

My worst players were:

Albrighton (woeful)

Cuellar (foolish)

Bannan (even though he was on briefly, he never looks like a match winner)

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BOF i'm pretty sure it was Carlos that tried the header from the edge of the box not Hutton.

I stand corrected beasley 14. I think it was that new Carlos hair trim that led me to the identity malfunction and BOF is 110% right the buck stops with me on this one. :winkold:

KjParton - We are very near agreement on the best and worst in the game then. I'm not quite sure we deserve to go down quite yet. We do deserve to be in our present position but the ball is still in our court so a result in our next 3 games could yet save us as could WBA by winning at Bolton for example. So 3 teams below us need to make up the point and goal difference we now hold over them in what remains of this season. If they do and we fail to get enough from our last 3 games to maintain a gap then we will deserve to take the drop as the table will show. But its not over till the fat lady sings although I suspect she is clearing her throat and I think I may be trying to convince us both that there is still hope when I now doubt it myself. :(

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