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Villa 1 Spurs 1: Still Undefeated


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Aston Villa 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Villa Park

14th October 2006

Well, well, well. Twenty minutes from the end, and the game is dangerously looking like it'd become boring. Enter stage left, Juan Pablo Angel. Enter stage right, Gareth Barry.

There is no doubt about it, Villa have made remarkable strides forward in the past few weeks. Under Martin O'Neill, confidence and desire is there for all to see and the team have managed some great results. However, for me, today's game against Tottenham was the genuine marker to see how far we've come in the past ten weeks or so. The position they held last year is one that we can genuinely strive to look towards, and a decent result today would have shown that.

With Luke Moore's injury, a switch in formation was required, and O'Neill went for a 4-4-2, Agbonlahor out right and Baros made a start alongside Angel. In his post-match comments, O'Neill claims that Villa never really got started, and didn't play very well for long periods of this half. Correct, though it wasn't as bad as he may be trying to make out. Tottenham really forced a shot on target and even Villa managed to create a couple of decent opportunities - One in particular was some lovely link up play between Angel and Baros and with only the keeper to beat the Czech striker did exactly what Robinson did midweek, and totally missed the ball.

A quick mention for the referee, some bloke called 'M Atkinson'. His decisions in the first half were slightly odd, and at one point you did have to wonder whether he was doing his best to get into the newspapers tomorrow - with a string of poor decisions. Didier Zokora, who is clearly proud of cheating after diving for that penalty in the last round of Premiership games, would pick up the ball run, and fall over almost like clockwork, and the referee gave a free kick everytime. Still, with David Davies from the FA at the game today perhaps he'll have a word. Nah doubt it, we're not one of the big "three" yet, are we?

These were the only real threat Villa's defence had to cope with, as Berbatov and De Foe were kept very, very quiet by Ridgewell and Mellberg. In fact, it took a Villa player to actually score for Tottenham.

Now, I'm a big fan of Angel. I think the way he has conducted himself at Villa has been impressive after the way he was treated. I think he's had too very good seasons at Villa, and has had critics at times simply for being bought by John Gregory. However, today he had been having one of his poorer games - he was failing to retain the ball and when you play like we do, it will eventually put us under pressure.

I'll also admit that he cannot, and should not take another penalty for Villa again. More on that in a bit though.

Midway through the second half, a great turn by Agbonlahor and he was brought down by one of the inep defenders at the back for Spurs. Sent off, and a penalty for Villa - out of nothing. Great. Yet, when Angel picked the ball up, there wasn't a confidence. People were almost expecting him to miss. Then a long, long break whilst the referee went on to tell every player not to run in the box like naughty children. Angel stepped up, went to curve the ball into the top right hand corner. It looked a perfect penalty. Except it continued to rise and go too far righ, and, in fact, was a crap penalty.

That's now five in six missed, and we really need to sort this penalty taking business out. We will get our fair share of penalties this season - Gabby and Luke Moore beg to be brought down in the box - so we have to sort out the penalty takers.

You do have to wonder why there were no other Villa players offering to take the penalty, and why, Martin O'Neill wasn't asking for someone else to take it.

Still, he missed and we are still level but playing against ten men, right? Wrong. 90 seconds later, a corner at the Holte is swung in and who is there at the near post to nod it in? Angel - completing what must have been one of the worst five minutes in his footballing career. Angel was clearly upset - O'Neill has suggested it was a slip that led him to do it, but he looks pretty stable to me. Again, you ask if Stuart Taylor had shouted for it - it looked like an easy catch for him to me, but Angel got there first and it looked like the unbeaten run was over. Spurs brought on players and Jol told his team to defend deep.

Yet, with 13 minutes to go, Villa pulled something out of the bag. Gareth Barry has already had a marvellous game - defending absolutely fantastically - and even marshalled Lennon out of the game despite the huge gap in speed the two have. Barry, now playing left wing, took the ball cut inside and unleashed a fantastic right footed shot past Robinson. With Ashley Cole out for the next England game, you'd have to suggest that if Steve McClaren doesn't call up Barry this time, then that's a sackable offence on it's own.

Villa continued to pour forward but couldn't get the chance. Petrov, another player who was superb, had a decent chance, Angel tried to make ammends and Gavin McCann had a shot, but they couldn't force the ball in.

Still undefeated, and now the only side to be unbeaten in the Premier League. They were given a tough challenge today, and I think they passed it - just.

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Spot on. I too wonder if Taylor had shouted for the ball. If he did, it would have prevented Angel from rushing to meet the ball. As we all know, Angel is a confidence striker and he must be rock bottom right now.

We really need to let him know next week that we still back him by cheering him on from the start. Even if your a critic of Angel, just cheer him on in the next game and maybe we'll see Angel get his confidence back and score a brace or hat trick for us.

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I think we played very well at times and i also think the opposition did well too.

Martin O'neill will have learnt a lot from todays game and i think this game will prove to be a catalyst in his thinking.

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JC, good report - followed the game on ssn - it sounded lik spurs had a few very good chances - especialy Dawson had a header - can you tell a bit about that?

the ball was whipped in and dawson was unmarked at the far post, he missed the ball completely and hit the post but the goal wouldnt have counted as he was offside anyway

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