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Eyewitness report from the Bridge


PauloBarnesi
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Like the unfit 800 meter runner who can fake a reasonable first lap, the Villa proved that you can only go so far on pure adrenaline, before tiredness and lack of quality kick in. Today we were totally outclassed and outplayed by a far superior team; we seemed bereft of ideas, invention and in some cases a desire just to get the ball.

O’Neill said that players have two months to prove themselves; for a few today will be a final warning. People can hope all they like that players like Bouma are going to come good, but on tonight’s evidence I just don’t see a future if we want to improve. Next season I just can’t see players like Baros and Berger (whose contract expires in the summer) pulling on Claret and Blue.

Anyway to the game. It was fantastic that we took the whole of the Shed and throughout we were excellent. We sang and sang, and only when Chelsea were home and dry did I recognise any real noise from them. Its a great gesture from the club to pay for the transport; I just wish the result had been better.

The first 30 minutes we were resolute; Mellberg and especially Laursen were controlling everything; It felt comfortable at the back. McCann was impressive as always and I thought we could go through to half time and frustrate Chelsea. What did worry me was the anonymousness of Davis, Petrov and Bouma. Davis just didn’t seem to offer anything and just looked lightweight. Bouma to me just isn’t good enough; his positioning seems poor and he seems to have trouble tracking back most of the time. He’s not strong enough in the tackle and seems to offer little going forward. Petrov just did nothing for me; he seemed annoyed most of the time that people weren’t picking him up. He seem to lack the verve he showed at Upton Park. Its hard to remember if he did anything right or anything wrong.

And then came the Chelsea goal. Davis was dallying on the ball, Ballack showed determination nicked the ball and then played a cross to an unmarked Lampard who headed it in. One nil and MON’s plan was in tatters. We hadn’t even vaguely threatened the Chelsea goal.

Worst was to come; in the space of five minutes first Barry and then Laursen picked up injuries. I couldn’t see the Barry incident, but he was walking down the tunnel and Berger was coming on when Laursen seem to fall over Drogba; not sure what happened, but Laursen took a bit of time to get up. When he did he looked sheepish. I thought he had been excellent today and I am praying (like with Barry) that its nothing serious.

With Barry off the spirit just seemed to disappear into the ether. The start of the second half saw Ridgewell on for Laursen, who seemed to have a reasonable game. Sadly within 20 minutes we were a second goal down and as Chelsea moved up a gear, we decided we would move down a gear. We were just outclassed, but no one in the team seemed to be able just to pull up there socks and get stuck, bar Mellberg, Ridgewell, McCann and Hughes. For all of there running, neither Gabby nor Angel were any threat. Its games like this where players like Petrov need to make a difference; not to shirk a challenge, to step up and take responsibility. It’s time to stop pulling grimaces when the ball isn’t played to you, to actually show movement and some commitment.

Baros came on for the last twenty minutes. I don’t know what to say, other than his heart just isn’t in it. At least Angel shows some commitment. Baros just seems disinterested, and I find that disheartening. By the end of the game the two nil had doubled to four and Chelsea were just able to strike at free will.

What can you say? Well I hope MON (and I am sure he will) tear a strip into players like Petrov and Davis; they simply weren’t up to there own standards. Even if you think Davis isn’t that great he was poorer than normal. Yes he was playing out of position; but today he made cardinal mistakes we can’t afford. For some players like Bouma and Berger, its a sad fact, but in the new Villa we need to have better players. You just aren’t up to the job. For the disinterested like Baros, we know that MON can’t work his magic; he just seems immune to the stuff.

As I left the ground I mulled over a few things. Yes Chelsea love to bend the rules as much as they can; they lack a kind of grace which is hard to stomach. Sure I am jealous of there success, but certainly not jealous of how its been achieved. For all of this money they should have better catering for away fans for a start! I think that both Lerner and O’Neill will have just seen there hunches proved correct. We lack a 10% that can move us from being a top ten to a top five club; a certain quality, a certain attitude. Whether it comes in the winter or the summer I know we are going to see some new faces. But even though we got tonked I knew it was a temporary setback; things are getting better for us, if only tonight it was the free coach travel that was visible.

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I have to say O'Neill looked more harassed than O'Leary on the day he was sacked tonight in his post match interview, he kept rewinding what he wanted to say.

I think he was disappointed for the travelling thousands more than anything else and very pissed with the performance the team put out.

To suggest we are a top 5 side is a bit much but were should be in the mix come May for the top 6 we aren't that bad.

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good report.

intersting reports on petrov, i started a thread a few weeks ago and said that the player we say in his first 2-3 games isnt on the pitch anymore, when he first started he run the pitch, created chances and was always available, lately he doesnt.

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what happened with the money/bottle that was thrown onto the pitch? i really hope it wasnt our fans :(

as i said in my post - went flinging from the shed (i was just to the right of the shed goal and saw it happen)......disgraceful.

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good report.

intersting reports on petrov, i started a thread a few weeks ago and said that the player we say in his first 2-3 games isnt on the pitch anymore, when he first started he run the pitch, created chances and was always available, lately he doesnt.

He aint as good in a 4-4-2 as 4-3-3, the sooner we are back to it the better.

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Tonight was not pretty at all.

We were so far adrift as to what Chelsea had to offer tonight that it was frightening.

Agree with the sentiments of the original post - tonight, certain players were well and truly found out.

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Excellent Post Paul, i really hope other VT members take heed of your comments, after all you were actually there werent you so you get a much better perspective of the match, rather than some watching a streamed internet feed or listening on the radio.

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Good post! I was there tonight (sadly was in with the chelski scummers) and agree with the assesment, by and large we were second best throughout and it was clear that when we went behind there was only going to be one outcome. Sadly we had no cutting edge upfront and they were bossing midfield once Barry went off as McCann was the only player in the middle to emerge with any credit. Hope that it isn't too serious as we also missed Barry's leadership imo and we can ill afford an injury crisis with the games we have coming up. Just seen the replay on SSN and Carvalho is a disgrace, the knee in the back looked deliberate. Poor old Laursen is as cursed as Delaney, all in all a dissapointing night.

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How did the away support look/sound from in with the Chelsea lot Jim?

Fantastic, I was in the end of the West Stand closest to the shed and it looked like the Holte does from the Trinity when we are at capacity. Flags were out and the noise was superb, and the Chelsea fans had the cheek to say we only have one song. God knows what they sang before they won the league, it was all 'Stand up for the Champions!' *yawn*

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From where I was standing.. upper shed, middle... we could hear bugger all for most of the match from the Chelsea lot... very poor support indeed. Our lads sung their hearts out and therefore i´m shattered and going to bed... zzz

good report PB, next time I´ll find you all!

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I think we played Chelsea on the wrong night after last weekends incidents. They were up for it, did not field a weakened team and few teams could live with them at their best particularly when they lose their captain and MOTM from the previous game through injury.

Let's hope this is a one off. Performances have not been so good as late and Martin had warned us that this day would come. We face another tough one next weekend that we might have expected a stuffing at last season, let's back the lads to bounce back (including Petrov, Davis & Bouma who have the ability to put this behind them).

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