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New Strikeforce Comes Up Trumps


JohnCresswell
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Aston Villa 1 West Ham United 0

FA Barclays Premiership

Villa Park

Saturday 3rd February 2006.

Villa’s new duo up front may end up making the headlines, but the win was ultimately down to some fantastic last minute goalkeeping by Tommy Sorensen, when he produced two fantastic saves.

The pre-match build up talk was all to do with both sides recent acquisitions in the transfer market. Villa had revolutionised their forward line, brining in three new strikers whilst West Ham had brought in players mainly to tighten up a defence leaking goals left, right and center.

Which made it rather funny then, that after twenty minutes of getting abuse from Villa fans, new signing Matthew Upson limped off with a calf strain to join Lucas Neill in the treatment room. The other ‘big’ signing made by the shirt stealers, winger Luis Boa Morte put in a totally uninterested display.

But enough about them – what about Villa? Well the best place to start is with the lads up front. I was surprised to see Ashley Young start up front whilst Agbonlahor struggles on the wing but Young showed some delicate touches and had two good chances crafted out – and set Petrov up for a goal had it not been for some good goalkeeping.

His strike partner John Carew, also making his home debut has had a lot written about him since his move to Villa. It is said that his strong frame and power makes him ideal for the Premier League, and on his first half performance you can certainly see why.

I don’t want to go over the top – I remember Carlton Cole getting an awful lot of praise on his debut, but Carew really did add a new dimension to our play. It was, of course at times a little too one dimensional, but when the long ball up to the striker is constantly being retained it doesn’t really matter that much. Defenders almost seemed scared of him at times, his body strength really was impressive, and at one point during the game had four West Ham players taking lumps out of him yet he still emerged with the ball and found a Villa player.

An impressive debut, with a goal which pretty much seems to sum him up. A delicate ball through by Young found Carew, who despite his size has a good touch and a fair amount of pace – and with the ball slightly behind him he waited held the ball and then unleashed a fairly powerful shot past Carroll. Hurrah!

His performance did tail off dramatically in the second half, which caused problems as the ball just kept being lost again, but it was a decent home debut for the big man, and hopefully when he is fully fit he will be a very exciting player to watch.

Whilst never looking spectacular, Villa never really looked like losing this until the final ten minutes when a spirited West Ham put Villa under a fair bit of pressure. Etherington had a shot destined for the net stopped by a world class save. Sorensen took a bit of stick for weak goalkeeping in the North East on Wednesday night, but his performance in the last ten minutes earnt us a vital three points. Another fast reactionary save was needed and then followed by an absolutely fantastic goal mouth scramble that at one point had the ball ping off the crossbar before being cleared.

It wasn’t great, the midfield failed to retain possession at times, but it was three points. Three valuable points that West Ham would have killed for. And that is something to be celebrated.

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This was such an important match for us in the context of our season, given that our early season start has stuttered mid-term. A well deserved win. These type of performances ie: today and Wednesday's 80 mins will lead to a respectable finish with a position to build further next season.

I thought Carew was fabulous. I take the point about not going overboard and Carlton Cole's super start in Claret & Blue but down at pitch level Big John looked class, despite not being fully fit. And he actually looked like he wants to play for us, applauding the fans during play, something I thought was taboo and coming out at the end to applaud all sides of the ground (note to other players not just the Holte), something I can't ever remember Mr B----s doing.

And Ashley, well despite being so sleight of build, and looking like he belonged in a school playground; really promising, good touch, pace and no little confidence. I thought he showed the level Gabby should be aiming for.

Anyway well done VILLA, nice to get back on track again after a fairly dismall 2/3 months.

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Big question for me is why play a winger as a striker when you have a striker playing as a winger.

Its obvious to me that Gabby isn't as effective as Young as a winger, Young has more experience and knowledge as such and Gabby similarly.

My feeling is O'Neills plan is to replace Gabby and put Maloney alongside Carew, with Young on the wing, possibly with Barry dropping back, and Petrov moving forward. I'm assuming he's working on the loyalty thing and although its too early to drop the one player who hasn't missed a minute of every match all season.

O'Neill also keeps going more defensive tactically when in charge and it results in us giving up the impetus. He got away with it yesterday, thanks tom Sorensen, but considering he brought in a new bloke to improve the team fitness I've seen no improvement, maybe its one of these things that needs time

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O'Neill also keeps going more defensive tactically when in charge and it results in us giving up the impetus.

Can't say as that's my perception or impression at all, Malc. I think that tactics he generally uses, and the players he has brought in are the opposite of that, tbh.

Petrov, Young, Carew, Maloney etc are all creative or attacking players. He stuck Luke and Gabby in, playing them wide, off JPA, early on, too.

In a couple of games against Man U and Arsenal away he obviously wanted solidity first, and to play on the break with pace, where we had it. It's another thing he's obviously keen to introduce -more pace.

I'll agree it hasn't really come together yet, but don't agree that he either sets us up, or changes during games, to be more negative or defensive.

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Carew because of his lack of fitness is not at the moment going to be able to play 90 minutes, and we don't have an option on the bench to replace Carew. I don't see it as turning defensively rather not having the options to change like for like yet.

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Big question for me is why play a winger as a striker when you have a striker playing as a winger.

Its obvious to me that Gabby isn't as effective as Young as a winger, Young has more experience and knowledge as such and Gabby similarly.

My feeling is O'Neills plan is to replace Gabby and put Maloney alongside Carew, with Young on the wing, possibly with Barry dropping back, and Petrov moving forward. I'm assuming he's working on the loyalty thing and although its too early to drop the one player who hasn't missed a minute of every match all season.

O'Neill also keeps going more defensive tactically when in charge and it results in us giving up the impetus. He got away with it yesterday, thanks tom Sorensen, but considering he brought in a new bloke to improve the team fitness I've seen no improvement, maybe its one of these things that needs time

I think the answer to that was given by Ash himself when he said the gaffer sees him up front playing off Carew. This also figures when we know MON was in for SWP as well as Ash.

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Big question for me is why play a winger as a striker when you have a striker playing as a winger.

Its obvious to me that Gabby isn't as effective as Young as a winger, Young has more experience and knowledge as such and Gabby similarly.

My feeling is O'Neills plan is to replace Gabby and put Maloney alongside Carew, with Young on the wing, possibly with Barry dropping back, and Petrov moving forward. I'm assuming he's working on the loyalty thing and although its too early to drop the one player who hasn't missed a minute of every match all season.

O'Neill also keeps going more defensive tactically when in charge and it results in us giving up the impetus. He got away with it yesterday, thanks tom Sorensen, but considering he brought in a new bloke to improve the team fitness I've seen no improvement, maybe its one of these things that needs time

I think the answer to that was given by Ash himself when he said the gaffer sees him up front playing off Carew. This also figures when we know MON was in for SWP as well as Ash.

It seems we're still on the hunt for a winger then, I don't get the impression Maloney is going to play there although surely until we get one Young is the obvious one to play on the right.

Personally I still cant figure out what MON is doing, is he creating a squad to play 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 formation? ATM we defo still have a squad more suited to a 4-3-3, especially as MON doesn't seem to fancy Barry as a LW'er or Ash as a RW'er.

But he seems to prefer to play 4-4-2, strangely in the past with Davis on the left, or Gabby on the right, I can't work out what he's trying to do any more. :? He doesn't do the obvious that's for sure, what is he a genius or just crazy? Some of his team selections to me seem pretty crazy so far to me, his signings opportunistic rather than planned. I'm looking forward to see the MON plan take shape over the next 6-7 months.

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.....critical 3 points......great to see a full and vibrant villa park.

I will be much happier when we can keep the ball and control the game through possession.We can win games but find difficult in controlling games.

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