Writer: Mike Field
Date:Thursday September 4 2008
Football is a simple game, last season proved that. Score lots and conceed lots equals exciting games. O'Neill wants to change that.
Speaking on the official site about the unfortunate dropping of two points against Liverpool, O'Neill explained that he has no intention of losing Villa's attacking play, but he is looking towards a less leaky defence to drive us forward this season.
Pointing to Man U's string of 1-0 victories last season, O'Neill says that it proves that all the best sides, and those who intend on challenging for the top honours, have to have a strong and reliable defensive line.
'Sunday's game against Liverpool was a bit of a stalemate. It almost became like a chess match during parts of the match. It's the first time we have had a goalless draw for over 40 games. It is unusual but very commendable. We are not used to it.
'Liverpool have spent a lot of money but they are not scoring freely even when they have some of the best players in the world available to them. But they have been able to shut up shop. These things are very important.
'Take the example of Manchester United last season. During the first few games, they couldn't get a result and then won five of the next six Premier League games 1-0.
'For all their fantastic attacking flair, they built their foundations on a solid defence.
'We are not going to forsake attacking play, far from it, because Villa fans come down expecting something in the form of the Manchester City display. I don't want to disappoint anyone.
'But from a professional point of view, the improved defensive display was greeted in some quarters with relief.'
I think the improved defensive display against Liverpool was greeted with relief in all quarters as many of us would've put money on Liverpool getting a 'cheeky' penalty or freekick in the dying seconds, as is usually the case.
There are no doubts that if we intend on solidifying our league position from last year or improving further our defence needs to be at its best, so it comes as no surprise that is the area that most of our activity in the transfer market was in the defensive area. If we can continue to play and score as freely as last season, yet even take off a quarter of the goals we conceeded it would be easily worth 10-20 additional points for us over the course of the season.
That number of points could not only make the difference between 6th and 5th, it could also be the difference between 6th and 4th depending on how other teams do.
Date:Thursday September 4 2008
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