Writer: J P Fear
Date:Monday April 3 2006
My mate bought a mate yesterday. We got chatting, the usual line of questions, what do you do?, where do you come from? when was the last time had you seen the Villa? Anyway he said he hadnít been to see the Villa for 25 years. Like a fairy tale he had fallen asleep when Villa had been a draw; a team who were on there way to winning the championship and European glory. Now he had awoken; the evil King had been in charge and everything glorious had gone. Somehow I bet he wished he had still been asleep by the end.
Where do you begin with that performance? I ve been thinking all day; is there any glimmer of light? Was it a bad day at the office (and I mean a BAD day)? Are Arsenal just one of the best teams in Europe at the moment? And simply too hot too handle? On Tuesdays performance, its easy to see that Arsenal are hitting the killer form they had two years ago; you could see that at Fulham, Real Madrid and against Juventus. Look at there team; they look like lean, elegant athletes, working together like a perfect machine. To be honest it was a brave man who would have bet against Arsenal yesterday. Even with a European hangover, this was going to be hard; really hard.
I donít need to tell you what happened in the ninety minutes; it was awful and embarrassing. Totally dreadful. I canít feel anger about it; because I ve concluded that would be a waste of energy. Arsenal were good and full value for there victory. Henry scored as he always does, and the whole of the team were good. But not as good as they were last year, when we only lost 3-1 because Postma played a blinder and they kept on trying to shoot through his gut. We just made them look extra special, with our inability to get even the basic things right. Starting at the back Sorenson just didnít look that good. The guy behind at the end of the game announced ĎHeís cost us 20 pointsí. An exaggeration, but I could see his point. If I donít have any confidence in him, what do the rest of them think? The back four looked like four strangers; I canít say that anything at any point gave me confidence that they could deal with what was thrown at them. With weak foundations what can you expect the rest to build upon? You always use to feel that Villa were solid at the back, now we have no spine, no strength. I donít want to get into a blame game; yes we were missing Mellberg, but frankly the way he has been playing, he wouldnít have made the difference. We just seem brittle.
I canít remember if we played four across midfield. The papers say so, but from what I saw; they were as anonymous as they get. No bite, no verve; no leadership. Every time we went down a goal; where was the fire? where was someone taking control? or was it simply that Villa are just eleven strangers meeting for the first time. When Lee Hendrie is the most notable player for Villa, something must be going on. Maybe he thought lady luck would shine on him and he could score a goal from twenty five yards out that would make an entertaining story for his night ahead. Well frankly the greatest danger to the Arsenal goal was from there own players; Lee just wanted to try his hand at getting his goal; or maybe he just knew what we all knew our strikers were playing a stinker. McCann looked ineffectual and both Barry and Davis were more anonymous then anything else.
Up front we were toothless; Phillips looked disinterested and Moore seemed totally starved of service and a player a million miles away from the confident player at Boro. Only when Agbonlahor came out, did Moore start to spark, and frankly should have scored a goal. Young Gabriel who came on for Barry, might be a player who could take some credit; who actually looked like he cared and actually could do something about it. Angel for all I want to like him, was dreadful, unable to make any impact on the game.
For most of the game the fans were in good voice; Arsenal fans were there usual quiet selves. But at some point you could feel that people were honestly questioning there faith ĎWhy do I want to waste my time and money on this?í. And that is really sad, because like many fans I lost a bit more of the faith that things will get better. Highbury has some happy memories for Villa fans, but in all honesty yesterday will be best forgotten. Canít wait to visit the new stadium. Lets just hope its in the near future.
By Paul Barnes
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Date:Monday April 3 2006
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