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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

West Ham 1 - Aston Villa 1

Upton Park

10/09/2006

Attendance: 34 576

Irons 1 - 1 Lions

Aston Villa are back in the lime light under Martin O'Neill and rightly so. Not only are we back in the lime light but we are also back to being a very difficult team to break down and beat and one that can now take comfort in the fact that we can compete with ANY team on our day.

Fine, we are still short of bodies and I'm sure that Martin O'Neill would love to have had time to bring in a few more signings before the transfer window closed, but WAHEY (copyright John Cresswell) to the arrival of Stiliyan Petrov (Stan) as his debut was nothing short of majestic.

Happy days indeed, yesterdays game showed that there is no reason why we shouldn't be in the top half of the table and compete for Europe 'Why not?' said Petrov when asked adding 'We all have dreams and want to follow our dreams. We can work hard, hope everyone stays fit and see what happens.'

Villa came flying out of the blocks yesterday and were soon a goal up thanks to quick thinking and determined finishing by Liam Ridgewell. He really is coming on leaps and bounds so far this season looking far more Premiership quality each game he plays. There might be a lesson there for the boo boys who want the youth players to come through and then don't give them a chance when they make mistakes?!

The rest of the half belonged to Villa apart from one moment of madness from Thomas Sorenson when he gifted Harewood (or was it Zamora?!) the ball in the box only for the Hammers striker to miss a golden opportunity to draw level.

Angel hit the crossbar twice during the game, he needs that slice of striker luck now as he is certainly back and buzzing despite playing up front on his own with Moore and Agbonlahor being utilised more as attacking wingers or support strikers. The formation was interesting with Mellberg taking the right back slot, Laursen and Ridgewell in the centre and Gareth Barry dropping back to left back. That made room for Davis and McCann to remain in the line up AND for Petrov to make his debut - and what a debut! If only his deft flick over Roy Carrol had gone in he'd have been contender for the goal of the month if not the season. A majestic touch that reminded me of Paul Merson at his very best. How that was cleared off the line is anyone's guess, shame because that would have been game over!

In the second half Villa became ragged for a 25-30 minute period and Gabby and Luke Moore especially looked knackered. During that time Bobby Zamora popped up with a lucky (!) deflected goal but even then I couldn't see Villa losing the game, they have far more steel these days. Towards the end Villa rallied and made a few other chances, with a cross by Gabby only inches away from being knocked in by a couple of Lions, but it wasn't to be and despite having the best chances, the honours were shared. Alan Pardew must have been the happier manager with the draw, he knew despite them having the lions share (or should that be the Irons share?) of possession, that Villa were the better team on the day.

Match stats: Click Here

Vital Villa asked what the result would be and 61% were wrong predicting a Villa win! 24% said a draw and just 15% expected a loss.

I was asked by a Hammers fan on our open terrace forum how many of our players would we swap for theirs - his suggestion being I'd take more of his team over ours. Well mate, on the showing of West Ham yesterday, there isn't ONE of your players the real Claret and Blue army would want or need!

Star Player

Stiliyan Petrov - the new Magic Merse?!

Player Ratings


Thomas Sorenson 5

low mark for that moment of madness!

Olof Mellberg 8

The bearded one was superb as per usual!

Liam Ridgwell 8

Great goal, great performance, a captain of the future.

Martin Laursen 8

A welcome return and a good return, not afraid to get in with his tackles.

Gareth Barry 8

Pushed Stilyan close for man-of-the-match. Wonder what he thinks of dropping back?

Steven Davis 7

Competed well, kept their midfielders quiet.

Gavin McCann 7

Same as Davis, got stuck in.

Stiliyan Petrov 10

Great debut, crunching tackles, Merson like skills, sooooo close to a goal. Looked like he'd been in the team for years.

Luke Moore 7

Good performance, just needs a bit more aggression and to push on now.

Gabriel Agbonlahor 7

Same as Luke, played well, is tricky with his pace, but did bottle out of a tackle or two!

Juan Pablo Angel 9

So close to scoring, got involved, again covered every blade of grass. The Angel is back!

Milan Baros (for Angel)

not on long enough to rate but it didn't take long for the minority to start moaning about him!

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill - Superb, only been with us for four games (four unbeaten games) and already a fans favourite, he looks a Villa man through and through, most unlike our previous manager, what was his name again?

Opponent Rating

Not sure if West Ham were poor today or if we stopped them playing their natural game, probably the latter! Nice of the Hammers fans to remember they were playing at home and to sing for 10 minutes out of the 90, most impressive!!!!

Me?!

Great day out, good to meet up with friends old and new and the Sol was nicely chilled as well. Shame the M25 is such a hell hole of a motorway now (where is that Chris Rea Road to Hell cd?!). A return visit next week, this time for Watford. In with the posh people in a box, got my prawn sandwhiches on order already, wonder if I can behave myself! ;-))




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday September 11 2006

Time: 10:32AM

Your Comments

Fear im sorry but Baros? It was easy to moan about him. Everyone else has been able to display a bit of fight early on. He didn't try. The 11th man on the pitch in body only.
murph
Was Petrov really that good? I mean, fair enough, you were at the ground and you can see more from there...but...he was surely too rusty to warrant a 10. Are you not, perhaps, getting a trifle carried away?
SPL Here We Go
I thought Petrov was terrific. His work rate is amazing and he makes shed loads of runs off the ball. Particular mention must be made of Martin Laursen who looked excellent, and Im just wondering whether MON might continue with that selection in defence in future games.
andrew144
no surprise about mellburg playing right back - thats where he started out with sweden in his early days.angel looks like the player we all knew he was and still can be, dominant in the air and maybe with a little bit of luck he would have had a hatrick.personally i would have put baros on for moore rather than angel as he was looking very tired towards the end.nice to see laursen back, petrov looks a cut above.im still dreaming.
JASON
Agree with you there Andrew, Laursen looked very strong. Amazing to think he almost jacked it in with his injuries. Petrov looked good to me, he always wanted the ball, and seemed to have urgency running through his veins at times. All good stuff, and hopefully there will be a lot more to come from these two. We definately deserved the 3 points yesterday.
The Usual Suspect
Yesterday I felt like 2 points dropped, but before the game i'd still have taken the point from an away game. Have to admit its nice to see Villa still pushing on, firstly after taking a lead and secondly after conceding a goal, last season we either tried to defend slender leads or collapsed after conceding. UTV!
xfranc
so thats aresenal at there new ground and the hammers and there new signings. are we the prems new party poopers?
bobbyfett
Has anyone else noted that Mcant is now playing like Mcann. He battled well all day and seems to have the fight back him in. I echo positive comments on Laursen and Petrov also. Leave Baros alone he is just a bit lacking in match fitness (lets get behind our best player not get on his back).
tylervilla
Isn't it fantastic, we're moaning about 2 points lost when we played AWAY to a team we lost 4-0 to last season and with only one new player (ok 2 with Laursen) Is this really Aston Villa? I love it!!!! :o))))))))
Villain Of The North
A good performance but only downside is we should have won the game comfortably. Agree with posters that the back 4 generally looked very good. If - big if - we keep Laursen fit I would keep Mellberg at RB and I thought Barry had a great game.
Steve W
Baros has been injured for the best part of four months. He has not played any reserve games and only had a 60 minute run out in a behind the scenes friendly against Lincoln. I can not believe fans moaning after less than 10 minutes. What are you lot on??? When these players go away on international duty, they all talk about what it is like at their club. If players are telling other players that we are always moaning, what chance is there of enticing them to VP. Last season he was no better or worse than any other Villa player, but he was still our top scorer and I bet you cheered when his two goals helped send down the dildo salesmen from Small Heath. He does tend to moan a bit and he does go to ground to early but under M'ON if he improves as all the other players have, then he has the potential to be world class. Lets keep the positive bandwagon rolling. There is absolutely no need for any player to get critisism at this moment in time. Every body, including the fans have a clean slate. For a change lets be the most positive, noisy supporters possible. You never know it may transmit itself to the players and in turn other world class players may soon be arriving at VP. It is still almost 2 weeks until our next home game. This is 2 weeks to get your season tickets. It looks as though this season is going to be one to enjoy. So if you can, remove all the negatives that have built up over the years, get your hand in your pocket and make sure all your family and friends are at the next game. Villa are on the way back and when in the coming seasons we are lifting silver ware and competing in Europe, you can look back and say I was there all the way. Lets not be like Chekski fans who are the new breed of gloryhunters. Lets fill VP every week give the owners the perfect excuse to develop the ground. You know it makes sense. I also had a dream last night that this year it is our turn for the FA Cup. As a season ticket holder I am guaranteed my ticket for Cardiff?? Wembley?? Are you? I think the campaign should start now to ban any moaning from fans who can not get tickets for the big games. UTV
voiceoftheholte
We made more passes in that game than in the whole of last season! Players were hungry and wanted the ball. Just a bit concerned about the 2 wingers, Moore and Gabby. Gabby had 2 markers which is a sign teams are worried about him Just hope he's savvy enough to cope. Will need someone following him to knock the balls back to. Hope him and Moore don't get knackered before Christmas. So positive at the moment though. Lifts the spirit.
Gazvilla
I would like to know where the Y came from in 'Stiliyan'?! I have always known him as Stilian Petrov.
toffeetower
well put, "voice of the holte" its not just upto the players to produce and the owners to buy.take a look at newcastle who wouldnt even win an egg and spoon race...they still manage to raise the roof and as a result still manage to attract quality players who all state the fact that one of the reasons for signing for them was that they had such fantastic support.everyone should be on cloud nine at the moment after the drab we have had for the past few years,lets enjoy the occassion and look forward to an exiting future,the players,the management and owners and THE SUPPORTERS !!
JASON
Baros has been sidelined for months with his troublesome foot imjury, back on the pitch two minutes and the moaners have to start. Pathetic. Even had a customer this morning I was calling on start complaining about Baros, and his not interested attitude etc etc. Wouldn't have minded but he was nowhere near Upton Park yesterday.
glensider
we've had 24 years of moaning, you would have thought we'd be bored of it by now, rome wasn't built in a day. small heath was though.
bobbyfett
I'm with the voice on this one - look what MON did for Larson - so give BAROS time to get fit and he'll be the terror of the EPL
myleftfoot
Petrov already looks like one of the finds of the season!
sandgroanun
 

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