Villa Miss Their Chances
Attendance: 42 551
What a funny old world it is down at Villa Park these days! Villa are the only team to remain unbeaten this season and including the Carling Cup, we are now on a run of nine games without a defeat. The game against Spurs was a very winnable one as they've not secured a win away from home in three attempts this season BUT look at the difference in money spent and the quality (not to mention size) of the squads and it was obvious that this was the sort of game we could also have so easily lost.
I've read others saying that the quality of the game for the first half wasn't that great, but to be honest, I just thoroughly enjoyed it, despite a kill joy steward threatening to evict me for rattling the advertising hoarding (seriously!). My nephew attended the game with me and at last he saw some good action and a bit of atmosphere at Villa Park, the last two times I've taken him down were humiliating and the poor lad must have wondered why I was so passionate about the mighty claret and blue.
Spurs did a great deal right, especially in the first half, but stand in keeper Stuart Taylor was up to all that was thrown at him, which in truth wasn't that much. They played like we used to, loads of pretty football but very little end product. They did hit the upright and had another golden opportunity saved by Taylor - although arguably the ball was going to hit the post again or go just wide anyway. Villa were certainly far more stretched and you could see that there are huge areas of improvement needed, but to go nine without loss with the small squad that our previous manager had failed to get playing in any decent pattern, just shows the potential when a bit of money is spent.
Baros unfortunately looks like he totally lost his touch, lets hope he gets it back sooner rather than later. With very little back up on the bench, we've got to rely on him and Angel and hopefully Chris Sutton when fit to start. Baros wasn't at the races and unfortunately Juan Pablo Angel continued to pose more questions than answers. Is the player a spent force? Will he be on his way soon? Or can he re-find his golden touch and restore his reputation? He missed one great one on one chance v Paul Robinson and another that most natural strikers would have buried as the Spurs defence just opened up for him to shoot. He also missed a penalty after Gabriel Agbonlahor was brought down and Davenport was shown red as the last defender. In fact, to say he missed it is an understatement. I'm a big fan of Angel, but he blazed the shot a mile wide and it was nothing short of disgraceful. This is the Premiership, we can't keep making excuses for him, he has got to start burying the ball into the back of the net, otherwise..........?
The clash was entertaining and even when we were one down following a totally unnecessary own goal by Angel, just a few minutes after the penalty miss, I was still sitting there fairly relaxed, as this really is just the start of our adventure under Martin O'Neill and we all have to taper our natural desire for success with a dose of realism. In the last few years, if we'd gone one down like that, we'd have certainly lost the match, but not this time, not when we've got our very own captain Marvel in Gareth Barry. If you've not seen his goal, you'll get a chance as it has to be short listed as goal of the month, he just ran at the Spurs defence and curled the ball passed the England Number one into the top right hand corner. Superb skill and if McClaren doesn't get him in the next England squad then he is even worse an England manager than many already think!
A draw was by and large a fair result despite the fact we missed a pen and had to score Spurs goal for them and the draw might just keep our players minds focused that it isn't all beer and skittles this season, although to be fair, I'm sure Martin O'Neill is more than doing that anyway.
Stuart Taylor 8.
Olof Mellberg 8.
Liam Ridgewell 8.
Aaron Hughes 6.
Gareth Barry 9.
Steven Davis 5.
Gavin McCann 7.
Stiliyan Petrov 8.
Gabriel Agbonlahor 7.
Milan Baros 5.
Juan Pablo Angel 5.
Patrik Berger (on for Steven Davis 76).
Didier Agathe (on for Milan Baros 64).
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