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Villa Battle To Draw

Aston Villa
1 - 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 39 602


I sometimes wonder who we think we are! Coming out of the game there seemed to be a fair bit of moaning and listening to the Tom Ross phone in some fans were coming on saying we were rubbish and we blew it, or we shouldn't be drawing against 'teams like that'.

We weren't rubbish. We weren't great either but then, we are a small squad (boring I know) and hopefully building. We don't have an automatic right to turn over teams like Blackburn, Mark Hughes has done a good job of assembling a very tough, physical team who bully and grind themselves to many decent results.

Today Blackburn game to stifle the game, not a criticism, just with five men in their midfield, a fact. I had a feeling after the first 10 odd minutes that it would go either way and only by a goal, as usual I was wrong but it was throughout and edgy game - not helped by a very fussy ref who kept stopping the game every time the Villa players made a tackle but ignored some atrocious tackles from the Blackburn boys (until the end when to be fair he did give two yellow cards out).

The midfield laboured today but then, as said, they were against a team who came to stifle and then get us on the break and sure enough - following a missed penalty that looked well saved by Carson (I can't really comment if it was a fair penalty or not as I've not seen any replays) they did get us with a sucker punch on the 68th minute. I feared that would be that.

Villa however, although not playing flowing or pretty football, have a new steal and resilience, it is good to see at the very least that they don't give up and that they will keep fighting and an equalising goal taken superbly from a free kick by Ashley Young was no more than we deserved. It was the normal yin and yang of only playing one good half per game. We were brighter and MON had set us up to go for it in the second half with 3 men up front (Ashley Young moving to the right and Barry covering left midfield). That was a brave move.

Marlon Harewood also came on - many agreed he was unlucky not to have started as Gabby isn't really at the races at the moment and might well need a bit of a rest - and although he failed to make the impact he did against Liverpool, he did hit the cross bar. Villa also had a goal disallowed for off-side. I can't say if it was off or not BUT to be fair to the linesman, he did raise his flag very early so I'd guess he was right.

So there you go, 1-1 and Villa go 5th. We'd have taken that wouldn't we? Although with Ashley Young so nearly scoring at the death from a free kick, it could have been sooo different!

Now for the signings? Villa have to bring in some new blood and as Tom Ross said in his phone in, the hard work will have been done now hopefully, they'll know who they want and now just have to hope that the moves start happening so that teams waiting for replacements get who they want and release those we are after. It could be a very interesting week. Without new blood, in my humble opinion, although we'll finish top ten, we'll not have the legs to make it to Europe. With one or two top quality arrivals, Europe is there for the taking.

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The time is running out and the Villa fans are expecting. We deserve European nights back!

Star Player

The crowd, made a great noise today.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson 7

pulled off some good saves, saved a penalty, worryingly also spilled the ball. Thought Stuart Taylor was VERY unlucky not to have kept his place.

Olof Mellberg 7

got stuck in, will be amazed if we let him go to Juventus unless we do have a right-back incoming. IF we don't and he leaves it will be a MAJOR mistake and could prove costly.

Wilfred Bouma 7

solid, the defenders had a real battle on their hands today.

Martin Laursen 7

strong in the challenges and won the lions share of tackles. One dicey moment but soon made good.

Curtis Davies 7

looking the part.

Ashley Young 6

was marked out of the game for good periods as were most of our midfield due to being up against 5 men, but the free kick was sublime and point saving.

Gareth Barry 6

worked hard but didn't look fit or particularly well. Good to see him back.

Nigel Hokey-Cokey 6.5

got stuck in, plenty of tackles flying around and he didn't shy away from any.

Stiliyan Petrov - I really don't know?

What happened to the Petrov from his debut? I would say 5.5 but then again, he did make a few lovely passes and he obviously gets about because he was soaking wet from sweat. Brought off for Harewood on 60 mins. There must be serious doubts as to whether Petrov is going to ever make the impact we all hoped?

John Carew 6.5

Got stuck in, not a great deal of top service for him. Really don't think these tactics are great with him flicking on headers all the time as it seems to be predictable and old fashioned, but then, that isn't his fault!

Gabby Agbonlahor 5.5

not at the races today, looks tired and got frustrated.

Marlon Harewood (on for Petrov 60) 6

came on and tried to get stuck in, hit the cross bar with a great header, unlucky not to have scored. Could be a decent enough impact player for us in bursts although I still suspect we'll have a top striker by the end of January! ;o)

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Saturday January 26 2008
Time: 6:35PM


Not sure who would go down as Man of the Match? Will have to ponder!
The Fear
26/01/2008 18:41:00
i thought it was good point against blackburn.
26/01/2008 18:43:00
Hard team to play against, so good point, lets get some additions now and push on.
silkie villain
26/01/2008 19:03:00
My frustration is this - Petrov was very poor against Liverpool and Harewood came on and was generally excellent, including scoring a vital goal. I was so sure that he would start today and Gabby would go to wide right, and it wasn't until this happened that we really looked a serious threat to Blackburn. I don't think Gabby is a natural out there, but he still looks better and holds his position on the flank with more discipline than Petrov or Gardner or any of the other square pegs we've tried to fit in that particular round hole this season. So I blame MO'N today for essentially wasting 60 mins of match time with a selection and formation that doesn't work and has been proven not to work over and over again. We all want new signings, especially on the right flank, and I appreciate it's difficult to secure the very best players but it seemed obvious to all but MO'N what the right thing was to do todaya and he instead chose to persist with a player that deserved to be dropped. Harewood came on and looked dangerous and ideally this would be the best way to use him if we had better options to start the match but we didn't today and so he should have started because I don't think Blackburn would've fancied handling both him and Carew upfront for 90 mins. Blackburn are a very good team and a point today is certainly not a terrible result but we could've made it harder for them had we tested them more in the first hour (one could say exactly the same about the Liverpool game but a point always looks much better at Anfield). I love MO'N - he is the best man for the job and the best manager we've had in over 20 years. But he doesn't half frustrate me sometimes.
26/01/2008 19:24:00
I do agree that he seems to have his favourites and sticks with them rather than what he has said previously which is if you take your chance you keep your place. Thought Marlon was unlucky not to start as Gabby only has 1 in 10 odd games (?) + Stuart Taylor was unlucky as well although to be fair, Carson did pull off some great saves today.
The Fear
26/01/2008 19:34:00
Fear you aint got clue. You give Davies a 7 who was at fault for Blackburns goal and you give Young 6 who saved us a point with the only bit of magic seen. Go and get your eyes tested!
26/01/2008 20:10:00
Slightly disappointing game overall, but a point is OK - in years gone by this is a game we would have lost. I worry that the team is starting to look a bit tired though. I'd like to see Harewood start a game soon - he offers something a bit different, and with the opposition coaches concentrating on stifling our best players (successfully) we need to try something else. On the transfer front, I'm not at all sure that there are great signings waiting in the wings. People said exactly the same last summer. It's absolutely not a numbers game with O'Neill, and I don't think there's much available that fits his big plan. My money is on one player in, and I'm not expecting to be excited. If Mellberg goes it has to be a right back.
26/01/2008 21:03:00
I agree with JF about the expectations of fans, being the biggest club in the midlands isn't the same as having a divine right to turn over top ten PL teams, even the big 3 lose or draw games occasionally. Have to say that disappointed as I am, if you take out Davies individual error we would have had 3 points instead of one. Some players performed well, Laursen,Bouma,Carson and Young. Some were OK, Carew,Barry,Mellberg and Gabby. The problem for me was midfield, Petrov struggled especially after the first 10 - 20 minutes can't see why the bench can't spot it. My biggest worry is NRC, he plays a bit like Earl Barrett, good athelete but not a gifted footballer. He is strong, clearly tough, but his passing is very limited, his reading of the game slow, but the worst problem is his tackling. Portsmouth at home was a bad day for NRC it showed up the fact that he is not a natural ball winner ( something that he tells the press regularly) he also doesn't win the ball and shake off the player he disposes, most of the time he gets caught before he can pass or run away with the ball. I agree that Blackburn deliberately played to stifle the midfield, but to rise higher in the table we will need a player who can read the game, make a tackle, see the pass early and complete the pass accurately, none of our midfielders were that today, only Barry has shown those kind of skills regularly so I feel we need a midfield general if we are going to win these games. My choice for MOM would be Ashley Young the only real dangerman this afternoon
26/01/2008 21:21:00
Carew was shocking yet again! Curtis Davies was brilliant vs Liverpool but at fault for the goal today. A Zat Knight type mistake.
26/01/2008 21:25:00
Harewood looks ok - coming on for 15 minutes - but reckon he would look pretty ordinary over 90 minutes. Its good that we can score from free kicks - but we are relying on them to a dangerous extent now. The team looked out of ideas today. Iam not hopeful will unveil anything to get excited about by the time the transfer window ends - last summer - we were all waiting for the class signings - we got knight and harewood.
26/01/2008 21:33:00
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