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Lions Tamed At Cottage

2 - 1
Aston Villa

Craven Cottage


Attendance: 24 760


Got to say, after losing 2-1 to Fulham, who are second from bottom of the league, that they thoroughly deserved the win and for good parts of the game were the better team.

To start with Villa looked like they were within their comfort zone, they were fairly solid at the back and seemed to be containing a short of confidence Fulham who had only won two PL games all season. However, for all the comfort, there was no real meaning to our play and no real intent to attack. In fact, from memory (and to be fair, from my armchair position - we'll have glensider's away report later tonight/tomorrow morning) we didn't have one shot in anger - at least not on target - in the first half.

I'm no genius, as you all know by now, but I have figured out that if you don't shoot you don't score. Well, usually if you don't shoot you don't score, today we didn't shoot but Aaron Hughes obliged with an own goal.

It wasn't deserved, we'd not created anything ourselves, but hey, you take what you are given and from there-on-in I could only see one winner, as I thought Fulham would be forced to push forward and we'd get them on the break. PAH. Within 4 minutes Villa conceded and a stalemate seemed to be most likely. The goal was preventable and unfortunately Curtis Davies again got caught ball watching and allowed Simon Davies to pop in.

Ok, a draw away from home is never shameful, especially when the team was so short of flair and form today. Trouble is, we couldn't even hold on to that. Martin Laursen did have a chance before Fulham equalised to bury the ball from five yards out and although the ball came at him quickly and slightly high, he really should have buried it. He didn't and we were punished for the miss. Curtis Davies gave away a fairly unnecessary free kick lunging into his former Baggies team mate Diomansy Kamara and Scott Carson obliged Jimmy Bullard by leaving half of his goal open for a free kick that should really have been saved. £10m? Jeez, I hope not!

Fulham was a game that Villa, looking to go back joint fourth, should have won. Instead we come away with 0 points and two injured players as Gabby Agbonlahor pulled (hopefully it is a pull and not a tare anyway) his hamstring and Curtis Davies hobbled off towards the end. Strength in depth is not something our squad enjoys, so we have to get out the collective claret and blue prayer matt.

You can't be too harsh on Villa, they have fought to the top six this season and all that with limited options and this was our first defeat in nine games. However, I do fear - as I know many do - that the lack of transfer activity is going to cause us problems with injuries, suspensions and weary legs kick in during the final matches of this season.

Up next, Newcastle United at home. They are in perpetual crisis, we need to get back on track with all three points. Maybe we'll even have a few meaningful shots and not try to walk the ball into the net?

At least we'll have Ashley Young back, his tricks and crosses were missed today.

Star Player

The Villa fans, immense as usual and deserved so much more for their efforts.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson 5

I'm not goalkeeping expert, but for a potential England No1 you don't let in free kicks like that.

Wilfred Bouma 6

Seemed fairly solid and got stuck in.

Olof Mellberg 6

Was involved and his beard was back to its best

Martin Laursen 6

Should have scored the winner for us, at least he got in the right position.

Curtis Davies 5.5

Was over kind last time (and then watched the replay) today he was once again caught ball watching and that resulted in us conceding the equaliser. He had been solid up til then. England player? Not yet, not yet.

Stiliyan Petrov.

Not sure if I don't rate him or can't rate him. Made some great passes but also gave the ball away. I really don't know with Petrov, maybe someone else can enlighten me!

Gareth Barry 6

He did get stuck in, was up and down the pitch, made some good interceptions etc, but he isn't at his sparkling best.

Nigel Hokey-Cokey 6

Broke up some of the game, does the scruffy stuff. Another not on sparkling form though.

Shaun Maloney 6.5

At least he has a go, some wayward shots but not afraid to try. Has some good skills and touches, that is for sure.

John Carew 5

Thought he was woeful today, he really is an enigma. That said, the constant hoofing the ball 'at' him can't help him at all.

Gabby Agbonlahor 5.5

No shots and no real runs. One goal in around 12 games now isn't it? Real blow for him personally that he'll miss the England game. Far from convinced at his age and with his current barren spell that he is ready though?

Marlon Harewood 6.5 (on for Gabby 46)

Not that many chances but he does at least look like he wants to be on the pitch, tries to shoot and pass + tried to whip the fans up.

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Sunday February 3 2008
Time: 7:42PM

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Petrov- is about 2 yards behind on the pace, he's the kind of player who likes to beat a man or two and he can't do that if the player he is trying to skin is quicker than him. so what does he do holds the ball up and passes most of the time backwards, hardly unlocking the defence is he?.... hope this clears Petrov up a bit.... basically not premiership standard, rather have the Bullard
03/02/2008 20:02:00
The fans were amazing I thought, very loud, watchin it on TV thats all you could hear was the Villa chants. How many went ? looked the whole stand behind the goal!
03/02/2008 20:03:00
Over the last 2 games all 4 of us have slipped up. Liverpool 3 points, everton 2, and city and yourselves just 1 each. This is really terrific news from an everton viewpoint as we badly missed our african trio, who were probably 3 of our 4 best players this season before they left. THought we would be playing catch up to be honest!
03/02/2008 20:07:00
Fair play to you Villa fans, and the manager, it`s not that often you hear graciousness in defeat. I well remember the rivalry with you and Preston back in the dire days of our fall in the late sixties and early seventies and my trips to Villa Park. It will be of no consolation to you to hear how happy we are tonight that at last we have a team that can actually fight, and although you may argue that your team did not play up to scratch this evening, i`m sure you will appreciate the hope that that three points has given us long suffering Fulham fans. Best wishes in breaking into the top four/six.
03/02/2008 20:09:00
On the plus side I watched this with my reluctant girlfriend at The Holte today. Great food and friendly, helpful staff. The place itself looks beautiful. Even my gf was inpressed in the end. Atmosphere was quite good to considering the game/result. A few choruses of Yippe Aye Ay were heard. If you've not been in yet definitely check it out soon but do book before hand if you want to eat on an Televised match day.
Adam Deuce
03/02/2008 20:25:00
Petrov, bless him, was trying so hard from what i could see from the not so great vantage point of my leeds. But trying doesn't always cut it. Another point i should make is the Villans at the game were incredible, could hear them right through. Horrible result against a team we should HAVE (take note, some people) beaten, we weren't good enough. However, that's not to say we aren't good enough. Some seem to have blurred the line between the two. On that front, is anyone allowed to submit articles for your judgement and perusal, Mr Fear?
03/02/2008 20:53:00
petrov aint cutting it, without ashley we have no creativity, gabby looked average carew can hold the ball up well but without support its wasted, barry and coker were very average and carson seriously cocked up. as mon said we were not good enough. i think petrov has now been given enough time to show his worth and now should start to earn his place, we are still 6th but the past few matches are showing a tiredness in the squad that will make our push for europe a tad fragile. i hope mon can kick a few arses for todays performance to put us back on track, because to be this close and now have a drop in form would be a real shame. utv
03/02/2008 21:21:00
sorry forgot to say the best thing about the game today was our support totaly incredible even until the last kick of the game, i just wish our players had given even a fraction of the effort displayed by the villans. the fans have belief now the players need to get some!!! imo
03/02/2008 21:31:00
What a waste of money Curtis is I am sure the Call Up was mistaken identity (ML) Ball Watching for the 1st & a needless free kick given away for the second. While i am on one the scousers can have Carson back aswell another 9m down the drain. We did not strengthen our season is over
03/02/2008 22:07:00
It's all well and good lambasting Curtis for a mistake, but it's always the way with such comments that they fail to mention all of the other things that were done right. It's very much a tabloid way of thinking: this other stuff disproves our theory, so what we'll do is cast it aside and no one mentions all of the holes in our argument. Davies has been very good at the back, and despite the tabloids claiming it was surprising for him to get an england call, I was not in the least. Carson...well, Carson is another matter. This result has come at a very unfortunate time for MON, it's a shame.
03/02/2008 22:46:00
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