Aston Villa - BANG BANG BANG - Villa Destroy City
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Aston Villa 4 - Manchester City 2

Villa Park


Attendance: 39 955

BANG BANG BANG - Villa Destroy City

Well, that was a disappointment. Average tactics, a team of individuals, not a great manager and only luck saw a victory against lesser opposition.

Anyway, enough about Liverpool, Villa today showed Gareth Barry why he'll not regret the breakdown of his move to Anfield!

Before the game I was, like many Villa fans, quietly confident but also apprehensive. Every time I feel cocky about Villa we seem to lose and a) we've not won our first game of the season for four odd seasons b) Manchester City have been a bit of a bogey side for Villa in recent years. However as soon as we kicked off, Villa were on City like a rash and really never let up for the entire game.

There are plenty of match reports that give a blow by blow account so I'll not go into the nitty gritty but Villa dominated large parts of the game and could well have put the match out of sight in the first half, Gareth Barry most unusually missed a couple of great chances, one hitting the side netting and the other being well saved but to be fair should have been out of reach for the City keeper.

Match stats: Click Here

Villa had 55% of possession and to be fair, if not for a bit of sloppiness for Nigel Hokey-Cokey, we could have had much more. It is a shame and hopefully he'll soon sort it out, but he works so hard to get the ball and then seems to switch off and give it away - he'll then work twice as hard to track back and re-win the ball! Be a very interesting few years for NRC, fascinating to see how he develops!

Anyway, the first half came and went, Villa on the attack and Manchester City just doing what Mark Hughes teams always seem to do, fouling. I had a polite word (and I do mean a polite word, I hate big mouthed abusive swearing fans!) with Hughes when he passed congratulating him on yet another dirty, over physical team. He laughed and said he couldn't understand. Fair enough, I do speak proper English and have an education, so obviously he'd struggle with that. :o) There is one thing tackling, it is another thing trying to take players like Ashley Young out. Some of the tackles flying his way could end a very promising career.

The second half got off to a flyer with the first goal coming on the 46th minute, which was a huge relief as all the pretty football in the world doesn't put points on the table. This was a John Carew goal from close range after a sublime pass by Ashley Young. I think the England manager will need to have a re-think about not including him in the England squad. It looked after that goal that there would be only one winner.

There was only going to be one winner after that and Villa went on auto pilot, the ball was given away in the opponents half, I think from NRC but without the luxury of replays, I'm not sure. (Addition: I was TOTALLY wrong re: the pen, it wasn't given away by NRC, it was from a ball lost by Villa in City's box and came straight up with plenty of chances to clear. Shorey looked like he had done a great job covering only to miss the ball for Johnson to get passed him). Villa had about 10 opportunities to get the ball back and to tackle but in the end for some mad reason we gave away a very soft penalty, I think Luke Young being the final person to put in a challenge. Could Friedel pull off another penalty save? No, not this time! Ho hum, 1-1 and for a spell Man City work up and were all over us, especially the very pacey Petrov.

Villa rode the storm though and then came a magic 7 minutes, a spell that Gabby Agbonlahor will not forget for the rest of his life. 7 minutes, one hatrick, game over. Not only his first hatrick but one infront on the Holte End. As a Villa fan himself, there can not be a better feeling. He seemed to do nothing for much of the game and then bang, bang, bang. I seem to remember the likes of Robbie Fowler being exactly the same, anonymous to the point of forgetting they are there and then a few devastating minutes and they've won the game. 4-1 and Man City had no chance at all of coming back.

Sadly in the 89th minute Villa gave away another sloppy goal and Brad Friedel did not look happy but then, that defence had never played together before, Curtis Davis was just back from six months out and they will take time to gel. There is SOOOOOOoooooo much promise there.

This was a great way to start the season, in the post match interview MON said he still wants to bring in at least two more players, the right side being an obvious one as NRC isn't a right winger and I think would be the first to admit it. So maybe James Milner from Newcastle, or Shaun Wright-Phillips from Chelsea, or even Aaron Lennon from Spurs? Any would do, add a striker to the mix and Villa could have a truly memorable season. Can't get a better start that is for sure!

Star Player

Gabby - a Villa fan scoring a hatrick in front of the Holte, it doesn't get any better does it?

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 8

solid, pulled off some wonderful saves, not at fault for goal or pen.

Nicky Shorey 7

I thought he made a good contribution, got caught a few times but he is just gelling with the team and his passing out was very promising as he found a claret and blue shirt more often than not.

Curtis Davis 8

this guy will get better and better, I think he'll be a Villa Park legend. Stopped virtually every threat from City, especially in the first half.

Martin Laursen 8

nothing needs to be said about this guy, he is world class. How does MON decide between these two and Carlos Cuellar?

Luke Young 7

not seen the replay for the pen but then he wasn't alone in not clearing the ball. Looked good to me and much like Shorey, found the Villa players when passing.


not awful, but did give the ball away too much. If you were marking him for tackling and breaking up play I am sure you could give another point or 2 to be honest.

Stiliyan Petrov 7.5

well, that is better Stan. First half he was arguably our best player and contributed far far more. Very promising.

Gareth Barry 7.5

missed a couple of chances in the first half but still helped boss the game and set up one of Gabby's goals. Glad he is staying.

Ashley Young 9

set up JC's goal and put in a superb amount of work despite being kicked left right and centre.

John Carew 6.5

scored the goal that set us off, plenty of flick ons etc, but goes down very easily and is very quick to come to the bench when he gets a knock. Still hope he can get 20 this season, still somehow doubt it. Prove me wrong please JC, with his size, strength and pace he should terrorise defenders.

Gabby Agbonlahor 10

you can't get better as a striker than a hatrick. Job done.

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill 9 had his doubters over the summer but on today's display, looks like he might just know what he is doing.

Opponent Rating

Mark Hughes 5 - the club is in disarray and I'm not convinced the City fans will appreciate his style of play, if you can call it style. Kicking lumps out of the opponents might have worked in the 70's and 80's but it isn't on in the modern game.

Oh and...

I also met the main man RL today and his lovely and very football knowledgeable son. Top people, top club, top class, top cat. Not sure what top cat has to do with it all but I did used to like him, close friends used to call him TC you know!?

The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday August 17 2008

Time: 6:50PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Just had an email from my mate Mr Bosworth: Having seen the replay I can tell you it was never a penalty, not in a million years - Johnson took an sir shot and went over, no contact. Bit of a cock up between shorey and Young to let him through mind ...
The Fear
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17/08/2008 18:52:00

Just a thought - MON has changed the formation and got Barry playing a much more forward running role. On the other hand MON has Sidwell earmarked for that role but Barry played there today. Has MON decided GB is leaving and changed the formation in readiness? Petrov? Best game I have seen him play by far. And I think you have een a bit hard on Reo-Coker. Young looked the part, not so sure about Shorey.
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17/08/2008 19:06:00

Things are looking up after the drubbing we gave you then? Cant say the same for us mind!
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17/08/2008 19:06:00

Mr Bosworth is spot on! Even Trevor Francis (an avid Villa-hater if ever there was one) admitted it wasn't a penalty in his commentary for Star Sports. But what can you say about Gabby's hatrick? Right foot - Header - Left foot. Perfick.
Athens Villa
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17/08/2008 19:10:00

We really really really really (etc etc) could do with Barry staying. He kept us ticking today and played some killer passes. Some of his running of the ball was immense as well. Lets hope the scouse yanks weren't watching hey.
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17/08/2008 19:12:00

What a start to the season...fantastic. Just watched Gabby interview on BBC website, he's soooooo laid back and blase about it all, if I was him I'd be grinning from ear to ear!!!
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17/08/2008 19:17:00

Great stuff from gabby,I am also pleased that petrov did so well he is a top man and a quality hard working player who i feel unfairly gets a hard time,He does for us what barry does for england.As for reo-coker he does need to work on his passing but at the end of the day he is in there to tackle and break up play which he does very well,Plus he is playing a bit out of postion.I also thought luke young was very good.Great win by the lads.
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17/08/2008 19:25:00

Loved the game, was there today in the North End. Great strikes from Gab - really composed, now if only he'd have tracked back for Johnson run which led to their penalty instead of just standing in the centre circle then I'd have given him a 10. Carew scored a nice goal but some of his close control let him down when he was perfectly placed for a shot....however it's all about match fitness and you can't help but wonder what it'll be like when we gel as a new unit and are fit...we'll be immense...MON's right tho...2 new players will do us well, MF and ST and we're sorted. Will not forget Manc fans singing "YOU ONLY SING WHEN YOU'RE WINNING..." then going mute when Gab destroyed them.
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17/08/2008 19:37:00

Where was Maloney today?????
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17/08/2008 19:47:00

i was a little concerned at the back, it seemed like we couldnt clear the ball, otherwise brilliant!
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17/08/2008 20:00:00

Great, great game today. "We were an absolute dream going forward" - quote of the day from MON. Sums it up. In defense to Reo-Cocker, one time when he gave the ball away Ben-Haim came on without telling anyone basically and stole the pass. I saw it in the replay. We definitely need a right mid though, we are completely exposed there when Reo comes to the center habitually. Why didn't we use any subs do ya think? Also, where is Maloney?
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17/08/2008 20:00:00

Please stop making excuses for Coco he's awful and a complete waste of a shirt today . Petrov showed him how to play the holding role . We need a winger and Coco is never ever going to have the skill to play wide right . He's just blocking up the right side and making us attack down the left only . Won't be long before we are sussed ! Get that Cheque book out MON and sign a right winger . Then we'll be flying ! Flying I tell Ya !
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17/08/2008 20:01:00

You can't knock NRC for his workrate - imo he really does give 100% for our club. Let's not stoop to the level of those West Ham scum and get on his back. Give him time, he was playing out of position. In terms of the match - I'm very very chuffed. Why is'nt Gabby in the England squad? A caller to Talksport hit the nail on the head - if he was in a Livep**l shirt he would walk into the team.
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17/08/2008 20:56:00

Interesting call about the penalty, it looked bang on from where I was sitting (upper Trinity), so will be looking out for that on MOTD2 tonight. We gave away to awful goals, but as you said, that defence had never played together before so I'm sure we'll sort that out. I have to agree about NRC. Works so hard to get the ball and hasn't got a clue what to do with it once he's got it. Petrov (ours) had a great game today, hopefully carrying on from where he left off at the end of last season. Great win today all round and we can only get better.
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17/08/2008 20:59:00

Reo-coker does a job for the team,O`neill called him makalele with legs,I reckon he is more gattuso with legs.
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17/08/2008 21:01:00

We love you Villa we do, we love you Villa we do, we love you Villa we do, Ohhhhhh Villa we love you!!!!! xxxxxx
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17/08/2008 21:31:00

What can I say? Top drawer, well done Villans. So much better than letting the Dodgy Thai money prevail.
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17/08/2008 21:54:00

reo-coker was out of position, simple as that. it just reiterates the fact that we still need a player or two. its a little annoying to hear people knocking him from this game and gardener in previous games. these are players that are vital to our club if we are to compete on multiple fronts, maybe reo-coker does not start every game if we have the squad we want but considering we will be playing twice a week most weeks if things go to plan alot of our players will need days of and if we have to rest barry or petrov ....ect reo coker will be an excellent option to come in and do a great job in a role he is used to playing. if you look at the top teams they have alot of players who i do not consider great players but are vital to keeping everybody fresh. we will do nothing this year if we only have 11 good players and its a good thing that we need depth. that aside a great start to the season, defense will gell in time im sure of that and going forward we are as dangerous as anyone
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17/08/2008 22:14:00

What an excellent start to the season!! Come on you lions!!!
Bobby Norman
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17/08/2008 22:32:00

up the villa!
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17/08/2008 23:28:00

It'll take a few games for our new defence to gel, so I'm not overly concerned at conceding two goals, both though through sloppy defending. Friedel was safe assured, Luke Young enjoyed a sound debut, Nicky Shorey too showed promise. Curties was quality, while ML was ML, what else can you say. Great to see Gabby's hat-trick, took all three very well, particularly the third, which to me highlighted the huge improvement he's made over the past twelve months. Man of the Match has to be Gabby because of his heroics, but I was particularly impressed with Stan Petrov, who carried on where he left off last season. I thought he was superb.
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18/08/2008 00:02:00

Was it a penalty? Must admit that at the game I thought it was, certainly looked one from where I was sitting, but my armchair neighbour who has seen the goals on the t.v. says definitely not. Luke Young didn't touch him? Wuz we robbed? Darn and blast if we wuz.
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18/08/2008 00:06:00

Definitely not a penalty. Didn't touch him, Johnson mis-kicked and fell over. But he should have never of been put in that position anyway, shotty defending.
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18/08/2008 00:21:00

Happened right in front of me, that was never a pen, fantastic performance, when we gel we will be immense, top four, are you listening to the song that we're singing?
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18/08/2008 01:34:00

glensider - couldn't agree more about stan! some of his little touches and skip pasts were excellent, he's not afraid to take people on now and thats great to see
The Usual Suspect
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18/08/2008 01:59:00

Yep - definitely one of Petrov's better games. Barry was very composed (as usual), and his delivery is excellent. I thought big John Carew should have at least warranted a 7 rating, as should NRC - he made quite a few great interceptions and I do still think he's given a hard time unnecessarily sometimes. I do appreciate his limitations in retaining possession though, but he's a tremendous ball winner. Shorey i'd say was a 6 at best. Friedel...what can you say.....great to see a Villa keeper able to claim with confidence, and there were one or two top class saves when he did fantastically well to gather the ball rather than just spill it back out again a la Carson. Good start!
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18/08/2008 02:07:00

With this attacking quality, I think we can look forward to seeing Thomas Sorensen picking the ball up out of the net a few times next week.
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18/08/2008 07:08:00

Great start by the Villa, havent seen the goals or the game yet, but delighted to see us carrying on with our free-scoring game, and great to freidel between the sticks.
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18/08/2008 07:38:00

I was TOTALLY wrong re: the pen, it wasn't given away by NRC, it was from a ball lost by Villa in City's box and came straight up with plenty of chances to clear. Shorey looked like he had done a great job covering only to miss the ball for Johnson to get passed him.
The Fear
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18/08/2008 08:57:00

Best performance ever from Stan. Now more of the same confident displays please, now don't just sit back and feel content, but push on. Gutted for Gabby that some gipo Man citeh fan nicked his hatrick match ball.
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18/08/2008 09:31:00

Fear, it was lost by NRC but Gab juat watched the City players go past him.....made up for it with threee goals tho - so i'll let him off. I've said it on here many times, NRC has no end pass AT ALL. Very good holding midfielder with excellent fitness but must improve that pass.
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18/08/2008 11:18:00

petrov was brilliant for the entire game. fair play.
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18/08/2008 12:15:00

I thought that Brad "HellBoy" Friedel was our match winner! If Carson had been between the sticks then we might have been looking at another 4-4 or worse!! Young is also awesome and we need to find a right sided version of him PLUS another striker and we'll be playing CL next season!
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18/08/2008 13:03:00

Shorey and young both hesitated at the last minute but these things happen, their distribution was sound enough. utv
chris the villan
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18/08/2008 13:07:00

And Petrov was superb, personally think it was his best performance in a villa shirt keep it up. utv
chris the villan
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18/08/2008 13:18:00

chris lets hope Petrov gives more this season, he cant have another season with the odd "good shows"
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18/08/2008 20:09:00

Great peformance, and I'm more than happy with our start to the season. There's a small possibility that Vassell not playing contributed to our victory - that guy ALWAYS seems to score against us.
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19/08/2008 09:41:00

We all seem to be on the same wavelength regarding Stan Petrov. The guy is playing consistently well, really looking the part.
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03/09/2008 22:13:00


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