Aston Villa - Lions Beat Black Cats
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Aston Villa 2 - Sunderland 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 38 706

Lions Beat Black Cats

3 points, who is going to argue with that? Especially on such a bitterly cold afternoon.... Well, Chimbonda had long sleeves and gloves on, so I assume it was cold?!? And Sunderland are no pushover either especially with Steed Malbranque bombing forward. It is funny, despite Wednesday (and I still say Martin O'Neill put out a team good enough to win that game despite the changes) today even when we went one down, I didn't think we looked like we would lose.

Villa did get off to a slow start and allowed Sunderland to come forward - or should I say Sunderland started quicker out of the traps and Villa soaked up the pressure? I guess you can look at it both ways! I did feel when Cisse put the ball in the back of our net on 9 minutes we had just started to take control of the game but a lovely quick move, helped by Malbranque if memory serves me right undid our defence superbly and you had to hand it to the Black Cats, it was just a well taken goal.

At that point we had two choices and these days Villa take the right choice, they don't let their heads drop and they do keep going forward, sometimes a bit too quickly with ill timed long balls - Nicky Shorey today, who I think will prove to be a good buy and hasn't been as bad this season so far as some seem to say, was the main culprit of that and twice passed the ball out of play... not good, not in the Premiership, the level is too high for that.

Villa took control of the ball well although again, I do wish they would concentrate on playing the ball on the ground because when they do they really can zip the ball about beautifully. 17 minutes in Ashley Young took a sublime free kick which was basically unstoppable. He really is a cheeky wee scamp and was tricky for the Sunderland players to deal with all game long. 1-1 and although the game wasn't exactly rocking, it was entertaining enough and helped by a good atmosphere from both the Holte End AND the travelling Sunderland fans who are ALWAYS top quality, hats off (if I wore a hat) to them.

Come the half hour mark John Carew slotted home a fierce pass from the resurgent Stiliyan Petrov via a back heel and is starting to look like he is scoring for fun. He also won pretty much every header and helped put major pressure on the Sunderland defence today, this is the JC who could become a tip top class striker, he used his weight and menace well.

There aren't many you could criticise really, Shorey was slightly out of whack, Barry wasn't in top form, maybe Gabby could have done slightly more when he got the ball and went on runs but they are only minor points to another good 3 points, the third in a row. There was the time when Villa went 1 down, heads dropped and games were conceded, now we get goals - at both ends - and some entertainment, and this is a Villa side who are still nowhere near their maximum potential. Hopefully they will stop dropping so deep soon as that does bring the opposition on and causes our nerves to fray, but then again, with the speed we have in the team, we do at least have the capability of taking advantage on the break.

Star Player

Jonah's lucky hat, closely followed by Stiliyan Petrov.

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 7

Had little to do but what he had to do, he did well....if that makes any sense at all.

Nicky Shorey 5

He is usually far better in distribution but I still think he'll be a good player for us.

Martin Laursen 8

Solid, what else would you expect? Nearly up there amongst the goals again as well.

Curtis Davies 8

Going to be a great player for Villa over the years, certainly will cause Carlos Cuellar some problems breaking into the first team.

Luke Young 7

Starting to slot in nicely.

Nigel Hokey-Cokey 7

Thought he did well today, although I get nervous when he is put at right-back, it isn't his position!

Stiliyan Petrov 8.5

Man of the match

Gareth Barry 6

Not at his best but still contributed.

Ashley Young 7

Scintillating at times

Gabby Agbonlahor 6

Some in the phone ins were saying he was lazy, I think he contributed, just didn't get the breaks

John Carew 7.5

Taking his chances now which is great to see.

James Milner 7 (on for Shorey 70 mins)

Thought he made a massive difference to the second half when he came on, certainly stopped Sunderland from getting on top of the game as they looked to push for an equaliser.

Carlos Cuellar (on for Carew 90 mins)

Not on long enough to judge. John Carew sat on the coaches bench (not the dug out bench) and was obviously knackered (he pointed to his throat earlier in the game so he might have a bug or whatever). Anyway, the 4th official came and told him he had to put a vest on and couldn't just sit there with his Villa top. What is the world coming too? Rule after rule after rule!

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill. Getting the results and that IS the be all and end all of football. However the substitution of Milner caused 3 changes in the team which is highly bizarre when the norm in footie is to change positions about as little as possible. Shorey came off, Luke Young went on the left, Hokey-Cokey went to right-back, Ashley Young swapped sides, you get the picture. Still, 3 points is 3 points.

Aways Fans

As per usual, a top class away fan contingent from the Black Cats.

The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday September 27 2008

Time: 7:46PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
We are now doing what the top teams do,And what all to often we didn`t do last season,Getting three points and seeing games out whilst not playing badly but not to our complete best,Barry and petrov are running the centre midfield and controling games this season they might not be the fastest but both have so much quality on the ball.Then with the pace and power aound them it is working brilliantly.Add another striker in jan and my 3rd place preditiction is on course,Especially with arsenal dropping points like they are.
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27/09/2008 19:52:00

Wonderful to see Petrov, who took soooo much stick last season, coming good. Long may it last, and hope he has a brilliant Villa career. The man never gave up, even if the fans did ... :o)
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27/09/2008 20:02:00

I couldn't agree more Bob - no doubt about it that Petrov was outstanding today and fully deserves his MotM award given here. It's brilliant that he's finally starting to perform to the best of his abilities and if he carries on as he is, for me he is undroppable....although I doubt James Milner will be happy to hear that!
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27/09/2008 20:36:00

The guy is top top quality on the ball.Maybe now he has figured out the premier league.Although i thought he also had a strong season last season,The first one was his poor one when he was adjusting to the league,The biggest disapointment regarding petrov was the way some fans booed him,Not on at all that.
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27/09/2008 20:38:00

Oh yeah regarding gabby,He works in bursts thats what he does and thats how he is effective,Funny how some villa fans on forums and phone ins will always find someone to single out no matter how well we are doing.He is the joint top scorer in the league.If he wasn`t scoring but running around like a headless chicken people would knock him for not scoring enough goals.
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27/09/2008 20:44:00

Petrov has been amazing - how on earth is Sidwell (let alone Milner and Cuellar) going to get into our side!!!??? O'Neill has certainly got in the way of the Shorey off for Milner and shifting three or four players out of position. I think if he wants to swap a defender for a midfielder he should just go Shorey for Milner and move Barry into LB - NRC accross to CM with Petrov and have Milner and Young on the wings. Minimal disruption that way!!! Barry is a better LB than NRC is a RB!!
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27/09/2008 20:54:00

totally agree deano
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27/09/2008 21:18:00

Barry is also a better midfielder than nrc is right winger.
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27/09/2008 21:21:00

I have too say great comeback and great character and resilience showm, but i thought we were somewhat off the pace today. But its nice too win when not playing well, liverpool have done it all season. credit to the lads, and that 3rd place in the league looks all the sweeter for it.
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27/09/2008 21:32:00

Why does MON always take Shorey off with about 20 mins to go? He's done so in the past 5 it because Shorey's ***** or just a tactical thing? Must say, I couldn't understand it today at only 2-1 up...
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27/09/2008 21:36:00

He wanted another attacking player on the pitch without having to put barry at left back.
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27/09/2008 21:50:00

I cant help but think that recent form from petrov and nige is as a result of pressure for places, wish we could get someone to make gabby work harder. Then we might stay 3rd!
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27/09/2008 23:46:00

=] 3v1.. 3rd yabadabadooooooo
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28/09/2008 02:00:00

"Hopefully they will stop dropping so deep soon as that does bring the opposition on and causes our nerves to fray, but then again, with the speed we have in the team, we do at least have the capability of taking advantage on the break." Isn't that kind of the point and the reason why we are so exciting to watch?
Adam Deuce
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28/09/2008 05:23:00

I'm just glad I remembered to wear my lucky hat..we still haven't lost a game when I've worn it!!
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28/09/2008 09:48:00

MON seems to like the team to sit back and let other teams try to break us down. We concede more from oppositions breaks. RE: Shorey coming off and the musical chairs, MON is trying to keep everyone happy. Nige is vice Captain so he won't sub him off and Milner is our record buy so he has to play him. Barry was poor at left back in preseason when Bouma got injured. Think he has forgotten how to play there after being played in the middle so often.
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28/09/2008 11:35:00

yes, fair point villan444 about other teams being made to break us down. Lets face it, whatever MON is doing, it does seem to be working, just hope we can start killing off games like Baggies etc when we get the chance. That said, the edge of your seat stuff is exciting, if not a little nerve jangling!
The Fear
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28/09/2008 11:55:00

I was in the fortunate position of being part of the organisation that sponsored the game. Even more fortunately I was the one deemed to choose MOTM. It was a toss of the coin between Petrov and Okey Cokey imho. I came down on the side of Petrov, mainly because he worked his socks off and did what would be deemed as the unseen work that benefits the team so much. I also felt that he would really appreciate his contribution this season being recognised on the terraces. He was a gentleman after the game as well, signing autographs, having photographs and spending time with the 'corporates' who had chose him as MOTM. Unfortunately it was my colleague (a Sunderland fan) who presented him with his champagne. I was given a bit of stick for choosing Petrov, others wanted Laursen or Okey Cokey. According to the official site M'ON agreed with the decision and initial results on here indicate it was a popular decision. As for the game, we probably just deseved the points. 4 victories in 5 games and 12 days is brilliant. Despite the setback on Wednesday it has been a great couple of weeks for the club. Unfortunately the only negatives are on the supporters side of things. I find it disapppointing that there were 4000 empty seats for an untelivised game, in the sunshine, with a 3pm kick off on a Saturday. We are playing well. Scoring goals and everything is geared towards a club going in the right direction. Sat on the half way line, for the second game running instead of my normal season ticket seats in the Holte End, it was possible to guage the volume of the crowd. Sunderland fans were ok but nothing special. The Holte were Ok when they decided to sing but it was really nothing special or to write home about. The Trinity Road is an embarrasment. The volume from the 10,000+ fans in this stand is nothing short of laughable. Not one individual gave any vocal support. We are still a long way from making VP an intimidating cauldron of noise and vibrancy, despite the great work of the players and owners. More worryingly is that we have players who are good enough to play in some of the great, full arenas in the world. When they go off and do this, fans will soon complain, when in truth it is likely to be the fans fault. We shall reap what we sow, and unless the 'sold out' signs become a regular feature at the club we are limiting how far this club can grow. The owners are doing it. The players are doing it. The fans imho are the ones who need to join the party.
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28/09/2008 12:19:00

Spot on with Stilyan Petrov as our Man of the Match voiceoftheholte. He looks every inch the quality footballer, and his performance again, against Sunderland, was top drawer. Thought James Milner came on at the right time. His introduction gave the visitors more to worry about, as for a time they'd looked like forcing their way back into the game. Three valuable points, against a useful looking Sunderland team.
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28/09/2008 13:21:00

Good to see us close the game out at the end, something we've been unable to do over recent seasons. The art of keeping ball to wind down the clock is a very important part of the modern game, and yet its a route we've never seemed prepared to take.
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28/09/2008 13:24:00

Glad it met with your approval glensider. Spot on comment 'three valuable points against a useful looking Sunderland team', couldn't agree more. Roll on Thursday when all those who can go, will once again visit VP to support the team. Obviously with reduced price tickets and a chance to make it to the group stages of European competition, VP will be nearly full to the rafters. Unless of course fans can't be bothered because the UEFA Cup is beneath a club as big as ours, that can't even sell out its Premier League games. I wonder what excuses the fans will have this week for their non attendance?
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28/09/2008 13:35:00

Agree with your points about the lack of attendances at league matches voth, but I don't have to have an excuse or justify myself to anyone as to what I decide to do with my midweek evenings. It will be like going to watch the reserves and I don't live close enough to have that luxury. The Bulgarians are sausage sellers and taxi drivers when not playing football and they shouldn't even be in this competition looking at the third world pitch we played on last week.
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28/09/2008 14:02:00

villan444 I have always said that nobody has to justify whether they do or do not go to games. Only that those who can but who choose not to, should not have any real complaints when players leave, choose not to come to us or when the owners do not provide the necessary funding to improve the squad. At the momet our suport justfies being in the top 10, no more. The owners, players and management are in effect punching above the weight of the support of the fans. Doesn't bother me if you go on Thursday or not. For me, I will be leaving work early to collect a seriously ill friend and his wife. I will take them to and from the game. I have to ensure parking and wheelchair access is sorted. After the game I will drop him back at the hospice, his wife at home and my wife and I will get back for about midnight. Doesn't mean I am a bigger supporter than many thousands of others, but it does pee me off when non supporters, or those who turn up for the big games make demands and complaints.
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28/09/2008 15:07:00

Very commendable mate, but you don't have to explain things in the same way that others don't. With success comes popularity and I think that if we keep going as we are then by the end of the season we should be regularly full but would this be good? I am just as gutted as you to see our stadium with empty seats and the noise level low. I sit in the Trinity Upper and am regularly dissapointed to see people sat there not even clapping, half of them don't know whats going on and I think that Roy Keane had a point with the prawn sandwich brigade comments. I have been to Highbury several times due to friends with tickets there and the wings were constantly singing to the north stand and vice versa ( and they called it the Highbury Library .) Unheard of at VP. We seem to be going in the direction where people are turning up because its fashionable to be a Villa fan rather than their love for the club that you and I possess and although all supporters are welcome, these are the sort that will desert as soon as times get tough. Its going to take years to build the fan base up again after Deadly's years of alienating them and I think its down to a chicken and egg situation. Which came first, the support or the success? RE: the League Cup, I take on board your points, if we had progressed and won something then it would be very fashionable to go to VP but we needed the fans there to support the team to be able to win in the first place.
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28/09/2008 19:23:00

Our fan base isn't currently that big - it's time we just accepted that as the current state of affairs. Success on the pitch will lead to the 'sold-out' signs going up around VP soon enough, and then hopefully Lerner can start to think about redeveloping VP to increase capacity. He's trying to build a sustainable model, but agree we need the fans to start returning in order to help the club lift itself up where it belongs. It won't happen overnight, but everything is moving in the right direction.
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29/09/2008 10:20:00

Ha ha, what's Chimbonda going to do in January oop north
Red Wimp
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29/09/2008 22:07:00

Have to disagree with you on that one yatesy. Last season we got a full house against Sunderland. Despite us playing better and the owners having invested in the club, crowds are worryingly going down. Economically times are tough and that is obviously having an effect. The fact that we are likely to be playing more games means that even more fans will have to pick and choose their games. But I still feel many Villa fans think to much about who the opposition are, rather than about the Villa. For example I think a game at home to Fulham is a bigger game than one against Manure or the Arse. OK, they may have better players and bigger support, but we are less likely to get a result against them than against Fulham. Personally I don't care who play for our opponents, I come to watch the Villa. Those that decided to pick and choose their games last season (for example against the media fuelled big 4) would have seen 3 defeats and a victory. Those that chose probably the least glamorous games against Reading, Fulham, Middlesbrough and Bolton witnessed 3 victories and a draw. I believe that these fixtures are more important than the glamour ones and as they are priced more attractively, actually represent better value for money.
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30/09/2008 08:53:00


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