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Lions Beat Black Cats

Aston Villa
2 - 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 38 706


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.

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Saturday September 27 2008
Time: 7:46PM


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.
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)
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!
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.
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.
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!!
27/09/2008 20:54:00
totally agree deano
27/09/2008 21:18:00
Barry is also a better midfielder than nrc is right winger.
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.
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...
27/09/2008 21:36:00
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