Villa Play Pants And Still Win!
Attendance: 35 985
There is very little I can say that Martin O'Neill hasn't already said in his very honest assessment of the game. We were pants and we still won. Well, he didn't exactly say that, but you get my drift! >>> Bye Bye Blackburn >>>. That is a very very nifty habit to pick up, the sort that the likes of Manchester United have learnt many a long year ago, grind out the result if you can't dazzle your way to one.
Not sure how many games this season we have genuinely dazzled in and yet we are still 4th with PLENTY of players still finding their feet or waiting to hit peak form. That can't be bad can it?
I thought Villa started off well against Blackburn and for maybe five minutes looked like we were going to rip into them. We had an early chance following a cross from Gabby that found Barry, he put the ball back into the six yard box but no one was following in. This is where the team has to learn some poaching techniques, ie get in the messy areas and get the easy ones in!
Then Blackburn started passing the ball about nicely and everything shifted to the point when they went 1 up you couldn't argue that they deserved it. Nice goal as well, they broke through our defence like a knife through butter. At that point it seemed highly unlikley we'd get anything out of the game. The Holte End at one point started singing 'what the f*** is going on' and all the quality passing and movement was coming from Blackburn. It must have been bad as some of my mates (I say mates, they are more care in the community really) started texting me to give them a wave, or telling me 'this is poo' and 'I came down from Liverpool for this tonight!'.
However seconds before half time, following a great cross by Nicky Shorey, Luke Young.... yes, I did say LUKE Young, got the ball over the line and hey presto, quite undeserved but we went in 1-1. Surely we'd come out and play better in the second half?
Well, errm, not that much no. MON made a change - the sort that some were thinking should have been done during the first half when the one up front tactics were so blatantly not working - and brought on John Carew for the injured (he had a tight hamstring, hopefully something that will clear quickly) Stiliyan Petrov. That helped a bit and gave Gabby a bit more freedom to make a run or two, however Blackburn were still the ones with the crisp clean passing and we were mostly on the back foot or hoofing the ball forward. Very rushed, very naive and most definately not pretty. However, it was Villa, thanks to a good strong run and pass by James Milner who could easily have gone to ground with the defender right up with him that Gareth Barry was able to slot home and from there on in, it started to look - despite more forward attacking play from Blackburn - that this was going to be our night and so it proved when Gabriel Agbonlahor scored the killer goal - and what a goal getting the ball passed from our own half and running through with a lovely break - to take all three points and put the game out of the reach of Rovers.
Rovers did get a consolation goal right at the end, a quality free kick which Friedel had no chance of saving, from a very dubious decision by the new, young and not very good referee. From the re-start the ref did his best bit of work and blew for full time. The Villa fans left happy by the result and most probably slightly bemused as to how we pulled it off... How the Rovers fans must have been feeling I have no idea, then again, I also have no care, we got what we needed, 3 points. Job done - just don't play like that again please!
I said at the start of the month if we could get 7 of the available 9 points we'd be sitting pretty and the table makes for very nice reading with Villa 4th on equal points with Arsenal. Now for a trip to Newcastle United on Monday night and then our second Uefa Cup game the following Thursday. Yup, the matches are coming thick and fast and MON hinted that a few more players might well be brought into action to stave off player fatigue. Nice to think we now have some options, sooner January comes and we bid for one or two (if Harewood leaves - which to be fair to him, he should having not been able to feature for us regularly) strikers the better, we just need to stay in contention in the meantime and after the luck of the footballing Gods being with us last night, we might just do that!
Brad Friedel 7
Martin Laursen 6
Carlos Cuellar 7
Luke Young 7
Nicky Shorey 6.5
Gareth Barry 6.5
Ashley Young 6.5
James Milner 7.5
Nigel Hokey-Cokey 6
Stiliyan Petrov 6
Gabriel Agbonlahor 7
John Carew (on for Petrov 49)
Sidwell (on for NRC) 83