Stoke Stun Villa At The Death
Attendance: 39 641
So there you go. We threw a game midweek and then today we threw one away.
I can't remember seeing a worse team than Stoke at Villa Park, not for many a long year. Seriously, my dad and me were scratching our heads at the last time we'd seen a team with so little to offer - and yet when you see the table and the scores in the paper tomorrow, it will say Villa 2-2 Stoke.
It really is a baffling game...!
Villa dominated nearly from start to finish, without actually - yes, you've guessed it, we've been here a thousand times before folks - dominating the scoresheet. We had according to our stats (see front page) 59% of possession, at times it seemed like 90% to be fair but it took until the 44th minute to bury the ball in the back of Sorensen's net. GREAT goal by Stiliyan Petrov, if you weren't there then watch the highlights just for that. So in we went after a dominant first half where it really was just backs against the wall for Stoke - who to be fair to them did defend hard, then again the way we were trying to float neat balls over such big players did at times beggar belief - but you could only imagine at that stage the rout the second half would be now that Stoke needed to push on and we could get them on the break. WRONG!
Again loads of the ball but not enough penetration. I can't for the life of me understand why Gabby Agbonlahor can't turn when he gets the ball with his back to the defenders, then again at the moment I can't understand a lot about Gabby, especially if you look at him closely why he is in midfield when the midfielders are bombing forward towards the box during attacks. Does he think his job is to spectate or what? GET IN THE BOX Gabby.... oh and when you do, please try to connect with the ball!
John Carew came on for the injured Emile Heskey, he picked up what looked like an ankle problem, probably the same achilles problem (?) when he went in for the ball along with a Stoke player. He winced straight away. To be honest it was the worst game he's played for us and although I'm never convinced with JC his goal was worth the admission alone, it just shows why he is so frustrating because he has so much skill. Again, if you weren't there, you'll want to watch it, the total arrogance of his almost pass into the goal was sublime. Gabby, take note, turn and shoot.
Talking of Gabby - who should have been brought off as he was THAT bad, (if you were a sub, Marlon Harewood or The Fonz, you'd have to be wondering just what you had to do to get on when Gabby can play that badly and still start every game) he missed a great chance to put us 3-0 and that really would have been game over. Sadly he again fluffed his 'at close quarters' lines and Stoke stunned Villa with two very late goals.
Villa just switched off basically, they thought they'd won and instead of doing what Chelsea did to us last week from a very early stage - killing the game, being 'professional', wasting time, we kept pushing the ball forward and losing it. When WILL we learn? You have to look at the manager (and his two coaches, one of which was foul mouthed and totally out of order today) who could have and should have made some changes but seldom if ever bothers. Close the game down, be professional. In the post match interview he mentioned Chelsea and their time wasting but said the Villa fans don't come to watch that sort of thing and that we like to be entertained. Well, we don't really like watching reserves against quality European opposition either but our opinion doesn't count there so don't try to blame us for this lack of killer instinct please!
We had a warning with (I think) Fuller hitting the post but the warning wasn't heeded and bish bash bosh, 4 minutes, 2 goals from just 3 shots on target, all of them coming in the last 7 or 8 minutes.
I would say we deserved the win but then we didn't play to the whistle and Stoke did. Fair enough, we didn't lose like Liverpool v Boro, so that is a positive, but again given the chance to really push on - and after the Uefa Cup debacle this was a must win game - we failed. We could have been 8 points clear of Arsenal and within 1 point of Liverpool. Could have been, should have been but aren't.
We now travel to Manchester City on Wednesday night and then bless em, the players get a rest until Spurs on the 15th. Interesting times, can we hold on or even push on or......? Time will tell.
Few other major shocks today as well. Brace yourselves as this is really pretty heavy stuff. First off I didn't have a pie before the game... I know, I know. But strangely at half time I felt hungry so went and got a steak and kidney, yup, not only did I not buy my usual chicken and mushroom pie but I bought it at a totally different time. Ok, you think that is bad. Wait until you hear this. Seriously dangerous. I asked for a bottle of water and was sold it. No problems there I hear you all say (those of you haven't given up the will to live that is) but ... it is bringing tears to my eyes just re-living this and thinking about just how dangerous the situation was. They sold me me WITH the bottle top STILL ON THE BOTTLE? I mean, haven't they heard of health and safety. I'm still traumatised.
Brad Friedel 5.5
Luke Young 6
Curtis Davies 5.5
Zat Knight 5.5
Carlos Cuellar 4.5
Ashley Young 5.5
Gareth Barry 5.5
Stiliyan Petrov 7
James Milner 6
Gabby Agbonlahor 5
Emile Heskey 5.5
John Carew - 7