Villa Fail To Hammer Hammers
Attendance: 39 534
It has been a funny old season really! The home form has been fairly average and we've drawn too many games which is where the points have really been lost for a serious challenge on the top four. However if you take away the key stone kop defending we've at least seen some attacking football at Villa Park in the last two games.
Villa could have hammered the .,. err, hammers yesterday but then again, if you look at the replays it does appear that Brad Friedel had to make more of the serious saves - he did very well considering how totally amateur our two central defenders look. It just shows what world class players bring to a team, with Laursen in he makes any of our defenders look ok, without him we are seriously short of a solid central defense, if only we'd got Upson in our back line yesterday, now he IS a top defender!
I must admit I'm no longer nervous - or in some ways interested - about this season, without going over old ground after Moscow I basically have done what the team appear to have done, switched off! So for now I'm just going down to enjoy myself in any way possible and as a one off game, yesterday had plenty of drama.
We could have been one up within minutes when Nicky Shorey (who had a good game, at least going forward, what have you been doing not playing him MON?) made a great cross to Barry who shot millimeters wide with a glancing header. We kept going forward, although West Ham also didn't start too badly, but it was Villa who got the telling break with James Milner passing to Heskey who slotted the ball home. 1-0 and for most of the rest of the half, there was only one team in it. The only time we had to panic was when any West Ham player went towards our central defenders, they had obviously not met before today as they were pretty shambolic, which is a big worry when you think between them they have cost nearly £16million.
We had a few near misses, a couple appeared to hit the post, Ashley Young took an average free kick but got a second chance only to see the ball go on the wrong side of the post and then Heskey got a gift of a chance after a mistake by Noble gave him the ball with only the keeper Green to beat. Sadly he hit the post instead of burying it. If he'd taken that, I think it would have been game over. Ho and indeed hum!
The second half, in a sun soaked Villa Park, didn't really live up to the first, there were chances both ways and sadly where Villa failed to capitalise on theirs to kill the game, we rode our luck and our luck ran out. A corner was cleared, put back in by Dyer and Tristan buried the ball into the back of the net with a smart glancing header.
Villa really still haven't learn how to kill games and a draw has done us no favours at all. Now we have to depend on Everton not winning to stay 5th.
We did have a clear penalty at the end when John Carew was through one on one with the keeper only for the useless ref Rob Styles (he was awful for both teams throughout the game and should be very embarrassed this morning) decided a West Ham defender was allowed to push the ball out of JC's way. However, no matter how angry our manager was, you can't really just point to that as to why we lost. We lost because our central defenders were shambolic and our forwards were unable to bury their chances.
Still no idea why some of the Villa 'fans' decided to boo the team off. Wallies!
Brad Friedel 8
Luke Young 6
Carlos Cueller 4
Curtis Davies 4
Nicky Shorey 7
Ashley Young 6.5
Gareth Barry 6.5
James Milner 7
Stiliyan Petrov 7
Emile Heskey 6
John Carew 6
all ok, nothing of major note.
Milner really did have to be convinced to come off, he'd got a slight pull in one of his legs and kept signalling to the bench to be given 5 more minutes!