Gulf In Class At Villa Park? (Match Report)
Attendance: 39 866
Cold, wet and grey... and that was just the football!
I've just about dried out now, oh the joys of sitting on the front row eh?! It didn't rain for 30 mins and Villa played well in that time going one up with little argument, fair enough Spurs also had some chances but hey, if you don't put them in the back of the net, you don't get bonus points do you?! That is the ongoing problem with Villa to be honest, we just don't shoot enough. The stats on the main tv screen said at the end of the game 1 shot on target for Villa, 14 for Spurs. Fair enough, that stat doesn't matter as much as the 1-1 in goals but if you don't shoot you don't score.
It started well enough, in fact it looked like it was going to be an entertaining game, but in synch with the rain, Villa went one up and disappeared. The Spuds dominated especially in the second half which again calls into question, why can Villa only play one half well? Infuriating. The hoof ball just won't wash, all we did was get it up pitch as quickly as possible and that gave possession back to Spurs for another wave of attacks. We lost our midfield, where did they go and with John Carew being the usual enigma with little heart or effort (when the manager has to keep telling you to get stuck in you surely know there is a problem, holte end hero for some or not) I'd have thought 4-5-1 with Downing coming on would have been an idea, or to put Craig Gardner in the middle to get stuck in as NRC picked up and injury and was replaced by the so far ineffective Steve Sidwell (although he did have a decent shot at one point)
Ah, shots.... Why don't we take any? Are the midfielders really told to go so far and then to stop or pass backwards? If so, why? You don't win by passing backwards. Fair enough, maybe the Villa thought they could protect the lead, if that was the plan, then five across midfield would have made sense wouldn't it? Then again, are we really so small time that we have to get a goal and then protect for an hour, surely the best for of defence (football cliché warning) is attack? We put so much pressure on our defenders and goalie it is untrue. Why can so many Villa fans see it but the management can't?
Fair enough they had to handle the ball to get their equaliser (having had another goal disallowed for Handball - Defoe in that instance) which was well taken once set up by Dawson's arm but hey, I don't think I've got too many complaints really, our midfield went too deep too early, in fact they didn't just go deep, they went missing so despite a heroic attempt by our re-jigged defence and a) some world class saves by Friedel b) two goal line clearances, both by Carlos Cuellar but as I said above, I think there was too much pressure on them to hold on the entire game.
Where is the improvement from last season's game v Spurs? Apart from our defence, this was just the same poor showing. I'm seriously worried, I know we are 5th but come on, this isn't effective, this isn't entertaining and this isn't going to get us in the top four.
It isn't just some being miseries either, this was a Spurs fan's opinion in our match thread in the forum: Spursex I have to say, I've always thought MoN liked to try and put together teams that want to play decent football, but I can now understand why some here get so frustrated with him..especially when you have so many very good players..it just looks to me that you didn't have the confidence to play, and apart from Milner no one seemed to want the ball...that has to have something to do with how the team is prepared/instructed how to play
A Villa fan, who is an opti and not one of the anti MON types said: LewChatterley'sLover Embarrassing gulf in class today. When Milner and Young don't play well we just don't play any decent football. What we do is fairly effective - but it's down to good defending plus occasional flashes of pace and old fashioned route 1 up-and-at-em attacking.
It reminds me of Saunders and Gregory eras - we look pretty shit but still manage to compete in the top 6. Back then you could win things that way. These days however, with 4-5 of Europe's best playing in the Premier League we can't expect any return to glory with this approach.
So there you go, we got the point, many of us in the pub and at our seats before the game agreed we'd take a draw (and that included a few Spuds I'd spoken to) so we got what we wanted but I can't help but think after our good start and yet another goal from Gabby, that we could have pushed on and got more or at least had a few more shots to test their keeper.
Can't comment on the tactics, I'm not sure we really had any other than to hoof the ball up front in the hit and hope effort. That won't work, it isn't fair on Gabby - not so worried about whether it is fair on Carew as he had an off day where he was probably cold bless him. The service has to be more precise than that though. First 30 mins we passed the ball around well enough so why change?
Brad Friedel - 9
Luke Young - 7
Habib Beye - 6
Richard Dunne - 7
Carlos Cuellar - 9
Nigel Hokey Cokey - 5
Stiliyan Petrov - 5.5
Ashley Young - 5.5
James Milner - 6
John Carew - 5
Gabby Agbonlahor - 7
Emile Heskey - 7 (on for Carew 74)
Steve Sidwell 6 (on for NRC 70)