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Gulf In Class At Villa Park? (Match Report)

Aston Villa 1
1 - 1
Spurs 1

Villa Park


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 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?

Star Player

Carlos Cuellar, immense, Brad Friedel as well to be pair, yeah, I'll take both.

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel - 9

Outstanding saves

Luke Young - 7

Good to see him back in and solid

Habib Beye - 6

Hmmm, better cover than we've had before but he is definitely just that, cover. (Warnock was injured so we had to re-shuffle with Collins also still being out)

Richard Dunne - 7

Solid enough

Carlos Cuellar - 9

Outstanding, two goal line clearances. Amazing the difference in him when he is played in his rightful position in the centre. Can't see James Collins getting straight back in replacing Carlos after that display which is an amazing thing to say as Collins has been immense this season.

Nigel Hokey Cokey - 5

Midfield went missing, not good enough as that put pressure on the defence. Too many passes backwards, which might be what they are coached to do as they all seem to do it? Came off injured (it wasn't tactics bringing on Sidwell as some thought!!)

Stiliyan Petrov - 5.5

Started brightly enough but hoof ball bypasses the midfield anyway. Can't see why he can't shoot when he gets into the position?

Ashley Young - 5.5

Not at the races really was he?

James Milner - 6

He got stuck in but there wasn't much end product, not his best game.

John Carew - 5

Just what makes him such a Holte End hero? He'd not make my team because he can't be arsed half the time, he drives me (and others in growing numbers including the manager according to his recent BRMB forum talk) mental. He should be our star, he simply isn't.

Gabby Agbonlahor - 7

Got the goal, scruffy thought it was and looks like he cares, he's doing well this season after a horrible end to last season. 7 goals so far and more to come, no dry spells this season please Gabby, you might even nip in with 20 at this rate!

Emile Heskey - 7 (on for Carew 74)

Came on and put the effort in, why when he starts can't he do this? He nearly scored right at the end, it would have been a great goal as he was low down and the header was at an amazingly strange angle. Just over, that would have broken the Spurs fans hearts and would have been such fun for us! lol

Steve Sidwell 6 (on for NRC 70)

Nothing too much right or wrong I guess. At least he had a shot, only the one but hey, off target or not, it did get the ball forward!

Manager Rating

Where is the improvement? Really nervous about where Villa are heading and that the hype still suggests he's the messiah. Well if he is, why the hell couldn't he stop the rain for us yesterday?!?!? Still SO hope he is what some think but going to all the games I see things slightly differently to those who don't attend and just come out with the mantra of 'well, we are 5th'. Don't really care where we are right now to be fair, it is the end of the season that counts

Opponent Rating

Orrible oik but he's got them organised and playing lovely football in less than half the time MON has been our manager. Makes you think?

Best Moments:

Best Moment: The drinking before the game wasn't a bad effort, the drinking after the game was good also, I enjoyed my ham egg and chips after the disappointment of finding out the all day breakfast was apparently no longer all day, the pie at Villa (steak and kidney thanks for asking) was great and the ham sandwiches in the early hours of the morning filled a hole very nicely. Sorry, did you expect the best moment of football!!?!!

Writer:J P Fear
Date:Sunday November 29 2009
Time: 10:30AM


My ratings defined: 1) Totally awful, had a mare, should be taken out and shot, 2) Awful, but not usual standard, 3) Very poor, needs to improve quickly 4) Poor, below the standard expected, 5) Average, the least expected, 6) Better than average, but in patches only, 7) Good, generally decent performance, 8) Very good, above the standard, standing out at times, 9) Excellent, stood out all match, 10) Outstanding (aka Paul McGrath!). Truly commanded the match, stunning.
The Fear
29/11/2009 10:32:00
Was great to meet up with the usual suspects yesterday but also to meet Mini Cooper and his friend from Finland and a few I've not seen for ages including Danvilla and Dan Renshaw. Not to mention Villabrownie who suffered the rain and cold on the front row despite being heavily pregnat. Happy days!
The Fear
29/11/2009 10:38:00
Thought Beye deserved at least a 7...but I'm clutching at straws. It was dreadful.
29/11/2009 10:54:00
MON is squeezing the most out of the team he has to work with. Villa lack true quality in many areas. Villa are way off top four:)
29/11/2009 11:08:00
should have gone for the Steak and Kidney over the burger outside as that was terrible. I was sittinng with the villa fans and have to give then credit for being a great bunch of lads and the banter was well worth getting soaked in the 2nd half. As for the game, I thought we were robbed.
29/11/2009 11:14:00
someone said l young marked lennon out of the game. villa had two men on lennon the whole game. there was one rare opportunity where lennon was one on one with young and lennon was able to get behind and put that low cross in where spurs nearly scored.
29/11/2009 11:15:00
not all that bad, a draw is a great result against a side we could learn a few things off. we could have won it too dont forget right at the end. when collins comes back, why dont we drop a midfielder and play 5 at the back? im actually not joking. the defence would be well tight then and its not like we play through the midfield anyway! we need ourselves a Krancjar.
29/11/2009 11:29:00
Thom, the real bonus was that we bought Niko for a mere 2m. what a bargain. I didnt think we did that at Spurs, just sold them...
29/11/2009 12:22:00
oxfordspur, you were robbed!?! Did the ref give a goal against you that was from a handball? same old Cockneys, always cheating : )
29/11/2009 14:46:00
Not sure what to make of it really. A draw was on paper a good result after a very tepid display. The first half seemed to be majority Villa, and the second, Spurs so all the action was up at the North Stand and not much to see from the Holte. I found watching Downing warm up more interesting at times. If we'd kept the ball on the floor then surely the supeior Tottenham ability to play with the ball at their feet would have meant defeat? Oh well, I would've settled for a draw before kick off so it's not all doom and gloom. Met a few Spurs fans on Broad Street on the evening and they were a great bunch of lads and really enjoyed the banter.
29/11/2009 16:34:00
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