Aston Villa - Fabregas Impact Beats Villa
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Arsenal 3 - Aston Villa 0



Attendance: 60 056

Fabregas Impact Beats Villa

Ok, we got excited, we had the chance to go - albeit briefly - 2nd today and have been more than a match for virtually all comers this season but hey, sometimes you just have to stand back and applaud an opponent and today was one of those days.

Where we lacked the killer shot or the final ball Arsenal didn't. It took until the second half for them to turn it on having just about shaded the first on chances and possession (although if we'd gone in 1 up it wouldn't have been totally unjustified as we also had our moments) but when they did turn it on, they really turned it on!

Main difference today? A world class player - Fabregas - brought off the bench (for emergencies only they said before the game) and bish bash, two up. No arguments, one a well taken free kick (not many get passed Brad Friedel) and the second a well taken goal after James Milner sloppily gave the ball away in their half. We so nearly brought it back to 2-1 with Gabby going close but it wasn't to be and as we pushed forward, Arsenal hit us for a 3rd on the break.

Positives? Not so much from the game in truth, our final ball was largely off today and our cutting edge blunted - mainly because of the final ball I'd say - but hey, we are 4th in the league, we are in the semi-finals of a cup and .... come on, and, I'm thinking... well no one else will put three passed us this season, we were unpicked by a world class player and maybe that will push us in the January transfer window to add some threat with a quality forward (if one is available... good thread in the forum about Craig Bellamy at the moment?!)

Also maybe this will just keep us on our toes. I know that sounds stupid but it is never automatic for Villa, we have to fight for everything and maybe an odd loss will just wake up players getting complacent and show them what they need to do to stay near the top? I know, bit of a stretch but that might well kick us on now to beat Liverpool and go 8 points clear of them?

Some losses - see Blackburn away and more especially Wigan at home - are disasters to a club like ours, but today it wasn't. First half we held our own, second half we just got sucker punched by a totally world class quality player. It is a shame they got 3, it makes it look like an easy game for them but as long as we now pick ourselves up and don't go on one of our downer runs, we should be fine.

It did highlight the difference between top drawer and just quality players though, maybe we are getting to the stage where we can possibly just add that one 'magic' player. Good luck finding one though, I'm no scout that is for sure!

Stats: Click Here

Hopefully will put up a match report from Randy.Stand who got down there today. If you are reading this, missing you Glensider, hurry back mate!

Star Player

Don't usually give this to a non Villa player but Fabregas was a cut above everyone else on the pitch.

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 5

never like rating goalies but I guess 3 in means a mid way rating is the best you can go for?!

Luke Young 6

Fairly solid, great early throw in that was flicked on by Heskey with sadly Downing and Gabby left standing. Strange substitution really but then again, we needed to do something at that stage to shake things up

Richard Dunne 6

difficult to give more, rude to give less?

Carlos Cuellar 6

difficult to give more, rude to give less?

Stephen Warnock 6

difficult... no, I won't do that again! Good at times but a few poor decisions today as well.

Ashley Young 5

not sure where he is at the moment, looking forward to him hitting his stride though, we need the quality Ash we saw last season. Too harsh?

Stiliyan Petrov 5.5

not as strong today, well not after an hour as he looked shattered. Wouldn't hurt to rest every now and then I'd not have thought? Couple of woeful passes putting pressure straight back on us

James Milner 6

didn't stop running but not one of his most impressive games. Final ball from all the midfielders lacked a great deal today

Stewart Downing 6

involved, but same as the rest, final ball was off

Gabby Agbonlahor 5.5

had to come so deep it was untrue, no real supply for him, one good chance the second half could maybe have been buried but as said, mainly to fault today was supply imho

Emile Heskey 6

got stuck in, few nice flicks, got back and defended as well. No shots sadly but same as Gabby, no supply either

John Carew (on for Heskey 63 mins) 5

Didn't feature really? Supply again?

Fabian Delph (on for Luke Young 76 mins) 5

Silly booking and not a great deal else, difficult to make an impact in a game like this perhaps. You would think that Gardner (not even on the bench) and Hokey Cokey will want out in January though. Got a good future this guy still!

Manager Rating

How do you account for a player like Fabregas on the form he showed today? Not sure what else he could have done, was surprised we didn't try the 5 across midfield but I can understand why he wanted Heskey involved and for the first half we did hold our own. Some will grumble but you have to say we are 4th and in a semi, maybe grumble at the end of the season if we blow it but not now surely!?

The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday December 27 2009

Time: 4:12PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
ok, pick the ratings apart, where do you agree/disagree? Never know how to rate a goalie when we let in a few to be fair!
the fear
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27/12/2009 16:14:00

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
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27/12/2009 16:14:00

About fair Fear, I think. Looked off the pace in the second half. Strange time to give Delph a game but then MON sees them in training and I don't. Yes it was close til Fabricas got started. Slightly concerned that a few heads seemed to go down just before the end and I hope that is not a bad sign before the scouse game.
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27/12/2009 16:20:00

I'd agree, about right, maybe would've given Cuellar 6.5, I thought he did ok today......Also, I'd say the ref was pretty good, people are quick to jump on them when they mess up, but he was pretty fair today. I had a bad feeling about this game today, just hope we can pick ourselves up for Tuesday's game.
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27/12/2009 16:27:00

agree about Halsey, let a few things go and was largely unbiased throughout the game.
the fear
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27/12/2009 16:29:00

I thought it was Phil Dowd? not 100% though :/
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27/12/2009 16:31:00

The key is not to get carried away with recent results & in the same way do not over react to todays result, I dont think we were quite at the races in an atticking sense regerdless of what Fabregas did, but we did get torn to shreds in that 30 mins or so...Will hopefully remind us of the hard work in front of us if we want to get into the top four & kinda hoping this will in effect work in our favour & really fire us up for the pool game, which is a huge match.....
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27/12/2009 16:38:00

Freidel did nothing wrong all game & had to pick the ball out the net 3 times...he even managed a couple of decent saves, but having now read your ratings defined, I agree that is fair...thought Stan was the better of our midfielders for graft & possesion, but agreed he did run out of steam in the end & thought heskey contributed defensively well at times...Gabby did not get much supply but thought he may of held it up better when it did come, got beaten to it a lot quite a few times(bit picky maybe)!!!!
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27/12/2009 16:44:00

Was delph coming on a clue as to who will start in youngy's absence on tue, thats supposing milly will play wide with downing & coker will not be picked right mid...???
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27/12/2009 16:47:00

It was Phil Dowd. He had a great game today. Can't fault your effort today, you looked like you might leave with at least a point, and could've easily nicked one on the break, until a certain Spaniard was introduced. Do you lot still think that Milner, Agbonlahor and Young would get into the Arsenal starting line up though? I hate to sound like a cocky told-you-so, especially as they are players I like, but honestly they only work so well in the context of your own side, for which huge credit must go for MON. Individually, they rarely show the quality to turn a game individually. And apart from that, the formation we play wouldn't suit Young or Agbonlahor. Good luck for the rest of the season (minus Arsenal at Villa Park) anyway, I'd like you to make the top four. I have huge admiration for Villa - a club run properly with a quality, stable manager who gets the best of his side, showing that mindless ins and outs in player personel isn't the only way to break the trend of the "big 4". Deserves major respect.
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27/12/2009 16:50:00

you might hate sounding cocky but it doesn't stop you then?! lol ;o))) Young isn't the finished product and isn't on form at the moment. If he gets back to his form of last year and then starts to improve on that, he can be whatever he wants to be. At the moment he - apart from the odd quality cross - just isn't at the races. Gabby is progressing but again isn't the finished article, just how good he will become I have no idea at all. Milner would however add some grit to the team and I think will be a star for us and could be for anyone. Again, he is only 23 and still learning.

Cheers for comments re: Villa, much like Arsenal I think, run properly so have to agree.
The Fear
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27/12/2009 16:57:00

friedel at 5 is ridiculous considering you gave ash the same... sorry! if we lose tuesday i will cry my eyes out.
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27/12/2009 17:08:00

I struggle to see Young improving his ability to drift into space to get more consistently involved in games, and he also doesn't look comfortable drifting more centrally, which would be a problem with Arsenal's 4-3-3 and makes him a bit predictable, but he could probably improve on that a bit. Agbonlahor just hasn't show a great technical level, and time is against him on that one, as a players technique should be in evidence by the age of 20, even if he struggles to use it effectively. I like Milner, and of the three he would have the best chance of getting games at Arsenal, but his movement isn't all that sharp or subtle and that would let down our style of play, and with the likes of Arshavin, Nasri, Rosicky all able to play on the flanks of the 4-3-3 he wouldn't get much game time. In the midfield duo in front of Song, I would place all of Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey ahead of him in the pecking order. Even though some of them are less rounded than Milner, their atributes all have specific jobs which fit in our side more than Milner's, just as Young, Agbonlahor and Milner have been carefully integrated into yours.
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27/12/2009 17:09:00

Anyway, its all academic and rather pointless, but hey it passes the time until Tuesday!
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27/12/2009 17:10:00

I have to agree with Benji_Starsky, Friedel did make several really good saves before and after the free kick, if not for him it could have been 6-0. Have to agree with everything else Mr Fear! Benji, I'll bring the tissues and weep with you! Hopefully we won't need them. Lol.
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27/12/2009 17:30:00

missed the game, so glad to hear its not all doom and gloom! thanks for the balanced report. This makes Tuesday even more important!
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27/12/2009 17:54:00

My liverpool Uncle was waiting at home for me. Horrid feelings going into Tuesday, but as you said Pete, hopefully we won't need the tissues (not too bad of run after the pool game, might i add).. UTV!
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27/12/2009 18:08:00

Surprised at team selection.Did we get carried away by winning with 4-4-2 at Old Trafford? Also, we only have one days rest before the scouse game, whereas Liverpool have two. I can't see anyway that Downing will be 'fit enough' and we have also now lost Young as well. this is NOT hindsight, but I would have left Downing and Heskey out (then fresh for Tuesday) and played Sidwell and Reo-Coker in a 4-5-1 to deny Arsenal space in midfield. Just like last season. I thought we defended superbly, again, but after the first 35 minutes our passing went astray, and some bloody Spaniard came on the pitch. The main difference between the sides was a truly world class player. Although I believe we have a better team than liverpool, they actually have two world class players. We dont have one! toomuch of a wish for January?
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27/12/2009 18:13:00

can't write a young player who is still learning off ArsenalRob look at how long Theo is taking to become what some said he was at 18? Plenty of time, if he was 25 or older and still not improving then I'd agree.

Not sure re: Friedel, first goal he was slow to and not ready for a quickly (?) taken free kick. Difficult one but at the end of the day 3 in the back of the net it seems hard to give more, however thinking about it, there were a few decent saves made as well but hey ho, as said, I'm never great at goalie ratings! lol

difficult to get world class full stop but getting one in Jan? Tough really, no one in this league will want to sell top quality to us and I doubt others would either?
The Fear
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27/12/2009 18:47:00

(meant dowd for my ref comment by the way, my ability with names diminishes by the month!)
The Fear
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27/12/2009 18:48:00

They say goals change games and i think thats true today with out first. Up until then the game was pretty even with neither team testing each others keepers. I think Friedel was slightly poor with his positioning for the freekick, although i doubt he would of saved it anyway. Good luck for the rest of the season.
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27/12/2009 18:51:00

I'm not writing anyone off, I just don't think they've got what it takes to become the types of players who can propel a team to the title, and doubt they would make the Arsenal team. I personally think the same about Walcott. He's technically unconvincing, is extremely predictable with the ball at his feet, doesn't hold the ball up well and doesn't know how to assert his authority on a game. However, the recent superb form and incredibly sharp rise of footballing maturity of Abou Diaby, who previously seemed completely hapless in 95% of games, shows that vast improvements aren't beyond anybody - if they really put their mind behind it, but I feel Milner is close to his peak (there's nothing he's really bad at, he's harnessed his strengths well), Young is 24 and should be pretty much as mature now as he will be in 3-4 years, and Agbonlahor's style suits Villa so well he has little need to improve his all-round interplay.
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27/12/2009 19:07:00

Bit generous with the ratings, but maybe your a bit more level headed than me (on your criteria I would have given a few 3's). They were all appalling, ok the defence cant be blamed too much because of the midfield and the forwards didnt have the supply but whenever any of those 10 players got the ball they looked nervous and bloody awful, no one comfortable with the ball at their feet and no one willing to find some space to help each other out. Every player seemed to have an inferiority complex especially going forward, which is hard to explain after our great form. But its just one match, a blip, get pi$$$Ed off, play it down and then take it out on the scousers - thats all they need to do. We win on tuesday and all is good again.
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27/12/2009 22:08:00

I think Young resting up wont be a bad thing long term, what I would like to happen is whoever comes in takes his chance. I think maybe Jimmy will go back to the right and Sid/Reo will come in. I never expected to get much at Arsenal but I do expect to get something from the poo! UTV
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27/12/2009 22:58:00

claret, i agree. Young needs to re focus and time out will do him good. I hope we get points from the poo game whilst giving some fringe players a start. Wouldn't like to be MON right now with fitness, selection and formations to pick! Although i would like his salary of course :p
holte ender 1969
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27/12/2009 23:38:00

great thing about footie is that everyone sees a different match. Old Brad kept the score respectable with several good and one great save so would have scored him higher. Heskey and Carew did bugger all, Dunne was immense again and showed real drive even popping up on the left wing at one point. Midfield was pants, Young and Milner both worked hard but were ineffective, Downing tried hard to get into the game and Petrov just went missing.
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29/12/2009 11:28:00

Might seem strange but i'm hoping for a virus that makes Heskey and Carew unavailable for a few weeks. Maybe then MON will have to lose the 1980s hit and hope 4-4-2 style and allow the players to get the ball down and play. If theres a Sky+ box at VP I'd also show the performance of lennon yesterday, he was successful because he was the one collecting the ball at pace on the overlap instead of being the furthest one forward with the full back ovelapping as Ash so frequently is.
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29/12/2009 11:32:00


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