Writer: J P Fear
Date:Sunday February 21 2010
Attendance: 38 709
I think Martin O'Neill can do my talking for me today....!
He said: 'I thought we started pretty slowly. We didn't get into gear, we were sluggish. In a game where expectation was very high, with us trying to win, to come from behind was very pleasing.'
Nicely put by MON, we were very slow in the 1st half, there was no urgency or tempo, second half we had a spell that just ripped the guts out of Burnley though and with another 3 points on the table, all is well!
Ok, some will point to the performance and I must admit, the first half - not sure anyone who was there or who was watching on tv could really argue with this - was a yawnfest. Something about Sunday early kick offs do that I think, the crowd were quiet, the players sluggish (copyright MON) and possibly with one eye on Wembley - and even Martin O'Neill was less animated that usual.
The goal Burnley got wasn't exactly a shock, I assume they'd been told to try to come out of the blocks quickly and although it is unusual to say this, maybe our defence were slightly switched off for it? They certainly were for the second Burnley goal right at the end but hey, we had already ripped them apart by then so apart from statistics for the defenders and goalie, it didn't matter greatly.
If you play badly and win, whether by one goal or three, then at the end of the day, you have won and the points are on the table (I'm a bright guy you'll notice!) so although some will moan about the lack of entertainment etc, the only job any manager has is to get those three points. Now fair enough, if we'd come out losers with that performance, the criticism would be more than fair, especially against a Burnley team who only have one point away from home so far this season.
However, we did win, we ripped Burnley apart in a 15 minute spell just as they had started to push us at the start of the second half. Once they had to push forward to try to equalise, they were done for and our classic counter attacking football tore the guts out of them. I fear for them, their home form alone surely can't keep them up?
Ashley Young got the first to equalise before half time, to go in 1-1 after a very flat half wasn't a bad thing really, the way Burnley started the second half I did fear more of the same but then up popped Stewart Downing, who had looked a little short of confidence in the previous few games and especially after missing two great chances at Villa Park a few weeks back. A brace (the second deflected but will still go down as his goal for certain) in two mins will surely set him up nicely now for the rest of the season?!
Then good old Emile - who got some loud cheers from the Villa faithful - put the game out of reach of Burnley before Gabby popped up with a goal, was that off his backside!? Will see on the replay. A slight worry is he has picked up a knock but hopefully it will be nothing serious, maybe a rest mid-week will be in order to ensure he is fit for the Wembley final next Sunday?
All in all, to play that badly for such a long period and then to rip an opponent apart isn't the worst thing that can happen, lets just not try the same against Crystal Palace or Manchester United next week eh lads?!
As Carlos Cuellar just said on Facebook - and yes, I do realise how sad that sounds - 'bad day, great 3 points'
Nicely put King Carlos, nicely put.
No player ratings this week, all too confusing to attempt as the first half not one would have been much above 5 really but the second half a good few came into their own and chances were taken when presented!
Special mention to James Collins who had an awful gash on his head but still came out and put his head in where it hurts... ouch!
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Date:Sunday February 21 2010
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