Aston Villa - early season form

First time this season that I saw the Villa in the flesh last nite and I was seriously impressed. You always learn a lot more about players when you see them live so I was interested to see the form of some of our new players. we passed the ball really well and looked dangerous throughout the game. the 2-1 scoreline flattered spurs who were useless.
friedel was solid enough. still not in the form of last season tho. but he is getting there i reckon. luke young had a fine game. he is quick, good in the air, strong in the tackle and can use the ball pretty well. id say he will improve too when milner gets the right wing place as reo coker isnt as comfortable on the ball. last year against spurs we were annihilated by bale down our right but we were far more comfortable last nite. laursen and davies in particular defended well. cuellar will have work to do to get his place. shorey was piss poor tho and a liability for the whole game. granted he is decent on the ball but every time lennon ran at him he caused problems. with ashley young playing in front of him he isnt going to get much protection son he would want to improve pretty rapidly. he hardly blocked a cross all night aswell.
in midfield reo coker was much better than usual. scoring prob his first goal for the villa but he was decent all through. MON is going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later tho and move him into the centre as we didnt spend 12m on milner to have him on the bench. gareth barry was outstanding for villa and totally dominated the midfield. his passing was excellent and was at the heart of most of our good moves. petrov was also suprisingly good tho he tired towards the end. he was a lot better on the ball than i expected but prob should have been replaced near the end as he was running on empty. ashley young was excellent and had corluka in huge trouble all through. he floated some brilliant balls into the box. carew dominated woodgate in the air and held the ball up well. gabby’s workrate needs to improve but still having that pace up front is some asset.

all i can say is i hope john carews injury aint bad as his replacement “the hare” is without doubt one of the most useless players to ever have played for the club. the tap in he somehow managed to fuck up was comical. his lack of workrate and brain arent tho. the sooner we get a proper 3rd choice striker the better as it looks like we may have to go to 4-5-1 if carew is out.

for the spuds, their keeper bar the fuck up for the goal was pretty good. he made a few top class saves. corluka was showing the effects of 2 games in the past wk and was made look very ordinary. michael dawson confirmed to me that he is a worse defender than john o shea. the asgard would still prob turn faster. i expected a lot more of woodgate. bale and lennon were their 2 best players. bent was woeful as was the russian. the three boys they brought on all made a decent impact and ramos clearly played into villa’s hands with his line up. modric a defensive playmaker was playing left wing. there aren’t too many worse midfield partnerships than huddlestone and zokora so he would want to change that quickly. zokora really is pants


You might be waiting a while for Reo-Coker to move inside. MON doesn’t like to rush these things.

Ashley Young is some player actually - thought he was massively overpriced when he went to Villa but he has a cracking mix of beating a player and superb crossing to go with it when most wingers can do the first (Duff) or the second (Guppy, Downing) or neither (Kuyt) but not both.

Also Young is pretty close to being two footed, so he’s nigh on impossible to shut down.

Agbonlahor was decent last night, but Reo Coker is a greedy fuck, shoulda played him in that time in the second half.

MON has done a nice job with Villa, he’s spent a bit, but he’s put together a nice team there. Problem is their bench is still pretty shit.

Serious pace in that Villa side though, and pace is a massive weapon in the Premier League. They’ll do well.

I think pace is one of their key strengths and cesc4, Jugs and I were discussing it while watching the second half of the game last night. Realistically, they won’t be able to sign the same quality of player as top 4 teams. So next best thing is to get players with good ability but who also have lots of pace. They can threaten down the flanks with Young and down the channels and over the top with Agbonlahor. They can go direct via Carew and they have a decent central midfield and good centre back options. I like Luke Young as a player and think he’ll be good for them - I think last season they were playing Mellberg or Gardner right back and neither was comfortable there. Shorey is painfully slow and somehow built a reputation as an international quality left back on the back of 3 decent months for Reading 2 years ago.

What’s the story with Petrov these days KIB Man? I know he was very poor initially but I read reports of him finally settling down in the latter half of last season. He played one sensational first time pass to Agbonlahor with the outside of his foot in the second half. I don’t rate Reo-Coker at all though I didn’t see his first half goal. His poor passing and option taking were noticeable in the second half though.

As for Spurs, some turnover of players this summer. The commentator said they’ve spent 67m and got in 79m! I disagree totally on Aaron Lennon. He is a woeful footballer in my opinion. I was saying how important pace is earlier on but that’s under the proviso that you actually have some ability and game intelligence too, like Ashley Young. However, Lennon has searing pace and that’s about it. His delivery is poor, his decison making and positional sense are poor. He’s just crap. Agreed on Dawson though - he’s rank.

petrov has been crap for the last 2 seasons with the odd good game thrown in. martin o’ neill has tried to transform him into a defensive minded midfielder rather than the tim cahill esque player he was at celtic. gareth barry cant defend so it makes sense to play him closer to the front players. petrov had a good game in fairness last night. especially in the first half. but long term reo coker is a far better tackler, better stamina and could protect the back 4 better. on the other hand petrov would be a lot better on the ball. reo coker badly struggles in this regard particularly when we are playing average teams at home where his limitations on the ball are more apparent. i like reo coker’s attitude tho. he isnt throwing a hissy fit despite MON playing him out of position including right back a few times. on last night’s performance i would think he is improving on the ball. he had a very good game against liverpool aswell. steve sidwell is still to come into contention in the middle once he recovers from injury. think we have 8 games in the next 26 days so he is bound to get a chance to impress.

your being very harsh on lennon bandage. he made a serious impact on the 2006 world cup when only young. his form has suffered a bit since but last nite he beat shorey continously all night. some of his crossing wasnt great but he put some decent balls in aswell. he is very dangerous on the counter attack. probably just needs a bit more belief in himself.

ashley young has been an inspired signing by MON and still has scope to improve. two footed with serious pace. well able to shoot and an excellent crosser with both feet. he is pretty good on the set pieces aswell. he could do with bulking up a small bit as he can lose the ball sometimes. great player to have in your fantasy league team. think he was second after fabregas with assists last season

Just to point out a couple of things about Petrov.

He was a defensive midfielder when Celtic signed him and after playing a few games there and plenty more at right back (like Keane’s start at Man United) he eventually found a place in the middle of the park. MON tended to go for a 3-5-2 in the early years and so with Lambert and Lennon behind him Petrov was entitled to push forward all the time.

That all settled down a bit once we went 4-4-2 (just before Seville) and from then on Petrov became a much better player. He did everything you’d want/expect of a midfielder both offensively and defensively and was incredibly fit. So surprised to hear that you think Reo-Coker has more stamina. Either injuries have caught up on Petrov (and he played through an awful lot of them with Celtic) or he’s turned a small bit lazy. But he had phenomenal stamina at Celtic and played 90 minutes of every game every week.

Reo-Coker might be a better shield for the back 4 because his natural inclination is to sit there - I don’t know - but in terms of talent and ability he doesn’t lack in tackling or stamina.

I wasn’t too happy with him for leaving, more to do with timing than anything and a seeming apathy, but in fairness to him he played his heart out for Celtic, played out of position for at least a year, played on one leg for about four months and signed a contract extension so we could get a fee. I’d like to see him do well for himself.

Ah, I won’t change my mind on Lennon! I think he’s one of these ridiculously over-hyped English players and I couldn’t believe he was near the England squad for that World Cup. But then again, England have been rubbish for a good few years. bar their latest victory, so it’s maybe not all that surprising he was included. I don’t recall him making a serious impact in the tournament either though he came on for Beckham a few times. As for beating Shorey, I think Shorey’s painfully slow so anyone with pace, like Lennon, should beat him all ends up. It’s just that to me Lennon doesn’t have the ability or intelligence to deliver the ball into the right areas. I think he’s criminally bad but we’ll wait and see how he progresses!

i’ll hold any judgement on Villa…Spurs were truly atrocious…Villa still only managed to win by a goal…Spurs cud be fcuked as they don’t have one player who’d stand up in a relegation dogfight and looked leaderless last night…

spurs were atrocious but villa still played very well. we missed three absolute sitters. barry’s header was from about 3 yards out - great save, gabby had another great headed chance - another super save. harewood missed a tap in. a couple of 3v2 were fucked up in the second half too. arsenal, united or chelsea would have given spurs a real hiding last night but im happy with the 3 points.

despite being leaderless spurs will easily survive. they need to change their formation around tho as they aint got any midfielder who can tackle. based on last nite i would change it around to the below.

gunter-woodgate-king(if fit)/corluka-bale
lennon-pavluchenko-dos santos.

if modric is injured they could bring in bentley. o hara aint great but he is better than zokora at least

It was funny listening to the English commentators slating Gomez for doing what Robinson did on a weekly basis last season.

Uefa Cup

had a day off today so watched the mighty villa in action. ive a feeling this uefa cup is going to be painful until after the group stages.

a pretty atrocious performance in bulgaria today but a 3-1 win so we should be through. it was far from easy tho. cuellar made his debut. gardner started and villa employed a 451 formation. it was clear early on that the players were a bit tired from monday nite and also that the formation was taking time to get used to. the pitch was very heavy so passing was difficult. the bulgarians started well and have the usual couple of handy brazilians. they took the lead after about 10 mins. reo coker was incorrectly penalised for winning the ball at the end of the box. a decent free kick was swung in but no one got a touch. brad friedel was stuck to the ground as the ball bounced passed him. shocking goal keeping. he has been poor for villa so far. the rest of the half was bossed by lovech. milner looked dangerous at times but gabby didnt seemed half arsed up front and struggled tohold the ball up. barry like gabby didnt try a leg in the first half. craig gardner was embarassingly bad. i have often said that joe gamble is better than him and im sticking to it. MON has just given him a 4 year contract aswell. lovech missed a good chance to make it 2-0 before their keeper made an absolute howler and reo coker tapped into an empty net. somehow it was 1-1 and with an away goal it was looking good at half time.
second half continued with lovech again looking decent on the ball. their number 8 thom was causing problems in midfield. game was over tho as one of the lovech defenders stupidly rugby tackled gabby to the ground and got a second yellow. MON finally found sense and took off the gardener and put on harewood. from then on it was pretty comfortable. the second lovech defender was sent off for handball as harewood was heading into the net . barry stuck the penalty and at 2-1 we were through. misfit routledge and salifou were brought on for last 15 mins. petrov who was probably villa’s best player scored a third in injury time. first time ive seen him in the opposition box in quite a while. 3-1 we were home and hosed but some of the players looked very tired at the end and west brom wont have a better chance to beat villa at the wkend.
friedel made a huge mistake for the goal and his kicking isnt that great. luke young again had a fine game. cuellar made a couple of positional mistakes but looks quick and looks very good on the ball. davies would seem to have a better physical presence tho. laursen was ok. made his usual couple of mistakes. shorey was very poor again. his crossing was terrible and his defending even worse. really slow. gardner isnt even eircom lg standard he really is that bad. started on the right, moved to left midfield and ended in the centre. hard to know which position he was worse in. barry was poor and didnt seem too bothered. petrov despite looking tired was our best player. he won a good few tackles and used the ball well. reo coker was ok. milner did some good things but will take time to settle. gabby’s workrate was non existent. he still has a hell of a lot to learn. routledge and salifou both poor when introduced. harewood was ok tho. set up two goals when he came on

West Brom away

a third away trip in less than a week for the villa on sunday morning. a hot day and a first derby of the season meant that i felt that we would do well to get a point. team was along expected lines. carew came back up front, davies replaced cuellar. milner still not starting.
as expected the game started at a really fast tempo. west brom do play some real nice football. however they are as porous as limestone at the back. john carew scared the west brom defenders and for a while could do what he liked. he was actually pretty poor at heading the ball before he came to villa so it does prove that players can actually improve certain skills if they apply themselves - take note robbie keane who continues to pull out of every header he attempts.
i always felt we looked very dangerous on the counter attack. west brom lack a bully in midfield. petrov again had a fine game. he was superior again to the disapointing gareth barry in many aspects. barry’s interrupted pre season seems to have affected his stamina. he certainly looked more sluggish than normal. reo coker continues to perform well out of position. i really like his attitude. ashley young continues to deliver. even if he is not playing well you can still expect some great crosses and free kicks to be won in dangerous areas. sunday was also the best we defended all season. their goal came about from a horrendous friedel error. again he still hasnt settled. shorey should have cleared it in any case. in fairness tho shorey had one of his better games for us. he was unlucky to be subbed in what only can be described as a bizarre MON substitution. with about 15 mins to go. he takes off shorey and puts on milner. luke young who was having another fine game at right back was moved to left back, reo coker moved to right back and milner on the right of midfield. with the villa only 2-1 up i thought this was a suicidal mistake but we held on comfortably. why didnt he just take off barry and put on milner tho?
west brom for all their nice football created precious little. another mistake from barry almost let luke moore in but that was it. their strikers are poor and while they play some nice stuff in midfield they never had someone who was going to get beyond the strikers and cause us problems. the game should have been a lot more comfortable for us. carew saw two great attempts hit the post and go out and carson made a few other good saves. bit like spurs last monday in that a third would have killed the game off a lot earlier. but its another three points on the road and onwards and upwards for the villa.

The fact that I am begining to dislike Aston Villa is a testament to their success.


i didnt see the sunderland game. a comfortable 2-1 win tho and a welcome 3 points after a disastrous home defeat to QPR in the carling cup. a handy game against lovech on thursday when MON rested 6 players meant the villa were in buoyant form heading to chelsea yesterday. thats where this thread kick off again as i went to the bridge yesterday for the first time in 12 years. we won 2-1 that time with goals from milosevic and yorke and its fair to see i was confident of getting a decent result against a weakened chelsea.
an early carew header had us briefly excited. good chance too after an excellent young delivery. but chelsea were dominating particularly in midfield where frank lampard was outstanding early on. chelsea had a half chance when anelka got through but he dragged it wide with his left. joe cole also was having joy against shorey and missed a decent chance. villa were really struggling at this stage, being run ragged in midfield. curtis davies was having a night mare at centre half. blaming all those around him aswell. i was impressed with anelka’s movement. he would probably be more of a threat if he stayed closer to the goal but he tends to drop too deep on occasion. boswinga who was excellent for chelsea delivered a cross for lampard who somehow headed wide with the goal at his mercy. that prompted a couple of nervous looks at the clock but half time was still a long way off and we were struggling. chelsea finally got the goal their play deserved after brilliant play by lampard, cole finished well high into the net. davies was continuing to make mistake after mistake but to be fair chelsea were playing some great stuff. we were hoping to hold on until half time but the clock wasnt ticking any faster. anelka crashed one off the bar after another davies mistake with friedel well beaten. ballack also tested friedel on a couple of occasions. just before the break chelsea effectively killed the game when anelka tapped home after friedel had made a couple of good blocks.

MON at least was pro active in his subs. davies has had a fine season so far but was shipped off at the break with cuellar coming on. milner was introduced for luke young who was actually villa’s best defender. reo coker went back to right back. anelka went off thankfully to be replaced by some young lad di santo. cuellar it has to be said was a huge improvement. he made one unbelievable tackle on lampard when he was clean through. pretty handy on the ball and good at heading it. his task was made easier by anelka going off but MON has a tough decision to make. not his strong point either. he tends to fudge them ie move reo coker or barry to full back. gabby to the wing etc. we had a decent spell for about 20 mins after half time. but didnt create too many good chances. milner was lively and reo coker was doing well at right back strangely. chelsea still had a few half chances tho. ballack was excellent after the break while mikel mopped up everything. im not a fan of either joe cole or malouda but they even looked good yesterday. cole went off limping as kalou came on. he was handy aswell. villa’s best chance of the game was midway through the half after gabby got between cech and terry and crossed across the six yard box but carew didnt anticipate and the chance was gone. chelsea closed out the game comfortably.

for villa, friedel made some good saves but was parrying everything which made for a few lucky escapes. laursen wasnt bad. shorey was ok at times but going backwards he struggles. midfield tho was the problem. i remain to be convinced that our midfield is set up correctly. reo coker on the right wing was only a temporary measure and after this game need to be abandoned. he provided little or no protection to young. was all over the place on the ball and postionally. he improved a lot at right back. petrov was ok but hasnt the stamina or strength to be a good defensive midfielder. barry was brutal. mikel for chelsea gave a masterful display on playing in front of the back4 so sidwell may still get in. for chelsea, lampard and ballack were best. in hindsight playing just petrov and barry (both slow) against the chelsea 3 was a mistake. MON tried to rectify this midway through the first half but gabby didnt really try much on the right. one thing chelsea may lack is a wide man with burning speed. on the counter attack they didnt punish villa as they should have and that may count against them in playing better sides.

Early substitutions from MON yesterday and that’s a bit unusual for him.

Didn’t see any of the game but that’s disappointing for Villa - not just that they lost but that they were comprehensively outplayed according to every report.

Don’t know what he’ll do know about the Milner/Reo-Coker and the Davies/Cuellar situation. The first one is just typical MON - he knows what he should do and he knows what the ultimate solution needs to be but he waits for ages before making the change. And putting Reo-Coker at right back was a fudge alright as you called it. Haven’t seen enough of the centre halves to know who’s doing well there but I think he’ll be brave enough about making that call. He wasn’t shy about dropping defenders at Celtic I don’t think, just really painfully slow at putting midfielders in their correct positions.

i didnt see the 0-0 draw against pompey. MON had a bizarre team out that day with cuellar and barry as full backs? anyway tonight the former european giants ajax amsterdam came to villa park for the first game of the group stage of the uefa cup.

villa park was absolutely hopping and it was clear from the first few minutes that this game would be taken a hell of a lot seriously than the last few european games. ajax are far from the side they once were but still a decent game was still a strong possibility.

the game started at a frantic pace. john carew was absent through illness so villa played a 4-5-1 formation with barry supporting gabby, young and shorey returning at full back while a big selection call finally from o neill, cuellar ahead of davies. early on milner and young in particular were on fire out wide. young had the beating of their desperate right back throughout. an early breakthrough came from a set piece, no suprise, young with the delivery and laursen with the header, 1-0. at this stage we looked rampant. some excellent deliveries going into the box. gabby holding the ball up well and barry playing cleverly in an attacking role.

however ajax equalised against the run of play with a fantastic header from vermalen after a corner. suddenly ajax were transformed with suarez having joy against shorey, while in midfield reo coker was looking lost with all the one touch passing going on around him. but with the likes of young and milner, villa are always a danger on the counter attack. so it proved just before half time, young again drove down the line and clipped a ball back with his left foot. the ajax defence only cleared as far as gareth barry who calmy stroked it home. 2-1 at half time.

the second half struggled to reach the heights of the first half. the villa attacking players milner, young, agbonlahor and barry were still looking dangerous. ajax suprisingly withdrew the dangerous suarez but emanuelson grew into the game on the left. huntelaar was left isolated though and to be fair they never really looked liked equalising.

gabby should have had a penalty as his shirt was clearly tugged back in the box. villa showed their inexperience though in the past 20 mins. instead of closing the game out by passing the ball through midfield we relied on the same helter skelter approach. petrov and reo coker in particular struggled to get their foot on the ball as we panicked in getting the ball forward at every opportunity. ajax took advantage of this and friedel did well to save a cracking shot from emanuelson. however that was the only save he was forced to make.

laursen beat huntelaar to every ball in the air and cuellar justified his inclusion ahead of davies with a fine display. he is far better on the ball than davies and impressively quick and decisive. luke young again had a fine game and supported milner well. shorey got better as the game went on. probably his best game. he also got forward well. barry was my man of the match. thought he was excellent. i still have stamina doubt with petrov but he did well in the main. young was outstanding in the first half and milner looked dangerous.

the only black mark for villa was a nasty looking injury to agbonlahor in injury time. MON decision to bring on craig gardner ahead of sidwell was disapointing. gardner is rank. reo coker was pissed off getting called ashore but he didnt do enough for me and he is going to have to improve quickly to retain his place.

for ajax, huntelaar didnt really hold the ball up that well. dont think he would really have impressed on that showing. their left back vermaelen though is one for the scout book. he had a great battle with milner. quick, good on the ball, agressive and decisive. i think he is one to look out for.

next up wigan away on sunday.

Did Evander Sno play for Ajax KIB?

no was on the bench but didnt make an appearance.

saw a bit of the game tonight. villa appeared to be a well motivated side who tried to take the game to ajax even when they were in front. from the bits I saw wouldn’t say barry was excellent. pulled out of one tackle that he could have easily won by trying to flick it around ajax player. would have annoyed me had he been an ireland/celtic player. wouldn’t doubt petrov’s stamina kib. had a great engine on him a few years back anyway, heard a bit of talk before the game about how it was great to have european football back at villa park but i saw a few empty seats there tonight. did seem like a decent atmosphere though.

id say some fans were scared off by the utter muck served up in the uefa cup qualifying games. the first half was excellent and 36,000 still aint a bad crowd. barry used the ball cleverly at all times, scored a goal and was involved in most things that were positive about the villa. i remember that one he pulled out of alright. he cant tackle anyway but he got stuck in every other time.
petrov doesnt seem to finish out the 90 mins any time I have watched him for villa. to be fair he was pretty good tonight. he could have looked for the ball a little more in the last 15 minutes tho and spread it around a bit more.