Best thing that can be said about that game is at least we didn’t lose which we so easily could have.
You can write off the first half. Villa were quite frankly pathetic and the tactics from Martin O’Neill with Gabby as the loan striker stank.
This was a game we should have gone for the three points, if we’d started fast and gone for it Bolton would have panicked, they’ve only one win all season under their belt, they have a new manager in after weeks of turmoil and arguments so their confidence would have been low. Instead we sat back and allowed them to dictate the pace of the game and the Villa midfield at times were pedestrian at best.
We HAVE to be doing better against these teams, we simply HAVE to. I’m told there are improvements since O’Neill took over from David O’Leary but for me they are one and the same apart from the fact O’Neill is a nice bloke and the media’s darling as opposed to O’Leary who wasn’t liked and would probably be capable of upsetting his own shadow.
It is no good saying that Villa are in transition, that is just a throwaway excuse, today we weren’t at the races and although we did come out more strongly in the second half, the goal we got was more down to luck and good fortune after the linesman signalled a Bolton throw in only to change his mind and give it (rightly) to Villa. Villa were quick at taking the throw with many Bolton players having their back to play walking up the pitch expecting their own player to take his time and then make the throw in. The ball was swiftly crossed from Gabriel Agbonlahor more at Luke Moore than to him and Luke chested the ball goalwards. 1-1 and so it stayed.
It could have been much worse for Villa. Zat Knight gave away a clumsy free kick for their first goal, gave the ball away cheaply several times and also passed back to Stuart Taylor so weakly that a Bolton player nipped in and possibly should have scored. Diouf also had a good chance when Taylor fumbled the ball. I can’t think of many chances Villa created, in fact the only one of any measure was the one that resulted in a goal.
Ok, we have a point on the road, to draw on our travels isn’t a disaster but the way we played very nearly was. It took Martin O’Neill 45 minutes to figure that his 4, 3, 3 (or more appropriate 4, 3, 2, 1) wasn’t working and changed in the second half to 4-4-2 mystifyingly taking off one of his signings – Shaun Maloney – who did at least try to make a decent chance in the first half. The three man midfield certainly didn’t work, Gareth Barry had an unusually quiet day (although in the first half he did make a timely interception to save a goal), Isaiah Osbourne is simply not ready yet and Stiliyan Petrov, although more lively than he has been of late, is still a very average player (unfortunately not bought at an average price).
You also have to – well you don’t have to but I’m going to – question what an earth he bought Marlon Harewood for because he has hardly used him since his arrival. This looks like yet another total waste of money.
We have Derby County, Birmingham City and Middlesbrough coming up. All very winnable games BUT NOT if we play like we did today.
Villa are mid table and deserve to be. The links for Gareth Barry to Chelsea will grow more and more worrying the longer Aston Villa continue to drift in mediocrity. Time for an improvement. The way things are developing at the moment, Villa will not be worrying the top six for many a long year.
Doesn’t make nice reading, but then it doesn’t make nice viewing. Now I’ll sit back and get slated for being negative no doubt… Slate away!
Stats: Click Here
Stuart Taylor 6
Spilled the ball and nearly cost a goal, could have done better for the Anelka free kick.
Olof Mellberg 5.5
He is so obviously out of position it is almost criminal. Not his fault.
Martin Laursen 6
Not at his best today, gave the ball away cheaply at one point but luckily Bolton didn’t take advantage of his rare error.
Zat Knight 5.5
He was average for Fulham, he is average for us. If he is keeping Curtis Davies out the team, just how bad is Curtis Davies? :o(
Wilfred Bouma 7
Played well today and made some very timely tackles.
Isaiah Osbourne 5.5
Not at the races
Stiliyan Petrov 5.5
I think he has been watching too much rugby as he only seems to be able to pass backwards?
Gareth Barry 6
Quiet day at the office but one very timely interception and he did at least try to get the ball forwards.
Ashley Young 5.5
Average day today, didn’t seem to get the ball as much and wasn’t keen on the strong physical tactics produced by Bolton.
Shaun Maloney 6
Very nearly produced a chance out of nothing, did nothing to deserve being substituted as far as I could see. Still, what do I know!!
Gabriel Agbonlahor 6
Used his speed to decent effect but out muscled. Good bit of opportunist play to lead to the goal. Needs support as he isn’t a lone striker.
Luke Moore (46 on for Shaun Maloney) 6
Scored the goal, what more could you ask. First goal of the season, lets hope it isn’t his last!
Patrik Berger (46 on for Isaiah Osbourne) 4
Truly dire, not up to speed at all and a sorry sight for such a fantastic player.
We are drifting alone with old fashioned football, average purchases (Ashley Young aside) and strange substitutions. Maybe MON had too long out of the game because at the moment this is long ball and average.