Date: 11th September 2006 at 10:32am
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Aston Villa are back in the lime light under Martin O’Neill and rightly so. Not only are we back in the lime light but we are also back to being a very difficult team to break down and beat and one that can now take comfort in the fact that we can compete with ANY team on our day.

Fine, we are still short of bodies and I’m sure that Martin O’Neill would love to have had time to bring in a few more signings before the transfer window closed, but WAHEY (copyright John Cresswell) to the arrival of Stiliyan Petrov (Stan) as his debut was nothing short of majestic.

Happy days indeed, yesterdays game showed that there is no reason why we shouldn’t be in the top half of the table and compete for Europe ‘Why not?’ said Petrov when asked adding ‘We all have dreams and want to follow our dreams. We can work hard, hope everyone stays fit and see what happens.’

Villa came flying out of the blocks yesterday and were soon a goal up thanks to quick thinking and determined finishing by Liam Ridgewell. He really is coming on leaps and bounds so far this season looking far more Premiership quality each game he plays. There might be a lesson there for the boo boys who want the youth players to come through and then don’t give them a chance when they make mistakes?!

The rest of the half belonged to Villa apart from one moment of madness from Thomas Sorenson when he gifted Harewood (or was it Zamora?!) the ball in the box only for the Hammers striker to miss a golden opportunity to draw level.

Angel hit the crossbar twice during the game, he needs that slice of striker luck now as he is certainly back and buzzing despite playing up front on his own with Moore and Agbonlahor being utilised more as attacking wingers or support strikers. The formation was interesting with Mellberg taking the right back slot, Laursen and Ridgewell in the centre and Gareth Barry dropping back to left back. That made room for Davis and McCann to remain in the line up AND for Petrov to make his debut – and what a debut! If only his deft flick over Roy Carrol had gone in he’d have been contender for the goal of the month if not the season. A majestic touch that reminded me of Paul Merson at his very best. How that was cleared off the line is anyone’s guess, shame because that would have been game over!

In the second half Villa became ragged for a 25-30 minute period and Gabby and Luke Moore especially looked knackered. During that time Bobby Zamora popped up with a lucky (!) deflected goal but even then I couldn’t see Villa losing the game, they have far more steel these days. Towards the end Villa rallied and made a few other chances, with a cross by Gabby only inches away from being knocked in by a couple of Lions, but it wasn’t to be and despite having the best chances, the honours were shared. Alan Pardew must have been the happier manager with the draw, he knew despite them having the lions share (or should that be the Irons share?) of possession, that Villa were the better team on the day.

Match stats: murph says:

Fear im sorry but Baros? It was easy to moan about him. Everyone else has been able to display a bit of fight early on. He didn’t try. The 11th man on the pitch in body only.

  • Was Petrov really that good? I mean, fair enough, you were at the ground and you can see more from there…but…he was surely too rusty to warrant a 10. Are you not, perhaps, getting a trifle carried away?

  • I thought Petrov was terrific. His work rate is amazing and he makes shed loads of runs off the ball. Particular mention must be made of Martin Laursen who looked excellent, and Im just wondering whether MON might continue with that selection in defence i

  • no surprise about mellburg playing right back – thats where he started out with sweden in his early days.angel looks like the player we all knew he was and still can be, dominant in the air and maybe with a little bit of luck he would have had a hatrick.p

  • Agree with you there Andrew, Laursen looked very strong. Amazing to think he almost jacked it in with his injuries. Petrov looked good to me, he always wanted the ball, and seemed to have urgency running through his veins at times. All good stuff, and h

  • Yesterday I felt like 2 points dropped, but before the game i’d still have taken the point from an away game. Have to admit its nice to see Villa still pushing on, firstly after taking a lead and secondly after conceding a goal, last season we either tri

  • so thats aresenal at there new ground and the hammers and there new signings. are we the prems new party poopers?

  • Has anyone else noted that Mcant is now playing like Mcann. He battled well all day and seems to have the fight back him in. I echo positive comments on Laursen and Petrov also. Leave Baros alone he is just a bit lacking in match fitness (lets get behind

  • Isn’t it fantastic, we’re moaning about 2 points lost when we played AWAY to a team we lost 4-0 to last season and with only one new player (ok 2 with Laursen) Is this really Aston Villa? I love it!!!! :o))))))))

  • A good performance but only downside is we should have won the game comfortably. Agree with posters that the back 4 generally looked very good. If – big if – we keep Laursen fit I would keep Mellberg at RB and I thought Barry had a great game.

  • Baros has been injured for the best part of four months. He has not played any reserve games and only had a 60 minute run out in a behind the scenes friendly against Lincoln. I can not believe fans moaning after less than 10 minutes. What are you lot on??

  • We made more passes in that game than in the whole of last season! Players were hungry and wanted the ball. Just a bit concerned about the 2 wingers, Moore and Gabby. Gabby had 2 markers which is a sign teams are worried about him Just hope he’s savvy

  • well put, “voice of the holte” its not just upto the players to produce and the owners to buy.take a look at newcastle who wouldnt even win an egg and spoon race…they still manage to raise the roof and as a result still manage to attract quality players

  • Baros has been sidelined for months with his troublesome foot imjury, back on the pitch two minutes and the moaners have to start. Pathetic. Even had a customer this morning I was calling on start complaining about Baros, and his not interested attitude e

  • we’ve had 24 years of moaning, you would have thought we’d be bored of it by now, rome wasn’t built in a day. small heath was though.

  • I’m with the voice on this one – look what MON did for Larson – so give BAROS time to get fit and he’ll be the terror of the EPL

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