Sod the result, that was a great game! Yes, from our first half dominance we could have put the game out of site but then, with the battering possession wise we took in the second half and the fact we went 2-1 behind, we could have so easily lost the game and in seasons gone we would have.
There is a new resilience amongst our team, they are prepared to battle and simply refuse to lose. Fair enough they refuse to win as well, but we’ll ignore that, with the squad and players available and the fact we all know Martin O’Neill hasn’t had the chance to spend many pennies (or is it cents) yet, we are doing great.
I agreed with my mates (yes, I do have some, well I say mates, more like paid friends really, but you get the picture) that top ten would do this season and yet now we have ‘slipped’ to seventh we are all disappointed. If not for a few wasted opportunities (West Ham, Watford and Blackburn spring to mind) we could easily be 3rd. With a tough December and early January fixture list, we certainly could have done with picking up a few more points, the higher we are in the league the easier it will be for O’Neill to attract top players, although players aren’t stupid, they will know there is a revolution at Villa, the Villa of old (or the old Ellis Villa) is history. This is a new era.
So yes, we could have picked up all the points last night if we’d taken the chances in the first half, credit has to go to their keeper Paddy for pulling off some fine saves, and bad luck to Gary Cahill who just couldn’t get a full contact on a great pass to guide the ball into the net. The second half it was a different story with credit going to Villa keeper Stuart Taylor who pulled off some stunning saves, one a double save that looked sure to be a goal. Just got to hope he isn’t badly injured after he clashed knees with a blade, if he is we will be using Villa’s 20-year-old Robert Olejnik against Bolton on Saturday against Bolton.
The great thing about the game is that it was played in a great battling spirit, probably a reflection on two battling managers. Our first goal was within two minutes as Petrov at last got on the score sheet. That should help settle the player down who was, albeit quiet at times, quality last night. He still isn’t great at battling but playmakers often aren’t.
The second half Sheffield United got back into it with some unusually sloppy marking by our mean defence, hopefully Mellberg shaving his beard off didn’t adversely affect his team mates, I fear it did (that said I still fear Rudolph the Red nose reindeer, trust me, anything with a red nose is either an alcoholic or the devils spawn). When Webber, who was about to be subbed, scored a second for the Blades Bramall Lane erupted and I must admit, I thought we’d lost the game.
80 seconds later all was even as Baros got the ball IN THE BOX and forced home a well taken shot. See, you get the ball to him where it matters and he will score. Sod about with long balls when he has the back to defenders and he’ll do nothing. It isn’t always the strikers faults, not completely. That said, I was surprised he was on in place of Angel who had scored as sub in the last game and does do more legwork for the team. Great goal, hopefully confidence restored and all this rubbish about him not scoring for eight months, he was injured and there was the summer break during that time!
Match stats: Click Here
Stuart Taylor 9
Kept us in the game during the second half and some mighty fine saves.
Wilfred Bouma 8
MUCH better last night and some good crosses. He went off on 67mins with an injury, lets hope he gets a bit of luck as he hasn’t had much since joining Villa, hopefully he’ll be back for Saturday.
Olof Mellberg 7
Still better centrally and worried he has cut his beard off, who will win the coveted Vital Villa beard of the season awards if he doesn’t grow it back!?
Gary Cahill 7
mixed, some of his tackles got us into trouble free kick wise but still doing great judging by his comparative lack of experience, so nearly scored as well. A player who will be in the Villa team for years.
Liam Ridgewell 7
all round decent performance, failed to clear for the one goal but hey ho, he isn’t superman!
Gavin McCann 6
battled fairly well but the midfield was over run in the second half.
Steven Davis 6
Gabriel Agbonlahor 6
was supplied with the ball so much, shame as I’d like to have seen his pace frighten the Blades defenders.
Stiliyan Petrov 7
good goal, great free kick, some decent crosses, hopefully starting to settle in.
Chris Sutton 7
made a pest of himself and was always in the mix. Looked shattered when he came off, you can’t ask for more than that. Very unlucky not to have scored with a glancing header that hit the crossbar and bounced back out.
Milan Baros 7
didn’t contribute a great amount but contributed a great goal, that is what he is there for and so job done.
Aaron Hughes (on for injured Bouma 67)
Struggled to get up to speed in an end to end game after being off for a while with an injury.
Isaiah Osbourne (on for Davis 75)
not sure, didn’t notice a great deal right or wrong.
got stuck in, well his elbow did anyway.
Jonny Fear (on during his dream)
Scored the winner for Villa but should have had some clothes on, the cold weather really did him no favours.