Date: 4th November 2007 at 4:14pm
Written by:

What a difference three points make!

This wasn’t the prettiest of games, but then again it was never going to be with Derby struggling for any sort of form and obviously being told to battle away and if in doubt, kick the opponent over! The difference between this uninspiring Premiership fodder and the weekend before v Bolton is we got the chances and took them, three points, job done in a professional if not dazzling display.

The first half was a virtual write off, Derby packed the midfield and despite a few valiant attempts, including a five minute period where it was almost ping pong in the Derby box when anything could have happened and we were unlucky not to get a goal, we just could not break them down.

Off the Villa boys trundled to a chorus of rather harsh boos and moans. We weren’t THAT bad, we just weren’t that good. It isn’t always easy to get anything from a team in so much trouble and lets face it, the Rams are really in trouble, good manager and spirit or not, this team are heading straight back to the Championship which is a shame as that is one less space for Blues to fill in the bottom three!!!

I couldn’t quite figure whether the first 45 minutes was going to prove to be our good or bad half, as we do only seem able to play one decent half per game, if we ever suss the 90 minute duration we could well be laughing. Luckily the second half bore the fruits we were so desperate for and once again Martin Laursen came to the Villa’s rescue knocking in the ball from close range. This man really is a class above most players at Villa and long may he remain in the claret and blue! The second goal just four minutes later came from Ashley Young. A much deserved goal it was, as he had been battered throughout the game and unlike at Bolton where he seemed to go missing slightly , this time he remained in the thick of the action. Unfortunately not long after he had to come off with a groin strain, hopefully he’ll be fit for next weekends derby against Blues as we need our best to be at their best.

From 2-0 up there was never any chance of Derby getting anything out of the game and so it proved. Villa basically controlled from start to finish and the stats bear that out as we had 65% of the possession.

The one funny part was at the end, Olof Mellberg was about to be subbed with Curtis Davies coming on for a few minutes but up popped Zat Knight who called to the bench ‘excuse me, I’ve got cramp and need to come off’. The ladies who sit behind me thought he said ‘excuse me, I’m crap and need to come off’. Bit of a harsh rating! That said, and he has talked about it himself today, he does have these lapses of concentration and those lapses – like against Manchester United – prove very costly. I’m sure Gary Cahill didn’t have them? Hmmm.

So, Villa are 9th, they needed the points to basically remain where they were and 9th thus far is about right as we do tend to blow hot and cold. I’ll never get used to this long ball and at times yesterday when we played the ball on the ground, we looked very comfortable. Not easy when you are running up against old war horses like Darren Moore but with a bit more composure and some clinical finishing, Villa could start to really look the part.

If we can stay in or around that area leading up to the transfer window and IF we can do some serious business in January, then things might just click for us and Europe won’t be out of the question. If we can’t bring in new players then I’d not bet on us being much higher than 9th unless Big John Carew can a) get fit b) live up to his reputation c) start banging them in for fun. If he does that then happy days all round. Fingers cross January will bring us what we need.

Player Ratings

Scott Carson
difficult to rate as he had little to do.

Wilfred Bouma 6
doing well at the moment.

Martin Laursen 8
man of the match by some distance.

Zat Knight 5.5
those lapses could have proved costly as he got caught out a few times.

Olof Mellberg 6
still doesn’t look that comfortable at right-back, always made a good pairing with Laursen in the middle.

Ashley Young 7
does get battered about as defenders are scared of his pace, well taken goal and some good crosses.

Stiliyan Petrov 6
what an enigma. He did better today, a few glimpses of what could be, but also gives the ball away far too easily. I’d still have Gardner in his place but lets face it, it doesn’t matter a jot what I’d have done now does it?! OR to save me being slated for being negative. 10 out of 10, world class, we should pay Celtic more money just to say thank you for letting us have him. Take your pick.

Gareth Barry 6
quiet game by his standards but still involved in keeping the midfield ticking. Better in the second half.

Nigel Hokey-Cokey 6
got up and down well, looked slightly less willing to go lunging into the tackles, first half wasn’t overly impressive but did pick up as the game went on.

Gabby Agbonlahor 6
pace frightened the life out of the derby boys.

Luke Moore 5.5
really looks like he is struggling, not getting a great deal of service to be fair and seldom threatening. Surprised Marlon Harewood wasn’t even on the bench following a hattrick for the reserves, is he injured again?

Maloney (on for Ashley Young 69 mins)
Seemed lively enough, not really long enough to judge.

Berger (on for Luke Moore on 77 mins)
looked far more with it than his appearance v Bolton. Class is permanent!

No idea, only on for a few mins.

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