Date: 1st March 2009 at 7:05pm
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So there you go. We threw a game midweek and then today we threw one away.

I can’t remember seeing a worse team than Stoke at Villa Park, not for many a long year. Seriously, my dad and me were scratching our heads at the last time we’d seen a team with so little to offer – and yet when you see the table and the scores in the paper tomorrow, it will say Villa 2-2 Stoke.

It really is a baffling game…!

Villa dominated nearly from start to finish, without actually – yes, you’ve guessed it, we’ve been here a thousand times before folks – dominating the scoresheet. We had according to our stats (see front page) 59% of possession, at times it seemed like 90% to be fair but it took until the 44th minute to bury the ball in the back of Sorensen’s net. GREAT goal by Stiliyan Petrov, if you weren’t there then watch the highlights just for that. So in we went after a dominant first half where it really was just backs against the wall for Stoke – who to be fair to them did defend hard, then again the way we were trying to float neat balls over such big players did at times beggar belief – but you could only imagine at that stage the rout the second half would be now that Stoke needed to push on and we could get them on the break. WRONG!

Again loads of the ball but not enough penetration. I can’t for the life of me understand why Gabby Agbonlahor can’t turn when he gets the ball with his back to the defenders, then again at the moment I can’t understand a lot about Gabby, especially if you look at him closely why he is in midfield when the midfielders are bombing forward towards the box during attacks. Does he think his job is to spectate or what? GET IN THE BOX Gabby…. oh and when you do, please try to connect with the ball!

John Carew came on for the injured Emile Heskey, he picked up what looked like an ankle problem, probably the same achilles problem (?) when he went in for the ball along with a Stoke player. He winced straight away. To be honest it was the worst game he’s played for us and although I’m never convinced with JC his goal was worth the admission alone, it just shows why he is so frustrating because he has so much skill. Again, if you weren’t there, you’ll want to watch it, the total arrogance of his almost pass into the goal was sublime. Gabby, take note, turn and shoot.

Talking of Gabby – who should have been brought off as he was THAT bad, (if you were a sub, Marlon Harewood or The Fonz, you’d have to be wondering just what you had to do to get on when Gabby can play that badly and still start every game) he missed a great chance to put us 3-0 and that really would have been game over. Sadly he again fluffed his ‘at close quarters’ lines and Stoke stunned Villa with two very late goals.

Villa just switched off basically, they thought they’d won and instead of doing what Chelsea did to us last week from a very early stage – killing the game, being ‘professional’, wasting time, we kept pushing the ball forward and losing it. When WILL we learn? You have to look at the manager (and his two coaches, one of which was foul mouthed and totally out of order today) who could have and should have made some changes but seldom if ever bothers. Close the game down, be professional. In the post match interview he mentioned Chelsea and their time wasting but said the Villa fans don’t come to watch that sort of thing and that we like to be entertained. Well, we don’t really like watching reserves against quality European opposition either but our opinion doesn’t count there so don’t try to blame us for this lack of killer instinct please!

We had a warning with (I think) Fuller hitting the post but the warning wasn’t heeded and bish bash bosh, 4 minutes, 2 goals from just 3 shots on target, all of them coming in the last 7 or 8 minutes.

I would say we deserved the win but then we didn’t play to the whistle and Stoke did. Fair enough, we didn’t lose like Liverpool v Boro, so that is a positive, but again given the chance to really push on – and after the Uefa Cup debacle this was a must win game – we failed. We could have been 8 points clear of Arsenal and within 1 point of Liverpool. Could have been, should have been but aren’t.

We now travel to Manchester City on Wednesday night and then bless em, the players get a rest until Spurs on the 15th. Interesting times, can we hold on or even push on or……? Time will tell.

Few other major shocks today as well. Brace yourselves as this is really pretty heavy stuff. First off I didn’t have a pie before the game… I know, I know. But strangely at half time I felt hungry so went and got a steak and kidney, yup, not only did I not buy my usual chicken and mushroom pie but I bought it at a totally different time. Ok, you think that is bad. Wait until you hear this. Seriously dangerous. I asked for a bottle of water and was sold it. No problems there I hear you all say (those of you haven’t given up the will to live that is) but … it is bringing tears to my eyes just re-living this and thinking about just how dangerous the situation was. They sold me me WITH the bottle top STILL ON THE BOTTLE? I mean, haven’t they heard of health and safety. I’m still traumatised.

Player Ratings

Brad Friedel 5.5
not sure having not seen any replays if he was responsible for either goal.

Luke Young 6
he gets totally stuck in, shame he is played out of position

Curtis Davies 5.5
would have been at least 6 but same as Zat, they blew it at the end for us

Zat Knight 5.5
as above.

Carlos Cuellar 4.5
he was awful, gave the ball away far too much, is Shorey really that bad that we have to play an out of form centre-back as a full-back meaning a right-back has to move to left-back?

Ashley Young 5.5
got stuck in and isn’t afraid to tackle but gave the ball away far far too much today. Floating neat balls over giant defenders isn’t going to work.

Gareth Barry 5.5
unusually for him but he also conceded possession far too much today.

Stiliyan Petrov 7
ace goal, good contribution as a holding midfielder.

James Milner 6
pretty tireless running, loads of crosses but sometimes, as with the strikers and Young, I just wish they’d run with the ball into the box and see what happens!

Gabby Agbonlahor 5
fluffed his one chance and didn’t get into the right positions enough.

Emile Heskey 5.5
worst he has played for us so far, no real threat, he did work to get the ball but never in dangerous positions

John Carew – 7
(on for Heskey 75 mins). TOP quality goal.


14 Replies to “Stoke Stun Villa At The Death”

  • sod the result im more concerned about the said bottle top, shocking truly shocking, and yes Cuellar shocking too at passing, feckin simple, he thinks not.

  • How you can lose a 2-0 lead at home, to Stoke, in the dying minutes is beyond me! That game should’ve been in the bag!

  • I work at the Millenium Stadium, and i’m pretty sure it’s against all policies to ever do that. I have to be the really annoying tosser who says ‘Fraid i can’t give you the bottle…it could be used as a missile’. To be fair, if Harry Redknapp there would surely be big concerns about that possibility…if only i worked at VP i’d make sure everyone who came to the bar left with a full bottle when we play Spurs.

  • completely disagree it was Heskeys worst game for us. Thought he played well particularly in first half.

  • still in shock….a bottle with its top on. the person who sold that should be sacked!!! as for the result…still a bit shocked aswell.. saw the first half stats – stoke attacking 11% – midfield 33% villa attacking 56%. I hope MON gave them a bit of a rollocking considering the midweek rotation. still 6 ponts clear of arsenal tho, not too bad at least we didnt lose! could have been banana slip…..well technically it was!!

  • Not only did our “squad rotation (joke)”not work in giving our “stars”a rest, but it also back fired cos someone forgot to tell our stars to turn up! We should not be giving any team a chance of getting back into the game when we are 2-0 up towards the end of the game. MON needs to impress onto his players the need to fight to the death and beyond and indeed waste time when needed. I must say that we are not that good yet to rely on not wasting time! We must now go to Citeh and gain a point or more to get back on track. We also have Manc and Poo to play again which will be tough games. This draw feels so much like a defeat and that’s twice now Stoke have √§nnoyed me”! Sorry, rant over with.

  • Eveytime Petrov had the ball, he was open, they had no markin on him what so ever, the game should of been rapped up at half time. + A Bottle of Harry Rednapps head lol I would pay to see that happen =]

  • MON is slow to change things when they are not going well in a 90 minute match, and slow to change team selections when there are few below par performances. This has beenshown to be a strength too, with his focus on trying to build up confidence and team spirit. But he is too too slow for me when it becomes clear things need changing, most particularly at present on the Gabby front. He can terrify with his speed and has come on a bundle, but he is not a striker to lead the line in a million yeears. His strengths are with his pace out wide, or on the break. In a crowded 6 yard box, he is not just missing his chances, he so often is failing to get anywhere near them at all, or fluffing it badly. We need someone more incisive and instinctive in the 6 yard box. One tweak could be the making of our end of season run-in. One wrong tweak, or lack of a change, could herald a collapse. There is a very fine line between a potent team, and a blunt one. The Fonz deserves a run instead of Gabby, alongside Carew or Heskey. He might be the man. He might not. But Gabby is not the answer up front.

  • Some of your scores are a bit harsh….I thought Luke Young was superb at times. 5.5 for Barry, come on man, he oozed class! What game were you watching?

  • We made a habit of going til the final whistle until quite recently. Its as though the pressures getting to us. Come on lads, sort it out

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