Martin O’Neill said after the 1-0 loss to Manchester City: ‘We’ve got a week in training now where we can work on a few things. As much as anything else, we need to work on the final ball.’
Trouble is, with the lack of an out-and-out goal scorer, we can work as hard as we want, but where will the goals come from? Some have asked, with the lack of form John Carew is showing, where was Marlon Harewood. Are things really that bad at Villa that we have to start looking to a striker who got 3 goals last season?! Anyway, the big former West Ham man was out injured on Sunday so wasn’t an option anyway.
I didn’t get too carried away after the great win against Chelsea so I have no intention of getting carried away after this loss, however I did think the loss illustrated exactly why we should have been spending in the close season, we don’t have the firepower, we didn’t have it last season and we don’t have it now. Given the choice with the speed and the decent service now being created, I’d take Juan Pablo Angel and Milan Baros over what we have now any day of the week. Luke Moore is getting closer to the finished article maybe, he looks the most likely to score for us and Gabby Agbonlahor certainly has the speed, but they are still young, unproven at this level and still learning. One chain of thought says let the kids learn, wait a season or two and we’ll be fine, the other says go out and buy the strikers needed. For me I’d have grabbed Jermain Defoe and sulky Nicolas Anelka, he might be a plonker but he is a plonker who knows where the goal is!
I didn’t think Villa did much wrong yesterday, there weren’t – Gareth Barry aside – any stand out performances but there also weren’t any woeful performances. The same could be said for Manchester City, at times it was difficult to believe that they were the home team with Villa enjoying the lions share of possession and forward play. Trouble is, whilst looking at the table today, the possession stat doesn’t count for anything, only goals scored and conceded do and although we were unlucky that a moment of brilliance from Johnson proved our downfall, this could well be the story of our season if we can’t start to test the opponent keeper.
2 shots on target in 90 minutes is not great and that ratio will rarely bring about a win. We will no doubt be tough to beat and give plenty of teams a challenge, but I have to say I can’t see where we’ll get enough goals to blast us into Europe unless Big John Carew can somehow ‘click’ and fulfil the potential he must have – I know little about him, just that at the moment he looks average and not totally up to speed, but with a reputation like his if he can get into the scoring vibe, we may just be ok!
So yesterday against Manchester City we can in some ways come away feeling aggrieved not to get anything out of the game, but if you don’t shoot you don’t score (or in my case if you do shoot you don’t score!) it really is that simple, especially when playing against a keeper who was flapping more than Mr Flappy of Flapsville. Darn it that the backward header by Laursen didn’t go in mind you, I’d got a fiver on him at 33/1 to be the first scorer!
Up next, Everton, another tough game and another that the fans will expect something out of, especially at home.
Match Stats – Click Here
Scott Carson 6
not to blame for the goal
Olof Mellberg 6
not bad, still prefer him in the middle though!
Martin Laursen 6
missed the tackle that would have prevented the goal and had an argument with Shrek (Bouma)
Zat Knight 6.5
looks a useful addition to the team making a few important tackles.
Wilfred Bouma 6
nothing bad, nothing great.
Ashley Young 6
none of the real attacking, penetrating form we’ve seen so far this season.
Gabby Agbonlahor 5.5
pace but his final ball is way off.
Gareth Barry 7
a real captains performance, deserved a few more around him to put in the same.
Nigel Hokey-Cokey 5.5
Luke Moore 6
most likely to score for us but not likely without a shot.
John Carew 5
got more involved but when he got his chances, he fluffed his lines, with chances at a premium, top strikers don’t do that.
Maloney (on for Carew 66)
Didn’t really get much of the ball.
Gardner (on for Hokey-Cokey on 82)
Made one important block otherwise Johnson might have scored a second.
Not enough time to make an impact but looks nervous on the ball.