Date: 17th September 2007 at 12:40pm
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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

Player Ratings

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
surprisingly anonymous.

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.


27 Replies to “Villa Back Down To Earth”

  • I don think MoN could really go out and buy a big name first choice striker in the transfer window because Carew and Luke and Gabby needed more time to prove themselvs when he signed Harewood it was made clear that he would have to force his way into the team.Listening to what MoN said yesterday he is running out of patience now and come the next window Carew and Luke would have had their chance.

  • I couldn’t understand why the substitutions were made so late. At 82 minutes they were never going to have any impact on the game.

  • We could have been 2/3 up within the first 30 minutes….but just not clinical enough in front of goal yesterday. I think all will be fine lets wait and see the performance in the next game. Why is JC scoring at will for Norway?

  • Agreed Hoss……..65 mins is time to do it in my opinion……but so many managers do it, don’t understand why. We were missfiring all over the pitch, but still looked better than they did….they are riding high on luck at the moment, why keep playing Gabby on the wing tho ?? surely Maloney and Young on the wings is a better proposition. We needed Berger yesterday, someone to take hold and produce a killer ball……….how’s he doing, is he still injured ??

  • Did you notice Coker going off with the hump. He will cause loads of probs if MON keeps taking him off. Whats happened to Hommer Harewood he could have got your team out of trouble yesterday.

  • We missed the clinical finish, I do think JPA would do better with the crosses coming this season. The delivery was great all day, Barry and Young were excellent. No striker its that simple, I am in 2 minds you have to let Gabby, Luke and Ash grow but we need goals and big John simply is not doing enough. I also dont like all the moaning that Luke was doing, play the game.

  • Barry looked knackered after his exploits and the rest of the team did not respond. No excuses for most of them but most worried about the facial expressions of Luke Moore. he has all the skill and ability – but does he have the mental approach – seemed to want to blame everything but himself. Not sure if he has what it takes, after all he is now getting his chance. Agree we all knew a striker (or two) was needed and we didn’t get them. End of story. In the meantime, Maloney up front anyone?

  • This thread is so predictable, Carew is the new Petrov. Whipping boy of all the moaners. I don’t think Luke Moore did particularly well yesterday – whinging at the ref too much, but he can do no wrong. The league is tight this year with teams very difficult to break down. I thought we missed some creativity from Berger yesterday and agree Harewood needs a chance. Also thier goalkeeper looked terrible and I would have tried some long ball tactics and tried to pump the ball into box as much as possible.

  • The only thing that is predictable (apart from avfc48) is tarzan saying Carew is the new petrov. I don’t see that when I read this thread, maybe you are the one trying to stir up that debate.

  • Did I really say that BTB.
    Its bad enough with VOTH making sweeping statements about what I think, even when I’ve no clue I did, now you seem to be on the bandwagon.
    Little bit of advice, not that I expect you to take it, read what people say first, phone a friend who can hopefully put it into very simple terms, Hoss seems keen to do that, then post on the thread and not the poster.
    It will be hard but I’m sure you can do it.
    Back to the thread and to help Hoss, O’Neill has created a young mid table side that is playing just as most would expect, yes, easy this, like a mid table side.

  • Tarzan I agree with you, Moore should concentrate on his game instead of moaning to the ref, and Harewood should be given a chance when Carew comes off, I thought thats what he was brought for. I dont know what happened to Reo-Coker he was unusually quiet.

  • It’s not going to be instant and we need to look at the season as a whole. I thought yesterday there was chance to try a few of the fringe players (Davies, Maloney, Gardner and Harewood), at least for more than 10 mins (due to others being out on international duty). Barry did looked jaded and I think we should have really pummelled their keeper, Fear mentioned this. Citeh defended really well and Johnson was very impressive. Chelski, Redscouse and Manu proved that its not easy getting all 3 points.

  • Yes you did, avfc, you really did say that. If you have simply made comments about the way certain players played, I would have no issue. I may have debated your opinions but that would be it. But you didn’t though, did you? You couched the whole post in such a way as to blame O’Neill for the way those players played. Why do you continue to post things and then deny it? Have the courage of your convictions for Heaven’s sake.

  • As for fixing it, JPF, no, sorry. There’s no magic bullet to shorten the length of time needed to build a solid side. There is also no magic bullet for ensuring that players who can play well do so. We know our team can put it together when they want to, so the question is why don’t they do it consistently. In my opinion, the first place to look for the answer to that question is the players – especially when the manager plays essentially the same team. If I was MON, I’d be bloody frustrated with my players as well after Sunday. What say you?

  • Why are people getting grief for criticising Carew? He’s a goalscorer, and he’s not scoring goals. Ok, some of his holding play is great, but unless he starts doing more with some of the chances that come his way (and he had a few against ManCity) we are going to struggle. Presume saying this makes me a boo-boy?

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