Date: 26th January 2008 at 6:35pm
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I sometimes wonder who we think we are! Coming out of the game there seemed to be a fair bit of moaning and listening to the Tom Ross phone in some fans were coming on saying we were rubbish and we blew it, or we shouldn’t be drawing against ‘teams like that’.

We weren’t rubbish. We weren’t great either but then, we are a small squad (boring I know) and hopefully building. We don’t have an automatic right to turn over teams like Blackburn, Mark Hughes has done a good job of assembling a very tough, physical team who bully and grind themselves to many decent results.

Today Blackburn game to stifle the game, not a criticism, just with five men in their midfield, a fact. I had a feeling after the first 10 odd minutes that it would go either way and only by a goal, as usual I was wrong but it was throughout and edgy game – not helped by a very fussy ref who kept stopping the game every time the Villa players made a tackle but ignored some atrocious tackles from the Blackburn boys (until the end when to be fair he did give two yellow cards out).

The midfield laboured today but then, as said, they were against a team who came to stifle and then get us on the break and sure enough – following a missed penalty that looked well saved by Carson (I can’t really comment if it was a fair penalty or not as I’ve not seen any replays) they did get us with a sucker punch on the 68th minute. I feared that would be that.

Villa however, although not playing flowing or pretty football, have a new steal and resilience, it is good to see at the very least that they don’t give up and that they will keep fighting and an equalising goal taken superbly from a free kick by Ashley Young was no more than we deserved. It was the normal yin and yang of only playing one good half per game. We were brighter and MON had set us up to go for it in the second half with 3 men up front (Ashley Young moving to the right and Barry covering left midfield). That was a brave move.

Marlon Harewood also came on – many agreed he was unlucky not to have started as Gabby isn’t really at the races at the moment and might well need a bit of a rest – and although he failed to make the impact he did against Liverpool, he did hit the cross bar. Villa also had a goal disallowed for off-side. I can’t say if it was off or not BUT to be fair to the linesman, he did raise his flag very early so I’d guess he was right.

So there you go, 1-1 and Villa go 5th. We’d have taken that wouldn’t we? Although with Ashley Young so nearly scoring at the death from a free kick, it could have been sooo different!

Now for the signings? Villa have to bring in some new blood and as Tom Ross said in his phone in, the hard work will have been done now hopefully, they’ll know who they want and now just have to hope that the moves start happening so that teams waiting for replacements get who they want and release those we are after. It could be a very interesting week. Without new blood, in my humble opinion, although we’ll finish top ten, we’ll not have the legs to make it to Europe. With one or two top quality arrivals, Europe is there for the taking.

Tick, tock, tick, tock. The time is running out and the Villa fans are expecting. We deserve European nights back!

Player Ratings

Scott Carson 7
pulled off some good saves, saved a penalty, worryingly also spilled the ball. Thought Stuart Taylor was VERY unlucky not to have kept his place.

Olof Mellberg 7
got stuck in, will be amazed if we let him go to Juventus unless we do have a right-back incoming. IF we don’t and he leaves it will be a MAJOR mistake and could prove costly.

Wilfred Bouma 7
solid, the defenders had a real battle on their hands today.

Martin Laursen 7
strong in the challenges and won the lions share of tackles. One dicey moment but soon made good.

Curtis Davies 7
looking the part.

Ashley Young 6
was marked out of the game for good periods as were most of our midfield due to being up against 5 men, but the free kick was sublime and point saving.

Gareth Barry 6
worked hard but didn’t look fit or particularly well. Good to see him back.

Nigel Hokey-Cokey 6.5
got stuck in, plenty of tackles flying around and he didn’t shy away from any.

Stiliyan Petrov – I really don’t know?
What happened to the Petrov from his debut? I would say 5.5 but then again, he did make a few lovely passes and he obviously gets about because he was soaking wet from sweat. Brought off for Harewood on 60 mins. There must be serious doubts as to whether Petrov is going to ever make the impact we all hoped?

John Carew 6.5
Got stuck in, not a great deal of top service for him. Really don’t think these tactics are great with him flicking on headers all the time as it seems to be predictable and old fashioned, but then, that isn’t his fault!

Gabby Agbonlahor 5.5
not at the races today, looks tired and got frustrated.

Marlon Harewood (on for Petrov 60) 6
came on and tried to get stuck in, hit the cross bar with a great header, unlucky not to have scored. Could be a decent enough impact player for us in bursts although I still suspect we’ll have a top striker by the end of January! ;o)