Return to base agent Carson, mission accomplished!
Actually, that is a bit harsh on Carson he did also pull off a couple of decent saves keeping the Baggies in the game and hence a chance to get something out of it. However that chance never really came, if they’d drawn I don’t think I’d have come out of the game cursing our luck but they certainly weren’t worthy of a win and despite some very nice passing football, it wasn’t very effective or cutting.
Villa took the lead slightly against the run of play as the Baggies were passing the ball around nicely whereas we seemed to want to keep the ball in the air and that is no way to bring Gabby into the game! Anyway, after a flurry of chances the ball was floated back into the box and Curtis Davies headed home (it did deflect off Gabby but I think Davies will keep that one!)
1-0 and to be honest from thereon in I expected a rout. Credit to WBA for not capitulating. Villa got their second following an awful mistake by Scott Carson but if I was in the slightest bit bothered I’d be asking where their defenders were. Well, I could see where they were, there must have been five of them in the box, but they stood like statues allowing Gabby the chance to shoot, or cross, or whatever it was and for Carson to fumble and knock it in.
Game over. Wahey, another three points and the second half Villa would just go goal crazy, right? Well, no, not exactly. The second half started badly for Villa with Morrison slotting home a decent goal. Damn, job not done for Villa and to be fair, we were at times a bit ragged today and Martin O’Neill was, as usual, reticent to make chances. If you look at the bench you can probably see why, there aren’t that many options although with Sidwell not having a great game maybe Craig Gardner could have added a bit of bite and surely Marlon Harewood isn’t THAT bad that he could give defenders something new to think about in the final 15 minutes (no more though!!!)? I would assume he is off.
Instead of making those sort of changes though, MON brought off Sidwell and brought on Carlos Cuellar, moving Nigel Hokey-Cokey to midfield and the just returned from injury Spaniard to right-back. Not sure why like for like subs are never made but hey, MON is the manager and has us 3rd, I run a football network… I know my place! lol
The Baggies came on strong towards the end as you would expect the team behind to do and that is when you wonder why Harewood doesn’t come on to give us someone to get the ball to who would hopefully hold the ball up in the opponents half instead of us going deep and inviting trouble.
Trouble very nearly happened in the shape of a penalty and to be fair, if it was us in the Baggies position I’d have been furious if one of the two claims hadn’t been given. The first one (only having seen the replay since returning home) was a foul by Luke Young and I would take some convincing as to why it wasn’t a penalty. The second was Ashley Young who might have just got the ball, but if it had been given I wouldn’t have been at all surprised or felt cheated.
So a bit of a late let off. If Villa had taken a few more of their good chances, from memory Gareth Barry, James Milner and Steve Sidwell (his most especially) had good chances and our stats (available on the front page) say 21 attempts with 13 on target. So maybe we did run out worthy winners, hey worthy or not, who cares, WE WON! Although (again, just watched the end of game highlights on my return) Dion Dublin is right, we can’t keep riding our luck can we?!
Villa need to start killing some of these games off and to do that I think it is totally obvious that Martin needs to be bringing in two new strikers so once Marlon Harewood leaves we’ll have four options (one when not tired obviously) and also the youngster Delfouneso to hopefully start to blossom in the next 2-3 years. If we get the right signings, the platform is there and we could potentially push for higher than fourth. Michael Owen, Michael Owen, my kingdom for a Michael Owen!
Main thing is this was a fairly decent derby and the result was blinding. I was a bit surprised at the moans on the way out and the Tom Ross phone in. As he said Villa are winning when playing ok, winning when playing well and winning when playing badly. That is the sign of a great team and to think we aren’t even at our best yet!
9 unbeaten, 3rd in the league. What is not to like?!
Hope the Baggies stay up, but very glad to have another double against them.
Brad Friedel 6
not that much to do and not at fault for the goal I don’t think.
Luke Young 7
considering he is playing on his least favoured side, he is doing very well for us since arriving.
Nigel Hokey-Cokey 6
did ok, he does get caught for position but then again, he isn’t a right-back so he can’t really be slated for that can he? Some important tackles but did give the ball away cheaply a few times.
Martin Laursen 6
welcome back big man! Not his very best but still winning all the headers
Curtis Davies 7
quality performance and an extra point for a) scoring b) not over celebrating out of respect for his former club
Ashley Young 7
Works so hard up front and tracks back. For such a skilled player he certainly puts in the work all over the pitch, true class.
Stiliyan Petrov 7.5
man of the match, got totally stuck in, a good tough performance.
Gareth Barry 6
Decent all round performance, had a few chances to score as well, I can feel a goal is just around the corner… against Chelsea would be nice Gareth!
James Milner 6
Worked very hard but not really on tip top form
Steve Sidwell 5.5
got in the right position for a goal or two but didn’t take the chances. Not at his best but still put in the effort. Would like to have seen Gardner get a chance to replace him when he was so clearly not clicking today. He WILL get there though.
Super* Gabby Agbonlahor 6.5
He’d been ill this week and still reported for duty. Some fans were moaning he was lazy and yet it was due to him we got the one goal and he did make a great run only to fluff his lines late on when he could have put us 3-1 up. I don’t think it is his fault that he is played up front on his own when it seems he would be so much better with another striker to play off!
Cuellar on for Sidwell 86th minute
Copyright Young Villan!
*Super Gabby copyright of my young mate Nikolai who came in with his dad Villan Of The North and me today. Great to meet the young chap and lovely to see him get his first Villa scarf and hat!