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MON laments Laursen loss

Martin O’Neill has admitted that Martin Laursen is unlikely to play again this season. He last played against West Brom in January, where he was coming back from the knee injury – and in hindsight it was too soon. Maybe if he had rested a while longer then he would have been in a position to come back. However, what is done is done, and to be honest I just hope he is ready for next season.

MON has also alluded to the fact that not only have we missed him defensively, but also from an attacking point of view.

“You just can’t keep moaning because he’s been out,” said O’Neill. “You’ve just got to address it and try and go forward with it. But we have missed him this season.

“I’ve likened him to a Paul McGrath-type here. Martin has been immense for us and we have missed his presence.

“We’ve missed his presence defensively and, interestingly enough, we’ve actually missed it in the opposition box.” (Source: Express & Star)

Martin Laursen was the best signing of David O’Leary in terms of ability, and you have to believe that DOL would have done a little better had Laursen been fit. Not saying he would have done great, just better!

If Martin Laursen is available next season, then brilliant. If he is not, then that is a huge shame for the player, and something that will be very worrying for us. Clearly we have missed him hugely and while I think it would be ludicrous to suggest that our bad run is down to his absence alone, it has certainly been a factor.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , | Leave a comment

Everton Review

Good game!

Personally I thought we deserved the win. Fair play to Everton, they played better football than I thought they would without Arteta. We made it easy at times though, as our defending was woeful.

I did have to enjoy the irony of David Moyes & perennial-whinger Phil Neville complaining about some decisions that went our way when you see the foul on Friedel for their second goal. Both teams had good penalty shouts turned down; from our point of view, Ashley Young does not help himself sometimes. He had one clear penalty not given but if he didn’t dive (which I HATE) then he would get more of these decisions. The irony is he very genuinely gets fouled a lot, so the extra dives just don’t seem worth it!

I thought we did well to come back, 2-0 then 3-1, against a genuinely very good Everton side, and as I said, in all honesty I thought we deserved to win it. I genuinely thought we would once we pulled it level. That said, at 3-1 I would have taken 3-3.

Ashley Young played well but I was surprised he got MOTM. personally, I would have put Milner, Petrov, Barry and Carew ahead of him. I was also pleased with Delfounso when he come on, it was a shame he missed that opportunity to win the game for us.

With Arsenal winning at Wigan (what the hell was that? “Nah, you’re alright mate, that aint a sending off”… WHAT?!) it makes it exceptionally difficult now. We need to win all 6 games and hope that Arsenal lose 3 of their final 6. With them still having to play the top 3 there is a glimmer of hope, but realistically it’s all about finishing 5th now. If we finish 5th, it is further progress. Let us hope that happens again next season.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , | Leave a comment

Shut it, Sorenson

Thomas Sorenson is developing into a very sad man. Okay, when Stoke play Villa, he is bound to be asked questions. But he is bleating on about his treatment last season yet again.

You know what? If I was an international goalkeeper and found myself third in line behind Scott Carson and Stuart Taylor, I might be a bit miffed too. But honestly, Thomas Sorenson is not good enough for the level Villa want to be at, and had to go. Maybe it happened twelve months too soon, but I would still argue that point in all honesty, as Carson was very good for Villa until THAT night he represented England against Croatia.

In his latest outburst, he said:

“If I just sat down and cried I wouldn’t be where I am today. My main aim was to look ahead…”

“The mission isn’t over. It has been about proving my ability and helping the team. I haven’t shaken Martin O’Neill’s hand since I left and I don’t think I will again. That is behind me now. I am just happy to be playing again…”

“I am happy to have proven a point but I won’t have proven the big point until we are safe.” (source: Goal.com)

Well first of all, I don’t think he has proved any point. Secondly, why even bring Martin O’Neill into a conversation about Stoke City vs Newcastle United?

How very sad and pathetic.

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Week In Villa #33

Available by clicking here.

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | | Leave a comment

Everton Preview

According to the OS, Carlos Cuellar (back) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (virus) are both injury doubts prior to Everton, but Steve Sidwell may be back in contention. Emile Heskey, Wilfred Bouma and Martin Laursen are all still out.

If they are both out, then it will be interesting to see if MON starts with Nathan Delfounso. Ironically enough, after all my harping on about 4-5-1, I would be inclined to look at 4-4-2 against Everton! I just feel that due to the type of game that Everton play, which is a lot of long-ball, the midfield may get bypassed enough that it would be worth starting with two up top. Especially as they are without Arteta, who is key to any variation in their play.

They are also without Anchibe, Yakubu, Yobo, and (probably) Vaughan. So while we have our injury problems, they could be there for the taking too.

I can not emphasise enough how much we need to win on Sunday. I wholeheartedly believe that we can still get 4th, but we HAVE to win on Saturday. Arsenal still have to go to Anfield and Old Trafford, they still have Chelsea toplay and even this weekend face a tricky trip to Wigan. I actually believe their good run and our bad run could have come just nicely, as there is enough games for the tables to turn again.

If we don’t beat Everton though, then I think it could all be over, and we will need to start worrying more about them and the team below us. I believe in us, and I believe Sunday can be the start of a good run, but even a draw is leaving us needing 18 points from the last six games; truth  be told, that is probably the case even if win.

Simply put – Sunday is an absolute must-win for Aston Villa.

Prediction: 2-1

April 10, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , | Leave a comment

Two Pre-Season Friendlies Confirmed

The OS today confirmed that, in addition to the Peace Cup, we will also play the following two friendlies as part of our preparation for next season:

(A) Peterborough United – Saturday, 18th July – 3pm K.O.

(A) Colchester United – Tuesday, 21st July – 7.45 K.O.

I am still hoping, with Arsenal still having to play the top 3, that there will be a Champions League qualifier too!

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , | Leave a comment

MON charged with improper conduct

Martin O’Neill has been charged with improper conduct following the Manchester United game.

He claims that the ref missed a foul on Ashley Young in the build-up to the winner, and that three offsides were wrongly given against us.

While he made the comments regarding this after the game, the FA have confirmed it is to do with behaviour in the immediate aftermath, where he will have made his feelings known to Mike Riley; a man who is one of the worst referees that I have ever seen.

I am going to be honest, and say that I can’t really comment on the foul as I didn’t notice at the time and I haven’t been able to even watch any replays. However, the offside decisions, whilst not necessarily something that would have changed the outcome, were all incorrect and very frustrating from a Villa point of view.

He has until Monday, 27th April to respond.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | Leave a comment

Manchester United Review

You know, if you had told me that we would lose 5-0 and 3-2 against Liverpool and Man U but I had to guess which way round the defeats were, I would have definitely got it wrong. On the day of the Anfield game, I genuinely felt we could get a result if we applied ourselves properly. On Sunday, I was convinced we were going to get stuffed, even with their absent players.

Yet they go and give me hope!

You will have seen the game, read the match reports and so on, so I wont go into too much detail about what happened. What I will say is, we didn’t capitalise on opportunities the way we should have done, we had two excellent chances to create something just before they got the winner and while they have undoubted quality even without the players that were missing, if we had showed a but more composure then I believe that we could have gone on to win the game.

What this performance did do though, was give me the belief that we can go and put a run together in these last seven games. Starting with Everton on Saturday – make no bones about it, this game is HUGE.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , | 1 Comment

Manchester United Preview

So tomorrow we head to Old Trafford. A difficult fixture for anyone, and traditionally appears to be more difficult for us than just about everyone else. We have an absolutely horrendous record there, and against them generally.

I don’t see this changing tomorrow.

I want it to, of course I do, I’m a Villa fan! But I just think that they are not going to lose three games on the spin. So what are the factors?

History – that is against us, clearly! We have not won there since 1983, we have not beaten them in the league since 1995 and we have not beaten them at all since 1999.

Quality – despite having Liverpool done the double over them, I still believe that Man U are the best team in the country. Gerrard and Torres are two exceptional players that would get into any team in the world; I believe if you stuck them in the Villa team then we’d be a lot closer to 1st, let alone 4th. But for overall quality, United are exceptional.

Form – Manchester United have lost their last two games. Can we make it three? I highly doubt it. It would have been difficult enough without that. It’s strange, against most teams, you would look at them losing two on the spin and see it as hope. Against a team like Man U, it seems to make our task even harder.

So is there any hope? Well, our streak-without-a-win will surely end soon, but that is more likely to be at home to Everton. What does give us reason to feel encouraged is that they have Vidic, Scholes and Rooney suspended, with Berbatov (and possibly Rio Ferdinand) injured. In addition, Carlos Tevez is likely to be feeling less than his freshest having travelled back ‘from Mars’ as Sir Alex Ferguson put it; it’s a shame the game isn’t today really! It is also a shame that Christiano Ronaldo was not sent off against Fulham – he certainly should have been.

Therefore it could be worse. But I still expect tradition to be maintained. To be honest, we may have 8 games left, but as far as I am concerned tomorrow is a write-off. Jeez, I hope no-one on the Villa staff is as defeatist as me!

From our point of view, Martin O’Neill has discussed the possibility of reverting back to 4-5-1. I would like to see that. With Emile Heskey out, he may look to Gabriel Agbonlahor, but if he plays with one up top then I would like to see him stay with John Carew. He could still play Gabby out wide, and shove James Milner or Ashley Young into a more central role, but I think he may go with Nigel Reo-Coker or Steve Sidwell. NRC is likely to play whatever happens, as he may well play at right-back again; in all fairness, I thought he was exceptional there in the return fixture at Villa Park. As Wilfred Bouma is unlikey to return in this fixture and Nicky Shorey continues to be left in the wilderness, Luke Young is likely to remain at left-back, meaning that if NRC does play in midfield, then Carlos Cuellar will play at right-back and Zat Knight will return to partner Curtis Davies. Complicated stuff, eh!

Prediction: 2-0.

April 4, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Week In Villa #32

Available here.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Football | , , | Leave a comment