Villa World

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WHAM! Review

(No, I haven’t been to see the band…)

Just like the weekend before, it was a good game where I was annoyed we didn’t win. West Ham certainly had their fair share of the chances but so did we and a draw is arguably the right result. That said, 1-0 up with five minutes to go, you always have to be disappointed when you don’t go on to win. It was obviously disappointing that Rob Styles, who is THE worst ref in the Premiership, failed to give us a penalty. But the defending and failure to take chances of both teams meant that on this day, Aston Villa and West Ham were both their own worst enemies.

Neither side are great at the back, neither side could take their chances (barring on each, obviously) and both sides play some nice stuff. Both teams are also in what is probably their ‘right’ position for the season and may well still be there come game 38. That said, going on current form, Tottenham are probably the favourites to take the 7th spot, but with them still facing trips to Anfield and Old Trafford, I am sure the Spammers fans will be hopeful. Personally, I hope Fulham get there though, as I think Roy Hodgson has done a fantastic job. That said, I would like any of the London clubs to get it ahead of Man City. It just seems like footballing justice every time they lose a game of football.

Given the circumstances, we needed the three points. I genuinely felt that if we could take 19 points from our last 21, that Arsenal may slip up enough to give us a fighting chance of regaining 4th spot. Now, that is simply too much to ask. Obviously we must keep going until it is mathematically impossible but, much like our neighbours from West Bromwich, the painful defeat is now not just staring us in the face, it is giving us a big sloppy kiss!

When you consider our home form, the one thing it has to do is give us hope for next season; rectify it, and CL football in 2010-2011 will be a very real, distinct possibility. Maybe we will not be able to sustain the away form, but I don’t see why we should not and even if we don’t, turning these home draws into wins is likely to more than counteract any slip in points obtained away. I’m sure Arsenal will also point to games where they should have won, but the difference is, each of the last three seasons we have been progressively getting better, whereas Arsenal have progressively been getting worse. In addition, Chelsea will not have Guus Hiddink and consequently could face a downturn in form. Plus as we all now, Liverpool are one serious injury to Steven Gerrard away from slipping out of the top 4 themselves.

The top 4 are the top 4 and that is how it is. That is how it will finish this season, and they will – rightfully so – be considered the favourites to finish that way again next season. But in my opinion, the only guaranteed certs are Manchester United. After that, while the other three WILL be the most likely, I am sure that the likes of ourselves and Everton – and probably Citeh & Spuds – will be putting up an even tougher fight next season.

April 20, 2009 Posted by | Football, Soccer | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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

Heskey out of United game

After limping off after just 15 minutes of the England game on Saturday, I think most of us knew that Emile Heskey would not be available for the game at Old Trafford and, sure enough, he will miss out. According to the official site, Martin O’Neill believes he could be out for up to two weeks, which would also rule him out of Everton and possibly West Ham.

As I have said many times though, I would rather we looked to play 4-5-1/4-3-3 and as Carew is in the better form, I wouldn’t have started with Heskey anyway. That is not to say that MON would not though, as I said the same thing prior to the Liverpool game.

Mind you, given our record against Manchester United, especially at Old Trafford, and the fact that they have lost their last two games means we would probably need to play 5-5-5 just to get a result!

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