This Is Villa Park

This Is Villa Park

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fight For What You Believe In.

He's a Villa man through and through.

"Football League founded by Aston Villa, won by Villa! 1874 a very good year for football!"
On Tuesday, the founder of the Football League, William McGregor was rededicated. 100 years that day, it was then that he died and the Second City lost a special man. Special to the club, special to the city and special to football.
So what more could have been rather coincidental yet very fitting than the 20,000th goal in the Premier League was scored by Aston Villa just the day after McGregor's anniversary. It was not just by an Aston Villa player but a player born in Birmingham, playing for the club he's watched grow into the team he's now part of.

"It was great to score the goal," Albrighton said. "It’s one of those things you will remember for the rest of your life, and people will remind me of it in years to come."

"It was great to score in front of the Holte End but it’s been soured a bit by the fact that we lost the game."


Aston Villa 1-2 Arsenal "Delight Despite Defeat."

Villa lined up ready to fight. They fought with their heart
and soul but it wasn't good enough as they lost the battle.

You can't fault Aston Villa after last night's performance. The team played with pride, worked hard and showed a strong desire that's been lacking. However, yet again we only have ourselves to blame when we once more conceded from a set piece to surrender for no points. I say we can't fault the performance but then I went and said we can fault our own awful defending from corners. Hypocritical, right? My point being you could see the devastation in their eyes, how it hurt and hurt real bad to concede so late on after showing bundles of commitment to the cause. Alan Hutton shown red late on, which in my eyes - even though it really was a reckless challenge - shows how frustrated he was and that's a good sign. Even N'Zogbia tracking back made me smile; what does that show? Desire.

I'm not great with match reports at all, I prefer to be really biased and one sided so I'm glad that I can be for once as Aston Villa looked threatening and dominant, despite the odd five minutes of possession Arsenal had at times.

"We were totally unlucky. Arsenal had a lot of corners in the second half and unfortunately we lost out on one. But it was much more a performance of the team I'm trying to coach. We were very dynamic and played as team with outstanding individual performances. It was a tremendous display.

"I'm so pleased to see the players getting up in support of Gabby, it was such a positive performance by the players. We were tired at the end.

"But going into a really tough schedule you can do without players getting sent off. Alan should know better, he had a rush of blood to head. He's a vital player to the squad and we'll now miss him. Bent was close tonight and I certainly expect him to be ready for Monday."
- Alex McLeish.

There were some very good individual performances from our players, as McLeish said, which we haven't seen that often this season and when we have they haven't then be able to pull together and use it to win.

Brad Guzan had an overall good game, producing one great save to deny Per Mertesacker late on in the second half. Yet, in an open game the keeper had hardly anything to do but when relied upon he stepped up to the mark; most notably when faced with a one on one with England man Theo Walcott. Guzan was pretty helpless with both goals, however I still believe he needs to control his six yard box better at corners.

Alan Hutton possibly had his best game in a claret and blue shirt since he came from Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, but then killed it when he recklessly went in for the challenge on Thomas Vermaelen.

Our rock at the back Richard Dunne produced a man of the match performance as he continued to shine in the heart of defence. Without his partner in crime, James Collins he looked more comfortable. Whether that be because he felt he needed to be at his best to keep his position in the squad we'll never know. Unlucky to be on the losing side after a supreme defensive performance for Aston Villa, he thoroughly deserved the award.

To the right of him Carlos Cuellar looked calm and composed. With Stephen Warnock bursting forward to support the attack and then also getting back to defend, just as he should. The defence played well over all, which relieved pressure off the midfield and allowed Aston Villa to attack Arsenal, with quick, fast tempo play at times.

Just in front of the defence stood Ciaran Clark and captain Stiliyan Petrov. Clark brought stability into the middle of the park, however his heavy touch and inaccurate passing let us down. This was his chance to show what McLeish has been missing out yet if you compare his performance to those of Chris Herd's, he was well under par. Stiliyan Petrov however had a very good game, both helping out the attack and defence. Making forward runs into the box to support Gabby and down the wing to offer options to both Marc Albrighton and Charles N'Zogbia.

Can these two be the way forward for Aston Villa?
 The wingers, N'Zogbia and Albrighton both shone last night. It actually looked like we had Downing and Young on the wings again as crosses came in left, right and centre. Taking defenders on everytime they received the ball, it created chances for striker Agbonlahor, but none could be converted. A special night for Albrighton as he got the goal and the landmark, but Charles produced one outstanding display. His skill to get past players worked and his pace in front of goal was immense. Just as Martinez said earlier this month, N'Zogbia pulled it out of the bag: "Charlie is a magician on the ball and it’s just a matter of time before he fits in and becomes a very, very important player for the future of Aston Villa." These two stole the show, in my opinion, and if they continue to play the way they did against Arsenal, Premier League defences will be shaking in their boots.

Finally the two front men, Gabby Agbonalahor and Stephen Ireland/Barry Bannan - the latter just playing off Agbonlahor - didn't play amazingly well but put a shift in for the team. Ireland was given his chance today and I thought he made a name for himself. He was great to watch as he ran and took the ball of players. Receiveing it from midfield and holding it up to then distribute it to whoever called for it. However, injury once again shattered his big night. Replaced by Barry Bannan, the wee Scotsman run his socks off. Agbonlahor, playing as a lone striker, saw what it was like to be Darren Bent for the day. The only difference being that he was not short of service. In fact, he was drowned with it.

"I can only congratulate Villa. They played well and gave everything. We got very late three points that are vital for us.

"We were a bit unlucky on Sunday at Manchester City and this time maybe we were a bit lucky. It was important to restart things with a win.

"But, if Villa continue to play like that, they will quickly climb up the table because they had an outstanding game."
- Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager.

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