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From My Seat: Villa (A)

By Ken Buckley   ::  25/08/2012

Aston Villa 1 -3 Everton

On the back of a rocking good night at Goodison on Monday, it was a trip out to the home of the Villa, a ground where we have not had that much success in past seasons but today we believed... On seeing the Villa line-up, my thought was: if we can’t beat these after the Man Utd display, we would need locking up.

As it turned out, it was a game of one half, the first, where we built a three-goal lead, then a second where we did ok but without that fight ‘n’ bite we showed in the first half. Even with the hosts going down to ten men, we still afforded them a consolation goal.

The Villa fans gave their heroes a quite rousing welcome as they entered the arena; then our captain Neville upset the apple cart by winning the toss and electing to turn the players around so that each team played toward their own fans in the first rather than the second half. I don’t know what he knew but it could not have been better for the travelling 2,000-odd Blues.

We started fast with intent and with just 3 mins on the clock, we put together some joined-up stuff that culminated in our new boy Naismith planting the ball perfectly into the path of Pienaar some 20-odd yards out. He smashed a great curler into the top corner leaving Given helpless. "Pick that out" came to mind as celebrations were joyous. Scoring after just 3 mins doesn’t lend itself to parking the bus so we didn’t.

We continued to completely out-play Villa and threatened more or less each time we came forward. Baines hit a beauty over the top and picked out a Jelavic run and his header only just missed. The Croat then got his head to a Baines corner and glanced it just over. This was good stuff and the players seemed to be enjoying it as much as the fans. Gibson was quietly orchestrating and stitching together moves and still found time to hit a screamer just over the bar.

After some 25 mins of Everton dominance, Villa did rally a bit and had some foray’s foreword without causing our rearguard much trouble. On the half-hour mark, another joined-up move started from the back by Jags who ran foreword and found Gibson, Jags carried on the run and Gibson deftly returned the ball to him, Jags crossed like a seasoned winger and found the head of our man of the moment Fellaini who headed into the deck and up toward Given. This produced an odd sight as Given seemed to get out of the way of the ball and allow it free passage into the net. A howler but who cared as the Blue throng celebrated yet again.

This really put Villa on the back-foot and looking quite despondent as they allowed our captain to venture forward but alas he showed he was no Hibbert when it comes to shooting as his effort was ‘high, wide and handsome’. We still clapped.

The clock was ticking down to half-time and we seemed to be moving forward with menace at will and with nous as we passed and probed. Just before the break, Baines finished off a nice bout of passing by whipping one across the box and found Jelavic who with one assured swing of the leg, his boot made first time contact, the net bulged with the keeper nowhere... 3 - 0, game over and party time.

At the end of the half, any late-comer could have been forgiven for thinking it was the final whistle such had been the singing, chanting and merriment from the travelling hoards. All the songs you know and love plus an ear-splitting rendition of ‘There’s only one Kevin Sheedy’, and so the half ended.

The humour and chat was of a light-hearted nature with most wondering when we would see our new Belgian.

No changes as we started the second half much the same as we started the first — on top. Pienaar set up both Jelavic and Naismith and on both occasions their shots were blocked.

On the hour-mark, a through ball saw Jelavic hare down the middle only to be halted by a trip by Clark — last man: sent off.

Although the hoards whooped in delight, the sending of did us no favours as, for the rest of the half, we did not seem to have the same conviction and drive. We did have the odd moment or two to be fair. Pienaar had a pile driver well saved by Given and a great back-post header from Distin was goalbound until a Villa head sent the ball to the underside of the bar and out.

Naismith, who had had a promising full debut, had taken a knock just after the hour mark and was replaced by Coleman. I wondered why at 3 - 0 up the new lad was not given the nod... still, I am just a fan and the manager who is with them all week knows best. Coleman did much like he did v Man Utd — he ran a lot up and down the flank and from time to time caused the odd bit of bother by hitting the by-line and crossing. On 70 mins, Mirallas arrived in place of Gibson who also seemed to have taken a knock. You could just see he wanted to impress and some of his work was a little hurried — none more so when he got a bit excited at a Jelavic run and cross from the right by going forward to quickly and being flagged offside as he put the ball in the net.

Villa had now decided to give it a go and we seemed to let them come at us at will and with 15mins to go we paid a price. Villa attacked down the middle we backed off and he shot. Our keeper then made one of his early-season howlers when, from my seat, he seemed to first of all go the wrong way then his despairing dive was in vain as the ball nestled in the corner. Considering the shot was from some distance, it is difficult to even hazard a guess at what he was doing or thinking — still, better to get it out of his system at 3 - 0 rather than in a 1 - 0 nail-biter. I wonder if Howard, being a fully paid up member of the 'keepers' union, just decided to show solidarity with Given?!! Villa still had time to hit a post before the end and a good job too as, in those last minutes, we were all at sea and the last thing we needed to do was give them a glimmer. I don’t think the manager will be happy with that ending — especially against 10 men.

MotM — Pienaar... but I would not take exception at other offerings as first half there were some very good displays.

Overall an enjoyable day out that sees us sit 3rd in the embryonic table, I always like to have my first look at tables with any meaning around the end of November beginning of December, it would be nice to be 3rd then and ready to kick on.

For those who like to follow such things I thought the so-called third kit that we wore today looked like a proper football kit and the white shirt would be a good holiday shirt, pity it wasn’t out in time as it will be a retro next year.

WBA next, the conquerors of the cousins... it won’t be easy but, with the support we get and a clean bill of health for the manager to formulate his starting eleven, we can give it a good go but a sustained effort over both halves would be a big step forward from today.

Early days but let’s get the window shut with a couple of in-comings and no out-goings and then see how it all pans out. I am sure there is just a little room for some optimism this campaign.

UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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James Flynn
213 Posted 25/08/2012 at 23:06:15
Enjoyable read as always, Ken. Thanks yet again.

We saw the same game. I guess Howard could have stopped that shot, but the replay showed it swerving quite a bit. But, as you said, better it happen up 3 with little time to go.

Waiting for the game when all our near misses go in too. Without exaggeration, we could have shipped 5-6 today.

Derek Thomas
225 Posted 26/08/2012 at 00:07:39
Can't argue with the report, can't argue with the result, can't argue with the performance. More of the same next week and every other week and it will be a very good team ( or teams ) who finishes above us.

Some would say we are ' doing a newcastle ' but if I rermember they had the opening fixture list from heaven and played a slew of 'struggling' teams befor hitting the big boys.

Going back as far as I can remember ( Carlisle spring to mind ) almost every season there seems to be a team ( or sometimes 2 ) who, with the August sun on their backs and nice pitches, sit at the top of the table...I don't think this is us, we are either there or nowhere.

Lets wait until the clocks go back and reassess...One game at a time, it's an oldie but a goldie for good reason.

Naismith: looked better in the middle off the striker and almost Osman-esque in his anonimity out wide on the right, but the price was right so early days.

Osman himself was quietly effective in the middle doing all the water carrying tasks, while everybody was watching the BigFella.

Mirallas, Naismith and Jelly; any 2 from 3 bring more to the party than any 2 from Saha, Cahill, Vic, Straq, Beckford, Vellios so all in all we have a net gain.

No losses on the field or from the playing staff by Sept 1st, maybe if we are lucky 1 or 2 more in, though it won't be a piece of piss and a coast into the CL, I will be quietly confident that our destiny will be ours to fuck up... based on past experience there's a nagging thought to have in the back of your mind.

Andy Crooks
226 Posted 26/08/2012 at 00:50:49
God stuff,Ken. Another signing before the window closes and this could be a special season.
Andy Crooks
227 Posted 26/08/2012 at 00:50:49
Much as I enjoy your reports, Ken, GOOD stuff.
Si Cooper
230 Posted 26/08/2012 at 00:56:16
Seemed like it was almost too easy today and the players were cruising a bit at 3 - 0 and Villa down to ten men.

It's probably going to be a tough season at times with the size of our squad, so I think the players are sensible to ease up a bit whenever they have earned the privilege. That said, Villa did create some decent chances (plus their goal) a little too easily so hopefully we can get the balance right (not falling back and defending too deeply, nor being overly casual and cavalier) as the season progresses.

Naismith and Mirallas have a way to go yet, but both seem to have the tools to be successes. The team spirit and confidence seem to excellent so it is a case of keeping that momentum going.

Let's hope Leyton Orient are easily dealt with because I have a feeling that the Baggies are going to be a real test of our mettle (4 points from games where most would have expected them to get nothing).

Anto Byrne
236 Posted 26/08/2012 at 02:29:43
Nice win great first half and it could have so easily have been 5. Moyes has to sort the Coleman enigma,has pace to burn but needs to be more effective maybe take a leaf out of the jags wing play with the superb first time crossing he managed to put in. Having said that why didnt he get a run at right back and give Neville a rest.

Let's look at the table in ten games or so and hopefully we will have another 1-2 reinforcements to cover for injuries and suspensions arriving this week. I read that Donovan was looking for an out so maybe that could eventuate. its nice to be in the top 3 and wonderful that our neighbours are rock bottom. C'mon Citeh, heehee
Steve Brown
241 Posted 26/08/2012 at 04:38:47
Miralles looked lively when he came on, good movement and obviously has an eye for goals.
Paul Gladwell
259 Posted 26/08/2012 at 07:34:59
I went the game yesterday and that first-half performance was as good as anything I have seen since 87.

I notice a few comments about Gibson and Osman being quietly effective, they were more than that, some of our pass and movement was Champions League stuff, I cannot remember such a one sided away fixture since, well around 87.

We had Naismith and Pienaar playing like inside forwards and Villa did not know what the hell was going on, they were switching positions etc some teams are in for a shock with some of the football we can play now, we just need to get two more players in, as sadly getting in the top four is not about just your first eleven, if it was that, our first eleven looks better than everything out of the top three at the moment or even higher.

It's early days but let's enjoy, it was just nice just to sing we're gonna win the league again and see smiling faces at the match.
Sam Hoare
275 Posted 26/08/2012 at 08:47:12
Great result and great start to the season. My one worry as stated by moyes post match is our squad depth. It remains to be seen how effective the youngsters might be but I worry that a couple of injuries to say pienaar and Gibson and we could take several steps back. Still can't really complain with our strongest starting XI in years.
Craig Fletcher
277 Posted 26/08/2012 at 09:16:55
Thanks for the report as ever Ken, brilliant for those of us who haven't been able to catch the game. Early days but optimism riding high. League Cup next and it would be great to see the likes of Miralles, Heitinga, Gueye, and Barkley getting a start v Leyton Orient and maybe a few key players getting a rest before WBA next weekend. Small squad, long season, so whilst it's foolish to underestimate anyone we need to rotate the squad where we can to minimize the risk of injuries. COYB!!!
Mike Hughes
304 Posted 26/08/2012 at 11:23:37
Great summary of the game, particularly the sentiment about getting a sustained effort over both halves. There only looked to be one winner but for the last 15 I was getting a little twitchy from time to time.

Excellent performance and what a start to the season. If that Piennar goal had have been scored by Arsenal or Barcelona, the pundits would still be rattling on about it now.

One thing the MoTD / R5L crowd will never match, Ken, is the subtle humour typified by, "as they allowed our captain to venture forward but alas he showed he was no Hibbert when it comes to shooting as his effort was ‘high, wide and handsome.'"

Now will have to find something light blue to wear this afternoon......:)

Danny Kewley
326 Posted 26/08/2012 at 13:50:05
Top drawer report lad! I can't wait for the West Brom game, should be a cracker!
Trevor Lynes
415 Posted 26/08/2012 at 21:32:05
After the rapture of Van Persies goal at Old trafford I reckon Jelavic's goal was its equal and Pienaar's effort eclipsed both. I hope that Pienaar scores a few more to supplement his work rate and partnership with Baines.

I really hope that old skinflint BK does not try to rest on his laurels after our great start. We still desperately need reinforcements if we are to continue the improvement. It seems that very few of our youngsters are coming through judging by the poor results of late in their games.

If Barkley and Junior continue to develop then it could augur well for our future, BUT we need ready made Premier League class players to bolster the squad and provide top cover in the case of injuries.

Peter Cummings
782 Posted 28/08/2012 at 13:46:56
Unfortunately couldn't get to see the game here (Ontario) but made up at the HT score three-up and cruising

I wondered how long it would take Howard to screw up but, not for the first time, the inevitable happened...

The biggest concern for me is why we allowed ten men to not only score one but nearly get a second off the post? We must learn to be more ruthless against inferior opposition and not allow teams to come at us in the last minutes.

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