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From My Seat: Aston Villa (H)

By Ken Buckley   ::  02/02/2013

Villa at home and, after the season they are having, then three points were nailed-on – thought many... but those who have followed the Blues for numerous years will have nothing but very tight games in mind and this proved to be no different. It’s not unusual for our encounters to be decided by last-minute goals – remember Merson braking our hearts on a bonfire night? Well, today was not much different except it was us who salvaged something at the death.

It all started so well as we all met in our north Liverpool ale house and chewed over the ‘Deadline Day' disaster; I was reliably informed that the Fer debacle had nothing to do with dodgy knees or lack of readies by the club but rather the traces of what is best described as banned substances in the blood/urine. Yeah, I thought... but I know the guy and he was adamant and does seem to have good info. I have to say, whatever it was, I have no knowledge of but he ‘aint here now.

The team was tweeted through and many of us who had attended Wednesday night were less than convinced re the back four. They got away with it v WBA – could they do it again? Well, as it turned out, a big NO. Our alehouse was packed today which is usually a sign of a big crowd and indeed over 38.000 turned up. The streets were thronging as we walked up and on Goodison Road at the junction with the Park End there was the sound of Fanzine sellers.

WASAG was on sale and a quick perusal on buying a copy told me it was it's old irreverent and wacky self. I love these written word things; even though they lack the immediacy of the net, they take on a charm of their own and, just like my report, you are all ahead of the game by the time you read them but maybe some (like me) will enjoy them. If you have not been to Goodison and tried one, a quick look at the back page tells it's available on line at www.blue-tone.co.uk. Before you ask, I have no connection with them whatsoever and was always a ‘Speak From The Harbour’ man... but that is no more – so WASAG it is. I gave it a try and chuckled in parts. It's two quid though.

Into the ground just in time for Z-Cars and Jags led out the gladiators wearing their shirts with Chang replaced by the ‘Everton in the community’ logo for a one-off. Well done Chang for agreeing to it.

The game started and after just two minutes – even if we chose not to contemplate it before – we were on the back foot as Benteke strolled past a static Heitinga and placed a precision side-foot shot across and passed Howard and we were one down. It was almost embarrassing to witness, this was against what some called a no hope Villa side yet we should not forget they like L4 as they had a rare win just up the road. Were we over confident or sloppy because, as N’Zogbia went down the right to feed Benteke, Baines was nowhere to be seen.

Villa had come in relegation battle mode and were in no mood to take prisoners and a physical battle started to take place. We did respond with Mirallas feeding Fellaini who rolled the ball just past the post. We were the side on top as corners and free kicks came our way but none were a threat to the opposition even Bainesy was firing free kicks hopelessly high and wide but at least we were waking up.

Twenty mins gone and Mirallas got on the end of a good joined-up move and scampered infield, fed Big Vic who at last used his attribute of muscular strength and turned his man and fired past the keeper for a goal that was well received and Victor racked up some brownie points. We were level and most thought ‘Bad start but here we come’ – If only. Less than three mins later, we were behind again when, after a corner, our defence seemed to switch off when a cross from the right came back in; unfettered, Agbonlahor rose and headed home. To say we were fragile was an understatement and Benteke was giving Heitinga a roasting, Jags all over the place, Distin over-anxious and Baines getting forward well but leaving his flank open due to no-one covering his absence.

We tried to respond with Mirallas the heart of most things but sadly his final ball was often found wanting. We pushed on hard and gave Villa loads of trouble except none of it led to a decent chance and we were attacking as the half-time whistle went.

At half-time, I wondered if our manager would show the ruthless streak that was required as the back four were a shambles and Heitinga being the worst of a poor bunch but no, we started the second half as you were; as it had not worked first half, I wondered how it could second half. It didn’t; although we came out with some resolve, we were not unduly troubling them and in fact I seemed to sense a spring in the Villa's step.

On the hour mark, my worst fears were realised when, after some pressure from us, they broke again down the right but, with our defence standing off once again, a cross was allowed in and that man Benteke got ahead of Heitinga and a header, as he fell, went across Howard who was rooted to the line, the ball found the net on the hour mark. 1 - 3 down at home to a bottom-3 team... the phrase "Champions League – yer 'avin a laff" came to mind. The bench looked just like no action in the transfer window had taken place but there were players there and it was hard to see them doing much worse than some that were on.

Just a few minutes after that goal, the manager at last acted and Jelavic replaced the woeful Heitinga and Oviedo came on for the rapidly tiring Mirallas. Oviedo – all left foot – went right back and did well, Jags to centre back and Distin looked calmer, and Jelavic was... well, let’s say fluid between front and midfield.

The changes on the face of it didn’t look spectacular but we immediately upped it and Villa were under probably more pressure than any other time in the match. Agbonlahor, whose pace had worried us throughout, was now getting starved of the ball as we tried to reclaim some semblance of self-respect and I have to say we at last started to look dangerous.

On 70 mins we were very dangerous when Pienaar found himself in Mirallas territory and the South African showed far more composure than the busy Mirallas had and won a free kick which he took and forced the keeper into a punch out which was picked up by Big Vic who again showed strength in shielding the ball, turning his man, and feeding Fellaini who tucked it with some aplomb into the bottom corner that at last produced the ‘Goodison Roar’ in full throttle, setting up a grandstand finish. Oviedo fired just wide, Gibbo found the head of Distin from a free kick but the keeper held on, a Jelavic effort at a side-footer went conveniently to the keeper due to lack of power.

Villa were rattled as we pushed on and they went into Swansea tactics of blatant time-wasting – good job they hadn’t brought their own ball boys. The clock ticked down as we had a couple of corners that Baines sprinted from one side of the pitch to the other to take; we came close but not close enough as 90 mins were reached and the 4th official indicated 6 mins of extra time (I told you they were time-wasting), his next task was to signal our last throw of the dice – Naismith for Gibson. We continued to press and the excellent Osman had been doing well all match in a creative role now put more meat on the bones and drove us on from mid-field. We had the Villa on the ropes, crowd in full voice.

Half of the extra time had gone when we won a corner on our left that Baines took and it was put behind for another corner which saw Baines sprint again to the opposite flank and deliver another. It winged in, Fellaini moved forward, jumped and head met ball and ball met net, oh joy! Yet the celebrations were a little muted despite what had been a great fight back from 1 - 3 down at home. We went all out for the winner with Osman prompting and Naismith and Oviedo busy but time beat us and we trudged off having gained a point from the jaws of defeat but at the same time I am sure both players and fans just saw two points dropped.

MotM – Fellaini or Osman

I wonder if today’s performance was a touch of the Deadline Day Blues or is that to simplistic? After all, they are professionals but I don’t think you would need to tell one or two that they had poor games – they will know themselves.

Next home match is not until March 2nd... in-between we have Man Utd, Oldham and Norwich. A lot can happen in that time... I wonder will it be to our advantage. We now have to put the transfer window behind us and hope players stay fit and live up to the tag of our first pick team can beat anyone – We will see.

Today: a thriller for the neutral, a killer for the dedicated.
UP THE BLUES

Reader Comments

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Si Cooper
331 Posted 03/02/2013 at 02:39:35
Curiouser and curiouser on the Fer transfer, Ken.

Did your ITK say anything about the fact that we supposedly tried to re-negotiate the payment terms?

Doesn't seem like the sort of thing you would do on the basis that someone was taking performance enhancing or illicit substances unless you were attempting a subtle form of blackmail.

Bob Parrington
340 Posted 03/02/2013 at 05:01:17
Not sure about the deadline day blues. Ken? Apart from Jonny, we seemed to play OK on the whole. Jonny's lack of pace was clear so why was he matched up against Benteke? Isn't this a case of bad coaching/management preparation?

The ease with which Benteke glided past him for the first was plain for all to see. Surely, Jonny is rapidly becoming a liability.

Anto Byrne
347 Posted 03/02/2013 at 06:11:25
Looks like the writing was on the wall from the 2nd minute and of course our wonderful manager took another 60 minutes to do anything about it. Again 3 - 1 down before realising something needed to change. But what? There never seems to be a Plan B or a ruthless streak that says "Well, this ain't working".

Just what does Duffy have to do to get a game? Mirallas and Pienaar does that work? Pienaar flatters to deceive, all very nice footwork and ball control but rarely does he go past his man and put in a decent cross from the byline.

Some big games coming up in the next few weeks so Moyes needs to sort this shit out. We had £8M to spend in the transfer market and Stoke get Butland for a pittance and Newcastle buy a couple of strikers. We get a rookie right back. Yes indeed... the 10-year man has all the answers.

Peter Barry
356 Posted 03/02/2013 at 07:40:03
The fact that Everton are still challenging for a 4th place in the Prem with 12 draws from 25 games is more of a measure of the mediocrity of most of this seasons Prem teams rather than a reflection of a good performance from Everton.

We also have too many repetitive long-term injuries which seems to indicate lack of ability in our medical and backroom training staff and top that off with a tactically inept manager and this is what you get.

I for one would be very, very concerned if we qualify for the Champions League with this team , this manager and this backroom staff we would surely face HUMILIATION.

Trevor Lynes
387 Posted 03/02/2013 at 09:49:55
Marijuana is legal in Holland so maybe we should not shop there.
That as a reason not to sign Fer is a joke.

Every player has injuries, thats why they mostly end up arthritic (I know), Fer is playing regularly so I don't believe the reasons given.
The total ineptitude of our club in the transfer market is illustrated by watching Newcastle last night.
They found Sissoko for 1.8 million and he was tremendous against Chelsea.
Also they had their buys in early enough to give themselves time for alternatives if some did not sign.

Its not a coincidence that no one else was in for Heitinga or Bily when we bought them.
We were really lucky to be able to offload Bily I think.
If Gueye had not been loaned out he would have been taking up bench room.

Our bench is an absolute joke as is the squad.
Our players are being used far more than other teams, thats why they are jaded and playing with minor injuries, we have no alternatives.

David Hallwood
420 Posted 03/02/2013 at 11:36:24
Good report as ever Ken. We haven't been playing the free flowing stuff for some/ time (although it has been on display in patches) and we've got some hard games coming up. There is little doubt that the three signings last January transformed the team, and we got to hope that the lack of signings won't have the reverse effect.

But back to the Fer debacle: the fact that the club only got it's arse into gear in the last days of the window, is a bit suspicious, and given the club's murky past (we were in for Shearer/Owen etc for x squllion) it wouldn't surprise me if it was a PR stunt to placate the fans.

Kev Johnson
425 Posted 03/02/2013 at 11:57:28
Hypothetical question: if Heitinga hadn't played, and we hadn't conceded a goal in 3 minutes, do you think we'd have won? Was our general play good enough to earn a victory, if we hadn't been chasing the game right from the start?

I didn't see the match, and the MOTD highlights were inconclusive, so I'd like to know what those who were there (or watched a live steam) think...

I know, I know, it's impossible to answer - but have a go!

Dick Fearon
428 Posted 03/02/2013 at 11:48:01
Rather than play Jags followed by Osivado out of their natural positions why give our new right back a run, or was that a tad too daring for our Davy.
Ray Robinson
429 Posted 03/02/2013 at 12:05:15
Would have won about 5-1 in my opinion. The Villa defence was awful.
Paul David
435 Posted 03/02/2013 at 12:18:04
Kev

We would have won but I think that has more to do with how bad Villa are than how good we played. Villa would still have scored as their forwards are a threat but their defence was left constantly exposed by their midfield. I was impressed by Villa's attitude though, they wanted it more yesterday but their organisation was terrible.

Kev Johnson
438 Posted 03/02/2013 at 12:25:02
Yeah, that was the general impression I got, Paul. In fact, maybe it's not too different from West Brom, who were shockingly bad in the first half, allowing us to look good when in reality we were ordinary at best.

Their third goal was a beauty, by the way. That was genuinely good play by them.

I'm not the first person to note that all of their goals came from Baines' side. Leighton - you're dropped, lad!

Bill Gall
504 Posted 03/02/2013 at 15:44:28
I watched the game on TV last night. Everton had the ability to win it but as seen, dreadful marking, poor defense, and for some reason Baines used high upfield leaving a back 3 that Villa took advantage of.

One of DM's comments before the game was about the state of the pitch and it showed up on TV how bad it was. My question is why is it so bad when pitches on other grounds seem okay? I watched the Wigan game later on and I might be wrong but don't they share their ground with a rugby league team yet the ground seemed a lot better than Goodison Park.

Jackie Barry
641 Posted 03/02/2013 at 22:24:28
Ok Heitinga was woeful and it baffles me as to why he is chosen and we stick Jags in RB. What else baffles me though is the excellent Osman statement? Please, he was anything but excellent going missing for large parts of the game and having a couple of powder puff shots. Him and Pienaar both need to pick up their game, quickly.
Peter Barry
668 Posted 04/02/2013 at 04:53:57
'Man City RESCUE a point against Liverpool'

'Everton SCRAPE a draw against bottom of the table Aston Villa'

That is what Tactically Inept 'safety first' Davey and his team of coaches have brought Everton to.

You don't win Trophy's and Leagues with DRAWS.

David Barks
675 Posted 04/02/2013 at 06:39:35
Peter,

really?? Did Moyes bring this team from winning championships to just hoping for European qualification? I must have missed the decade before Moyes arrived when we were relegation contenders.

Martin Mason
676 Posted 04/02/2013 at 06:41:31
Peter, you don't win trophies and Leagues without money.
Kevin Hudson
681 Posted 04/02/2013 at 07:11:15
I recall Man.City RESCUING a point against us, Peter.

...and going home beaten on their last visit to Goodison.

If Moyes is "tactically inept," then just how clueless are the fifteen managers below him..?

Peter Barry
688 Posted 04/02/2013 at 08:00:45
Martin, your comment is rendered mute when you consider the name Bradford City; they are in contention to win the Capital One Cup this season, which I believe can be categorized as a TROPHY, despite being – 'considerably poorer than Everton'. A trophy which Davey Moyes and Everton have been unable to win in the past 10 years and which we will never win as long as the 'big game bottler' remains manager.
Harold Matthews
710 Posted 04/02/2013 at 10:37:51
Football live streaming: Everton 2-1 down. Commentator's Sidekick.. "Moyes will not sit on his hands. He is very pro-active"
Pat Waine
772 Posted 04/02/2013 at 16:24:03
Give duffy a go. He surely can't be as bad as Johnny who never inspires confidence.
Adam Fenlon
924 Posted 05/02/2013 at 00:43:09
I saw a lot to be enthusiastic about in that game.

My main annoyance (other than the atrocious Heitinga) would be that when Fellaini equalised, we didn't grab the ball straight away and keep pushing for a winner.

Otherwise, deserved a win, and look forward to when we can put Neville, Coleman or Hibbert back at RB and deservedly drop JH to the bench.

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