Even Michael Owen Couldn’t Spoil Our Day Out At Villa
Aston Villa v Newcastle Match Report
Aston Villa 0 Newcastle 0 Saturday 23 August 12.45pm
I had a good day out on Saturday, with my eldest son, setting off at 6:30am to beat the Bank Holiday traffic and road works, adorned in our black ‘n’ white tops and ready for the match.
Getting to Villa Park early, we ended up meeting and chatting to Gary McAllister (a good laugh), Brian Little (a real gent), Ian Wright (a real nutter, but very friendly with it), Steve McManaman (very helpful), Michael Owen (who wouldn’t sign the bairn’s programme, so that’s another crime to add to the list), Jermaine Jenas (a bit cagey at first, but friendly in the end) and a smiley Ian Taylor, as well as some really canny stewards and officials.
I was disappointed to see De Jong warming up with the subs and had hoped that he’d start, with, maybe, Anita being the one to make way for him. I could understand not starting with him, though. Better to ease him in and not rush things, plus it wouldn’t have done Anita’s or any other player’s confidence any good to be dropped after one game.
The first few minutes seemed comfortable and we earned an early corner, with Anita having a shot from outside the box, after good work by Colback, but it didn’t really trouble Guzan.
It soon became apparent, though, that Aston Villa were going to come all out for the win and they attacked with pace, hoping to catch our defence out. N’Zogbia looked decent, Weimann and Delph had some good touches, with Agbonlahor making some dangerous runs, but for me, their best player, at least in the first half, was Cissokho, who made some telling runs down the gaping holes left on our right hand side. Anita wasn’t coming across to cover for Janmaat and Cabella was initially ineffective, getting knocked off the ball far too easily, took an age to get back up, thereby not doing enough to prevent the runs of their left back.
We managed to contain them though and Krul wasn’t really troubled. Colback continued his excellent form from the opening game of the season and seemed to appear everywhere. Williamson looked a little unsure of himself at times, but he and Coloccini dealt with most that was thrown at them.
Going forward we didn’t offer a great deal. Sissoko looked sluggish to me in the first half and many of the balls forward were hit and hope, leaving Riviere very little opportunity to get into the game, but we still had the best of the chances. Our number 29 hit a weak shot with his, unfavoured, left foot after a decent move and Cabella should have scored, but the best chance came to a disappointing Gouffran, who completely missed a right footed volley, when unmarked from a corner at the back post. Gouffran seems to work and run hard, but didn’t get into the game much, and doesn’t seem to have recovered the form he had during the first half of last season.
It all seemed a bit flat at half time after a scrappy first half, but we came out with more purpose in the second half. Cabella looked more confident on the ball and created more, but was still knocked off easily by a fairly impressive looking Hutton, who used strength against the diminutive Frenchman.
Cissokho’s menace was halted by Janmaat, who took the initiative and bombed forward, working well with Colback and Sissoko, who seemed to have woken up a bit. We were starting to really get more and more control of the game, reducing Villa to playing on the break and then looked to optimise our own threat, by introducing Siem De Jong to the Premiership.
This heralded a change in formation with Anita taken out of the equation, Sissoko moved back to partner Colback and looked like a totally different, refreshed player, with Gouffran, De Jong and Cabella forming an attacking midfield three with Riviere ahead of them.
The new fluid looking Newcastle changed effortlessly to 4-4-2 when needed, but despite this extra impetus to get a goal, Riviere kept dropping deep for the ball and looked tired and frustrated at his lack of opportunities. His head was down and he was soon replaced by a hungry looking Ayoze.
The new striker’s movement seemed to allow more space behind for De Jong and the two carved out a great opportunity for the Dutchman, who fired a strong attempt that hit Guzan in the jaw, but the Villa keeper managed to keep his composure to gather the ball before De Jong could pounce.
Our chance of getting a win and our first goal of the season, was well and truly scuppered when Williamson was sent off for a second yellow card and the match petered out after that.
Overall I thought we played ok in a fairly scrappy match. We contained Villa and controlled much of the play, especially in the second half, but despite having the best chances, that control didn’t really extend to the final third of the pitch. We didn’t look bad, but didn’t look great. Colback was impressive throughout and Janmaat looked far better than some French bloke, who I’ve already forgotten about.
We got absolutely soaked at the end of the game whilst heading back to the car, but our spirits weren’t overly dampened. Still looking for a win and a goal, but I’m not overly worried having created some decent chances. It’s still early days.
We could do with a new striker and centre half, especially with Williamson being sent off. Could that be a blessing in disguise? His dismissal will hopefully prove to our owner that we are woefully lacking in quality at the back. I have no idea who we may get in either position. Here’s hoping we get someone more than half decent.
You never know what may happen in football, which is similar to my thoughts as I was almost pranged by Chris Waddle on the way out of the car park.
I wonder if he has any pelanty points?!!
Team: Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Williamson (Sent Off 90), Dummett, Colback, Anita (De Jong 70), Sissoko, Gouffran, Cabella, Riviere (Perez 77 (Steven Taylor 90+2))
Unused Subs: Elliot, Haidara, Obertan, Abeid
Ref: Mike Dean
Crowd: 30,267 (2,800 Newcastle)
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