Man City 4-1 Aston Villa

With Olaf Mellberg playing centreback this season, Villa have conceeded 3 goals in about 300 minutes of play. For the other 150 minutes without him, the team have conceeded 6 goals. So it isn't without good reason that I (a) point to Olaf's departure as one reason Villa capitulated so easily in the second half; and (b) worry about the long-term defensive frailties if he's not around for the next few games.

Let me first wax elequently about the first half. Villa played well, Angel and Allback causing more than their fair share of trouble up front, and J'Lloyd Samuel doing a stellar job defending and moving forward to help out where necessary. Manchester's City defence was all over the place, looking like a top-heavy ship caught in a gale. That large gaping hole in midfield caused by McManaman's forages upfield didn't help things. Hendrie made some space, lobbed in a cross, and Angel fooled both Seaman and a linesman unaware of the offside rule to head it in. Score at half time: 1-0 to the Villains.

And then, King Kev weaved his magic wand during half time and everything went to pot. Losing Mellberg to a groin strain just before the interval didn't really help things either. Alpay is still some way off his best and I think he was responsible for at least one goal, as well as the general uneasiness around the penalty box. I think Angel, Allback, Samuel and Hendrie played very well, but the rest need to realise when their backs are against the wall and show the determination to not just lean back and give up.

Anyway, the less said about the second half, the better. The defenders couldn't really be held too accountable for not standing up to the constant battering, and the midfield was a little lost when Man City stepped up a gear. Plenty of congratulations to the City, plenty of time on the training ground please for the Villians.

Man City is turning into a real Kevin Keegan team, who can create chances from almost anywhere, but have centrebacks who get pulled out of positions to cover missing fullbacks. They can be truly scary when the have four or five players running into the penalty box at one time, but they will stay a mid-table team with European pretensions if they can't get their defence sorted out.

As for Villa, we need to show a little more creativity in midfield to go with the hard work, as well as a few more reliable centrebacks. If Mellberg is out for a while, we may have just enough cover in Barry and Alpay, but things may get a little shaky.
posted on Monday, September 15, 2003 - permalink
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