No excuses available for Gerard Houllier after an embarrassing 4-0 collapse at Manchester City. Errors from the inexperienced players are inevitable yet Houllier insists in playing at least 3 in every game. Carew, Ireland and Dunne all left out of the squad altogether once again which left Villa with a creche on the bench with Grandad Pires babysitting. Two clumsy challenges from Lichaj and Albrighton led to penalties and capped both ends of the drubbing and helped Mario Balotelli to the easiest hat-trick in history. The spot-kicks sandwiched a Lescott goal which didn’t cross the line but what does it matter anyway, and a Balotelli tap in after Friedel spilled a David Silva shot. Pretty much sums up the whole game which saw City climb to the top of the league for a few hours at least. To hear about Villa’s downfalls in full read the extended match report.
Nigel Reo-Coker and Stiliyan Petrov returned to the starting line-up to very little effect at the expense of Hogg and Delph with both Young’s and Heskey still out. City rested Tevez in favour of Balotelli which many Villa fans would have been pleased about before the game, all I can say is can you imagine the score if Tevez had been playing as well! Villa old boys Gareth Barry and James Milner were denied a chance to get one over on their old club with a place on the bench for both.
Eric Lichaj has impressed in his last two games for Villa but his inexperienced showed in a game he will be keen to forget. A needless and clumsy challenge saw the young American haul Balotelli to the floor. The Italian then stepped up and dispatched the penalty past Friedel with consummate ease after waiting for the veteran to choose his way before placing the ball the other. Look out for the previous sentence later on in the report!
The home side doubled their lead with Villa all over the place though the second came shrouded in controversy. An Adam Johnson corner was met by Joleon Lescott whose effort was headed off the line by Barry Bannan. This however, was not the opinion of the linesman who wrongly ruled that the ball had crossed the line although it didn’t really make any difference in the end.
Many fans would say that the team showed no spirit and weren’t putting the effort in, this is true to a certain extent but sadly it was more to the point that Mancini’s men were at least 4 goals better than Houllier’s shadows. The confidence is at the lowest I can remember and I don’t see where or when they are going to improve it.
Villa looked to bounce back immediately when Stiliyan Petrov was brought down by Vieira on the edge of the box. Downing’s free-kick was poor and is still rising somewhere, if you find it, keep it because City can afford another one where as I’m not sure if the Villa board would be willing to splash that sort of cash!
It was game, set and match before the half hour when neat build up from City saw David Silva dance his way past Warnock to fire at goal. His effort should have been held by Friedel who could only spill to Balotelli to convert from all of two yards. Lichaj was again, also at fault after falling asleep at the back post to allow the striker with an easy finish.
A Marc Albrighton dribble saw the winger beat two before forcing a save from Hart from range but the follow up was smuggled away by Lescott at the feet of Reo-Coker. Villa’s only moment of hope or quality in a mockery of a first half. Another Downing free-kick from range went way over the bar and summed up Villa’s performances and chances of scoring for that matter.
The second half saw Houllier send his men out early at the mercy of the travelling Villa faithful but to little effect. The away side made more of an effort of it in the second half but it was ridiculously comfortable for City.
The hosts had their fourth after Albrighton who had worked hard to little effect, but at least he was working hard, made a desperate challenge on Adam Johnson who had turned him and Warnock inside out. The Italian then stepped up and dispatched the penalty past Friedel with consummate ease after waiting for the veteran to choose his way before placing the ball the other! Hat-trick to Balotelli.
Clearly not happy with the clumsy tackle from the Villa youngster, Houllier subbed Albrighton along with Bannan, to be replaced by Delph and Delfouneso who, in their 30 minute roles, were probably Villa’s best performers. Says it all really!
Delfouneso looked to capitalise on a misplaced pass from City after just a minute on the pitch, but his effort from just outside the box was tame and straight at Hart.
City could and probably should have had more on the break with substitute Jo guilty of missing a volley from close range after a Kompany flick from a corner.
Villa’s best chance of the game fell to Lichaj who looked to redeem himself from earlier errors. A clever flick over the Villa defence from Petrov saw the full back with time and space in the box. The youngster was hoping for too much time however, after bringing the ball down he was closed down and could only fire his volley straight at Hart who turned the ball behind.
The resulting corner was taken short to Delph who fired a decent effort from range which forced a smart stop low down from the England goalkeeper. Delph had a busy cameo after a nibble at ax-Villan Milner, introduced after the fourth goal, saw him seemingly injure his knee, an injury which had kept him out for 8 months until this week. Luckily the damge doesn’t appear to have been serious and after treatment the youngster was able to play on.
There is clearly no love lost between Delph and Milner after the latter had a bite back at Delph which led to an angry reaction from the teenager and saw Milner booked.
That was about it. I’ve left out a few more City chances which could have seen them run riot in truth, capping a miserable claret and blue Christmas. Downing was guilty of yet another dismal free-kick which, guess what, flew way over the bar in a disappointing afternoon for the Villa men.
This result has seen many Villa fans call for Houllier to get the axe sooner rather than later and I for one, can’t defend this. It’s awful tactics and team selections. The players don’t know what they’re doing, they are clearly unhappy and a lack of harmony behind the scenes is turning the club into a mockery. What are your thoughts on a day when it is hard to back the manager? I’m livid to be honest, after watching the game and Villa will have to start paying the fans to take tickets if they carry on like that!
Villa Player Ratings
Brad Friedel – 5 – at fault for third and completely ‘done’ with both penalties
Eric Lichaj – 4 – dismal but you have to feel for the inexperienced heads thrown in the deep end
James Collins – 6 – in truth the centre backs did little wrong, one goal saving tackle
Carlos Cuellar – 5 – again little wrong but little right sadly
Stephen Warnock – 5 – booked and tormented throughout by Johnson
Marc Albrighton – 6 – one quality moment, worked hard but silly tackle gave away 4th
Stiliyan Petrov – 5 – not fit, overrun, one nice ball
Nigel Reo-Coker – 5 – lacking bite, not happy at late substitution with obvious problems with manager
Stewart Downing – 5 – disappointing, three woeful free-kicks
Barry Bannan – 5 – ineffective, one reckless and frustrated challenge
Gabby Agbonlahor – 5 – isolated but lazy and whines when things aren’t put on a plate
Fabian Delph – 6 – neat touches of skill but got flustered by Milner
Nathan Delfouneso – 6 – ran at players but with hesitance
Robert Pires – no time, no pace, not much really!
- Preview: Tottenham Hotspur vs Aston Villa – Prediction, Team News, Line-ups
- Huge Test for Emery – Aston Villa Predicted Lineup and Preview vs Tottenham Hotspur
- Aston Villa eye Europa Conference League success after impressive 2022-23 season
- Aston Villa forward Cameron Archer set to join Sheffield United in £18.5m deal
- Aston Villa in July: Four preseason fixtures as Emery aims for another excellent season
- Aston Villa make formal offer to sign Villarreal star Pau Torres
- Preview: Aston Villa vs Brighton & Hove Albion – prediction, team news, line-ups
- Preview: Aston Villa vs Newcastle United – prediction, team news, line-ups
- Aston Villa in April: Next seven Premier League fixtures
- Manchester City vs Aston Villa Preview – Prediction & Potential line-ups