Post-mortem: A point against the Champions

I'm still quite chuffed with the point on Saturday and after watching the game a second time, I'm even more impressed with the performance. Yes, Chelsea had moments when they were at us, but we created more chances and were actually unlucky, very unlucky not to score and actually win.

But, someone will say I'm getting carried away and you might be right, but all things point to small improvements and if we can get one or two small improvements every week or even month, it is very much heading in the right direction.

To sort of prove a point, or not prove a point but look for something really positive, I don't think I saw one long ball in the game. Okay, there were a few clearances, but we didn't play or look to play a long ball for someone to run onto. It was nice.

What the Papers Say

Paul Wilson, The Observer
Incredibly, Villa could have stolen a victory in stoppage time, when a mistake by the otherwise promising Josh McEachran allowed Nigel Reo-Coker to run free on Petr Cech, but no one at Villa Park was greatly surprised to see the midfielder shoot tamely.
Steve Tongue, The Independent
Gérard Houllier has now overseen four games since returning to English football, in which Aston Villa have been beaten only at Tottenham, and narrowly there. Taking a point against the champions – "Double winners," he corrected his questioner – was all the more satisfactory given he lost three players on the morning of the game.

The Manager

Gérard Houllier
Maybe we had better chances in the first half but they pushed and we were a bit under the cosh in the second half. I would say it was a nice game to watch but also full of emotion because they hit the post, we hit the post and we had chances at the beginning and chances at the end.

The Players

Brad Friedel, Stephen Warnock, Richard Dunne (Ciaran Clark, 13), Habib Beye, James Collins, Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, A, Stephen Ireland (Steve Sidwell, 84), Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker and John Carew (Nathan Delfouneso, 74).

Man of the Match

Man of the match award for this match goes to Nigel Reo-Coker and it is deserved. He was everywhere and put in a solid performance and the stats back that up, but it is very hard to look at statistics of one player because a lot of what he does will not generate a number, but he tackled well, made his passes and didn't make that many mistakes.

But like I said, he didn't get the votes because of the numbers, he got the votes because everyone saw that he was everywhere and involved. More like that please Mr Reo-Coker.

Final Analysis

A solid performance against the Champions and one that will build confidence. Stephen Ireland, playing just in front of Reo-Coker and Petrov, had a good game and Young and Downing also played well out wide. Going forward we looked good.

Ciaran Clark, who came on for Dunne very early into the match had a very good game and didn't look out of his depth, but that was helped by having Stephen Warnock to one side and James Collins to the other.

Overall, that performance should build confidence ahead of the trip to Sunderland next weekend. I'm happy and I don't think anyone should be able to find a reason why things are not looking much better right now than they have for a long time.