Post-mortem: Aston Villa battle for draw at Chelsea

I am writing this on Sunday night, so it might not be the most up to date or comprehensive post-mortem you have read on this site, but all of next week I am home with the kids while the wife goes back to work, so my early mornings are going to be mayhem.

So, I'm going to save my view on the match until the final analysis, but what I will say is this; Gerard Houllier used his players to their strengths yesterday and if anything, it just goes to underline how important it is to get new players in, although we did see glimpses today yesterday of what it could be like.

What the Papers Say

Sam Wallace, The Independent
Villa still have a long way back after a run before yesterday of five defeats in six games although it was impossible not to be impressed by the way in which they took the match to Chelsea. Heskey went through one of those temporary transformations when he plays more like Drogba than the Heskey who was such a frustration for all those years – although his form has been much better under Houllier.

The Manager

Gerard Houllier
This time we made the goal that brought us one point. There were a couple of games where we could have kept the result - I think we dropped 12 points from leading positions. It is a game of character. I would say we showed character, we showed bravery and we didn't bottle out.

The Players

Brad Friedel, Carlos Cuellar, James Collins, Richard Dunne, Ciaran Clark, Stiliyan Petrov, Ashley Young, A, Nigel Reo-Coker, Emile Heskey, Gabriel Agbonlahor (Marc Albrighton, 85) and Stewart Downing.

Man of the Match

This might have changed by the morning, but I doubt it as it really was a man of the match display, although he wasn't my man of the match, but if I could give the award to three people, he would have won it too.

It goes to Brad Friedel and while it can change as the poll is is still open on Footballocracy, at the time of writing that is where it went, so that is where it is going. Looks like 40 is the new 30 when it comes to keepers.

Final Analysis

You'll here and read lots of things tomorrow today about how Houllier hasn't actually got it right and how we had to revert to playing the way the previous manager liked to play and to an extent, that is true; we played with mostly his players.

But you'd have to be a fool to see there were not some differences. For starters, it was very much a variation of 451 with Gabby on the left side of midfield and there were less long balls, although the football was more direct than we have seen under Houllier, but it did look like a Houllier side when he was managing Liverpool.

But he could have got lucky. But it also looked like the players wanted it and there was certainly some desire and passion their and when Ashley Young scored, he looked like he was enjoying it. He didn't look like a player that was thinking about leaving.

At the end of the day, it was a draw, but a draw against the Champions away from Villa Park and not many thought we'd get that and nobody thought we'd get it after John terry scored in the 89th minute. It was a performance that could be the start of our season changing, or it could just be a blip.

We will find out on Wednesday, as we have Sunderland coming to Villa Park and you've got to fancy if we can play like this against the Champions, we should be able to play like that against Sunderland and we should be aiming for three points.

Monday speculation

I'm putting this in, because there is every chance I won't be able to post again until later tomorrow today, but there is a rumour doing the rounds that we are interested in Stephane Sessegnon.

He currently plays at French side Paris Saint-Germain, a club once managed by Gerard Houllier and where he once won the league. He is considered, more than anything, a playmaker - someone that can create chances and someone that can see things a second or two before others.

It will be interesting to see if anything happens, but I am expecting some movement this week - it is desperately needed, especially if the manager is going to get the players playing his style of football.

Update: Video of the day

Former Aston Villa manager, Gordo, picks a fight with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. {rokbox title=|Gordo :: Aston Villa Blog Video of the Day| text=|Click here to watch.|size=|640 505| album=|demo|}{/rokbox}