Post mortem: O'Neill gets it, 4-5-1 is the best way for Aston Villa to play

My preference for a formation geared more towards possession. passing, protecting the defence and generally a more controlled game of football is well documented. Some said you couldn't play 4-5-1 at home and some said there is no difference, well I think we saw that it can and there is yesterday.

Yes, I know, guns don't kill people, people do. I'm playing with the 'formations don't win games, players do' line that we've had recently and I agree and disagree with that statement. Yes you need players, but if you played 4-2-4, you'd lose even more and all we have to do is look at the evidence; two matches 4-5-1 and six points.

Yes, we played 4-4-2 at home the other night to beat Rapid Vienna but that was different. Rapid Vienna are like a West Brom; they'll come up and go down a lot and they really would struggle in the top flight, so let's just forget that notions shall we.

Instead, we'll look more at it later, now, to the papers.

What The Papers Say

Janine Self, The Sun
He was asked to play alone up front, flanked by the industrious Milner and Ashley Young. Last season, Agbonlahor and Young were instrumental in all that was good about O'Neill's side. And it was Young who helped set Villa on their way after just three minutes.
Howard Swains,
It was the first time Agbonlahor has managed to do so this year, with his loss of form prompting the supporters to turn at one stage, most notably when the Holte End sarcastically applauded as he was substituted against Tottenham Hotspur in March. How fitting then, that the striker should arrow a wonderful 22-yard left-footed shot inside Mark Schwarzer's near post at the same end of the stadium to secure Villa three points against a listless Fulham.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill
We settled down early, got the goal early, which was a big tonic and we won pretty well in the end. I am really pleased and delighted we have fought back after that opening Wigan performance. I am delighted with the team.

The Players

Aston Villa (4-5-1): Friedel; Beye, Cuellar, Clark, Shorey; Milner, Reo-Coker (Carew, 73), Petrov, Sidwell, A Young; Agbonlahor. Substitutes not used: Guzan, Albrighton, Delph, Heskey, Warnock, Gardner.

Fulham (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Paintsil, Hughes, Hangeland, Konchesky; Dempsey, Etuhu, Greening, Duff; Nevland (E Johnson, 76), Kamara. Substitutes not used: Zuberbühler, Kelly, Baird, Gera, Riise, Smalling.


It wasn't much; 32,917 but General Krulak has informed us that this is because of the economy and that everyone is experiencing the same issues and while he hasn't said this next part I suspect the reason why so few were at the match had something to do with nobody buying the spin and PR that they are selling any more. They should look to Doug for help now; big name players sell shirts and tickets.

Man of the Match

This turned out to be a close one but it goes to Gabby. He picked up 25.1% of the vote and was closely followed by Ciaran Clark and Nigel Reo-Coker. The full results can be seen here, but I think it a fair one.

Final Analysis

We lined up 4-5-1 but that formation, when going forward quickly turns into 4-3-3 and you have options but what I liked most about the game yesterday was O'Neill stuck with it even after bringing on John Carew and there is no coincidence that Gabby had one of his best games in a long time when we went back to it.

I believe he is a much better player when playing in a 4-5-1. He can hold the ball up on either flank, bring other players into the game but also drags players with him. It was just nice to see that O'Neill stuck with it and quite refreshing.

But everyone played well and all departments worked well together, which is probably more pleasing for O'Neill. Defensively, our midfield cut out a lot and didn't allow much through from Fulham but with the extra man in front of them, they always had someone to pass too and we didn't see many, I'm struggling to remember one but I was on the beer, long balls from the back four.

I'm just happy, but I have no doubt that someone will find reason to say I'm wrong or playing 4-5-1 is negative, when in fact I just like to call it 4-5-1 when defending and 4-3-3- when going forward.

Up Next: The Clowns

We have a little break now but in two weeks we are playing at the circus. It is an early kick off but it will be fun. September 13th is going to be fun, but they've been playing some fairly decent football so far so might not be as easy as we had all expected, but I still fancy we'll get three points.

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