Post-mortem: Clark man of the match and time for Houllier to focus on the football not the January transfer window

When we bought our house, we came into a bit of land and that land has a few trees. Some of them are very old, some are very young and every now and then we cut a few down.

Before we bought the house, I'd never cut down a tree before so I asked for some help and I was showed how to do it and it works, so I don't change it.


I could change things and sometimes I do try new things or a new method or cutting tool, but I don't think I've deviated that much from the same way they cut down trees fifty years ago, because it works and it is effective.

My point is, Gerard Houllier is new to Aston Villa and he has to try different things. However, he is a smart guy, so he now knows not to play Downing on the right, Bannan as a defensive midfielder, Pires from the start or Carew as a lone striker.

The beauty of him trying these new things is he has learnt and he as good as told us he has figured it out in his after match comments, so fingers crossed, we won't be seeing any of those mistakes again.

What the Papers Say

Sandy Macaskill, The Telegraph
But before we get carried away, there is this to consider: Ciaran Clark was allowed through twice and, fluent as Arsenal were, one was left wondering what might have happened had Houllier not made the mistake of starting Robert Pires in the pocket behind John Carew. Introducing a 37 year-old who moves with as much grace as an arthritic mallard into a contest against the most fluid team in the world’s fastest league was, in hindsight, laughable, and made you wonder whether Wenger, who greased the wheels of Pires’s move to Villa two weeks ago, had sent in his very own Trojan carthorse.
Steve Tongue, The Independent
The relatively rewarding period under Martin O'Neill since then ended in August when he decided that the owner Randy Lerner's age of austerity was not for him, so Houllier and Villa's supporters are having to live with the new realities. For a neutral, it was good to hear a manager admitting of Saturday's game: "We were beaten by a team that were better than us. Simple as that." Committed fans require a maturity to accept such concessions, and patience with the youngsters forced to play more first-team games than is ideal in the absence of senior men like Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Emile Heskey.

The Manager

Gerard Houllier
Then we came back and in the second half we were a different team. We had more energy, more positive thinking, we took more risks and we were more daring. We wanted to achieve something.

The Players

Brad Friedel, Luke Young, Stephen Warnock, Richard Dunne, Ciaran Clark, James Collins, Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, Robert Pires (Nathan Delfouneso, 46), Barry Bannan (Chris Herd, 86) and John Carew (Stephen Ireland, 66).

Man of the Match

With 76% of the 492 votes the winner of the man of the match vote against Arsenal goes to Ciaran Clark and with two goals, I don't think anyone is surprised.

Final Analysis

The manager is on a learning curve and we really can not expect things to just get better straight away and the icing on the cake is we are seeing signs that things are going to get better.

But there are certain things the manager will have learnt by now and there are certain things we shouldn't see again, but I am worried about his comments over the weekend about players he wants to bring in and positions he wants to fill.

Gerard Houllier
I don’t think I will make many moves because a lot of players will come back. I don’t want to buy players that are the same as what we already have. With the current injuries, it is definitely midfield that we need players. I believe we can still finish in the top six but we need to have a good run. When we have got everybody back and if we manage to get two players in then maybe we can do well.

I'm a little worried because the one position I'd say we are fairly well covered, especially when players come back from injury, is midfield. In fact, if I made a list, midfield would be the position that comes last.

It would be last, because Barry Bannan was made the scapegoat at the weekend and he needs more runs in the game where he is more involved. When Marc Albrighton is back, he will add the much needed balance on the right and in Downing and Webcam we have two that can play the left very effectively.

In my opinion, midfield is the last position we need to fill and I'm slightly worried that rather than play and improve what we have, the manager wants to change it around a bit too much when the focus this season really should be about giving players a chance and improving how, as a club, the football is played.

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