The Doc's Diagnosis: Villa vs Blackburn (2nd Leg)

I'm not going to take this performance apart. For crying out loud - what's the point?

The bare, stark and delicious fact is that Villa are going to Wembley in a little under seven weeks to compete for a bit of silverware.

And it does put things in perspective. Sure, this Villa side can be frustrating and wasteful. On one day, we look like world-beaters and put Champions League pretenders to the sword. On another day, we look tired, clueless and lacking in verve.

But we are going to Wembley for a cup final, and we do deserve it. Big Sam can rant all he likes, but you don't win a two-leg semi 7-4 on aggregate without deserving it, and if he's honest Villa should have started this evening with a bigger lead.


I'll give the big man one thing: his tactics tonight were perfect at the beginning and he caught Villa on the hop. King Carlos never got to grips with Olssen from the word go, and Rovers looked like getting a third more than Villa looked like equalising. But they attacked a bit too much.

You attack all out at Villa park at your peril. We have serious pace, serious width (when we use it) and dangerous forwards. You are only going to attack us for so long before we exploit the space you leave behind you. Once you leave that space and let us get behind you, a whole world of nasty possibilities opens up. And they opened up tonight.

I'm not for one moment suggesting this was a model attacking performance from Villa, even once we got going. Ashley Young still seems to be lacking confidence (though I hope his brilliant late goal will bring that confidence back). Also, until quite late in the game, the fluidity which Milner, Young and Downing have been showing also seemed to get lost: for an hour, Downing was rooted to the left, Young to the right and Milner to the middle.

It was only when Villa found the confidence to really move in midfield (and it has to be said that it only happened when we were up against 10 men) that we made Blackburn look ordinary. It's going to be vital that Milner, Downing and Young start the final at Wembley in a fluid mood - when they drift and interchange they're unmarkable and usually irresistible. I can see both Manchester teams struggling to contain us if our midfield plays as it can.

Perhaps one more small point before I crack open a celebratory beer. James Milner once again was awarded the MOTM performance. I'm a huge Milner fan, don't get me wrong. And I thought he was quite superb tonight.

But what's impressive about Villa is the "spine" running down the centre of the team: Dunne - fantastic (again). Petrov - fantastic (again). Milner - fantastic (again) and Heskey (in my view fantastic again). With a spine like that you're going to win things.

No player ratings tonight, although I will nominate Doc's MOTT (man of the tie). But first, I leave you with a really tough question:

Brad Guzan looked dodgy tonight, but without him, we wouldn't be at Wembley. For the final. what would you do? Would you reward Little Brad for getting us there, or would you go for the big guy, with all his presence and experience?

Doc's MOTT: Stiliyan Petrov. Worked his socks off in both games, provided a solid platform for Milner and Downing to create things, and never put a pass wrong. Stan was also a superb captain's influence in the second leg, encouraging Villa to keep and spread the ball. 10/10.

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