After the Match: Aston Villa
West Ham in disguise? Villa indeed looked similar in the beginning. Unlike West Ham they had many scoring chances, but Hahnemann was good enough to produce a clean sheet. Again he wasn’t perfect, providing the opposition with similar opportunities to last week. But he gave up no goals. Sidwell delivered an early and late goal to carry us to the win. It was good to see him strike twice like we know he is capable of, as did his center-mid partner Harper awhile back against Newcastle. All in all it was a solid game
But, it has been markedly different without Doyle and Sonko. The forwards especially have been a less powerful force without Doyle. Luckily Lita has been on target as of late, but he still makes mistakes. I pray Coppell does not give him free reign as thanks for his scoring surge, for the young man still commits a variety of distribution errors. But as most good strikers are, he's selfish, and it’s been getting the job done, so for now I’m satisfied. However, Kitson has not yet returned to top form, and Long has been somewhat invisible in the last two Reading matches and in the call up to Ireland (according to the papers). It will be nice to get Doyler back.
Similarly, the defense is different without Sonko. I can’t say I’m necessarily more nervous when we’re grasping to a one goal lead without him, but he certainly eliminated the opposition’s chances quickly. I think he is innately more aggressive around the box than Bikey. This isn’t strictly a bad thing, however, as Sonko’s determination has lead to a couple of penalty kicks. Bikey simply takes a different approach, and his one man battle with Carew throughout the match was nice to see. I have to admit that I was initially apprehensive about Andre’s skill at center back, but his performance has impressed me. I’m excited about his future.
Good to see Oster getting time on the wing. He was criticized after the Blackburn game, if I recall, but I think he deserves to be present on the bench. He delivers the ball a lot like Convey used to, something I think the squad misses at times.
A great game by Shorey again, he is incredibly composed in all situations. I hope he can play for Englad someday. More coming later in the week…