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Aston Villa 4 City 2

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"I thought we were well in the game, and when we got back on level terms I felt that we were in the ascendency and that we were going to go on from that.

"Unfortunately we invited pressure on ourselves, made poor decisions in key areas and were not able to recover. All the hard work evaporated in those eight minutes, and the game went away from us."

>>Mark Hughes.

Inevitable I suppose that when the press vultures were circling around Villa Park yesterday, any defeat we suffered was going to be pounced upon, and it was no surprise that the majority of the match reports were concentrating on our 'crisis' given that a 4-2 scoreline implies a sound thrashing.

I don't think it is as black and white as that though (and most of the fan opinion I've seen online backs that up) as I think Hughes summed it up perfectly in his comments, and at 1-1, we really could have gone onto to win the game, or at the very least eke out a valuable point.

Worth noting as well is that Villa look a useful side (probably the 'best of the rest' outside the top four), and Martin O'Neill (along with their foreign owner) has done an excellent in building a decent looking side, who have the stability and consistency on and off the pitch that we can only crave at present.

It was not to be though, with a combination of slack defensive play and some impressive attacking play from Villa did for us in the end to inflict a result that could have implications as far as confidence levels go.

When going through a spell of bad fortune, things really do have a habit of kicking you in the teeth, so goodness knows what Mark Hughes's reaction was when Valeri Bojinov was carried off during the pre-game warm up with a snapped achilees that is expected to sideline him for upto 6 months.

It was pleasing though that Hughes opted for a 4-4-1-1 with Elano pushed inside to spark more creativity and it was such a shame Bojinov suffered his injury, as game as Ched Evans was, it is a big ask for a player of his limited age and experience to carry. Interesting to see Garrido preferred to Ball, and also Etuhu over Ireland once again on the right - with Hughes clearly enamoured with the pace that he brings to the side.

Hughes mentioned the 'ten minutes of madness', but the signs were there previous to that spell where Agbonlahor exploded as there was indecision in the defence on crosses and too much was space was afforded to the likes of Young and Barry, and it does have to be a concern that our once strong defensive record has imploded in recent Premier League matches stretching to the tail end of last season, and how we sorely need the Richards-Dunne axis to get back together and playing at the level of the first half of last season.

There was encouragement though for me in certain parts of our play, but largely overshadowed by the end result and such a shame for Bojinov as fate has struck cruelly once again, just when he returned to full fitness and looked to be an important part of our side. It now of course leaves Sturridge and Evans to shoulder a big responsibility for the immediate future, unless we can somehow prise Santa Cruz away from Blackburn or summon back Bianchi from whichever outpost he has been despatched to.

Crisis is an often over used word and I certainly won't be applying it at this ridiculously early stage to the season, but coming up against another side (West Ham) who are likely to be around us come the end of the season, a win would so welcome to try and banish some of the negativity that is around - particularly with the important UEFA tie at FC Midtjylland also on the horizon.

Oh, and one final thing. Ditch the dreadful orange shirts.


Gabriel Agbonlahor delivered the perfect response to his omission from the England squad, a hat-trick in eight minutes ensuring a score line that reflected the disparity in the atmospheres surrounding Aston Villa and Manchester City over the summer. >>

It was the kind of finishing Mark Hughes would normally admire but this was not the day for the Manchester City manager to stand back and applaud. >>

Humbled in the Uefa Cup by Midtjylland on Thursday while Villa were winning in Iceland, City revived memories of their 8-1 final-day mauling at Middlesbrough last season with a second-half catalogue of defensive aberrations. >>

We didn't play that badly. Villa certainly should have been one or two up by half time, and Richards did well to hold them off until the 47th minute. But between Carew's goal and Agbonlahor's first we were really good. >>the lonely death of roy carroll.