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The Diamond Lights Up And Villa Beat Wigan Shocker
With Jenas still injured McLeish dropped N'zogbia to the bench and recalled Darren Bent to lead the line in a 4-5-1 formation with Gabby out wide left.
For the first 15 minutes the Villa Park faithful were dealt up more dour football with the defence playing long balls and awarding a hapless Wigan team with more possession than they deserved.
At this point McLeish adjusted the formation by pushing Gabby further forward and the midfield adopted the diamond formation so favoured by Chelsea for many years.
The result of this tactical change meant Villa had less width but their football improved with Bannan pinging some delightful passes all around Villa Park.
For the first time this season Villa had a shape that suited the players on the pitch and it showed.
Petrov lay deep with Delph on the left side producing at times some deft touches that make you convinced Villa have some player on their hands. However, for all the good work Delph does he still shows a frustrating tendency to give the ball away too easily in the centre of the park, this is something he must improve upon if he is to make it to the very top of his profession.
Stephen Ireland also showed glimpses of his former Citeh form but he still needs his confidence to be built up more before he can reach the level of football required for this stage.
Gabriel Agbonlahor has had a great start to the season for Villa and his good form continued with a wonder goal on 36 minutes. Warnock won a strong tackle and fed Bannan who instantly threaded a ball down the left channel for Gabby to run onto.
McLeish has stated he always feared Gabby's pace when he managed small heath and you could smell the fear in Gary Caldwell today as Gabby ran at him and he kept backing off and allowed Gabby to cut inside and unleash a piledriver into the top corner for his fourth goal of the season.
The first half ended with an injury to Stephen Ireland and it was surprising to see him emerge for the second period.
I liked this diamond shape McLeish adopted for the midfield and with a 1-0 lead Villa came storming out in the second half with Gabby going on a mazy run before shooting inches wide from the edge of the box.
Gabby was terrorizing the hapless Wigan defence with his unmatched pace a constant thorn in full back Emmerson Boyces' side.
The crowd could sense a goal was coming and this time it was Gabby the provider. After losing possession on the halfway line Gabby raced back to retrieve the ball before going on a run to the byline and delivering a sublime inch perfect left foot cross that Harry Redknapps missus would have scored from.
As she is not on the Villa Park payroll it was left for super predator Darren Bent to be in the right place at the right time for his second goal of the season.
Emmerson Boyce may well have sat with the spectators instead of trailing in Gabbys wake all game as he could not get near him.
Although this is a poor Wigan team they do have some good players in their goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi and centre forward Franco Di Santo. Al Habsi produced stunning saves to deny Bent, Bannan and Petrov from increasing Villas goal tally while Di Santo worked tirelessly on his own and was unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty when Hutton sent him crashing to the ground with the score still at 1-0.
Villas' defence has been lauded recently for some sterling displays with Dunne and Collins looking solid and Warnock finding again the form which made him an England international.
After seeing Hutton in action now I have grave doubts about his abilities as a premiership full back. He was caught out of position for QPR's equalising goal last week and he has been lucky not to have conceded three penalties in two games.
He is not good enough as an attacking full back and defencesively weak with countless mistimed challenges in just two games. I find it worrying that an average winger like Victor Moses actually looked dangerous at times against him, what will happen next time out with the wingers citeh have at their disposal?
With N'zogbia on the bench and Huttons questionable footballing abilities there could be a scenario panning out with both McLeish close season signings spending more time on the bench than completing 90 minutes.
Villas' shape and balance was better today but they are still a work in progress. It is only a matter of time before Herd will be replacing Hutton and I sincerely hope Villa can soon afford some playing time to Gary Gardner and Ciaran Clarke.
Villas' shape looked good in the second half against a very poor Wigan team who on this performance will no doubt be fighting another relegation battle this season. This diamond shape has the potential to light up a dormant Villa Park and may go some way to turning it into a fortress to be feared once again.
Aston Villa vs Wigan Athletic Images
Aston Villa vs Wigan Athletic Oct 1st 2011
Aston Villa vs Wigan Athletic
Villas' shape looked good in the second half against a very poor Wigan team who on this performance will no doubt be fighting another relegation battle this season.
A lot has been said about Martinez not being interested enough to even discuss with Villa representatives about the possibilities of him taking the Villa helm, but for the first time he will not enjoy his trip back up the M6 as he will no doubt be pondering what might have been if he showed the normal footballing trait of disloyalty.
Aston Villa Rating:
Wigan Line Up
GK Ali Al Habsi
RB Emmerson Boyce
LB Patrick van Aanholt
CH Gary Caldwell
CH Maynor Figueroa
RM Ronnie Stam
LM Victor Moses
AM Ben Watson
CM Mohamed Diame
CM James McCarthy
CF Franco Di Santo*
Sub Chris Kirkland
Sub Adrian Lopez
Sub David Jones
Sub Jordi Gomez
Sub James McArthur*
Sub Conor Sammon*
Sub Shaun Maloney*
Aston Villa Line Up
GK Shay Given
RB Alan Hutton
LB Stephen Warnock
CH Richard Dunne
CH James Collins
AM Stephen Ireland*
RM Barry Bannan
CM Stylian Petrov
LM Fabian Delph
CF Darren Bent***
CF Gabriel Agbonlahor**
Sub Brad Guzan
Sub Ciaran Clark
Sub Chris Herd
Sub Marc Albrighton
Sub Andreas Weimann**
Sub Emile Heskey*
Sub Charles N'zogbia***