Season | 2001-02 |
Matchday | #16 |
League Game | #7 |
Premier League Match-week | #7 |
Manager Game | #172 |
Sunday, 14 October 2001
Premier League | Home | Fulham | Villa Park | 28,579 |
Manager | John Gregory |
KO | 15.00 |
Referee | Paul Durkin |
HT Score | 0-0 |
FT Score | 2-0 |
FT Result | Won |
Last 5 Games | WWWWW |
Scorers | Darius Vassell | 50’ | Ian Taylor | 61’ |
Assists | Mustapha Hadji | 50’ | Juan Pablo Ángel | 61’ |
League Position | 4th | - |
Line Up |
GK Peter Schmeichel |
LB Steve Staunton |
CB Alpay Özalan |
LB Alan Wright |
M George Boateng |
M Hassan Kachloul | SUB OFF | 16' |
M Lee Hendrie |
M Steve Stone |
M Mustapha Hadji | ASSIST | 50' | BOOKED | 49' |
CF Juan Pablo Ángel | ASSIST | 61' | SUB OFF | 62' |
F Darius Vassell | GOAL | 50' |
M Ian Taylor GOAL | 61' | for M Hassan Kachloul | 16’ |
F Boško Balaban for CF Juan Pablo Ángel | 62’ |
Unused Substitutes |
GK Peter Enckelman
M Gareth Barry
W David Ginola
Yellow | Mustapha Hadji | 49’ |
Team Stats |
Starting XI Average Age | 28.71 |
Oldest Player | GK Peter Schmeichel | 37.93 |
Youngest Player | F Darius Vassell | 21.35 |
Monday, 15 October, 2001
Match report by David Lacey
Vassell leaves Fulham counting the cost
Man of the match Darius Vassell
His industry never slackened and he deserved to score as he had kept the Villa attack alive before half-time.
Best moment: His goal, a nice piece of pick-pocketing that put Villa in charge.
Aston Villa remain the best of the rest in the Premiership. At half-time here yesterday that was saying precious little for the rest but then two briskly taken goals in 12 minutes restored the early-season momentum of John Gregory’s side and took them back to fourth place.
For Fulham the euphoria of winning promotion from the First Division by several streets and a shopping mall has all but evaporated.
Jean Tigana’s team may be 15th in the table but they are only two points off the bottom after winning just one of their first eight fixtures.
Yesterday was the story of Fulham’s season so far. First, a series of opportunities were missed, then poor defending let them down. Late in the game Louis Saha, so prolific in the Nationwide, missed a penalty.
If marks were given for neatness Fulham would be in the top six but, as Tigana observed after the game : “We must win our next two games because we need the points. This league is very different, much harder.”
Gregory is sounding out Johan Micoud, Parma’s £7.5m-rated midfielder, with a view to adding the Frenchman’s skill and vision to Villa’s midfield. In Euro 2000 Micoud was the cover for Zinedine Zidane and for half the match yesterday it was not difficult to imagine the difference he might have made as Villa struggled to achieve an attacking rhythm.
In the end, however, they won with no little distinction. This team will rarely please football’s aesthetic senses yet, as Gregory reflected : “I felt that, if they scored one goal at any stage, we would be up against it but we’re a good second-half team. We find something extra to grind things out.”
Logic, and the long ball, favoured Fulham yesterday. Short passing to feet may be their speciality but, with the hosts’ defence weakened by injuries to Olof Mellberg and Mark Delaney and vulnerable to the pace of Steve Marlet and Saha, there was no need to waste time getting the ball forward.
At half-time Villa could consider themselves fortunate still to be in the contest. No team will score from every chance they create but Fulham should have taken at least one of the four which came their way.
First Marlet put a header wide, then he did no better with a shot after a shrewdly angled pass from Steed Malbranque had sent him clear. Malbranque persevered, setting up a chance for Sylvain Legwinski, but the shot was awry. When at last Fulham did find the target Peter Schmeichel was equal to the moment, hurling himself to his left to keep out the diving header with which Marlet had met Steve Finnan’s centre. This, as it transpired, was the turning point of the match.
The Premiership is severe on profligate attacks and even harsher when it comes to sloppy defending. By the hour Fulham, having
been guilty on the first count, had been further punished on the second.
Until George Boateng made space for himself before driving a 20-yard shot just wide in the 31st minute, little had happened to suggest Villa might score. Confined to counter-attacks, they had had little to offer apart from the industry and bustle of Vassell.
At the start of the game Lee Hendrie, Aston Villa’s most consistent midfield player this season, looked capable of controlling the tempo while creating space for his team, both in the centre and on the flanks.
Soon, however, the opposition’s combination of the long ball with good passing and movement was making Hendrie a peripheral figure and impetus was not restored to Villa’s football until Ian Taylor, back from knee surgery, had found his feet after replacing the injured Hassan Kachloul.
Half-time proved the game’s watershed and in more senses than one. The rain began to pour and almost immediately Aston Villa rediscovered the joys of simple, accurate football.
After five minutes of the second half Gregory’s team were ahead. A careless clearance by Zat Knight was followed by a brisk exchange of passes between Hendrie and Mustapha Hadji. The Moroccan’s dipping centre was turned in by Vassell.
Twelve minutes later Angel’s pass found Taylor making a good diagonal run, which caught the Fulham defence utterly square. Taylor duly drove Villa further ahead.
In the 85th minute Steve Staunton upended Luis Boa Morte, one of Tigana’s three substitutes, only for Saha to send the penalty well wide.
At present their owner Mohamed Al Fayed must doubt his team’s ability to hit a pyramid at five paces.