Posted by Kirsten
But flying a bit high after tonight's victory. My viewing was sporadic as the live stream kept cutting out (due to Champions League play, the match was not televised, leading me to wonder what on earth am I even doing in England). But what I did see is that, once again, it appeared we sent out a side that was a bit confused as to their purpose in life. The lads kept giving up possession in the first thirty minutes or so, and then kept looking around, wide-eyed, as the Latics played a bit of keep-away. The strange own goal from James McCarthy did nothing to boost their confidence, perhaps because Wigan equalized in less than three minutes.
After the half, the Villans still didn't appear sharp, but were perhaps less fuzzy than they had been just twenty minutes before. They tightened up through the back and Stephen Warnock stopped tripping over his own feet and throwing balls to no one. One of our many corners was once again a breakthrough, although the goal did not come directly from the set piece this time. Instead James Milner, from outside the penalty area, took the rebound and poked one through a crowd of both Latics and Villans, and the ball seemed to move in slow motion as it crossed the line.
However, even more impressive was his jumping maneuver in which he flew over a sliding Wigan player while juggling the ball, only to land on the other side with the ball at his toe and keep running up field. Capello, you need this man on your England squad.
Still Wigan kept fighting through the 94th minute, causing quite a few mini heart attacks as they found holes in the defense we barely knew were there. Once again the headers from James Collins and Richard Dunne kept quite a few balls from threatening Brad Friedel, although he did have to stay awake and rescue a few shots. Much of the time we had our entire XI standing in the penalty area. This terrifies me more than words can express.
The point of this post isn't to write a recap--I don't want to make it a habit after every game, especially since I fear being utterly wrong about something that I believe to have happened on the field. The point is to make us all aware that some of the polish is peeling off. While Villa have really managed to hold it together while other teams have succumbed to injury after injury, it appears that the knocks, scrapes, tummy bugs and ouchies are setting in. We're playing match after match--League Cup, FA Cup, and of course normal league matches--and it's probably natural that we're feeling a bit of fatigue.
The good news is that most other teams are, as well. Honestly, if you didn't watch every Villa game, you'd probably think they were in fine form tonight. And it (cross fingers) just might be enough to give us the added boost to jump into the fourth slot. This weekend we play Wolves, at Villa Park, which you'd think would be an easy three points but I hesitate to be so brash. As for our top four rivals, Spurs are at Britannia Stadium, so it's possible Stoke will only allow them to leave with a point. Citeh go to Craven Cottage--I'm sensing they'll come away with at least a point. And Liverpool head to Old Trafford, which means this is one of the few times in a season I will actually cheer United. If we can keep it together, we might find fourth.
Note: My feed crapped out at the 90th minute, so I'm not commenting on the Sidwell almost-goal. I refuse to believe this almost happened.
Another note: This post took forever to write due to my propensity to type "Lactic" in reference to Wigan.