Back home after the exertions of Europe which added to our injury list - no Alex today and he's replaced by Ivanovic alongside JT. The one bright note is the the return of Joe Cole who starts upfront alongside Anelka and Malouda.
We start at a cracking pace, moving the ball well and running Villa all over the shop - Joe looks very lively. Its just over 15mins when Lamps gets his head on an Anelka cross but it drifts wide. However, we're in front 2mins later as Malouda finds Lamps who in turn sets Joe Cole free inside the area to bury the ball past Friedel. Anelka goes close 3mins later when he wrests the ball from Curtis Davis and crashes a 25yrd shot off the crossbar. Lamps has a free kick well saved by Friedel before, on 41mis, he sets Ash free down the left who cuts back only for Ballack to drive straight at Friedel. Fortunately Anelka is on hand to net the rebound at the second attempt. The half ends 2-0 and we should have even more.
Villa make 2 changes - well they had to really, as Milner and Cuellar are on whilst Franco di Santo comes in for Anelka. Its more of the same though and within 5mins Joe Cole finds di Santos but the youngster shoots tamely at Friedel. Petrov launches himself at Joe Cole on 52mins and takes his ankle - if that was Jedi there would be a flurry of Villa players waving imaginary cards. Joe's trying to run it off but looks in trouble and he's off within 2mins to be replaced by Kalou. Ballack drives straight at Friedel and then a Lamps cross skids infront of di Santos and Malouda. A lovely exchange of passes between Lamps, Ballack and Kalou sets Kalou free but his shot deflects over the bar - great football. There's 8mins to go and Belletti comes on for Malouda who's probably had his best game to date in a blue shirt.
Its not being unkind to say that Villa could have been on the wrong side of a 5-0 drubbing today - we were that good
Come on U Blues