The factors that helped Villa win at Old Trafford
By Ian Robathan
Sunday 13 Dec 2009 22:07:00
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Man Utd 0 Villa 1 … How many times have you watched it?

Well, I’ve watched it twice more since viewing it live - and I am still in a state of disbelief at actually breaking a 26 year old hoodoo at Old Trafford.

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I had the pleasure of watching the game live in a pub with a mate and it seemed, from all the fans gathered round, there was a strange sense of confidence that this would be our time at last - eight months after being cheated at Old Trafford.

As the game wore on and apart from a few scares it became clear that the defence were playing brilliantly.

Brad Friedel had little do apart from one awesome save, and when James Collins came on this feeling was only strengthened.

Why did we win there, and do so comfortably? In fact, why has our form picked up?

There are a few factors, of course, but the introduction of Stewart Downing has given us a new dimension we did not have before.

Of course the obvious point is that it allowed us to move James Milner inside and means that Ashley Young in theory cannot be double marked.

Along with the fact Downing keeps and retains the ball very well, it has allowed Petrov to play the more natural role of distributor - knowing that he is in a midfielder full of very good ball-playing forwards.

This in turn has led to us 'lumping' the ball far less and playing to Gabby's and Emile Heskey's strengths of being fed balls to feet and taking the pressure off them.

This game was the start of a very tough run and by the end of the Liverpool game at the end of December if we are still in fourth place, then it is on.

The key is whether we can avoid the usual slump in the early part of the year – if we can, then this season is shaping up very well indeed.

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