O'Neill - We were arrogant

Villa boss claims side must learn lesson if they want top four finish

By Elliot Ball   Last updated: 1st March 2009   Subscribe to RSS Feed

O'Neill - We were arrogant

Carew: Thought he sealed maximum points

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Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill accused his side allowing arrogance to enter their game as they surrendered a two-goal lead against Stoke in the final three minutes at Villa Park.

Villa were on course for victory - and an eight-point advantage over fifth-placed Arsenal - when John Carew added to Stiliyan Petrov's earlier goal with just 11 minutes of normal time remaining.

But Stoke, who had posed a greater threat after a change of formation and the introduction of substitute Ricardo Fuller, stunned the home side with late strikes from Ryan Shawcross and Glenn Whelan.

It means Villa have won only five of their 14 home games this season compared with 10 victories in 13 matches on their travels and O'Neill confessed the dressing room was desolate.

"We were more than disappointed in the dressing room afterwards. In fact, everyone was devastated," the Villa boss told Sky Sports.

"We were in total control at 2-0 and with five minutes to go you should be able to see a game out.

Arrogance

"It didn't materialise and we have dropped two points. For the first time today I thought there was a degree of over-confidence about us.

"I just felt, having got the second goal, we should have been able to read the situation better and what might develop in the last couple of minutes.

"Once or twice we were still looking to play the sort of intricate football that got us 2-0 up instead of seeing the game out. It is a real disappointment."

O'Neil added: "We were brilliant in the first half and some of our movement was excellent. We started the second half sloppily and didn't get into a rhythm for a while.

"But we got the second goal and were then in complete control. Stoke were left with nothing to lose and were always going to put the ball into our box and we should have been able to deal with it.

"At the moment it is hard to understand why (they only drew). They came here to sit back and I have not got a problem with that. It is up to us to break them down and we did that.

"I think the normal top four sides would have seen it through. Is that a lesson we will learn? I hope you are right.

"There are still plenty of games left and we have won games ourselves in the last minute but to drop two points today is galling because for the most part we were excellent."