After the turmoil of the week, Villa came out to a large crowd that was very noisy and willing to get behind the team, but early indications were that they weren’t ready to put up with much either.
In the opening seconds Villa started brightly, but Southampton quickly settled down and passed around us easily, Lambert had two chances to score inside 5 minutes.
Eight minutes in and Villa had seen just 13% of possession. It seemed like we had just 10 players out there. Having not been shown any pre match stuff by NBC I had no idea of the line ups and was wondering if we’d had a player sent off before kick-off. I decided to write down the players I’d seen and only counted 10, then on 9 ½ minutes I saw Weimann closing someone down and I had my eleven. 15 seconds later he did get the ball and started a good attack, but couldn’t get on the end of it. Then, Agbonlahor was put through in bags of space, but just like the Gabby of old he controlled the ball 6 ft away from him allowing easy mop up for the defender instead of just testing the keeper with a low shot.
Villa grew into the game as Albrighton, who had had no joy from Luke Shaw began figuring him out a little. The game got a little testy with Saints players trying to get Westwood booked and El Ahmadi was warned for rough play, while Albrighton was mad at the ref for a hip check from Shaw that wasn’t called.
The camera shot to Steve Bruce scouting Villa for the upcoming visit in May, while Moyes sat with his training staff; who looked like they’d rather be anywhere else, presumably to watch Lallana and Shaw, but hopefully they’ll bid on Weimann and El Ahmadi instead.
Villa was not helping the cause to get more possession with sloppy ball retention, or lack thereof. Delph and Bacuna passed poorly out to the wing from close range for throw-ins, Bacuna just ran the ball out of play after decent distribution from Guzan, Baker lumped a ball up in the air when under no real pressure and it bounced harmlessly out of play with no Villa player in sight. That one caused boos.
Guzan had to get himself out of a mess with a splendid save. He called for the cross, so Baker let it go, the keeper then changed his mind. The ball was headed across goal and Stephen Davis should have buried it, but Guzan recovered to push the ball away.
Villa finished the stronger of the 2 and the Saints were fortunate a ricochet went wide after Bertrand’s cross.
Villa was much better after the break, although the Saints still opened Bacuna’s flank at will and could have gone ahead when Lallana failed to get to a low ball played in just behind him.
Villa saw a period of poor calls against it. First Gabby, was called up after winning a corner, for pulling on the centre backs arm, never mind that he had a clump of Gabby’s shirt. Then Weimann was pushed over as he tried to control the ball on the right touchline. The exact same type of push was then given against El Ahmadi in the Saints box as he sprung away from the defender.
Villa looked much better, but still looked vulnerable when Southampton attacked, but more and more Villa got timely interceptions on the D from Delph and Westwood. All attacks were turned into long balls designed for Weimann and Gabby to chase but the two couldn’t seem to ever a get a grip on the ball and hold it up for the rest of the team to join.
One time Gabby did get away he was behind everyone heading toward the corner and was dumped to ground and seeing the first yellow card. Albrighton was now owning the bright starlet Shaw, who had resorted to thuggery to stop the former England under 21. Finally he was carded also, but Villa failed to take advantage of the free kick opportunities.
Villa got away with one when a cross struck Bertrand’s hand in the area from close range. The Villa man had no way of getting his arm out of the way and it was in a natural position for the position he was in, but those have been given, that’s two weeks running we’ve received the benefit of the doubt.
Lambert put Holt on for El Ahmadi, dropping Gabby into the midfield/left winger role, but with Weimann struggling with fatigue and then an injury he threw Callum Robinson into the limelight for his first league appearance. Had Lambert used Cullum in the 4-1 win over Norwich, maybe the kid wouldn’t have been as nervous. He did okay, but pulled up no trees.
There was just time for Gabby to almost foul Clyne in the box with a lazy tackle, before the whistle blew.
The point is welcome and assuming Villa get no more points, Fulham or Cardiff have to win 2 of their remaining 3 to catch us or Sunderland will need 2 and a draw from 4. A copy of the last 2 seasons draws in Swansea would be huge.
Some thoughts. Bacuna is good on the ball but useless as a defender. However, when he runs with the ball he never passes.
Baker is a good defender but useless on the ball.
Delph and Bertrand have formed a nice little tandem. They play some eye pleasing one twos. But, sometimes over elaborate.
Albrighton is sharp. He cut in and robbed players of the ball. I believe he had some decent coaching this season!!! Well done Wigan.
Gabby and Weimann are far from sharp. They need to go to Wigan!! How many times the ball is played back to a defender or we have the ball and it squirts loose and the center back gets to it 2 paces ahead of our duo is unbelievable. Weimann is young enough to learn to read the game, Gabby is veteran, he won’t learn. It’s time to sell him for what we can to a Championship side where he will no doubt thrive.