Before the game a home draw with Southampton would have been a pleasing thought, but the Villa faithful had to feel pretty disappointed at another game thrown away by poor tactics.
Villa unveiled a lamp outside the ground to represent the cricketers that met under the lamp light and formed this wonderful club 140 years ago. For the formative years Villa had a great Scottish heritage that influenced the side’s success with trickery on the field and organization off it.
That makes it such a shame that the last 3 Scottish managers have been so poor for Villa and the current one has emulated the last by stingily and stubbornly trying in vain to hold onto meagre leads.
As far as the game the talking points were Gabby’s well finished goal, then his poor defending for theirs. Weimann’s terrible shot after some really good work to get the opportunity and then poor defending for their goal and finally, some good keeping by Guzan. Other than that it was a bit of a tight game between the two boxes.
So, I will just focus on the Villa players individually. Guzan, as I said was in fine form. Nothing he coud do about the goal. He made a fine one handed save and was on point for all crosses.
Hutton was a welcome returnee to the side. He has a great commitment for a player left out in the cold and deserves our respect. His biggest faults tonight were his one two’s after throw ins which conceded possession too often.
Okore, shone like a beacon. This lad could be a rock for us. He tired after 70 minutes, but he hasn’t played a prem game in over a season and our midfield was not giving the defence a moment to breathe, by holding the ball.
Clarke for me was man of the match for us. He and Okore cancelled out Pelle, who let’s face it has been in form. These two put up as good a performanace as any of Senderos’, Vlaar’s or Baker’s best performances.
Cissokho. Better defensively with a difficult opponent in Long. Still switches off occasionally. His crossing was 20% better, but what is 20% better than Bleedin’ Awful? Bleedin’ Awf?
Westwood. May I suggest you take a few evenings and watch your heroes, Lampard and Gerrard on tape. You need to be more than a break up play mid, you need to contribute going forward.
Sanchez. There are positive signs he is stepping up, but still sloppy with easy passes. Still holds onto the ball too long and gets caught in possession.
Cleverley. Much better, but still no real end product.
N’Zogbia. The most generous word I can think of for tonight is dreadful. It took him until the 21st minute applause to get the ball and not lose possession and it was a simple pass to the right about 5 feet. For once I was happy to see him replaced, but in Zoggy’s defence he can point to this being another game he was subbed that we gave up 2 points.
Speaking of the 21st minute. The British commentator in America, announcing with Andy Townsend completely missed the reason for the applause and droned on about Petrov the entire minute. So much for his preparation.
Weimann offered very little playing out of position once again and his only decent contribution was a breakaway run down the field that he held up, like a striker (take note Lambert, that is all he is) and whipped a blind pass out to the wing perfectly for Gabby. Gabby found him with a perfect pass and he tried to knock the stuffing out of the ball instead of just simply using the perfect pace Gabby had put on it and placed his shot.
Gabby. Gabby was Gabby. In the first half, fresh he had 3 or 4 runs at the defenders and caused them some issues. Koeman had his eye on Ron Vlaar, but he wouldn’t have done any better than his central pair, who seem much better than the Dutchman. Even the goal wasn’t their fault as the keeper, Forster called them off and then hesitated, misjudging Gabby’s pace. But, asking Gabby and Weimann to track back with Clyne and Bertrand was a little much in the 80th minute and both players were caught the wrong side of the opponents allowing Clyne to score.
Richardson did okay in relief of N’Zogbia. Nothing too noteworthy.
Bent came on for Sanchez and lived up to my nickname of statue. I would love to see his opta stats to see if he touched the ball more than once. For all the fans asking for him to be restored to the team I give one little incident late in the game. We all know Bent is useless for the first 70 yards of the field. Between the final 30 and the edge of the area he is known for finding that pocket of space between defenders and also dragging defenders away. I won’t question that, but without a creative body it doesn’t work for Villa. In the box however is where Bent is supposed to come alive. Villa had just sustained a good spell of pressure on the Saints as we tried to get the lead back and the ball came to Richardson. He looked to play the ball down the channel inside the area. His other options were to shoot which would have been blocked by the first defender and if not the two behind; cross, not really on either or turn losing the impetus of the attack. He held on as long as he could, but Bent never made a move. Finally he had to play the ball, no other option, but Bent had left it too long and Southampton worked the ball away. There would have been a lot of work for Bent to do had he received the pass, but a clever turn here or an outlet pass there, might have opened them up.
All in all, a good point and with 4 relegation battle fixtures coming up, would 4 draws in the coming weeks be okay? It actually might.