The scoreline pretty much summed the game up, so for those expecting an exciting and relishing write up, you will be dissapointed. This game was full of both big positives and just as big negatives with one of those being no goal scored.
Before we start I have to ask the question, what would your line up have been against Sunderland given the same players? Would you have included N’zogbia? Would you have played Wiemann?
Those two players were my biggest worry before the game even begun. N’zogbia especially because he just has not shown his former form in a Villa shirt and yet he will consistantly get a start in the 11. What about Wiemann though? We all have mixed opinions and I really want to hear them below (preferably without insulting each other).
We controlled this game well, setting the pace and passing the ball a lot, a hell of a lot in fact. We seemed very comfortable at home in front of the 35000 crowd and looked as though we were there to take the 3 points. I say that, but past the point of control, we offered little in the form of attack. In fact, our first strike on target came from N’zogbia in the 35th minute, but I’ll get to that later on.
Very early on in the game the ball dropped to Wiemann’s feet slightly outside of the 6 yard box. He should shoot. I even screamed it at the screen. He chose to take an extra touch to be smart and get himself in a better position and the opportunity was lost. This I am afraid was how the evening went on for Wiemann as moments later when the Villa were on the break after a header from Benteke, Wiemann attempted to pass the ball to the left hand side to open the game and break the defence… he over hit the ball. Nothing was going to go his way and we all knew it. I wanted him subbed at half time and really hoped (blind hoping) that we would finally see Robinson wield the Villa shirt for the senior squad.
At this point it might be worth mentioning that I saw an interesting stat based on goals scored which puts us bottom of the league for away goals and 19th for home.
And now for the next question.
What does a player have to do in order to get dropped from the Villa squad?
Half time came and went. Wiemann reappeared with the team and went on to play the entire game, what a shambles.
Then it happened, Delph went in for the challenge and got Villa’s 3rd red card in 4 games. Was it a red card? I argued no at first, but after consideration, a studded challenge is a studded challenge. What recklessness.
This is where I would say the positives really show, because the Villa from last season would have let the game slip and come away with nothing, but just like the Man United game, we held our own and still looked strong.
Paul Lambert finally made a substition (which in my eyes should have been Weimann at half time for Robinson) and brought Bacuna on for N’zgobia.
As much as I was annoyed by the inclusion of N’zgobia in the starting 11, I must admit that he wasn’t the worst player on the pitch. In fact, the final 15 minutes of the first half he played like he actually possessed some ability. He may not have tracked back, but he made space, runs and attacked well. I was slightly surprised by the sub, but I do like Bacuna and feel he offers a lot more anyway.
Moments later, Clarke was replaced by Okore. There seemed to be no visable reason for the change other than the fact that maybe Lambert is preparing for Vlaars exit by keeping both back ups match fit and hungry.
The defence yet again put in a solid performance which really showed when Sunderland started pressing post red card.
15 minutes from the end, Grealish replaced a quiet Cleverly and the game reignited. The fans roared back to life and Grealish was everywhere on the pitch, getting involved in everything. I’m angry writing this because it’s bringing back the exact same feeling whilst watching. Why is this lad not starting instead of N’zogbia or Cleverly? What is the harm in trying the inspired, energetic next generation instead of the going downhill older ones? You may not all agree, but that is the beauty of opinion.
The game ended with an end to end flurry of attacks which put the first 75 minutes to shame.
Aston Villa genuinely look stronger on the ball and seem as though they can hold posession and pass it around enough. This is countered with the fact that there is no attacking play.
Grealish keeps on impressing and MUST get a start to put him to the test.
Our defence looked solid again, a lot of communication and good area control.
Sanchez deservedly got MOTM because he virtually single handedly controlled midfield. He spotted passes and space and looked more than comfortable being passed the ball in tight areas. He looks to be growing week on week.
We are still struggling to score and Lambert seems oblivious to this because he won’t even attempt Robinson, the player who he brought back from the loan spell he was enjoying.
Lambert’s lacking change in starting 11. This is part of the above negative because it really comes down to the players who are consistently failing us each week and how they are continuing to start regardless, especially when we have more inspiring, younger players on the bench who want to play as hard as they possibly can to make their mark.
Cissokho still can’t cross. I’m sorry, but I have to go over this again because he proved once more that he lacks any kind of crossing ability. He defended well, he got forward well but when players make the space for him to pass to them, he choses to cross the ball instead and like every other week, it is a failed cross. He needs to stop and pass to a player that can cross the ball because these are wasted opportunities. How can we score if the ball doesn’t make it to the strikers?
Last negative is the fact that all game, the only players I ever felt had any remote chance of scoring were Benteke and Hutton. Benteke because we already know his ability and what he can do given the opportunity (which never appeared this game) and Hutton because he drives forward consistently and always looks threatening whenever he gets near the area and he is a bloody defender!!! If only Cissokho had that same ability.
Those are my thoughts, you might agree, you might slate me. But the fact is, we had 2 shots on target and 14 free kicks. Possession is great, but we are not making the most of these opportunites.