Aston Villa VS Sunderland 0-0 Review

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).

Review Time

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.


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  1. Andy Lockhead
    Andy Lockhead December 29, 2014 at 6:29 pm . Reply

    Like almost every Villa fan out there, I cannot for the life of me understand why N’zogbia gets called up in front of either Bacuna or Grealish. Even with 10 men we looked better with these two, as opposed to the 11 with the two french men. In other words:

    8 men plus Bacuna & Grealish MORE EFFECTIVE than same 8 with Delph, N’zogbia & Ciissisco.

    Grealish looked more threatening than any other player on the pitch. In fact, every game he has come into this season, he has contributed at least one play that has come close to a goal.

    He is 19 and for me that is not too young to start a game. If he gets tired then replace him but let’s at least give him the chance to show us what he can do over a full 90 minutes.

  2. Hitchens 60
    Hitchens 60 December 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm . Reply

    Can’t really take issue with your objective and well written review. A couple of observations:
    Weimann really looks lost at present and is going through a spell where nothing is working for him and, as a result, he seems to be trying too hard. I think he’s got potential but PL is doing him no favours playing him.
    We seem incapable of playing balls through the channels; An instance in the first half where Cleverley had a great opportunity (Weimann making an intelligent run) Cleverley looked dithered looked and then the chance was gone. We also seem incapable of playing early balls to players overlapping hence we fail to get to the byline often enough.
    My other point (picked up by commentators) is the compete lack of anyone making a run to the near post. I think it happened once on Saturday and Vlaar had a great header saved from a Grealish corner.
    Finally, I really think we missed Gabby – contentious maybe but no one was taking advantage of the space created by Benteke taking three defenders with him.

    1. Mr_cheese
      Mr_cheese December 29, 2014 at 9:38 pm . Reply

      I share the same thoughts regarding Wiemann, he can be somethign good but is going through a frustating path. He should be dropped in the mean while until he clears his head and rekindles his inspiration. But at the same time, i Don’t think players like Nzgobia should be the ones to step up and take his place.
      I keep bashing on about it but I believe that Grealish needs to start some games to really show us what he is worth. The same with Robinson, i’m very excited to see him step up and it really is ashame that his learning has been curbed by his loan being recalled to be a bench warmer.

      I like Gabby, he may not score, but he offers a lot of terms of pace and pressure. Plus you see that every time he plays, he gives it his all.

      1. Hitchens 60
        Hitchens 60 December 29, 2014 at 10:34 pm . Reply

        I know PL bangs on about not ‘over exposing’ young players but if they’re good enough etc. I don’t see that approach at other clubs (Barkley, Wickham to name but two), and in any case, what happened to the bold ‘young and hungry’ strategy!? -:)

  3. Bill Pearson
    Bill Pearson December 29, 2014 at 7:14 pm . Reply

    Happy new year Hitchen 60 and family, did do a reply on other post but my broadband switched off and lost it. What you’re saying is how I see it, cannot measure balls on passing, no idea on splitting defenses, back forward sideways, and cannot cross a ball.that match was frustration to say the least, Nzog he’s lazy, Weimman he tries but its not going for him, Cleverly don’t bother having him no creation in his play, But let’s see more of Grealish ,breathe of fresh air to me, there was goals at Villa Park all on video screen of Villas greats should make that shower sit a learn.

    1. Hitchens 60
      Hitchens 60 December 29, 2014 at 9:24 pm . Reply

      Can’t argue with any of that Bill; keep the faith UTV oh yes with Swansea losing 3-1 villa now have the best defensive record outside the top four 🙂

      1. OohAhPaulMcGrath
        OohAhPaulMcGrath December 30, 2014 at 1:16 am . Reply

        We’ve also got the lowest number of goals in the whole division even worse than burnley and Leicester ffs

        1. Hitchens 60
          Hitchens 60 December 30, 2014 at 8:16 am . Reply

          Oohah – I’m attempting irony 🙂

        2. GarethVilla
          GarethVilla December 30, 2014 at 8:54 am . Reply

          We’ve actually got the lowest number of goals in all 4 divisions!!!
          I see West Brom are actively doing something about their dire situation.
          But who are we to complain, because we are passing the ball now you know!!

  4. Badger123
    Badger123 December 29, 2014 at 10:11 pm . Reply

    Good review Mr C.
    I particularly agree with the point about Okore getting dropped and had a similar conversation with my BIL this morning.
    I suspect he was actually rested, just to give both Clark and him a game, for exactly the reason you mention (Vlaar is gone).

    Weimann is simply shot, imo.

    It’s interesting how you agree with me though, where I thought N’zog was actually quite decent for a spell, where it seems most thought he was utter rubbish.

  5. Benno
    Benno December 29, 2014 at 11:19 pm . Reply

    I pretty much agree with most of what you are saying. What it really comes down to though is the fact that Lambert is absolutely useless. His stubbornness in playing this same formation of 4-3-3 is just ludicrous.

    Weimann is a striker and is hopeless out wide. If we played with wide players, he could work well linking up with Benteke. Truth is though, he has been generally poor this season and hasnt merited his place in the team. Nor for that matter has Gabby. There is no real reason that either of these two deserve to be ahead of Robinson at present.

    As for the midfield, again, I dont understand how Nzogbia gets a game. He is only good at one thing, running with the ball…and most of the time he loses it anyway. Bacuna and Grealish made us look a different team when they came on. We were better with 10 men once these two came on. Cleverley is very average, and we should not be buying him. Sanchez however has been a revelation and Westwood was starting to play well.

    The only real positive is the defence. Hutton has been outstanding and all 5 of our centre halves could argue that they should be starting. Cissokho is excellent in our half, although that is where he should always stay. Simple instructions for Cissokho: KEEP CALM AND PASS TO GREALISH

    If Lambert doesnt change the team against Palace. In fact, if he doesnt start Grealish, the crowd are going to be on to him straight away.

    1. Hitchens 60
      Hitchens 60 December 30, 2014 at 8:18 am . Reply

      Weimann didn’t play wide on Saturday but his performance lacked conviction.

  6. villa1996
    villa1996 December 30, 2014 at 11:10 am . Reply

    I’m really concerned atm with villa and the way things are being done teams around us starting to make changes and I can see new manager effect happening and us to be stuck with lambert who has worse records than the managers who have been sacked speaks volumes we are going down this year all because Lerner won’t sack lambert we can’t score goals he plays the same shit players week in week out regards of form just proves how much Lerner doesn’t have a clue dark times for villa fans I can see it happening down we go crystal palace will beat us Thurs I hope the fans turn and start to save the club if not then don’t moan when we’re in the championship next year

  7. Dave67
    Dave67 December 30, 2014 at 11:51 am . Reply

    We can talk about formation and tactics as long as that fool is in charge nothing will change the man has no balls. If we go down us fans will have to take some of the blame for not calling for his head. It makes me sick teams around us changing manager s and we will be stuck with a fool.

  8. Andrew
    Andrew December 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm . Reply

    Only one team in Europe has a worse scoring ratio than Paul Lambert’s claret and blues. Only Hamburg have a worse goal ratio with 9 in 17 out of the major European leagues.

  9. Ifiruledtheworld
    Ifiruledtheworld December 30, 2014 at 3:31 pm . Reply

    So with Delphy’s suspension standing, and Cleverley possibly being added to our list of casualties, sure this means Grealish and/or Bacuna’s chances of a starting berth increase?

    1. Mr_cheese
      Mr_cheese December 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm . Reply

      I would love to agree that optimistic but lambert scares me with his decisions

      1. Ifiruledtheworld
        Ifiruledtheworld December 30, 2014 at 3:56 pm . Reply

        Yeah, I can kinda see what he’s trying to do but when you watch players like Sterling running rampant in the league you just wonder why can’t we throw him in straight away. In fairness this option Lambert is taking is safer, and Sterling’s form did take a huge hit before he came roaring back. Only time will tell..

        Also, am I the only one starting to think Cleverley is Delph’s replacement? With Sanchez holding things up nice in front of the back 4, Cleverley has just slid in alongside Westwood in a slightly more advanced role. While he hasn’t set the world alight, he’s certainly been solid. So if he is Delph’s replacement hopefully we do get his deal tied up in January then come the summer we can focus on the more attacking players we crave..

        I don’t know about the 7.5 million though, you’d think if it’s to replace Delph then sign him up but his performances while strong are yet to really warrant such a price tag. Who knows, maybe if we snap him up and he scores 3 or 4 goals in the second half it wouldn’t look that bad.. I’m a bit torn!!

        1. Hitchens 60
          Hitchens 60 December 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm . Reply

          I’m sort of with you in the Delph / Cleverley debate; sell Delph in January but I would keep Cleverley on loan as I’m not convinced at 7.5m (having said that the £2 – £3 m touted on here is similarly unrealistic given what is ‘expected’ for Delph in January also out of contract in the summer). I would like to see Bacuna being given an extended opportunity on the right of midfield.
          Don’t really know enough about Robinson but Grealish has earned a start ahead of Nzg who I would get rid in January.

  10. Hitchens 60
    Hitchens 60 December 30, 2014 at 6:24 pm . Reply

    See that Villa have been fined £30k and warned as to their future conduct by the FA who couldn’t run a p**s up in a brewery if someone opened the vats for them. If Delph’s challenge was a red, what about the ‘off the ground scissors tackle’ that left Westy injured which only got a yellow. The game’s becoming a complete farce. Rant over!

    1. Mr_cheese
      Mr_cheese December 30, 2014 at 6:47 pm . Reply

      Just read this, but is it all one sided? What is the punishment for the ref who makde the initial mistake and let the scissor kick slide? If they are going ot enforce such rules, they need to enforce them both sides and hold back on the biased punishments.

    2. Badger123
      Badger123 December 30, 2014 at 8:12 pm . Reply

      I totally agree with Villa having being fined for not keeping the players under control.
      I can hardly say any different, given that I’ve complained about it generally in the game, for years.
      And you can’t punish a ref for making a mistake, else who would do the job?

      The people who make the rules should be seen as the ones who are running the game and the enforcers cannot be undermined by any particular club, is my point.

      That said, it does seem that certain clubs get away with stuff and some clubs don’t.

      1. Hitchens 60
        Hitchens 60 December 30, 2014 at 9:22 pm . Reply

        Badger, my point is there appears to be no consistency in decision making either on or off the pitch. This directly leads to players getting upset (as in the Gabby incident) Mr Cheese is right Villa get fined £30k (and warned as to their future conduct?) because players feel the ref has let them down and the ref? – nothing not even censured.
        The only way to get an even playing field is to move to video technology for fouls where the ref is considering showing a card with an instant independent review as they do in rugby and cricket and get rid of all these nonsensical appeals and the inability of the FA to review a card not given or given as a yellow rather than red.
        And while I’m at it Atkinson gave Vlaar a yellow card on Saturday for his third foul (totting up) except the second foul was by Clark – and we only committed four fouls in the whole game!

  11. Dave67
    Dave67 December 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm . Reply

    Sterling raised his hand last night and conected with the Swansea defender in front of the linesman not a thing done. Pundits couldn’t believe he stayed on the pitch.

    1. Hitchens 60
      Hitchens 60 December 30, 2014 at 9:22 pm . Reply

      But Benteke got sent off for the same thing!

      1. Dave67
        Dave67 December 30, 2014 at 9:42 pm . Reply

        Official s seem to have different rules for different teams.

        1. OriginalLondonLion
          OriginalLondonLion December 30, 2014 at 9:55 pm . Reply

          Yes, big team bias is as bad as it has been for years. Chelsea, Manure, Citeh, Scousers all get away with diving, punching, wrestling and handballs that lesser teams do not. Strange that Arsenal do not seem to benefit much – there must be something missing from the Emirates Officials room.

          1. Hitchens 60
            Hitchens 60 December 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm . Reply


    GIDDYVILLAN December 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm . Reply


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