For a team that has lost their last 6, this is a decent result and it was genuinely an entertaining game to watch, even more so if you are a neutral fan. Having said this, the game means nothing if it is not used as a foundation to erect a pillar.
I’ve been unavailable to write for the past weekends due to work commitments now being schedule during the weekend, but I got home in time to watch this game of two halfs, so sit back and try to enjoy as I do have a lot to say.
Where better for us to start than the first half of the game? Short answer = Diabolical.
Aston Villa started the game with the intention of adding yet another loss to Victory sheet for Lambert and they come very close, several times in fact, to conceding in the first half. Luckily, for the most part, our defence and Guzan were spot on and managed to either clear the ball away or concede one of many corners.
We was well and truly ripped apart by a team that seemed to grow with confidence with every attack and was unfortunate not to get on the score board. The combination of Valencia and Sahko run us riot at times completely splitting us apart and challenging the defenders in positions that should never have seen them win the ball, but of course this is Aston Villa and they did get the ball. It just so happens that we were fast and at times lucky enough to regroup and recover what should have been stopped the first time around.
How about our attacking during the first half? We lacked majorly. Gabby looked passionate and threatening on the ball, but there is no point bragging about passion if it gets no results. Him a Wiemann struggled to get a connection and read each others plays which resulted in Villa losing the ball in positions that we should take more advantage of. The early shot that Gabby did get went way over the bar, and this just sums it up really. If we lack attacking threat, then we really need to takes these chances more wisely.
Alas, it wasn’t all doom and gloom because we finally started to rock the boat towards the end of the first half and you could see the Hammers did not like it and nor could they handle it. We had a really good piece of build up play around the 40 minute mark and come very close to scoring as 3 different players had shots, 2 on target and the last over the bar. This was very positive but I can’t praise them too much because it should not take 40 minutes for a team to warm up and do what they practice day in and day out.
The second half was a different story, we actually took the game to them and I for about 25 minutes, I actually thought we was going to nick a goal and win 1:0. The major difference in this half was what I have been shouting about for weeks. If there is no option to pass the ball, do not hoof it in hope, pass it back and make space. We did this perfectly and at times, it looked beautiful. The ball went back, to the side and then forward again into the space that had been created and all of this was on the floor and not in the air! It worked, it truly worked.
The second half wasn’t all one sided though as the tide did turn and it looked as though West Ham would steal a winner in the final minutes which would have been the Aston Villa legacy of giving the down and out that confidence to carry them forward. That down and out came in the form of Andy Carroll. We did however prevail, and the defence played a miraculous part in that.
I love this club so much that I hate the with a passion because they emotional hurt me game after game but this time there was a little spark of what should be. I will not get carried away though and say this is the end of our end because that would be naive, but I think it can be used to help turn the bad luck around.
The defence was fantastic but it still needs improving. Cissokho played well, make a lot of challenges and sticking to the rule of thumb “When in doubt, knock it out”; he done his job. I still have the same issue with him though, he can’t go forward for toffee and this usually ends up in a wasted ball and loss of possession. This needs to be addressed because it is an obvious flaw to our team. During the match he showed again his lacking ability to cross the ball as each attempted drifted too far or just completely went out, it angers me to watch. He can’t do it, so don’t attempt and instead pass it to somebody that can. This will allow him to stick to his strengths and give the squad more time on the ball.
Nzog looked like he was coming into his form with a lot of solo play and taking players on. I’m all for this because I would love to see the Zog before he joined the Villa. He really worked his socks off and was a good addition to the team. Lambert made a decisive decision by putting Clark on near the end as a 5th defender and I have to give both of them credit because it worked. Clark did some very vital defending and played a huge part in stopping the onslaught in the dying moments. Credit where credit is due.
With all this said and the game done, we still have no real attacking threat and I wouldn’t get too excited with a point because even though it is better than a loss it will get us no where if we do not start to score and this should be priority number one during the winter window.