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Player Match Ratings: What a difference a free kick can make!


John
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This game had goalless draw written all over it until Leo Bacuna hit a sweet free kick into the back of the net in the 76th minute. That goal was our first in 7 hours and this along with a second just 9 minutes later secured our second home win of the season and only our eighth from our last 38 at Villa Park.


This was a “must win” game. Games such as these at Villa Park really have to be won and win it we did. Cardiff who started the game ahead of us in the table came seeking a point that they almost got. We had the best of what was some way from being an enthralling game. Cardiff did not create much if anything to worry our defence which registered another clean sheet but we spent a lot of the game finding it difficult to find our own men and to create any clear openings.

That all changed late in the game at a time our crowd were becoming increasingly restless as the prospect of further points being dropped at home seemed inevitable. It was then that Bacuna stepped up to take a free kick and found the back of the net with more than a touch of aplomb as he had done in the only other league game we had won at Villa Park prior to this one. A wave of relief spread around Villa Park as we celebrated Leo’s well executed free kick. The Bluebirds had nothing to offer following that and we went on to stretch our lead and ended a vital game we had struggled to make our own comfortable winners.

We can take some confidence from this win and players that were missing yesterday will have an opportunity to recover before we meet WBA in two weeks time following the international break. Talking of that break it was interesting to see new Ireland assistant manager Roy Keene in attendance and no doubt running the rule over Peter O’Demwingie and our very own Ciaran Clark!

My player ratings from a game that left us back in the top half of the table are:

Brad Guzan – 6 – A very quiet game for Brad.

Leandro Bacuna – 8 – MOTM – Leo was solid at the back and made things happen when moving forward. He was cynically pulled back by Medel when running strongly towards goal and the Cardiff man fully deserved his booking and the consequences that ensued. Leo converted the resultant free kick for our crucial opening goal with a Beckham like strike from around 25 yards on 76 minutes leaving Marshall who had gambled on him going for the other post flat footed.

Ron Vlaar – 7 – A good convincing performance at the heart of our defence.

Nathan Baker – 6 – Almost presented an opportunity to Cardiff on 12 minutes when he left a ball to Guzan rather than make sure it was put to safety himself with a Cardiff forward in close attendance. Other than that a pretty assured display when tested.

Ciaran Clark - 7 – A much improved performance. Showed more confidence as one of three at the back and a fair bit of ability when getting forward.

Aleksandar Tonev – 7 – Gave us pace down the flank and hit crosses in that became increasingly worrisome for the Cardiff defence in the second half.

Karim El Ahmadi – 5 – Works hard enough but he was unconvincing overall yesterday and his place has to be under threat when Delph returns.

Ashley Westwood - 6 –Showed signs of the player he was so often last season and he needs to build and push on from this during the rest of the season. Hit a ball that fell to him outside of the on 63 minutes wide of the post.

Yacouba Sylla – 5 – Won the ball on the edge of the box following a nice back heel from Benteke on 8 minutes making space for a shot that was easily held by Marshall. Not yet at his best of last season and a run of games may well help.

Libor Kozak – 7 – His most impressive performance to date in our shirt and worked well up front. Caught offside in the first minute when he got a good header on target from a nice Clark cross and got a fine downward header on an excellent cross from Bacuna on 50 minutes which forced a save from Marshall. Settled matters on 85 minutes after Clark found Tonev whose cross came off a defender and Lowton did so very well to head it back into the danger area where he headed in nicely into the corner of the net with the keeper well beaten.

Christian Benteke – 6 – Played a ball to El Ahmadi whose shot from the edge of the box was not held by Marshall but Caulker did well to beat him to the loose ball in the 5th minute. Had an on target shot touched past the post by Marshall on 11 minutes after he had cut inside the area and should really have done better on 67 minutes when he headed an El Ahmadi cross wide.

Substitutes:

Matt Lowton – 6 - Replaced El Ahmadi on 74 minutes and made a big difference allowing Bacuna to get forward more often as we chased a win and played his own significant part in our second goal.

Jordan Bowery – Replaced Kozak on 88 minutes. Hit the side netting in the first minute of stoppage time having been found inside the box by Benteke but not on long enough to gain a rating.

Up the Villa!
John Lewis

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ATTENDANCE STATISTICS
Team12/13Rank13/14RankInc
Arsenal346079
Cardiff City-358093+35809
Chelsea420841
Crystal Palace-
Everton365658351545-1411
Fulham370116
Hull City-
Liverpool420372420981+61
Manchester City3321713340636+846
Manchester United405383
Newcastle United3033417375542+7220
Norwich City3318414
Queens Park Rangers385944
Reading2869219
Southampton3250015
Stoke City3011018
Sunderland374285
Swansea City3400511
Tottenham Hotspur368637353914-1472
West Bromwich Albion3448910
West Ham United3050316
Wigan Athletic3337412
TOTAL666135220069+4.61%
Ave3506036678+1618
RESULTS VERSUS SAME OPPOSITION
TEAMHOMEPts12/13PtsAWAYPts12/13PtsTHISLASTDIFF
Arsenal0-013-131-2030+3
Cardiff City2-03
Chelsea1-201-200-80000
Crystal Palace
Everton0-201-303-31000
Fulham1-110-10000
Hull City0-01
Liverpool0-101-203-13000
Manchester City3-230-100-5030+3
Manchester United2-300-30000
Newcastle United1-201-201-11000
Norwich City1-111-032-13330
Southampton0-101-40000
Stoke City0-013-13000
Sunderland6-131-03000
Swansea City2-032-21000
Tottenham Hotspur0-200-400-20000
West Bromwich Albion1-112-21000
West Ham United2-130-010-1010+1
TOT6Tot14TOT8Tot16103+7
Cardiff City2-030-302-2130+3
Hull City1-030-012-1313-2
Crystal Palace3-231-11000
TOT3Tot6TOT1Tot543+1
Alt
OVERALL146+8
SCORING/RESULTS STATISTICS
Scored11Conceded12
Scored first2Conceded first7
When we score 1stTotHAWhen we concede 1stTotHA
Wins211Wins211
Draws000Draws000
Losses000Losses541
Nil all draws202
Ave scoring min61Ave conceding min46
Scored first half3Conceded first half6
Scored 1-150Conceded 1-152
Scored 16-302Conceded 16-302
Scored 31-451Conceded 31-452
Scored second half8Conceded second half6
Scored 46-601Conceded 46-601
Scored 61-754Conceded 61-754
Scored 76-903Conceded 76-901
Possession Stats
Average match possession41.87%
Out-possess opponent2
Out-possessed by opponent9
When we out-possess opponent
Pts accrued (PPG)1 (0.5)
Goals scored (GPG)1 (0.5)
Goals conceded (GPG)2 (1)
When out-possessed by opponent
Pts accrued (PPG)13 (1.4)
Goals scored (GPG)10 (1.1)
Goals conceded (GPG)10 (1.1)
Penalties
For1
Against0
Own Goals
For0
Against1
SCORING/RESULTS STATISTICS
PPLAYERGLS (11)
1Christian Benteke4
2Leandro Bacuna2
2Libor Kozák2
4Andreas Weimann1
4Karim El Ahmadi1
4Antonio Luna1
7OTHERS0
REF WATCH
PREFEREEAppsW-D-LPts
1Martin Atkinson11-0-03
1Michael Jones11-0-03
1Chris Foy11-0-03
4Anthony Taylor21-0-13
5Howard Webb10-1-01
6Mark Clattenburg20-1-11
7Phil Dowd10-0-10
7Mike Dean10-0-10
7Kevin Friend10-0-10
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Great article & analysis as always John.

 

The most important point from this fixture was to get the 3 pts hook or by crook. As with our previous home game we came fast out of the blocks for the first 20 minutes but with no reward we became predictable & easy to contain. Things may have been different had Tonev showed more awareness when getting into good crossing positions & when he should have played in Benteke instead of blazing high wide & handsome like a headless chicken just before half time. Awareness & choosing of the right available option is a part of Tonev's game that he vastly needs to improve if he is going to cut it in the Premier League. I'm pretty sure Lambo & the coaching staff will be onto him at BMH & that these aspects of his game will improve in time, His impetuosity in working back to cover Clark also led to giving away a needless free kick in a dangerous area just outside of the 18 yd box near the touchline late on in the game. The good news though is that he is improving & was much, much better in the second half.

 

The ever versatile Ciaran Clark slotted in comfortably at LB & Vlaar & Baker looked solid & were rarely troubled by Cardiff's unimaginative play. Ashley Westwood's passing & sweet movement of the ball is a joy to behold & Yacoba Sylla seems to complement his style.

 

The partnership of Kozak & Benteke was disappointing overall as both players seemed to lack communication & failed to bounce of each other apart from the moment just before half time when they literally did just that by both competed for the same ball. Benteke is still not 100% match fit but we all know it is just a matter of time before he is terrorising defences once more. As for Kozak it was great to see him score his first home goal & especially so in front of the Holte End. As this partnership is still in it's embryonic stage & that Kozak is more likely to act as cover for Benteke rather than partner him at least should they be paired together in the future they have this game to build a base from in order that they can flourish.

 

The MOTM award for this game was obvious. Even if he hadn't scored that Robertio Carlos free Kick Bacuna was completely on the top of his game & his timing of his tackles & passing out from defence were impeccable. It is also not very often that lambo makes a really significant match changing decision from the bench. Everybody in the ground seemed completely puzzled when he withdrew El Ahmadi & introduced Matty Lowton that allowed Bacuna to then push up & play in front of him, but no sooner had this taken place that we then found ourselves a goal up due to a fabulous one two by Bacuna & Sylla & a direct run at the jugular by Bacuna resulting in the Cardiff defence tugging him down & the next minute wham, bham, thank you mam, the ball is in the back of the net from a free kick that any Brazilian would be proud of. It's fabulous & heart warming to know that at last we at Villa finally have the real McCoy & specialist at this particular art.

 

Also, VT & John Lewis can surely claim an assist for this goal because let's face it, for weeks now John has suggested than Bacuna should play in front of Lowton & here is the proof, Take a bow John son, take a bow.

 

Another pleasing aspect was that you could see the team grow in confidence once we scored that first goal. We are a young, vibrant & energetic team & this goal provided stimulus to that potential.

 

Finally too, a side decimated by injuries finally kept a clean sheet in front of the Villa park public. Hopefully we can now form this healthy habit on a much more regular basis & grow from strength to strength. The Lambert project is slowly developing & it's great to be on board.

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Peter O’Demwingie

:lol:

Re- the result. It was significant in our 'comparitive' fixtures with last season because that was a 3-0 home loss to Wigan, so as you can see from the stats above, we're now +8pts over the same opposition !!

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Peter O’Demwingie

:lol:

Re- the result. It was significant in our 'comparitive' fixtures with last season because that was a 3-0 home loss to Wigan, so as you can see from the stats above, we're now +8pts over the same opposition !!

 

BOF, I may be having a bad maths moment, but I only make it +7 on the basis you are doing it.

 

The problem might be that, in the table above, you have shown the points difference for Everton Home(this season 0-2, last season 3-3) as 0, when shouldn't it be -1?

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Great article & analysis as always John.

 

The most important point from this fixture was to get the 3 pts hook or by crook. As with our previous home game we came fast out of the blocks for the first 20 minutes but with no reward we became predictable & easy to contain. Things may have been different had Tonev showed more awareness when getting into good crossing positions & when he should have played in Benteke instead of blazing high wide & handsome like a headless chicken just before half time. Awareness & choosing of the right available option is a part of Tonev's game that he vastly needs to improve if he is going to cut it in the Premier League. I'm pretty sure Lambo & the coaching staff will be onto him at BMH & that these aspects of his game will improve in time, His impetuosity in working back to cover Clark also led to giving away a needless free kick in a dangerous area just outside of the 18 yd box near the touchline late on in the game. The good news though is that he is improving & was much, much better in the second half.

 

The ever versatile Ciaran Clark slotted in comfortably at LB & Vlaar & Baker looked solid & were rarely troubled by Cardiff's unimaginative play. Ashley Westwood's passing & sweet movement of the ball is a joy to behold & Yacoba Sylla seems to complement his style.

 

The partnership of Kozak & Benteke was disappointing overall as both players seemed to lack communication & failed to bounce of each other apart from the moment just before half time when they literally did just that by both competed for the same ball. Benteke is still not 100% match fit but we all know it is just a matter of time before he is terrorising defences once more. As for Kozak it was great to see him score his first home goal & especially so in front of the Holte End. As this partnership is still in it's embryonic stage & that Kozak is more likely to act as cover for Benteke rather than partner him at least should they be paired together in the future they have this game to build a base from in order that they can flourish.

 

The MOTM award for this game was obvious. Even if he hadn't scored that Robertio Carlos free Kick Bacuna was completely on the top of his game & his timing of his tackles & passing out from defence were impeccable. It is also not very often that lambo makes a really significant match changing decision from the bench. Everybody in the ground seemed completely puzzled when he withdrew El Ahmadi & introduced Matty Lowton that allowed Bacuna to then push up & play in front of him, but no sooner had this taken place that we then found ourselves a goal up due to a fabulous one two by Bacuna & Sylla & a direct run at the jugular by Bacuna resulting in the Cardiff defence tugging him down & the next minute wham, bham, thank you mam, the ball is in the back of the net from a free kick that any Brazilian would be proud of. It's fabulous & heart warming to know that at last we at Villa finally have the real McCoy & specialist at this particular art.

 

Also, VT & John Lewis can surely claim an assist for this goal because let's face it, for weeks now John has suggested than Bacuna should play in front of Lowton & here is the proof, Take a bow John son, take a bow.

 

Another pleasing aspect was that you could see the team grow in confidence once we scored that first goal. We are a young, vibrant & energetic team & this goal provided stimulus to that potential.

 

Finally too, a side decimated by injuries finally kept a clean sheet in front of the Villa park public. Hopefully we can now form this healthy habit on a much more regular basis & grow from strength to strength. The Lambert project is slowly developing & it's great to be on board.

 

Just a correction on that, it was that lump Kozak he played the 1-2 with.

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Peter O’Demwingie

:lol:

Re- the result. It was significant in our 'comparitive' fixtures with last season because that was a 3-0 home loss to Wigan, so as you can see from the stats above, we're now +8pts over the same opposition !!

 

BOF, I may be having a bad maths moment, but I only make it +7 on the basis you are doing it.

 

The problem might be that, in the table above, you have shown the points difference for Everton Home(this season 0-2, last season 3-3) as 0, when shouldn't it be -1?

 

 

Home game against Everton was 1-3 last season. So no impact on the points tally.

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Peter O’Demwingie

:lol:

Re- the result. It was significant in our 'comparitive' fixtures with last season because that was a 3-0 home loss to Wigan, so as you can see from the stats above, we're now +8pts over the same opposition !!

BOF, I may be having a bad maths moment, but I only make it +7 on the basis you are doing it.

The problem might be that, in the table above, you have shown the points difference for Everton Home(this season 0-2, last season 3-3) as 0, when shouldn't it be -1?

Home game against Everton was 1-3 last season. So no impact on the points tally.

oh yes, quite right, sorry, was thinking of the away game. That explains why I had it at +7 not +8.

As you were... :)

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Thanks for adding those stats BOF which show a solid improvement on our points haul from last season, I am sure the "ref watch" will show we have a couple of bad luck charms and I am glad you liked the O'Demwingie reference I understand he is parked on MON's drive waiting for that call up.

Let us hope Lowton and Bacuna might line up at the Albion in those positions after this one villa-revolution although Lambo can take the credit for making this change which paid off so well (as we hoped it might). Thanks for those well made points and this one in particular "& failed to bounce of each other apart from the moment just before half time when they literally did just that" - It almost seems funny now after the win...

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