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Player Match Ratings: An unpalatable Christmas stuffing!


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This was allegedly a great time for us to face Manchester United at Villa Park. But it has actually now been 18 years since it last proved to be a good time for us to face them at home in the league.   



I am sure Manchester United would have considered Villa Park the perfect place to come following what has been a poor run of results for them. What better ground to roll up at than one which has become a happy hunting ground for them and at which they have not tasted league defeat for almost two decades? What better team to face than a team that has now lost five of eight home league games this season?


Unsurprisingly win they did and they left Villa Park with the seasonal gift of three points we had been keeping wrapped with a claret & blue ribbon under the Christmas tree for them. We must now ensure that this second successive tame defeat does not lead to more as proved the case last season. We will face four winnable games during the coming festive period. Six to eight points would not seem an unreasonable expectation from these games and would leave us 4 or 5 wins from safety for another season. But can we rely on getting those points away from Villa Park, if our dismal home record continues?       


It is bad enough to lose at home to Manchester United although it is a feeling we have grown accustomed to it is one that we have had more than enough of. Usually we give a decent account of ourselves before defeat and now and again we claim a hard earned point. But this time we showed next to nothing and never looked like getting anything from the game after going behind on 15 minutes making a recently ineffective Manchester United team that had been on the crest of a slump up until today look like world beaters in the process.


Without Vlaar at the back our central defence looks shaky. Without Delph in the middle our midfield lacks a biting edge. Without the Benteke of last season our forward line is firing blanks with what limited ammunition they are provided with. We chose to leave Weimann and Bacunna on the bench today. These two might have given Benteke some support and our midfield a little of the forward movement that it lacked respectively. But we chose not to go at them as the home side might normally be expected to and I have to question was the worse that could have happened had we done so any worse than what did actually happen today?   



My player ratings from a game that was far from being a Christmas cracker for us are:


Brad Guzan – 5 – Had surprisingly little to do on a day he was beaten on three occasions the last of which having left a gap at his near post that the ball went into the net through.                                             


Matt Lowton  – 5 – Needs games to try to get back to somewhere approaching where he was last season.         


Ciaran Clark – 5 – Still seems lacking in confidence for me as he has been for around a year now after being given the captaincy too early. He missed our present captain’s calming influence today.                  


Nathan Baker – 4 – Another who showed he missed the presence of Concrete Ron alongside him and it was his poorly placed pass that led to their second. This is becoming a too regular fault for him when playing the ball out from inside his own half.       


Antonio Lunar - 4 – Found it difficult at the back and failed to get forward as he can do so well.                              


Karim El Ahmadi – 4 – Had a difficult afternoon and failed to make much of an impression on the match. Hit a free kick on 76 minutes from the edge of the box which was on target but easily gathered by the keeper.                     


Ashley Westwood - 5 – The best of our midfield but was still some way off the least effective of those that faced us today.                        


Yacouba Sylla – 4 – Did not look like the player today he appeared to have it in him to become when making his first team appearances last season. Headed an Albrighton cross tamely wide at the far post on 47 minutes and then hit a shot well wide 10 minutes later having been found on the edge of the box by Benteke. Needs to step up another gear and to get more playing time which given the paucity of our present midfield options may not prove impossible.   


Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Some strong running. Showed his commitment when chasing down a seemingly lost cause and claiming a corner following a strong challenge on their keeper on 50 minutes.        


Marc Albrighton – 7 – MOTM - Marc was the one Villa player to come out of this game with some credit. Found on the edge of the box by Benteke on 4 minutes and turned well before hitting a shot that de Gea gathered as he did another shot from him on the turn from him 6 minutes later. Turned inside the box on 58 minutes and his shot took a touch off Evra before being kept out at the near post by de Gea.   


Christian Benteke – 4 – He was Isolated and lacked service once again today but he might have bustled and looked a touch more livelily than he did for me. Found on the edge of the box by El Ahmadi on 12 minutes but he took a heavy touch on it which allowed Rafael to clear the danger.      




Andreas Weimann – 5 - Replaced Sylla on 62 minutes but failed to make any lasting impression on the game.   


Libor Kozak – Replaced Benteke on 79 minutes. Not on long enough to merit a rating.             


Leandro Bacuna– Replaced El Ahmadi on 86 minutes and was another who was not on long enough to earn a rating.



Up the Villa and a Happy Christmas to all readers!

John Lewis

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A totally depressing display. No way back from 2-0 down & we were pitiful from that moment onwards. Worst of all both Ciaran Clarke & Nathan Baker were booked for sheer stupidity towards the end. Just what were they thinking with Vlaar currently out of the side? A sending off, which they were both lucky to escape, is the last thing that we need at Centre Back right now  United obviously targeted the space in behind Luna & he was chasing Valencia's shadow all game. Although we had 5 in midfield for most of the match it actually looked as if we didn't have any at all & pensioner Ryan Giggs stroked the ball around from his wheelchair on the centre circle with ease.


The only positive I can draw from this fixture is that it is out of the way for at least another 12 months.


Another bad day at the office & the natives were that demoralised at the end that they couldn't even raise a boo.


The central spine & key members of the team (Vlaar Delph) need to return asap along with the confidence of our talisman Benteke if we are to really start to develop & show what we are about.


Bottom Line: Another no show against United.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Agree 99.9% villa-revolution. But, I think there was no way back from 1 down and we might yet draw them in the FA Cup as we so often do...


Got to get past Sheffield United first haha.


Good review, I turned up 15 mins late as I got stuck in Handsworth..... after 5 mins I felt I should of stayed at home!!


Can only imagine yesterdays game was just as depressing, I chose to go and watch Cheltenham Town instead hahaha.

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