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Player Match Ratings: Another Christmas Turkey!


John
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This was the nightmare after Christmas for us and rarely can so many fans have paid so much for so little entertainment at Villa Park.   

 

 

So for a second year Christmas has brought us nothing to cheer and we have instead faced a run of seasonal defeats. This sad defeat like the one at Fulham that started our current 4 game run of defeats must now be seen as a lost six pointer.

 

For me this was a must win game which turned into a game of frustration. Palace came hoping for a point and left with all three. This is far from unusual for visitors to Villa Park given 6 of our 9 home games this season have now ended in defeat. But this was not Manchester United, Spurs or Liverpool we were facing it was a team that started the game in the bottom three and six points below us although that all changed yesterday.

 

To have drawn would have been bad enough and for me we seemed far too ready to accept a point during a game that we never really looked likely to win. But to lose to a late goal with our defenders nowhere to be seen was as unpalatable as was the fact that on the balance of play Palace was the better of two poor sides.   

 

This was a game we were looking for a win from that would leave us 9 points clear of the bottom dwellers and looking to clinch our safety sooner rather than later this time around. But another defeat has left us lacking in confidence and looking over our shoulders as we prepare to face the second half of a season. This is becoming an all too familiar situation for a club of our stature to face season in and season out. With the players who did much to secure our safety last season either missing games through injury in the case of Vlaar and Benteke or misfiring in the case of Weimann, Gabby and Benteke I have to wonder where the improvement will come from this season if it is not to come from these same sources.    

 

We lack the guile, will and confidence to impose our game on opponents and to take the game to them at Villa Park. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that we have yet to score a first half league goal at home this season. So clubs gather confidence from going into the break either in front or on level terms and in the knowledge that one goal may well prove enough given our obvious difficulty in finding the back of the net. So it proved yesterday.

 

Both teams produced a woeful first half during which we created nothing until a header from an Albrighton corner was helped over the bar by Mariappa with the last touch of the half. We did not do much better in the second half and the better of what chances there were fell to the visitors. Given it was predictable that we would need to take the game to our opponents yesterday it seemed baffling to me that we could find no place for Bacuna in our midfield and that Gary Gardner would remain sitting on our bench with Bannan (for some reason booed by some) enjoying his return to Villa Park so clearly and with us in need of some craft in a midfield that lacked any spark.       

      

           

My player ratings from a game that has left us sitting uncomfortably just three points clear of the relegation places are:

 

Brad Guzan – 7 – MOTM – Pushed away a shot from Puncheon on 48 minutes following a Luna error which had left Bolasie free in a good wide position and then denied the same player 16 minutes later by blocking his on target shot. His best stop was sandwiched between these two when he did so well to get a hand to a Bannan shot from the edge of the box on 55 minutes which deflected the ball onto the post.                                              

 

Matt Lowton – 4 – Still some way off what he showed us last season.         

 

Ciaran Clark – 4 – The best of our defenders yesterday although that is not saying a great deal given the likes of Swansea will offer a tougher test than they faced yesterday. I am at a loss to know why he had pushed so far forward when they claimed their late winner.                  

 

Nathan Baker – 3 – Attracted to the ball on the half way line in the build up to their winner, gathered another booking and looked short on composure when tested.       

 

Antonio Lunar - 3 – Substituted on 67 minutes having been given a disappointingly torrid afternoon by Bolasie prior to that.                              

 

Karim El Ahmadi – 4 – Put his foot in now and again but he was most unlikely to produce the defence splitting passes we were looking for yesterday and it was more than a little surprising that he was still on the field at the end.                       

 

Fabian Delph - 5 – The best of our inept midfield yesterday. Fabian demonstrated the exasperation we were all feeling with the level of performance of his team mates when bouncing the ball several feet in the air in frustration late in the second half. But he allowed Gayle the space and the time to hit their stoppage time winner from the edge of the box after being inexplicably left as our only defender.                            

 

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 3 – Gabby produced a strong run into the box on 58 minutes which ended with a tame shot into the clutches of Speroni at the near post. But, I hoped and expected to see much more from him than he showed during this game.  

 

Marc Albrighton – 5 – That he again earned the accolade of being our most effective outfield player says as much about him on his return from a loan spell at Wigan as it does for the contribution or lack of it of the players who lined up alongside him. 

 

Andreas Weimann – 3 – Found inside the box by a good ball from Delph on 54 minutes but his first time volley was easily gathered by Speroni. He was also found inside the box on the hour after Lowton pulled the ball back to him having himself been found by a splendid ball between two defenders by Albrighton but Andi got under the ball and hit it well over. Looks a shadow of the player he was last season when he had worked so well with Benteke.   

 

Libor Kozak – 3 – Gave what was largely an unrecognisable impersonation of an international forward yesterday which was very disappointing given he could reasonably have been expected to kick on using the confidence that scoring goals for us this month should have given him. Sure he did lack service but that is what strikers at our club have grown to expect now and more than this is expected from him.     

 

Substitutes:

 

Leandro Bacuna – 5 - Replaced Luna on 67 minutes but failed to make a telling contribution to a game he really should have started in midfield.   

 

Jordan Bowery – Replaced Kozak on 76 minutes which demonstrated the paucity of options on our bench and how highly Helenius appears to be rated. He did get a late 89th minute header to a ball from Lowton on target that Speroni tipped over the bar but did not merit a rating during what time he had.             

 

Aleksandar Tonev – Replaced Weimann on 87 minutes and was not on long enough to earn a rating or to hit one of those atomic strikes that we were promised but which have yet to materialise.

 

                                                                               

Up the Villa and a Happy New Year to all readers!

John Lewis

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"We go again (hopefully.)" - Yes we do Villa-revolution. It is either a good thing that we do so in 48 hours because it offers an opportunity to prove we can put things right without delay or a bad thing if the hangover from this performance is still with us. We will soon know which it is...

 

"Generous ratings if you ask me." -  It is the time of the year to be generous dudevillaisnice and let us hope Randy feels the same way when he looks at what we can do to try to put things right next month!

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"We go again (hopefully.)" - Yes we do Villa-revolution. It is either a good thing that we do so in 48 hours because it offers an opportunity to prove we can put things right without delay or a bad thing if the hangover from this performance is still with us. We will soon know which it is...

 

"Generous ratings if you ask me." -  It is the time of the year to be generous dudevillaisnice and let us hope Randy feels the same way when he looks at what we can do to try to put things right next month!

 

We do go again. The most positive thing about this young squad is that they quickly put the last game behind them & don't dwell on it. This was also something that Roberto Martinez instilled in Wigan & it kept them going for a long, long time & it will stand us in good stead as the season progress. (Hopefully.)

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Another Christmas turkey indeed.

 

Strange how in my almost 40 years of travelling to Villa Park, the amount of times we've been utterly shit at Christmas. Uncanny.

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Yes rjw63 the bad times outweigh the good ones over the years and he have overdone the stuffing too often. The best one I recall was 89/90 with home wins over Manchester United on 26/12 (3-0), Arsenal on 30/12 (2-1) & an away win at Chelsea 1/1 (3-0). Although our 4-1 Boxing Day home win against West Ham on Dennis Mortimer's debut in 75 was a game that will always stand out for me.

 

Thanks for the comment av1 and we now have the opportunity to go again after our point today villa-revolution.  

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