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Player Match Ratings: Villa beaten by Hammers & Woodwork!


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There was to be no thrilling comeback from a 2-goal deficit this time from a Villa team that did not start to play until they had all but thrown the game away!   



The conditions were poor yesterday but they were the same blustery conditions for both teams and it just seemed that a West Ham side that started without Carroll in the relegation zone just wanted the points more than we did particularly in the first half.                    


So it is now 3½ long years since we last won two consecutive league games at Villa Park and we have managed just 3 home league wins this season. This along with the sloppy defending that gifted West Ham 2 goals within 3 minutes of the second half re-start is just not good enough and we have grown tired of the all too familiar sight of away fans celebrating wins at Villa Park. Having the Chuckle Brothers (Collins and Downing) leave the field having put one over us also added insult to injury on this occasion!


We seem determined to make this season run and run. Three points yesterday would have kept us in the top half of the league and maintained the breathing space we had enjoyed between the relegation threatened bottom half of the table and ourselves. We would then have been left needing perhaps just 3 wins from our remaining 13 games to ensure our top flight status. But we didn’t want to do that did we?


This embarrassing defeat has left us embroiled in the relegation dog fight for another season and just 4 points clear of the 3 relegation places. West Ham started yesterday’s game in one of those places but by the end of the game we were uncomfortably only 2 points above them and they had joined a long list of clubs that have outplayed us in the first half of home games this season.


That opening goal within 18 seconds of the start of the second half and the second which made it two in the first 3 minutes of the half won the game for West Ham who have now claimed 4 of their 25 points from us and 10 points from their last 5 games. They sat back for the rest of the second half seemingly thinking that would prove to be job done. Villa then made chances that might just have pegged them back with a little better finishing and had the woodwork and luck not been against us. But lightning rarely strikes twice and to have come back twice in successive home games from 2 goals down always seemed a touch unlikely. But we really have to stop conceding goals at home so readily and to turn around the home results that threaten our season and top flight status.


My player ratings from a game that has seen us lose what was effectively a 6-pointer are:


Brad Guzan – 6 – Got down low to save from Taylor on 26 minutes and claimed some early swirling crosses with confidence.                                                   


Matt Lowton – 4 – Found Jarvis too hot to cope with before his 56th minute substitution. Offered something moving forward but offered their attack too much cause for optimism when defending.         


Ciaran Clark – 6 – Solid enough and did get a good challenge in on Jarvis who was bearing down on goal having again got clear of Lowton on 28 minutes.                   


Nathan Baker – 6 – Had a decent enough game but how we missed Vlaar’s ability to run the show at the back. Got a good challenge in on Jarvis as he was about to pull the trigger on 29 minutes and headed a looping 64th minute header from a corner towards the top corner which did not really have the pace to seriously trouble Adrian.  


Ryan Bertrand – 6 – Beaten easily inside the box by Downing who crossed for Nolan to back heel with the aid of a deflection past Guzan for their vital opener. Had earlier did very well to do enough to get in front of and in doing so put off Downing who failed to connect with a 20th minute cross from Jarvis who had got in behind Lowton.  


Leandro Bacuna - 5 – Poor in the first half but showed some improvement in the second. Blocked a late Taylor effort after Guzan had got a hand to a late Nocerino cross thus preventing a third which would have been cruel and against the run of play from 49 minutes onwards.                                


Fabian Delph - 5 – Casually lost possession of the ball on the edge of his own penalty area to Nolan who ran on to hit his decisive second past Guzan. Hit a 30 yard shot which drifted a couple of feet past the post on 33 minutes.                                  


Ashley Westwood – 6 – Struck some decent passes yesterday and was unlucky to see a first time shot from the edge of the box fly inches wide of the post on 42 minutes.  


Gabriel Agbonlahor – 4 – AWOL for too much of this game. This was some way off being a captain’s performance and some way off what he is capable of. He may have still been feeling that injury otherwise I would be at a loss to explain the lack of impact he was able to make yesterday. Was found at the far post with a good cross from Weimann on 20 minutes but an awful first touch did for that opportunity to give us the lead.    


Andreas Weimann – 5 – His pace is always a threat but this was not one of his better games.       


Christian Benteke – 6 – Terribly quiet during the first half but really should have got at least one goal in the second. Failed to get an outstretched foot to a good Albrighton cross on 57 minutes having got in between 2 defenders and was then denied by the crossbar on 72 minutes after when getting a good header to a cross that Albrighton had done so well to get over. Should really have got his 80th minute header on target when he climbed above Collins only to place his header wide of the post and his ambitious overhead shot a minute later flew well over the bar after Clark had headed an Albrighton corner towards him. Got into scoring positions but did not take his chances.                    




Marc Albrighton – 8 – MOTM – Made a tremendous difference and was our best player by some distance after replacing Lowton on 56 minutes. Hit a tremendous shot on 67 minutes that thudded against the post and was luckily for our opponents then deflected off Adrian’s foot for a corner rather than as had seemed more likely than not into the net. Hit one of his several good crosses into the box on 78 minutes which eluded Benteke before Demel turned it inches wide of the post.   


Grant Holt – 4 – Replaced Weimann on 71 minutes but made no positive impression on the game and given he has not scored since August it was possibly always unlikely that he would get the goals that would have pulled this game out of the fire.         


Joe Bennett – Replaced Bertrand on 74 minutes I can only assume because our loan signing was struggling with a knock. Not on long enough to get a rating but he did get a header in and did well enough on his return from injury.  


Stay up the Villa!

John Lewis

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Excellent analysis as always John. In truth West Ham should have been ahead in the first half as they always looked the more likely. To switch off immediately on the resumption of play as we did at the start of the 2nd half  was nothing short of professional suicide & a total embarrassment. I was screaming at Guzan initially to come off his line & deal with the initial ball over the top to Downing. Then, Bertrand allowed Downing to come inside instead of showing him the line & surprise, surprise the balls in the back of the net. On the 2nd goal Delph made the school boy error of trying to dwell on the ball facing his own 18 yard box & was easily dispossessed by a determined Nolan who punished us further with a clinical finish that was like a knife through the heart.


Our inability to play out from the back, especially Baker was an absolute embarrassment to witness. Oncemore Vlaar's absence proved what a key player he is to our side.The introduction & subsequent MOTM performance of Marc Albrighton surely begs the question as to why he wasn't playing from the start? Our home form is currently very alarming indeed & we can't expect to keep shipping 2 goal leads to the opposition & then salvage something at this unforgiving standard. We really need to address this problem asap because if we don't maintain our away form we are going to be in very, very serious trouble.


I will excuse Gabby's none performance as I believe he was off the pace due to a distinct lack of fitness & apart from Albrighton only Westwood comes out of this game with any real credit as he went quietly about his business in his usual fashion & kept things ticking over smoothly in midfield.


Also, this is possibly the first time in living memory where I can ever remember the Holte End not singing once for the entire & dire 90 minutes.


Let's all be totally honest here too, we huffed & puffed & even with the blustery conditions we were never, ever, going to blow the house down.


Making James Collins & West Ham look like world beaters has it's very own sad indictments indeed. :(

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You are 100% right villa-revolution we did make Wet Spam look much, much better than they are which suggests we may be somewhat worse than the league position we had occupied up until yesterday might have suggested we were. So once again a chronic home result has left us needing something away from home to make up for lost ground at Villa Park. The game at Cardiff is a real 6 pointer now and how sad is that? 

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