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Player Match Ratings: One point is better than none.


John
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Our 100% record has been lost and we failed to get a single shot on target yesterday. But on the positive side we remain unbeaten and our defence has now achieved two consecutive clean sheets for the first time since last November. 

 

It would have been great to have taken three points yesterday to follow up on our opening day win. It would also have been nice to have won our two opening games of the season for the first time this century. It did feel a little like we were giving two points we gained at Stoke back but this was a match we would probably have lost last season. Should we beat Hull next weekend we will have 7 points from a possible 9 which would be a terrific start and would offer us some cushion for the tough run of games that follow.

 

We had the better of the first half but Newcastle had the better of the second in front of what was a disappointingly albeit understandably low first home crowd of the season. The expectation last season would have been that a second half goal was inevitable in such circumstances and that the points would be lost. I think many of us feared the same would be the case this time. But we are made of sterner stuff at the moment and this game had the look of one between two teams who seem destined for a mid table finish this season. That would represent a significant improvement on recent seasons for us.

 

Our defence looks much tighter and our midfield appears less brittle than it did last season when opponents are running at them. But we need to create more and to take a higher proportion of the chances we do manage to create. The return of our injured strikers may well resolve the latter problem in the coming weeks. The introduction of players with creativity that are currently on the books and the bedding in of players who are either new to the club or returning to first team action should also improve our creativity. But we really do need to look at bringing in one or perhaps two players during this window to play a part in helping us to create more chances and to make home wins less of a rarity then they have been for much too long now.                            

 

My player ratings from a game that has left us temporarily occupying a place in the top four are:

 

Brad Guzan – 7 – Riviere got to the ball ahead of Senderos on 32 minutes and his shot evaded the defender’s challenge but Brad got down well to save his low shot. He also tipped a Janmaat header over the bar on 51 minutes but otherwise did not have the busiest of games. However, he did make a tremendous match saving stop on 88 minutes to deny de Yong and then managed to cling onto the rebound at the second attempt.                                                    

 

Alan Hutton – 8 – Alan was solid at the back and very impressive when running at defenders. He has been a revelation so far this season and is currently providing us with something we have been missing at the back as well as taking the opportunity he has been given by the boss with both hands.                  

 

Ron Vlaar – 7 – A solid central defensive display and Ron is currently working very well and forming an effective partnership with Senderos. Having him still with us in September is crucial to how our season pans out in the long run.     

 

Philippe Senderos – 7 – Another steady performance alongside our captain. Currently his pace issues are not being highlighted due to his experience and reading of the game.                     

 

Aly Cissokho – 8 – MOTM – Liverpool’s loss looks to be our gain. He has strength and pace. He made powerful runs forward, hit good crosses into the box and was solid at the back. Let us hope he will be available for the next league outing to continue this impressive start in our shirt.            

 

Charles N’Zogbia – 6 – Headed just over onto the roof of the net on 9 minutes after a nice Cissokho cross had been deflected to him at the far post and was just wide with a curling 30 yard free kick 9 minutes later. A bright start but he did fade particularly in the second half prior to his substitution which was not surprising given his long spell out of the first team action.        

 

Fabian Delph - 7 – Not quite at his very best yesterday but he still stood out in our midfield as he did so consistently last season. He also went a game without a booking which is a shock given Dean found room for 4 of his team mates without any difficulty.                                

 

Ashley Westwood – 6 – A solid enough display. Ashley is a consistent performer in our midfield who has it in him to make an even bigger and consistent impact this season than he did last.    

 

Kieran Richardson – 6 – A steady enough performance but he had played his game by the time he was substituted. Kieran has the ability to be more influential, to maintain his involvement throughout games and hopefully this will start to happen as he begins to settle in at Villa Park.       

 

Andreas Weimann – 5 – Failed to make a significant impression on the game. He is currently our top goal scorer albeit at a very early stage in the season. He has a good engine but I feel he needs to operate further forward in a more central role. That might help him to get more involved in games and to prove a bigger threat to our opponents than he or anyone else did yesterday.            

 

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 4 – He was unable to get his head to a hanging cross on 39 minutes. Showed some early pace but faded out of the game too readily. He is neither a lone striker nor a target man and now looks more effective in a wider position for me. Although he lacked service and support he needs to work on harassing defenders when they have the ball in an attempt to make something happen. Too often the ball flew across their area without him having looked to try to make a determined move to get onto the end of it. This is a time when we were really looking for him to hit the ground running from day one and to accept responsibility as a senior player given our current lack of alternatives up front.                           

 

Substitutes:

 

Carlos Sánchez – 6 – Replaced N’Zogbia on 62 minutes and made a good impression in what time he was given to do so. Hit a sweet ball that found his man with his first positive touch. He looks like the rock he has been described as. He also looks like a player who has the potential to dominate in the midfield and to break up a significant amount of opposition forward movement. Harshly booked for his first challenge by what was a book happy referee.    

 

Darren Bent – Replaced Richardson on 76 minutes. Headed a cross from Delph onto the top of the netting on 79 minutes but Darren did not get enough playing time to earn a rating. For me if we are to play with only one up front he is worth giving a shot at filling a role that he is well suited for in the same way other bomb squad members have done with some success to date. Darren is the best finisher and target man we currently have available and his introduction was belated for me.   

 

Nathan Baker - Replaced Cissokho on 83 minutes. Did not have enough time to gather a rating from this game but might have headed a late winner had the ball found its way to him rather than being taken off his head by a defender.

 

 

Up the Villa!

John Lewis

Edited by John
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Agree with most of those rating. We looked OK up to their penalty area then back to last season's dross.

 

Cissokho was a revelation.

 

Poor attendance too, three years of shite beginning to tell.

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