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Player Match Ratings: A rare goal but our losing run continues!


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Spurs left the field with 11 men still on the pitch having been shown undue leniency by the match officials. It was their decisions that turned this game and handed it to our opponents on a plate.    


Vertonghen escaped with just a booking on the hour no doubt because he made some contact with the ball but his challenge on Westwood was still a two footed one. The same was the case 20 minutes later for Chadli who approached the referee expecting the worst following a similar challenge on the same player but he escaped with a yellow and compounded our feeling of injustice by scoring their equalizer 4 minutes later.


But the crucial decision game changing decision was made when Benteke who had been a thorn in Spurs side up until then was given his marching orders on 66 minutes. The decision to send him off was one with which we cannot really argue given his raised hand made contact with the face of an opponent and that is a sending off offence. But the same is the case where a player puts his head into the face of an opponent. There are no ifs or buts this is also a sending off offence and if one player was punished so should the other have been. But Mason escaped any sort of punishment for his violent conduct.


The officials either missed the provocation that led Benteke to understandably raise his hand to get Mason’s face from his or turned a blind eye to it. Benteke is not blameless for our defeat but there were three incidents that could have led to Spurs having gone down to ten men before they equalized. For them to have avoided a sending off on one or two of those occasions was perhaps excusable but for all three players to avoid an early bath was not!  


Spurs were unconvincing yesterday and we had looked like breaking a run of defeats that is now our worst since 1967 until we were reduced to ten men and for a while after that. But the big decisions went there way and they are now unbeaten at Villa Park in their last 7 visits. But they will not have Swarbrick officiating every week for them and they will not be fortunate enough to play us more than once in the league this season so they will need a big improvement if they are going to finish anywhere near where they did last season.


We will also need to break our dismal losing streak soon if we are to avoid another relegation scrap. Although our performance of yesterday if repeated on a consistent basis would see us ease out of trouble losing becomes a habit. The team gave their all yesterday and Benteke might have had a hat-trick on another day. But leaving a player unmarked at a corner and conceding needless free kicks on the edge of the box is unlikely to lead to clean sheets. Those two late goals were cruel and the win flattered our opponents. But our frailty at the back and lack of goals tends to lead to results such as this one.              


My player ratings from a game that has left us still languishing in the bottom six are:


Brad Guzan – 7 – Brad was thankful when smothering the ball at the foot of his post on 23 minutes that Kaboul had only been able to direct the ball towards goal with the faintest of touches. Made a fine one handed save 4 minutes later after Soldado’s pass had left Adebayor clear with just him to beat. Fumbled a Chadli shot at his near post on 52 minutes and was fortunate that Adebayor was unable to get the loose ball past him. Kept out a 58th minute Kane effort at his near post and was quickly off his line to gather the ball ahead of Soldado when Chadli had tried to play him in on 71 minutes.                                                          


Matt Lowton – 6 –.Looked good when moving forward and had an opportunity to stretch our lead on 32 minutes when Sánchez played a ball into the box for him but his shot was miss-hit and heading wide before it was deflected for a corner. Did well to win the ball from Mason inside the box after Weimann had hit an attempted pass short of him on 41 minutes.                     


Ron Vlaar – 6 – Steady enough but Ron has not been as dominant as he has been in the past of late.          


Nathan Baker – 7 – Unluckily gained an assist when jumping up in the defensive wall and deflecting Kane’s free kick into the net leaving Guzan stranded and flat footed. Solid on his return to our defence.                          


Aly Cissokho – 6 – Did well when we had the ball in their half.                 


Charles N’Zogbia – 6 – One of his more effective displays and he should get a run of games now.   


Ashley Westwood - 7 – The best of our midfield for me yesterday.                                    


Carlos Sánchez – 5 – His tired and needless challenge led to the free kick that gave Spurs their winner. Hit a first time shot wide after the ball had fell to him at the edge of the box following a 33rd minute corner.      


Tom Cleverley – 6 – A decent display.    


Andreas Weimann – 7 – Broke our goal drought on 16 minutes when he stretched a leg out to reach an N’Zogbia cross and hit the ball into the corner of the net. Worked very hard again and deserves a run of starts.                  


Christian Benteke – 7 – MOTM – Lowton made a good run from within his own half on 11 minutes and his cross was met by a diving header from Christian that went wide of the post. Three minutes later Cissokho played a one-two with N’Zogbia before pulling the ball back to Benteke who took a touch before hitting a crisp shot that rattled the post. Should have fed Westwood who had made a good run ahead of him into the box rather than run into a wall of defenders himself after Cissokho had found him on 39 minutes. Leapt like a salmon and headed a Cissokho free kick inches wide of the post on 43 minutes. Much nearer Christian at his best so losing him for three matches as well as the last half hour of the game due to a moment of indiscipline has and may well again prove costly for us. He would have been better advised to have gone down in a crumpled heap when Mason provoked him as others have done in the past to bring teams down to 10 men but his honesty and understandable reaction to Mason led to him spending the rest of the game as a spectator and getting a 7 rather than 8.        




Gabriel Agbonlahor - 5 – Replaced N’Zogbia on 74 minutes. Was fed inside his own half by Lowton on 86 minutes and went on a speedy run that was too fast for both their defenders and our forwards to keep up with. Having held the ball up he then played a ball between Weimann and Sánchez that reached Cissokho whose shot from the edge of the box flashed wide of the post. He really should have looked to get some sort of challenge in on Chadli who was left unmarked on the far post from a corner for their 84th minute equalizer.


Kieran Richardson – Replaced Weimann on 86 minutes and was not on the field long enough to merit a rating.   


Darren Bent – Replaced Cissokho on 93 minutes and also did not get the game time to gain a rating.


Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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nice write up that sums up a lot of my sentiments about the game. I didn't give Benteke MOTM solely because his actions changed our game from winning to (inevitable) defeat. however, he will be sorely missed in the next upcoming fixtures if we are not able to overturn the ban (which I doubt we will). I feel we were robbed of a victory.

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Thanks for those comments osmark86. The ban will stand and we will miss the goals he might have provided as a result. A retrospective ban on say Mason would be nice but it would not bring back the points we lost due to having gone a man down. I do think the officials need to be asked to explain the decisions they made but I guess their association will close ranks and ignore their questionable decision making.   

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John, I'd like to ask a question, and I'm not trying to stir anything up. I'm just surprised by one of your match ratings and would be interested to hear your answer to a hypthetical.


If it had been Gabriel Agbonlahor who missed three chances and then got sent off for violent conduct for slapping an opponent, would he have gotten a 7 rating and Man of the Match?


I am as excited to see Benteke back on the pitch as anyone, and agree with the general assessment around here that until his red card he was starting to look like the old Beast again. But then in my opinion he did something very very childish and stupid which put our team in jeopardy, not just for that match but now for the next three as well. I know, I know -- he was provoked. Not denying that. I understand why he reacted the way he did, but he still knows better than that, and he is responsible for his own actions.

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Gabby would have got the same rating and have been MOTM for me had he played in the same way as Benteke did and been sent off heid3ster.


I would have expected him given the number of first team games he has played not to have responded to Mason in the same way as Benteke did but I would have balanced that against his improved performance. I take your points on his sending off and Benteke will have a lesson to learn from this incident. Thanks for asking the question.    

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