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Player Match Ratings: A small step towards safety!


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The vast majority of Villa fans would have taken a point from this game had one been offered to them prior to kick off. But having taken the lead against a Saints side that were some way off their best last night this was a game we could have won.


Our very welcome goal was scored against the run of play on 29 minutes and our lead stood until the 81st minute when once again we conceded a late goal. We just cannot see out a game at Villa Park at the moment and the points we are losing as a result may come back to haunt us at the end of this season.


Having gone ahead we then attempted to hold our slender lead for over an hour rather than to look for a second goal which might have proved decisive. A minimum of one goal against looked inevitable given the amount of time we were spending in our own half and so it proved.


We look nothing like the team that stood second in the league earlier this season and fortunately Southampton played nothing like a team that currently occupies that same position. We were too ready to fall back deep into our own half but although this gave them a lot of the ball they were unable to turn possession into goal scoring opportunities. We were badly hit by suspension and injury last night. Our defence held firm and our two central defenders were tremendous. We gave a gritty performance and deserved something from the game but it was not pretty to watch.   


Villa fans voted with their feet last night. Yes it was a cold Monday night and it was on the television but 25,311 was a shockingly low attendance and our lowest since 1999.


Villa fans have grown accustomed to being entertained at Villa Park. We hope to win more games than we lose; to enjoy the lion’s share of the possession, to spend more time in our opponent’s half than in our own and to start most of our home games as favourites. At the moment and for too long now the opposite has applied.


We now face what has become an annual battle for survival and as the 1960s proved one season you do pay for constantly flirting with relegation. It is grim to watch and increasing numbers of Villa fans are showing a reluctance to pay their hard earned money to do so. Where is the club’s ambition and what happened to that bright future?


My player ratings from a game that has left us one game nearer the transfer window, two points clear of the relegation places and facing a must not lose game at the weekend are:


Brad Guzan – 7 – Produced a good one handed save at full stretch from Mané on 37 minutes and his outstretched leg pushed a Fonte effort wide of the post on 73 minutes. Solid when called upon.                                                           


Alan Hutton – 7 – Did very well on his return to the side at the back and when getting forward.                     


Ciaran Clark – 8 – MOTM – Did all that could have been expected of him last night and more. Organised the defence well and this performance shows he still has the ability he showed in previous seasons with us. It now needs to be shown more regularly. Made a good right footed challenge inside the box on Long getting enough of the ball to turn it out for a 20th minute corner and to make their penalty appeals pointless.            


Jores Okore – 8 – A very assured performance. Looked nothing like a player who had been out of the starting line up for 14 months. He will be hard to shift if able to reproduce this form when our central defenders that are out do eventually become available. Showed the promise he demonstrated in his first couple of games for us last season is undiminished.                           


Aly Cissokho – 6 – Played his part in a solid defensive performance.                 


Charles N’Zogbia – 4 – A disappointing performance in a game that we needed everyone to be at their best in. But he might have given us a second on 47 minutes when a Hutton cross aimed for Gabby’s head ran to Weimann at the far post who played the ball back across goal and his on target shot was blocked a couple of yards in front of the goal by a defender.     


Ashley Westwood - 6 – Missing Delph’s assistance but he was the best of our midfield last night.                                    


Carlos Sánchez – 5 – His loose passes are an ongoing concern.      


Tom Cleverley – 5 – Put in a shift but he needs to show more than this given his pedigree and price tag.    


Andreas Weimann – 6 – Spent a lot of time defending yesterday, was played out of position but worked very hard as he always does. Did not quite connect well enough with a 49th minute Hutton cross that found him at the far post and his header from waist level fell gently to one of the two waiting defenders. Made a good run from inside his own half on 77 minutes playing a good ball forward to Gabby who in turn played the ball back for him to run onto inside the box but his hurried shot was skied over the bar. Andi did get into scoring positions but his finishing let him down.                        


Gabriel Agbonlahor – 7 – Brought down on the edge of the box on 24 minutes after a good run from the half way line with Weimann having made a good run to his right and looking to be fed the ball. Gabby raced onto a Clark clearance and beat Forster who had came out of his box to claim the ball on 29 minutes. Having touched the ball past the keeper and into the box he then did well to hit the ball into the net before the defender who was rushing back to cover was able to intervene. He did demonstrate his defensive frailty again when he switched off and ball watched as Bertrand got goal side of Weimann failing to react quickly enough as Clyne raced into the box to get on the end of the cross for their equalizer. But he is no defender.         




Kieran Richardson – 5 - Replaced N’Zogbia on 64 minutes. Provided fresh legs and running but did not see enough of the ball.     


Darren Bent – 5 - Replaced Sánchez on 74 minutes. Lacked the type of service he needs and failed to make any positive impression on the game. His introduction led to Gabby moving wide and this lost us much of whatever threat we had up front.    


Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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