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Player Match Ratings: City outfoxed as we win again!


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Is this our worst ever five game unbeaten run? We have clung on grimly to either avoid defeat or to hold onto a lead at the end of these games or for the majority of them rather than claimed these points with free flowing football. But two hard earned back to back wins following on from our three previous draws has given us 9 points. These points have taken us half way to the 38 points total that should prove sufficient to secure our place in the top flight this season which currently represents the limit of our club’s ambition.


This run of games has moved us from the edge of the relegation zone to the top of the bottom half of the league. The grit and determination shown by the players we have been able to call upon during these games has seen us move above Everton and within 2 points of Spurs and Liverpool. These are teams that nobody would class as being relegation candidates so although our run has seldom been pretty it has been effective.


We must also remember that we started this run of games in a fragile state following 5 successive defeats. Our team now has the confidence that comes from two successive wins and an unbeaten run. We are not yet clear of relegation concerns as another dismal run of results could see us plummet down the table again. But we are in a far better situation than we had been and can now face our coming trip to The Hawthorns with some degree of confidence.


Our visitors arrived looking up at all of the teams above them but hoping that our poor home record could see them take a positive result from Villa Park. The attendance was again low albeit for a televised game on another cold Monday night with the festive spending season fast approaching. But it was boosted by an increased away support rather than by any significant influx of returning home fans from the 25,311 who were at the Southampton game to the 27,692 who witnessed last night’s second home victory of the season.


We had more possession, shots on target and most importantly goals than our opponents last night. We responded well to going a goal down drawing level 4 minutes later rather than allowing our heads to drop. We also scored our first second half goal this season to claim all 3 points at home for the first time since August. Prior to last night we had taken only 61 points from our last 61 home games and had dropped 8 points in the last 10 minutes in games this season. But we were solid at the back and retained the ball well last night although particularly in the first half our build up was slow and we did drop back too deep against 10 men as the end neared. We were the better team last night. It was not as comfortable a win as it might have been but it was a deserved and an important one.      


My player ratings from a game during which fireworks were seen behind the North Stand in the second half that I take it were celebrating our rare home win are:


Brad Guzan – 6 – Looked less comfortable than we have come to expect last night and continues to find difficulty with distributing the ball. He will have been unhappy to not have done better with their goal on 13 minutes. Brad was wrong footed by Mahrez’s shot that had taken a slight deflection off Clark on its way through and which he could only push with one hand to the lurking Ulloa. He was also a touch hesitant in coming off his line on 24 minutes when Cambiasso played the ball for Vardy to run onto but he still just managed to reach the ball first. However he produced the save of the game on 68 minutes when he did so very well to push over a well hit goal bound shot from the edge of the box from Nugent.                                                           


Alan Hutton – 8 – MOTM – Has been a revelation this season and maintained his consistency last night. Solid at the back and a threat when moving forward Alan scored his first Villa goal and our winner last night on 71 minutes. Gabby made a great run from the edge of his own penalty area before finding Benteke who in turn found Alan who had made a good run into the box. Alan then proceeded to chest the ball down before coolly drilling the ball between Schmeichel and the near post. On the downside Alan was fortunate to stay on the field when he reacted to the late challenge from Konchesky that led to his 80th minute sending off. He showed he had learnt nothing from Benteke’s sending off against Spurs in similar circumstances by jumping up, going head to head with Konchesky and then pushing him away to give the referee an opportunity to make him see red. But Konchesky had stood over him having made a tackle that merited a yellow card in itself and rightly was considered the guiltier of the two.                         


Ciaran Clark – 8 – Continues to look very solid in partnership with Okore. Scored our equalizer on 17 minutes when he did so well to run onto Westwood’s inch perfect free kick and plant his diving header past Schmeichel having lost his defender. Ciaran was denied a second from a 79th minute corner when Schmeichel kept his header out at the foot of a post.  


Jores Okore – 8 – Another very encouraging performance.                           


Aly Cissokho – 6 – Played his part in securing our win.                 


Charles N’Zogbia – 5 – Disappointing and his starting place must be under threat from Grealish.     


Ashley Westwood - 6 – Ashley was having a decent game before he was felled by a reckless and late challenge from Vardy. With Ash on the floor following the incident Vardy then had the cheek to argue against the yellow card he got away with when a red had seemed the more appropriate punishment. Ashley’s perfectly flighted and executed free kick led to our equalizer and we can but hope that his injury is not as bad as it had looked.                                      


Carlos Sánchez – 6 – Looking more comfortable with each first team outing he gets.       


Tom Cleverley – 6 – A competent display and might have scored on 48 minutes when Benteke found him with a nice ball but he snatched at the opportunity sending it over the bar.    


Gabriel Agbonlahor – 7 – Cleverley found him well on 56 minutes but his cross which was bound for Benteke was deflected clear by Schmeichel’s outstretched leg. His runs, crosses and pace were a regular threat for City. Hit a dangerous cross to the near post on 51 minutes which both Richardson and Schmeichel went for and which resulted in a corner.     


Christian Benteke – 7 – Might have had two or three on another night and is near to his match winning best. Christian was unable to quite get into position in time to stretch out a leg to a dangerous 2nd minute cross from Cissokho and was inches wide with a shot that flashed across the goalmouth 10 minutes later. He was found on the edge of the box by Cleverley on 39 minutes but his shot was deflected wide by a defender. Richardson then provided him with a one on one situation with the keeper on 53 minutes but Schmeichel’s knee deflected his shot just wide of the post. Christian was again denied by a good reaction save from Schmeichel on 78 minutes when he got a header on target following a great cross from Grealish.       




Kieran Richardson – 6 - Replaced Westwood on 44 minutes and did well.     


Jack Grealish – 6 - Replaced Cleverley on 62 minutes. Jack is prepared to run at defenders and did so to some good effect following his introduction. Might have settled the game on 84 minutes when Bacuna played a nice ball to Gabby whose pace took him past a defender before he crossed for Jack but his shot was blocked by a defender.


Leandro Bacuna – Replaced N’Zogbia on 76 minutes and did well enough in the time he had which was not long enough to gather a rating.    


Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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He did have a decent game and is getting better with each one lexicon. But he does still make the odd rash challenge around his own penalty area and hit the occasional wayward pass.


He did both in this game late in the second half when giving away a free kick on the edge of the box and with that 50/50 ball he played to Westwood. He was near to a 7 for me but I went for a 6 in the end although it is a matter of opinion and I thank you for adding your own.        

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6 for Sanchez is incredibly harsh - he had a really good game.

still that pass to westwood caused the injury


Nah, I'd argue the pass to Westwood was a little dodgy, but it didn't cause the injury. Vardy caused the injury by going through Westwood from behind. Westwood had received the ball and had controlled it alright.

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