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Player Match Ratings: “It only takes a second to score a goal”


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Brian Clough was quite correct when he made the quote above. But Villa have now failed to score one in our last 5 league games and this was the 13th league game that we have failed to trouble the scorer this season.  


Four months ago we scored our 4th goal of the season at Anfield to claim our second away win of this fledgling season. We stood 2nd in the league after our first 4 league games with 10 points and had high hopes of a season free of relegation worry.


But the 18 games since then have brought a paltry 7 goals; have added only 12 points and we have won just two of those games. Those figures say it all as does the current league table which has us a mere 3 points clear of the relegation places and relying on other clubs to slip up to keep us out of the drop zone.


It has reached the point in this season where games are running out for us to secure our safety. We need a point from each of our remaining 16 league games to reach a 38 point target that should secure our safety. But we now face games against Arsenal and Chelsea. After those games we may well find ourselves in the bottom three and wondering where those 16 points are going to come from. We need to start scoring, to provide service to Benteke, to get some movement in the last third and to ask Gil if he has any mates who might be available for £3m or less!  


There were some encouraging signs yesterday particularly after the introduction of our new signing. We put some pressure on our visitors, looked positive and threatened their goal more often than we have teams of late. That gave us a brief taste of what football at Villa Park has been in the past and can be again. We had to pinch ourselves at times as we were actually being entertained and it looked like we might just get something out of the game.


But Liverpool are old heads at soaking up pressure and they slowed the game to a standstill with what must rank as the most time consuming double substitution ever seen at Villa Park. We were unable to exert the same level of pressure on them after that and to add insult to injury one of those substitutes (not the one whose arrival on the pitch was delayed by his search for gloves to wear) scored their decisive second.


Villa gave a battling display yesterday and deserved something other than a 2-goal defeat from the game which flattered our opponents. But football can be a cruel game when you are near the bottom and once a team takes the lead against us it is pretty much game over given our sad lack of goals.


This was not the Liverpool of old although their manager may be in denial concerning that. There was not a great deal to choose between the two teams other than in the crucial area of being able to score goals. We did not have the rub of the green when we had them on the back foot but goals like catches win matches and we cannot buy a goal at the moment.                                        


My player ratings from another scoreless home game are:


Brad Guzan – 7 – Collected a poor effort from Sterling on 38 minutes when a second was there for him on a plate after a through ball drifted past both Westwood and Baker. Brad then did very well to push a Skrtel header onto the post on 50 minutes and to get a hand to a 75th minute Lucas shot that looked destined to creep inside the far post.                                                                


Alan Hutton – 7 – Did well to get to the ball before Sterling on 15 minutes who had been looking at getting on the end of a one-two inside the box. Alan was always willing to make forward runs, was solid in our defence and was the best of our back four yesterday.                         


Nathan Baker – 6 – Made an earlier than planned return from injury through necessity and was understandably not as dominant as he had been earlier this season. Did well to get an outstretched leg to the ball on 49 minutes after a rare Sánchez error had threatened to give Borini an opportunity for a second. Nathan would have hoped to have done better on 67 minutes when his header flew over the bar from a corner.      


Jores Okore – 6 – Kept plugging away but lacked some of his assurance of late as one of two central defenders who were unfamiliar with playing alongside each other. Caught dwelling on the ball on the edge of his box early on but the danger was averted when Hutton intercepted Moreno’s cross. He was less fortunate when Borini who scores as often as we do was able to make space for himself unnoticed behind Jores on 24 minutes and found himself unmarked when poking home Henderson’s cross for their opener.                            


Aly Cissokho – 6 – Solid at the back and did what he was able when he got forward.                 


Ashley Westwood – 6 – He was unlucky to be replaced within an hour and we missed his ability to thread passes forward during the brief spell that we had the upper hand.


Fabian Delph - 6 – Moved the ball forward particularly in the second half but he gifted the ball to Sterling near the edge of the box and by so doing claimed an unwelcome assist for their second goal. Hit a 83rd minute shot just over and tested Mignolet with a powerful shot late in stoppage time that was unfortunately hit straight at the keeper.  


Tom Cleverley – 5 – Started well enough but failed to stay in the game other than when he briefly switched sides with Gabby and was then for some reason switched back again. Westwood played a nice ball into the box for him on 43 minutes but he hit his effort over the bar.                                        


Carlos Sánchez – 8 – MOTM – Hit a shot from outside of the box on 40 minutes that Mignolet held at the second attempt. Carlos looks increasingly comfortable and effective with each appearance. He was the best of our midfield by some distance yesterday.       


Gabby Agbonlahor– 5 – Some way off the captain’s performance we would have hoped to see. I guess he gets games in the hope that each will prove to be the rare one he is up for. This was not the case again yesterday and he offered little to no threat to the Liverpool defence.             


Christian Benteke – 6 – Had a header from a 17th minute Hutton cross easily gathered by Mignolet but all but equalized on 61 minutes when Baker headed a Delph ball onto him and he turned to hit a fierce shot that forced a terrific reaction save from Mignolet. Will have been as disappointed as we were when a ball found him at the far post only to bounce of his foot rather than be smashed into the back of the net on 69 minutes. The ball then ran towards Baker who sadly missed his kick so did not trouble the keeper. He then tried an overhead kick a minute later that went harmlessly wide. He really should have been on target 3 minutes later when heading a Gil corner that did not have quite enough pace on it wide. Needs a goal, better service and to try to make things happen himself! 




Andreas Weimann – 6 - Replaced Cleverley on 59 minutes and gave us some more forward movement.      


Carles Gil – 7 - Replaced Westwood on 59 minutes and looks to have the potential to be some signing. Made a fine run into the box on 67 minutes and was very near to getting his outstretched leg onto a one-two. At long last we have signed a player that plays the ball forward, is at ease on the ball and who is prepared to take on defenders. His introduction put Liverpool firmly on the back foot.      


Stay up the Villa!

John Lewis

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