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Player Match Ratings: A defeat but a first goal in 659 minutes!


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This defeat leaves us with just 14 games left to get the points we need to secure our top flight status. It seems we may need to be reliant on three teams having a run that is similar to the one we are currently on between now and the end of the season to secure that safety. This is because there are few clear signs that we will be able to do it ourselves.


Another 12 – 16 points looks like a huge mountain for us to climb in our remaining games. Given we currently have the worst goal difference in the league finishing on the same number of points as others is also not presently a viable option for us. But at least the margin of yesterday’s defeat did not hit our negative goal difference as hard as did our humiliating defeat last weekend.


We gave a decent enough account of ourselves yesterday particularly given that we conceded a goal so early to the Champions elect but did not throw in the towel. Jose got the first win at Villa Park that he was seeking and Chelsea extended their lead at the top. But they were made to work harder than many had anticipated for their victory and it could be argued that we were worth a point on the day.


Few Villa fans thought we had much chance of getting anything from this game before it started and that was particularly the case when they went ahead. But their winner came against the run of play when we were getting forward much more than we have become accustomed to see us doing.


The ball did run for them before Ivanovic who scores goals for fun against us hit their second and decisive goal and coming back from a goal down again proved to be beyond us. That second goal took the wind out of our sails and we lacked the energy, confidence and belief to claim a point after that. But we can take something into the coming games from the fact that Chelsea were time wasting as the game reached its conclusion and that they were so keen to hear the final whistle at the end.  


We do tend to raise our level of performance against the top teams at Villa Park. What we now need to do is to produce the same level of performance both home and away against the teams who are now below us and who currently stand just above us. We need to start doing this on Tuesday at Hull because that is a must not lose 6-ponter and one we could really do with getting three points from. But it remains difficult to see where our next win is coming from and Hull’s unexpected point at second placed Manchester City yesterday unlike Milner’s late equalizer has done nothing to make our task any easier.       


My player ratings from a game in which we scored our first league goal since before Christmas are:


Brad Guzan – 6 – Did well to keep out an Oscar shot at his near post on 22 minutes and held a Cahill header that had deflected off Cissokho shortly afterwards at the second attempt. Brad then came a long way off his line but got nowhere near a corner on the hour.                                                                 


Alan Hutton – 6 – A solid game at the back and when he was able to get forward. Hazard ran into the box without being picked up and was able to get in front of Alan to turn home Willian’s 8th minute cross for their opener.                         


Jores Okore – 8 – Another exemplary display of central defending was rounded off by his first goal for us and our first goal in almost 11 hours. Gil left Oscar for dead before hitting a sweet cross to Jores who had been left unmarked at the far post and his textbook downward header brought us level on 48 minutes.     


Ciaran Clark – 7 – His strong challenge denied Ramires what had up until that point looked a certain second for the visitors on 38 minutes. Another very solid display alongside Jores.                             


Aly Cissokho  – 6 – A welcome return to the first team and he needs to keep his place because we are stronger at the back with him there than without him.                  


Carles Gil - 8 – MOTM – Made a good run into the box on 43 minutes and fizzed a cross in that Cahill got to before Gabby did. His trickery created our equalizer and he kept us going forward and looked a cut above throughout yesterday.    


Ashley Westwood  – 6 – Improved as the game wore on.


Tom Cleverley – 5 – Surely Sánchez who I assume was only rested for Tuesday’s game rather than dropped after his recent high standards fell for just one game will claim a place for the Hull game. It is Tom’s place that looks to be under most pressure if his loan deal does actually allow him not to start a game when fit. He worked hard enough but his passes are very rarely forward. He needs to show more and to suggest his stay with us is something other than just a season long stop-off on his way to Goodison Park if he is to win over the fans that made it all too clear on his substitution that his name would not have been the first on their team sheet yesterday. He did play a nice one-two on the edge of the box with Delph on 48 minutes but his effort was deflected wide of the post off Cahill.                                         


Fabian Delph – 7 – Lost the captain’s armband to Gabby yesterday but surely that was only temporarily. Gave a solid midfield performance and played a major role in getting us moving forward on the occasions that we did so. Fab was not quite able to get a foot to the ball that Azpillcueta pulled back for an unmarked Ivanovic to hit his unstoppable winner.        


Andreas Weimann – 5 – He works hard and offered support in the middle but he offered little up front and this was not one of his better games. Flicked a header from a 17th minute Westwood corner a couple of yards past the far post and then clipped a 46th minute Hutton cross over the bar from the edge of the box.                 


Gabby Agbonlahor – 5 – Offered no serious goal threat and it was a surprise to see him make a quick return to the starting line up. Kept himself busy enough but Terry and Cahill would surely have had more concerns had they faced even a below par Benteke. He was unable to get high enough to head a good ball from Delph on 19 minutes downwards that sailed harmlessly over the bar as a result.        




Christian Benteke – 5 - Replaced Gabby on 68 minutes. Christian again looked some way off his best and failed to make the impression we had hoped for on entering the fray just after we had again fallen behind. For me he should have been introduced 10 minutes earlier when we were on top, looked likely to create opportunities and his introduction might have worried their defenders. He has to start on Tuesday!      


Scott Sinclair – Replaced Cleverley on 74 minutes and found Ivanovic to be quicker than he had anticipated on the occasions he tried to get past him. Scott was not on long enough to earn a rating but will be harder to keep out of the line up on Tuesday and was I think worth a start up front today given the forward options we went for.    


Joe Cole – Replaced Weimann on 79 minutes and was another who was not given sufficient time to gather a rating.   


Stay Up Villa!

John Lewis

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I disagree with some of your ratings. Clark played better than Okore yesterday, so I would switch the ratings.


Westwood and Gabby are both really important to Villa, and it was easy to see when Gabby went off, it  became easy to defend against Villa. Gabby makes runs and harasses the defenders and in doing so makes room for the other Villa players. A stale Benteke was easy to mark out of the game. So higher marks to both Gabby and Westwood. I could understand at least a 6 for Gabby, but 5 is way too low.


Delph had a really bad misplaced pass backwards that could have led to a goal. Him getting 7 is too high. All the midfielders were ok enough, and I would have given each of them 6.


Sinclair was disappointing. He had only one way of playing and was easily taken care of by Ivanovic. I mean he was on enough (six minutes less than Benteke) to earn a 5.

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Thanks for your comments momo. I think Clark and Okore were as good as each other at the back but Okore gave us a rare goal so got an extra mark for me. I do not think that after 16 minutes & stoppage time our new boy Sinclair deserved a 5. I did give Westwood a 6 so given you said above that "all the midfielders were ok enough, and I would have given each of them 6" I  guess we are not too far apart on that one.


Our views on Gabby's performance are different as is the case with Delph, Clark and Okore. Both of our opinions are equally valid and your thoughts on this are welcome albeit somewhat different from my own.  

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