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Player Match Ratings: A golden goal!


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This was a game that will not live too long in the memory and one that seemed to be meandering to an inevitable stalemate until Benteke struck of 80 minutes to give us the win. But the three points we gained may prove very important come the end of the season.

A display approaching that we had produced in our last two home games against Manchester United and Arsenal would have produced a win with something to spare last night. But our performance did not come close to the level we had delivered in those previous games and we have to appreciate that it will be the results that we get in 6 pointers like this one that will secure our place in the top flight this season quicker than any we might get against the odds in our more high profile games against the top four.

But win it we did and to have done anything less would have made life even more difficult than it will be now in the weeks before the transfer window opens and in the months that follow it closing when we along with those clubs who are keeping us company in the bottom six have concluded any transfer business.

It was a dismal game and one that will have neutrals concluding that both clubs will face a relegation battle this season that they might not win. I was alarmed by the fact that there was so little to choose between the two teams last night and by our inability to apply any real pressure until the last twenty minutes of the game. But I trust this young team under Paul Lambert’s leadership can get better and with some additions in the transfer window we can pull clear of the threat of relegation before this season gets into the last month or at least before the final day of this season. What decided this game was a young striker who we signed in the last window. What we need to do is to unearth a couple more at a similar fee that can make as big an impression as he has done. We also need to get points on the board from our next two games. Six would leave us on 19 points and possibly half way to safety. Three would leave us with the equivalent of a point from each of our games this season and for me that is the minimum target for these next two games and for the rest of the season.

My player ratings from a game that once again took us out of the bottom three are:

Brad Guzan – 7 – Came for a cross on the edge of the box on 64 minutes without getting to it but kept out a Roberts shot with his leg 2 minutes later and had another good game and another clean sheet.

Matthew Lowton - 7 – Another encouraging defensive performance.

Nathan Baker – 6 – Looked understandably rusty on occasions early on but he settled down well enough and got up well to head down a Bannan corner on 32 minutes that bounced over the bar.

Ciaran Clark – 7 – Looked good again last night and might have opened the scoring on the hour when he headed a Bannan corner across the face of the goal and past the far post.

Enda Stevens - 6 – Replaced due to injury on 24 minutes.

Ashley Westwood – 7 – Ran the middle again he makes himself available and it is rare and a surprise if he does not make good use of the ball.

Brett Holman - 6 – Hit a shot from the edge of the box on 55 minutes that brushed the side netting but Federici had it covered. Substituted on 67 minutes after another hard working display and earned this start with his last substitute appearance.

Barry Bannan - 5 – Some way below the performance level he hit at the weekend and too many balls went astray. He lost the ball on the edge of the box on 10 minutes and must have been as relieved as we were when the ball flashed just wide of the post from a touch from the resultant cross.

Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Kept busy and put in a shift but less of a threat than he might have been expected to have been to a defence who would surely have been worried by his pace.

Andreas Weimann – 5 – Can and has done much better than this. He kept working but should have done better on 7 minutes when his cross was placed behind Holman when a goal scoring opportunity looked on. He was then found inside the box by Benteke who squared the ball to him on 27 minutes only for him to blast his shot well over the bar. Had a shot deflected wide on 51 minutes after Westwood had found him.

Christian Benteke - 8 – MOTM – Got up well to head home a corner and to win us the game with just 10 minutes remaining. Had earlier steadied himself on 17 minutes and hit an on target shot but one which did not trouble keeper Federici who saved it at the foot of his post. Lacked service but worked well with what he did get.


Eric Lichaj – 6 - Replaced Enda on 24 minutes and did well enough.

Stephen Ireland - 7 - Replaced Holman on 67 minutes. Got a header from the edge of the box on target on 75 minutes but it was never going to trouble the keeper. Gave us dome missing spark when he came on.

Marc Albrighton – 4 - Replaced Weimann on 68 minutes. Made no positive impression and hit a wild and embarrassingly bad cross on 79 minutes with players in the box waiting. Marc has been so much better than this.

Up the Villa and Stay Strong Captain!

John Lewis

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Yes, a very nervy night indeed... and on balance, a lucky win. Sometimes you need a bit of luck according to Tom Ross.

The weak link last night was a poor performance from Bannan, very below par and looked frustrated and out of sorts with himself judging by his wayward passing and body language. Actually, from the Holte End, I had a better game than little Baz last night...

I thought Albrighton's introduction was one of the most ineffective substitutions I have seen in recent memory - if the boy has ability, he needs to start showing it and stop dining off 'That Match' against United two years ago. Presently, he is nowhere near good enough for the Premier League.

There was no tempo from the start and it was more like watching a chess match than a footballing tussle of any urgency. Maybe, an end of season 'nothing match.' Itself, this was strange given the stakes at risk to both clubs. Very dull football, every bit as bad as 12 months ago.

Anyhow, a moment of magic from Benteke secured a very much needed win. And where was the crowd? 28000 was our lowest PL attendance for 6 years. Come on, let's be having you.

Last season we got beat at Villa Park by Arsenal, but we amazingly gave them a good game and I went away from the game feeling positive and almost as though we had actually won the game. Last night however, is the first time I have left the ground after a win, but feeling as though we had been beaten. The paradox of football continues.

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For me, 3 points is all I'll remember from that game. The game was nervy, constricted, and nothing to remember. Benteke adds another to his tally and Westwood gets a good assist. It's a good quality to win on a bad night.

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I think there are a few more positives from this game than are being bandied about. The main ones for me are...

  1. teams seem to play badly against us, with perhaps a few exceptions such as Man City and the second half against Man Utd... Sunderland, Swansea, Newcastle, Arsenal, Reading and WBA for instance. A lot of people seem to take from it being a dull game that it makes us relegation fodder, but looking at it from another perspective, teams find it very hard to play us, which at this stage of the season is a very good positive even though it makes for dull games and we may not look spectacular. Reading for instance ARE capable of banging in goals, against decent opposition (2 against chelsea, 2 against wigan, 5 against arsenal, 3 against fulham etc), and we (without Ron Vlaar) looked VERY comfortable in defence (bar a few wobbly, if not disasterous moments). For a young team, I think this is a really good foundation which leads me onto my next positive...
  2. Benteke is a beast... and could be a very good premier league striker. He hasn't struck me as the prolific sort quite yet, but yesterday, I started to get the feeling that with better service we could have a striker that could not only get goals but can offer a high level of all round play and operate as a lone striker effectively which would allow us to pack the midfield, which we seem to favour. Creatively we haven't been amazing and is my main worry, but as Benteke settles in, I think there is enough talent and work within Ireland, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Westwood and Holman to provide enough support that when (and if) it gels, we should have enough ammunition to trouble anyone, and at least keep us out of too much trouble.
  3. Corners. They are a big part of the game and a tiny part of our game. Yesterday we saw how in a close match set pieces can be the difference between three points and zero points. And to be honest we have been terrible at them for awhile. I think if we had decent corners last season we would have been comfortably mid table, taking into account the amount of close matches and draws we had. In the start of this season, they haven't been good at all, but we provided enough of a threat from them last night that it is clear that this has concerned Lambert and the squad, been identified, and has been worked on in training. Baker and Clark also came close from corners, plus there was a brilliant whipped in ball that somehow eluded everyone. I dont think floaty corners are necessarily an evil, as some people think, I think there is value in a variety of corners which makes them unpredictable, and thus harder for defences to deal with. I want to see this become more of a part of our game in the next few matches, I think we may get some joy against qpr in this manner...

And yeah there were negatives, but other peoples posts in the reaction thread seem to deal with them more than adequetely.

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Happy with the three points, and on another note, can anyone tell me where the hell we talk about streams now? Or has talking about streams been banned completely, missed most of the first half looking for one.

Please start an appropriate topic in the "Site Issues" forum. However nothing has changed. Everything is exactly the same as it was, but do not discuss it in this thread.

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It is definitely a feeling of relief after that result. The naysayers say that performance means nothing when we play well and lose to United or draw with Arsenal, but then when we play poorly and win against Reading they gripe about the performance. I don't mind people having their own opinions, but let's be consistent, shall we? Anyway, that's possibly a little off topic in here, and as usual, John, that is a well written representation of the game, imo. KUTGW :thumb:

When Benteke headed the goal in I nearly threw my right shoulder out celebrating and it's been hurting like hell today, but it's worth it having seen my first Villa win of the season (I missed the Swansea game!).

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I think there is enough talent and work within Ireland, Bannan, Agbonlahor, Westwood and Holman to provide enough support that when (and if) it gels, we should have enough ammunition to trouble anyone, and at least keep us out of too much trouble.

Thanks for the positives Eddie B. But, I am not so sure we have enough creativity and I think we need to bring in a minimum of one and would prefer two to create competition for places and cover for suspension and injury. I also have concerns about the theory that teams play badly against us and will continue to do so when the going gets tough. The Saints showed that teams can also play better than they have done previously against us and I worry a Harry inspired QPR might do the same this weekend.

When Benteke headed the goal in I nearly threw my right shoulder out celebrating and it's been hurting like hell today, but it's worth it.

It sure does beat the pain of defeat keefa3011. I guess we all need to get some more practice in when it comes to celebrating as the opportunity to do so has been very rare over the last couple of seasons and we have therefore become a touch rusty.

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yeah I know what you mean and there are negatives for sure. I try and forget that Southampton game...

I do firmly believe that there is a lot of football that it is not easy to see and people get wrapped up looking for the eye catching. For instance statistically speaking liverpool are far more likely to lose a game of football with Gerrard in the team than if he is not in the team (as of his career up to about 3 years ago). But he is an eye catching player who can do the spectacular therefore people see him as a great player, and don't really notice how it is harder for a team to hold their shape with him in the team. On the other hand a player like carrick can come into a team and be a constant fixture in a lean mean football outfit reaching champions league finals and winning the league, in part due to Carrick getting the simple things exceptionally well (positioning/passing), but because he is not spectacular he will always come across unfavourably to Gerrard.

Now my point is basically, we are starting to do the simple things right, and holding a good shape as a team, which is something to build on. It isn't spectacular and we do still make misstakes, but teams aren't looking spectacular against us either (okay there are a few exceptions to this). Also it is football, not an exact science, so as to where things go in the future...

But yeah I share your concerns about QPR at the weekend.

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