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Player Match Ratings – An Unhappy 12 goal Christmas!


John
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No Villa fan could have dreamt in their worst nightmare the extent to which our football club could be so humiliated either side of Christmas. Our next two home games are now against 2 of the 4 teams who are below us and our results from those two games will determine just how bleak our mid winter will be.

The first half was as one-sided a game as you could ever hope to see. We had only 25% of the possession and the corner count was fifteen to one. We spent the half encamped in our own half and it took 35 minutes for us to offer any cause for concern to the Spurs defence. Had it been a boxing match the fight would have been stopped well before the break to prevent us taking any further punishment. Surely things could only improve in the second half and they did early on as for the first time we took the game to them briefly but the change in our formation at half time created more spaces and openings that were gift wrapped for our Boxing Day visitors. The inevitable goals then came flooding in during a second half that left us battered, bruised and embarrassed well before the end.

It always seemed the first goal would be decisive after that debacle at Stamford Bridge just 4 days earlier. If they got it early an avalanche of goals seemed a distinct possibility. But fortunately that first goal did not come until the second half but when it did it opened the flood gates wide and another three followed in 27 minutes and I could not help but wonder if one had gone in during the first half that they so dominated whether we would have had a record home defeat to add to the record away defeat we had endured at Chelsea.

The win at Anfield has proved to be a false dawn. It raised our expectation levels above the level that this young team can realistically be expected to achieve on a consistent basis at their current stage of development. It may also have led our owner to wonder if he can get away without any investment in players in the next transfer window. Any such question has now been answered as to do so would place our future in this top division at more risk than it already is and it represents a risk we cannot afford to take.

Before the games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs a return of 3 points would have been welcome and that is after all what we did get. But to have got those points from the first of those games and then to be embarrassed in the next two to the extent that we effectively lost one of those three points by conceding 12 goals in losing them to make our goal difference, goals scored and goals conceded totals the worst in the Premier League is not acceptable.

We now face a game that before the festive fixtures began we knew would be one we needed to win and could ill afford to lose. It will be a real six pointer when Wigan ride into town and they will be the more confident of the two teams of winning a game that would take them above us and which might just plunge us into the bottom three for the start of the New Year. We cannot let that happen and the win we need would push us 6 points clear of the bottom 3 and make our position much less precarious. The team’s confidence may now be very brittle but we need to find some of the belief that we had shown before our last two games and we should as a young team have it in us to play with intensity, energy and to be able to close players down in a way that we have now failed to do in two successive games. Nothing less will be good enough.

My player ratings from a game during which we badly missed Vlaar and Weimann to name but two and which was more than a little like men against boys are:

Brad Guzan – 8 – MOTM – The fact that Brad having conceded 12 goals now in our last two games was undoubtedly our best player in both games says it all for me. Did well to tip a Bale shot over the bar on 11 minutes after Bale (not for the last time last night) was given too much space. Brad then got down well to a Gallas header from a Walker corner on 23 minutes and a minute later after Benteke had given the ball away did well to deny Defoe with his feet and the assistance of Clark when an opener looked likely. Brad then clutched an Adebayor header from a 31st minute corner at the second attempt. He then beat out a firm Bale shot for a corner on 40 minutes.

Matthew Lowton - 4 – Caught lacking concentration and immobile on 57 minutes when the ball was played past him and through to Defoe who put the ball through Guzan’s legs for their first. Needed to stick tighter to Bale on 84 minutes as did others when he completed his hat-trick when left in far too much space and he hit the ball in past Guzan’s shoulder.

Chris Herd – 4 – Did well to recover the ball after his own poor header had presented the ball to an opponent on the edge of our box on 50 minutes. But he was caught flat footed on 61 minutes when Bale reacted quicker to a ball that ran loose from Bennett into the middle of our half after Clark had given away possession and Bale ran on to get their second and his first of the night by taking the ball wide of Guzan and placing the ball into an empty net that no defender had got back to cover.

Ciaran Clark – 5 – The best of what was a poorly performing defensive unit over the last 45 minutes last night.

Nathan Baker – 6 – Did well to get a block in on an Adebayor effort on 34 minutes. Replaced on 45 minutes due to injury which led to a formation change and to gaping holes in our defence.

Joe Bennett - 5 – Will have better games for us than this one.

Ashley Westwood – 5 – Seemed to miss having Bannan alongside him. Gave the ball away unnecessarily on 23 minutes and Herd spared his blushes by slicing the ball wide of the post for a corner. He was replaced at half time but for me there were other contenders for the bench.

Brett Holman - 5 – Stretched to reach a Lowton cross on 35 minutes but could only help the ball over. Struggled to make his usual impact.

Karim El Ahmadi - 4 – Will soon be missing for the African Cup of Nations and went missing too often last night.

Fabian Delph – 4 – Failed to step up to the plate again.

Christian Benteke - 5 – Starved of service and games like this will leave him questioning what he is doing here and I am sure those thoughts crossed his mind more than once last night. Possibly that happened on 61 minutes when his poor attempted pass was placed well behind Ireland inside the box leading to their second rather than to a potential equalizer for us. Did not seem to get involved and to try to make things happen in the way he usually does.

Substitutes:

Stephen Ireland - 6 - Replaced Baker on 45 minutes and worked well with Benteke a couple of times particularly when he put a nice ball towards him that Benteke dived to head just wide which was ruled offside.

Marc Albrighton – 6 - Replaced Westwood on 46 minutes and looked bright enough on this occasion giving us some width during our rare moves forward.

Up the Villa, A Happier New Year to all readers and Stay Strong Captain!

John Lewis

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Nice ones Richard. I am glad we can still just about see the funny side as well as the sad side of the situation we are now in. I had considered something like "Just 4 after 8s" but could not quite bring myself to do it.

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Agree with most of that John, except the subs ratings.

Ireland - brings nothing, does nothing. Waste of space.

Albrighton - what the **** has happened to him since his sparkling first season? He now can't beat a man, can't cross, can't pass to a team mate. He's shite.

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I thought the subs gave us something we were missing in the game up until then rjw63 although I do take your point. For me Ireland can create things and we otherwise lack someone with experience who can do this although he needs to do this more often and consistently as for Marc he has not maintained his early form but looked better last night but it may be they both did because of how the rest of the team had played up until and following their arrival.

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Nice ones Richard. I am glad we can still just about see the funny side as well as the sad side of the situation we are now in. I had considered something like "Just 4 after 8s" but could not quite bring myself to do it.

you have to laugh John or else slash your wrists
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For me, it was good to see Ireland on the pitch and showing glimpses of some creativity but...

Why would you turn your back on a ball that is two yards from you in the box.. yes it was a terrible pass from Benteke and yes there wasnt much chance of getting it, but dont throw your hands up in the air and turn your back when the ball is still there to be won! I would rather see players that love to wear the shirt and I dont think that is true when it comes to Ireland or Dunne.

In fairness to Albrighton he has been injured a lot and not had much play to get him match fit, hopefully he gets more chance to give us some width in the upcoming games because we could use a player that can deliver a good quality cross and get down the wings, especially when youve got someone like Benteke waiting in the box!

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