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Player Match Ratings – Once is never enough!


John
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One goal is never enough for Villa as we have for too long found it impossible to keep a clean sheet (our laundry bill must be enormous). There is always a defensive howler or two lurking just around the (or from a) corner waiting to bring our opponents into the game and cost us valuable points in our struggle to avoid the drop.





This was not a game we could have expected to have won before it had started but having gone in one up at half time it was one we really needed to take something out of to climb out of the bottom three and to worry those clubs who now sit above us in the table by goal difference or just one, three or four points this morning.




Liverpool started brightly but we came into the game as the first half wore on. But the confidence and belief we had taken from going a goal up ebbed as we gave away an early second half equalizer and then when we went a goal down on the hour it disappeared, our frailty was exposed and our shape was lost as was the game. We had the chances to earn a share of the spoils but they also had the chances to have won the game more comfortably and we caught Gerrard and Suarez at their best so whilst the result is disappointing we now need to focus on our next two games at Stoke and at home against Fulham and on securing the minimum of 4 points we need from those games to keep our heads above water and to try to ensure our survival is secured before the last day of the season lottery.



My player ratings from a game that has left us still in the drop zone are:




Brad Guzan – 8 – Tipped a Suarez shot over on 20 minutes and kept out a goal bound Gerrard shot from the edge of the box which had moved in the air with an outstretched hand on 43 minutes. Beaten on 47 minutes when Coutinho’s ball split our defence to find an unmarked Henderson who chipped the ball over him and into the net for their equalizer as he was on 58 minutes when a Johnson shot flashed past him and hit the far post rather than the back of our net. He had no chance with Gerrard’s well struck penalty on the hour. Denied Suarez on 83 minutes after the forward had played the ball through Baker’s legs getting a touch to the ball as Suarez tried to take it past him and then clutching the ball that he was not able to chip over him.



Matthew Lowton – 6 – Tried to move up to play Coutinho offside on 55 minutes which left him free to run onto a nice ball from Henderson and to clip a shot past Guzan which also went fortunately inches past Guzan’s far post. Hit a speculative effort on 69 minutes which Reina struggled to get back to help over the bar and which would otherwise have crept into the top corner of the net.



Ron Vlaar – 6 – Steady enough in his own display but he is not the leader at the back that Carragher is or that we needed in the absence of Clark.



Nathan Baker – 6 – One wild rash moment tarnished what had otherwise been a very good central defensive display yesterday. Did well on 25 minutes when the pressure he applied on Suarez as he was about to pull the trigger led to him putting an effort wide of the post rather than on target from close range and forced the ball out for a corner as Gerrard was about to try his luck from the near post 9 minutes later. But his wild, rash, unnecessary and naïve challenge on Suarez of all people on the edge of the box led to an inevitable and unarguable penalty.



Joe Bennett - 6 – Hit an inviting cross into the box on 4 minutes that first Benteke and then Gabby were unable to get anything on. A decent enough performance.




Yacouba Sylla – 6 – Looks like he may prove to be a real bargain and he does not appear to be lacking in confidence given the short time he has had to acclimatise with us. He was the best of our midfield performers for me yesterday.



Ashley Westwood – 6 – A decent enough display but has looked better than this during the season.



Barry Bannan - 5 – Nearly cost us our lead on 41 minutes when he misplaced a pass badly which he tried to hit first time rather than to first get it under control and this risky decision left the ball with Suarez who was denied an opener by Guzan’s legs which blocked his effort and spared Barry’s blushes if not a 5 rating.




Andreas Weimann – 6 – Not at his best today and was carrying an injury for much of the time he was on the field yesterday but even when that is the case he offers us a goal threat and an energy that we lacked when he left the field on 63 minutes shortly after hitting a good Sylla cross high over the bar.



Gabriel Agbonlahor – 6 – Hit a Lowton cross straight down the keeper’s throat on 16 minutes which had it been placed anywhere else would have led to an opening goal for us. He was found on the edge of the box by Weimann who had in turn been found by a good ball from Bannan but his 50th minute effort was high, wide and not very handsome. Worked hard though and did feed Benteke for our goal.



Christian Benteke – 8 – MOTM - He shoots he scores! He looks the man most likely to keep us up with the goals he is providing of late and the havoc he causes to the defenders that he comes up against. He gave us our lead on 31 minutes when Westwood hit a super ball up to Gabby who pulled the ball back nicely to him and his crisp shot beat Reina from the edge of the box. Just failed to get his head to a Weimann cross on 56 minutes and was denied an equalizer by an incredible clearance off the line by Gerrard on 65 minutes after his header from a Westwood corner had appeared to be unstoppable. Hit the back of the net on 93 minutes but he did so having drifted into an offside position.



Substitutes:



Fabian Delph – 6 – Replaced Weimann on 63 minutes and must now put Bannan’s starting place at risk. I would have been tempted to have started him today although I can appreciate we had won two on the bounce so that might have seemed harsh.




Charles N’Zogbia – 5 - Replaced Sylla as part of a double substitution on 63 minutes and made a minimal at best impression on the game.




Karim El Ahmadi - Replaced Sylla on 77 minutes but was not on long enough to earn himself a rating or to threaten turning this game around.




Stay up the Villa and Stay Strong Captain!
John Lewis

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I agree with the above as well.

In my opinion Gabby and A.Wierman do not pull their weight as far as scoring goals is concerned.If Benteke gets injured we would be lucky to get 1 point from 10 games.

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I take the point on Gabby both. Gabby does really need to hit the back of the net more often particularly at home. He worked well in the first half and did grab an assist so that is why he shaded a 6 for me but we need him to get goals in the run in because we cannot rely on Benteke alone and Stoke would be a great time for him to find the net again. I think Weimann has done enough for me though PussEKatt. He works very well with Benteke and has a decent strike rate and I would be happy to see him and Benteke playing alongside each other next season and if they both stay fit for the rest of this season I back them to get the goals we need to stay up (just about...).         

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