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Player Match Ratings - A game and season changing decision?


John
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This game turned on a refereeing decision that was made on the 58th minute. It was then that referee Mason took the opportunity he had been longing for to even up the playing numbers having earlier reduced Chelsea to ten men, although given the difference the player we lost makes to us the advantage was with them after both sending offs. Should the unthinkable happen on Tuesday night that decision would leave us going into a last day survival fight without our talisman and leading goal scorer.

It was a harsh decision to give Benteke a second yellow. Some would argue he should have had a straight red for an unnecessary elbow on Azpilicueta but he did not so that should have had no bearing on the matter although I think that it may have contributed to the decision made on the second yellow. Others would point to Terry avoiding a second yellow card when his hand made contact with Weimann’s face which would have brought Chelsea down to nine men after his earlier cynical challenge on Sylla when our player had beat him for pace but Mason was prepared to gamble on Cole’s pace being enough to prevent Sylla from having a clear scoring opportunity which allowed him to keep him on the field up until then.

But, if another player was to be sent off it seemed inevitable it would be one wearing a claret & blue shirt. Mason had set his own precedent when giving Ramires a second yellow on 45 minutes following his successive wild raised foot challenges with studs showing on Sylla and then Gabby, so when Benteke did something similar he may have felt he had consistency on his side. But Benteke had not looked for Terry and was looking to control the ball rather than to win it as was Nani when he got a red in similar circumstances. A warning would for me have been enough for both but their controversial returning captain having witnessed Ramires going off in similar circumstances at close hand went down like he had been shot determined to see us go to ten men as had they. Referee Mason obliged him and they equalized shortly afterwards with our team still in a state of shock.

So Mason’s decision had a crucial impact on whether we might claim the 3 points to secure our safety or the point which may have secured our safety beyond any reasonable doubt which we had looked likely to do as a minimum before his intervention. It also denied Benteke the chance to become the first Villa player to score 20 league goals since Peter Withe did in our championship year and it could yet have a considerable and for us a devastating impact on our relegation battle. It also serves as an example of how far it seems officials are prepared to go to eliminate physical contact from our game to the extent that Chelsea’s Chopper Harris had he been playing today would have been odds against to finish any game during the entire season he was actually free from suspension to play in!

We started the game very brightly and threatened a rare win against one of the usual Champions League contenders when we went a goal up. Up until the referee stole the show I think we had shaded the game but they took heart from the absence of Benteke who plays like a young Drogba for us and we lost the man advantage along with the width that Gabby had been providing us with up until then. It was a game that we were unlucky to get nothing from. After it we have gained just 2 points from top 6 teams this season and Frank Lampard has once again proved to be a thorn in our side. He just loves scoring against us doesn’t he? In much the same way as did Bobby Tambling the player whose scoring record he broke yesterday and who scored 5 at Villa Park against us in 1966). But yesterday did not belong to referee Mason, or even to Frank Lampard it was a day that belonged to Stan and that gave thousands of us an opportunity to give him a warm farewell, to thank him for his services in our shirt, to wish him the very best of luck and victory in his tough battle.

My player ratings from a game that has left us still looking over our shoulder at games today and on Tuesday although with confidence that it will not be us that ultimately join QPR and Reading in the league below are:

Brad Guzan – 8 – Mata put Ba clear in the box on 23 minutes and Brad did so well to close him down and block his effort. He then got a late hand to a Lampard free kick from the edge of the box that skidded on the damp surface to push it onto the post and then was alert to the danger putting the loose ball to safety before it could be hit home by an incoming opponent. On 82 minutes he kept out a Luiz free kick that was lifted over the wall and that moved in the air.

Eric Lichaj – 6 – Proved an able replacement for the injured Lowton. Had a cross on 66 minutes that was deflected onto the top of the netting by Cole.

Ron Vlaar – 7 – Another solid performance.

Nathan Baker – 7 – Took an early yellow card on 4 minutes when he won the ball from Mata but the referee was unhappy with his challenge but he did not let the prospect of getting a second yellow get in the way of another good performance. Although at times his defending can seem a little “last ditch” he does have the happy knack of winning balls on a regular basis.

Joe Bennett - 7 – He is getting better with each home game and this was another good outing for him. Had a 55th minute shot deflected just wide off Azpilicueta.

Yacouba Sylla – 8 – Made a very solid hard working contribution in our midfield before understandably fading a little in the last 20 minutes. Some nice touches of skill to boot.

Fabian Delph – 9 – MOTM – A superb performance. Picked the ball up just inside their half on 17 minutes and ran on until hitting a shot that curled just past the post from the edge of the box. He is not scoring the goals he did at Leeds but he is now playing consistently like the player we thought we had signed from them before injuries interrupted his development and progress. Fabian ran the show for us yesterday.

Ashley Westwood – 8 – Another very sound performance. Ashley forced a save from Cech on 87 minutes after Delph had found him on the edge of the box and the keeper parried away his well targeted low shot. Did well to clear the ball off the line (if he actually quite did) on 72 minutes under pressure from Ba after Sylla had halted Cahill’s effort on the line himself which then spun back towards, onto and at least partially over the goal line.

Gabriel Agbonlahor- 7 – Worked hard and used his pace well such as on 47 minutes when his strong run from just inside his own half was only brought to an end by Cahill at the expense of a corner.

Andreas Weimann – 6 – Another hard working display and his running posed a threat to Chelsea’s defence.

Christian Benteke – 7 – Gave us the lead on 14 minutes with a shot that found the gap between the post and Cech’s outstretched leg. He knocked the ball down to Sylla who then played the ball back to him, he then took the ball past Cahill and hit his 19th league goal of the season and our 45th. He will learn to be wary of referees who may look for the opportunity to penalise his old fashioned style of strong centre forward play and I hope it will be in our shirt next season to show we are not a selling club after all.


Stay up the Villa!

Stay strong captain, have a long and happy retirement and thanks for leading us by example both on and off the field!

John Lewis

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Terry should have gone for taking out Sylla, Cole wouldn't have got back. Then should have got a second yellow smacking Weimann into the face, he got lucky as Andi didn't make a meal of it, unlike Terry with Benteke who was always going off anyway.

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We can't blame decisions for loosing this match. Chelsea had one scrambled off the line - which may have been over - Guzan made 2 more top notch saves.

 

None of the sendings off helped us though - Rameriz was playing so poorly, I would rather he stayed on - having sent off Chelsea's worse player - he then sends of our best player. Thought the second booking was harsh - but some refs would have shown a straight red for the elbow....

 

Wasn't there a rule a few years back - that unless it was a straight red - you didn't miss the next match ? 

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I agree that we can't blame ref decisions for this one. However, it was a very poorly officiated match, starting with Mason giving Baker a yellow right out of the gate for a robust challenge in which Baker clearly won the ball. Someone pointed out in the Ratings & Reactions thread that Mason didn't even talk to any of the players, just started right out of the gate handing cards out. A warning to Baker would have been more than fair. That's not why we lost, it's just something worth mentioning in the context of the game.

 

That said, Benteke probably should have gotten straight red for the elbow (which I thought was deliberate and cynical), and when he was lucky enough to escape with a yellow he should have been a lot more careful. No, he didn't see Terry coming, but he didn't look, either. Benteke's been huge for us this season and I hope we hang onto him, but I also hope Lambert works with him a little on his discipline, he walks a fine line sometimes. Probably youthful enthusiasm and inexperience, I certainly don't think he's a dirty player or anything like that, but it's an area where he needs a little improvement.

 

It was obvious to me that he'd get the second yellow, and I hoped that he would calm down in the second half, because I think Mason did want to even it up between the sides after sending off Ramires. The other option would have been for Lambert to take him off at half time, but I don't think that would have gone down very well.

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"With that elbow Benteke was lucky to be on the pitch to get a second yellow". But unlucky to get that second yellow having stayed on Houlston? "Terry should have gone for taking out Sylla, Cole wouldn't have got back. Then should have got a second yellow smacking Weimann into the face, he got lucky as Andi didn't make a meal of it, unlike Terry". I am not 100% on a straight red for the first but I think 2 yellows would have been reasonable Oaks but Mason was not prepared to send off 2 of their players so soon and was looking already to even things up for the TV. "We can't blame decisions for loosing this match. Chelsea had one scrambled off the line - which may have been over - Guzan made 2 more top notch saves. Wasn't there a rule a few years back - that unless it was a straight red - you didn't miss the next match ?" Until we have these goal line decisions taken away from the officials as will happen next season the naked eye will never be able to say 100% whether it was a goal or not in real time smetrov and Guzan is there to make top notch saves so I think the referee did play a significant part in influencing the result of this match. I had also not been sure on the red card situation and had thought it might even be worth appealing it in case given the potential importance of our next game and the possibility that any ban next season might not be served with us or may not be as decisive at the start of next season as it may be at the end of this one.   

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"With that elbow Benteke was lucky to be on the pitch to get a second yellow". But unlucky to get that second yellow having stayed on Houlston? "Terry should have gone for taking out Sylla, Cole wouldn't have got back. Then should have got a second yellow smacking Weimann into the face, he got lucky as Andi didn't make a meal of it, unlike Terry"

I disagree I think Cole would have got back. Sylla is no slouch but Cole is rapid and there wasn't much of a distance between them.

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"I disagree I think Cole would have got back. Sylla is no slouch but Cole is rapid and there wasn't much of a distance between them." As I said to Oaks "I am not 100% on a straight red for the first" either for the reasons you have mentioned Houlston.

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