This Is Villa Park

This Is Villa Park

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunderland 2-2 Aston Villa

Alan Shearer summed it up last night perfectly on Match of the Day; the new of Connor Wickham and the experienced head, on his return of Darren Bent. Connor Wickham, the £8m signing from Ipswich, didn’t steal the show, but got a goal.

“The pantomime season is still a few months away.” Darren Bent’s return to the Wearside, greeted by a stadium of boos. was obviously going to make sure the spotlight was drawn away from what was a very good, end-to-end game.

With four goals scored, it was, in my eyes, a very open game, one of which Aston Villa looked comfortable in their own skin; so to speak. The team looked as if they wanted to play together. Only expect when the forwards and N’Zogbia couldn’t be bothered to move their legs from the half way line to help defend.
Stiliyan Petrov got the first goal, a belter from 20 yards out. Connor Wickham scored Sunderland’s equalizer after some scrappy James Collins defending. The second half was upon them at the Stadium of Light and Richard Dunne, or James Collins, depending on who you think got the last touch, rose highest to give Villa the lead with just 5 minutes to go. However,Villa being Villa, conceded in the last minutes to the smallest man on the pitch; from a set piece. Luckily from Steve Bruce, he muttered the words “Thank you” as he looked up in relief. 

It was an at times exciting, yet ultimately frustrating day from Aston Villa.  ”A draw was a fair result,” said Bruce. “Villa played very well. They’ve got good pace, so it was difficult.” At the end of the day, I’ve got to disagree with him, for me I think it’s 2 points lost. On the other hand, you have to hand it to Sunderland for getting back. Even though it was helped by James Collins’ not so heroic defending.

With a banner adorned with the message ‘B£NT’, Sunderland thought that perhaps that would put of the former Black Cat. To their horror Bent nearly opened the scoring when a clever ball from Emile Heskey invited Gabby to put in a flighted cross to where Bent arrived at the back post. Sunderland supporters probably had their heart in their mouth right up until the point of a vital interception from Wes Brown. Yet now, although no goal had come from it Villa had detected the home side’s vulnerability.
Gabby Agbonlahor, with 2 men on him, twisted and turned and switched play with a beautiful ball out to Alan Hutton. Throwing a little dummy, he found the skipper, who used his skill to put it onto his left foot. The Bulgarian curling a sublime left-foot shot beyond keeper Simon Mignolet.

Sunderland put a spanner in the works when Sess├Ęgnon and Wickham exchanged to set up the 18-year-old for his first Premier League goal, when he struck a shot past Shay Given. For me, as a footballer myself, I used to play as a centre-back and it was all down to a James Collins mistake. He got drawn into the ball, a no go when defending, leaving Connor Wickham all on his own.

If the under-achieving Charles N’Zogbia’s pace and trickery sporadically ruffled Sunderland, the visitors’ attempts at dominating possession before feeding Bent and company were frequently thwarted by David Vaughan.

Luckily, yet not so lucky for Villa, for Bruce, Kieron Westwood saved from close range as Darren Bent was through on goal. Heskey, placed on the left-wing showed his Messi skills, as he threw off defenders and found Petrov. The Villa goal scorer threaded a neat ball into the box, where it fell to Bent. Beautifully, he played a 1,2 with Gabby, picking up the return ball to be denied by Westwood’s big toe. “Westwood’s big toe saved the day for Sunderland,” said Alex McLeish, Villa’s manager. “Benty will agonise over that.” The frustration for me is that Bent moans about not getting the service and the opportunities anymore, however when he gets that he misses the chance.

Reprieved, Bent’s formerly adoring public indulged in a few choruses of “What a waste of money.” They were soon silenced when Dunne’s header from a Petrov free-kick evaded Westwood’s reach, but they quickly found their voice again when Sess├Ęgnon nodded home the equalizer from close range. Again, in my opinion, James Collins was once again at fault, leaving his man once again.

“It feels like two dropped points,” said McLeish, whose side have developed an unfortunate habit of surrendering winning positions. “It’s frustrating.”

Just a point that I'd like to add is the N'Zogbia looked relatively good. Obviously there's his defensive side to work on but he looks like he's half way there. Something was said yesterday about him, saying that might not be as good as we all thought because he was a big fish in a little pond at Wigan. The poorness of Wigan may have decieved him.

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