This Is Villa Park

This Is Villa Park

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Defensive Dunney's

Stoke City 0-0 Aston Villa
"Get Ugly"

"People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defences, or the problems of modern society." -Vince Lombardi

Even if we didn't win last night that quote says it all. When you pull together, work together and play together you'll get the rewards.

Aston Villa proved to themselves, their fans and press that their defensive frailties had been sorted as they faced their biggest set piece test in the Premier League. A Villa fans' Boxing Day horror movie marathon could have been played in high definition at many different angles on Sky if the gaffer hadn't have done something about it.

Yet when Marc Wilson, of Stoke, crashed a thundering header against the underside of the crossbar it was a heart and fist in mouth moment. Luckily, speed demon Gabby Agbonlahor was well placed on the post to save Aston Villa from another set piece disaster.

"The players have been much maligned recently but they were up for all their individual battles. Agbonlahor cleared the ball with great composure but to be fair it would have been a travesty if we had lost." McLeish exclaimed.

Stepping up to the Mark.
Source: Zimbio.
 The team defended and attacked as a unit however once again movement in front of the ball was lacking and no classy final product could be delivered. There were chances in the match to put the game to bed, put in the end you have to say that a draw was a fair result. Both teams pressed the ball with great intent and had their fair share of chances on goal. Neither keeper was worked as hard as they should have but when asked both stepped up to the mark. Brad Guzan, growing in confidence, produced a good commanding display; one that I've been begging for him to produce. When Rory Delap replaced Wilson Palacios, Guzan was called into action as this was the time when he needed to come and control his six yard area and he did that to a magnificent quality. At the other end, former Villa man Thomas Sorenson received a warm welcome from the travelling away fans and pulled out of the bag one fine save to deny sub Nathan Delfouneso. When Gabby Agbonlahor broke quickly down the right hand side, Villa looked threatening. Agbonlahor thread an inviting ball into the box for Delfouneso to pounce on. Fortunately for Stoke, Sorenson's right foot saved the day.

With a mixed bag of individual performances, Aston Villa pulled through with very little scares. The problem of keeping goals out may have been solved yet down the other end, goals being scored are scarce. With the big man Darren Bent sidelined for the third consecutive match, we once against missed that one guy to get some part of his body on the end of crosses. With Charles N'Zogbia showing good form and looking settled on the wing, crosses have been coming into box just waiting for someone to strike. His skill on the ball is perfect on the eye but when there is no final product it all goes to waste.

Too many diagonal heavy balls are being played, especially from James Collins, and when up against a tall set of Stoke players it wasn't a very good tactic. When Delfouneso came on for an injured Emile Heskey, we should have put the ball down and played some pretty football. With our pace thanks to the likes of Gabby, Charles, Marc and Nathan we should have taken full advantage.


On the subject of Gabby, compared to his performance last week he looked a revived man. Helping out the team defensively and attacking with a great amount of pace and intent he looked dangerous in front of goal. All he needs is that quality through ball to set him free, one on one with the keeper. That's his best position and sooner or later this will come in handy.

Up top with Agbonlahor performing well thankfully Richard Dunne down the other end is fast becoming a player that is very hard to get past. Standing tall like a brick wall, many thought at start of the season he would be a liability, but now he is proving his critics wrong.

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