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Aston Villa vs. Sunderland
Barclays Premier League
Venue: Villa Park, Birmingham
Attendance: 35, 399
Goals: M’Vila 8’, Sinclair 11’ (Pen), 41’, Lens 52’
Last week, Sunderland picked up their first point of the season with a draw against Swansea City. Today, we’re up against a team that I expect to finish somewhere around the bottom six of the league and my boogie team on FIFA and Football Manager, Aston Villa.
We started off well in the opening ten minutes and took the lead on the 8th minute thanks to a peach of a goal from M’Vila. A dream start which quickly turned into a nightmare thanks to our good friend, Lee Cattermole. Scott Sinclair levels it all up from the penalty spot and normal service resumes for the Black Cats. The defending leading up to the incident was pathetic throughout the move. Why did we give Lee Cattermole a 5-year contract? The guy is too slow, can’t read the game, loses focus too easily and has a poor temperament. I hope Stoke are still interested in the guy! The guy is a complete liability. He’s taken ten steps backwards over the summer, he just isn’t the same player he once was a few short years ago. Danny Graham continues to get shoved off the ball far too easily and not once does he put up any sort of a fight to win back the ball! That goal just sucked the life out of us.
Like us, Aston Villa have declined over the years. Their best players have jumped ship and you can see that in Villa’s previous league finishes. Remember when they nearly qualified for the Champion’s League under Martin O’Neil? That seems like a lifetime ago. Here however, they were passing the ball for fun just like what Norwich City did in our second game of the season.
Villa aren’t a good side, but we are woeful. We’re not very good when the pace picks up and the team looks completely petrified! As the first half progressed, our man marking efforts (and I use the word effort loosely) were non-existent. Van Aanholt looks as if he’s never seen a ball before, in-fact, both of our full backs were getting sucked out of position way too easily and Villa exploited the space far too easily. It’s like that scene in the Mighty Ducks where Goldberg stands to the side of the goal and allows the opposition to score. We’re handing it over to them on a silver platter. Seriously, if we don’t sign a left back during the remainder of this transfer window we might as well say hello to the Championship right now. How Danny Graham gets a game is beyond me when we have an exciting, young, ginger goal scorer on the bench in Duncan Watmore who deserves a chance from the start.
We did improve going forward towards the end of the first half, Lens almost made it 2-1, but we were incapable to keeping the ball. Every other team in this league is able to control the ball and knock it around whiles we struggle with the basics and just aimlessly hoof the ball into space. Our recruitment policy needs a revamp methinks. Alas Scott Sinclair made it 2-1 to the Villains, and again, thanks to captain blunder, Lee Cattermole. Catts got turned out in midfield, Billy Jones was exposed far too easily and our centre backs should have done much better. Again, too much space down the flanks and the movement in midfield was utter shite.
Changes were made in the second half when Steven Fletcher replaced Danny Graham and Lee Cattermole made way for the debuting Ola Toivonen. The substitution paid off after Toivonen set up Jermain Lens to open his account for the 52nd minute for the black cats. Excellent play by Ola, he ran around in both attack and defence, always getting into space, pointing into space and always up for a fight. That’s what we’ve been lacking for a long time. I haven’t seen an attacking midfielder who passes the ball forward since Stephane Sessegnon. His link up play with Lens was impressive and his partnership in M’Vila just clicked. The chemistry amongst those three players is there. Given time, Ola Toivonen could be a new hero for us and has the potential to go on to become a club legend should we take up the offer to sign him.
M’Vila played a class ball towards Defoe who should have smacked it first time to win us the game, it was a good effort non the less.
Aston Villa began to carve us up in the final 20 minutes, they looked the most likely to score. Like Danny Graham, Steven Fletcher was as soft as clarts after getting shoved off the ball far too easily. We should have brought Watmore on earlier; his pace could have caused some big problems for Villa. Then Sunderland sunk towards a new low by resorting to time wasting. Time wasting against a team like Aston Villa to protect a draw is the lowest of the low.
Nice to get another draw, but it have arose some concerns about the club. The rest of the league is getting younger, quicker and better at keeping the ball. We just don’t apply pressure, don’t attack when in possession, defenders are far too incompetent and only happy to try and absorb the pressure but failing time and time again. Our midfield is so embarrassing that it gets played through like a hot knife through better. What do they actually do during training? It’s things like this that make me question the manager and backroom staff as we look so unorganised compared to most teams in the Premier League.
I don’t want to dwell on the negatives too much. I’m impressed by Toivonen. His link up play with Lens and partnership with M’Vila were highlights. Start him in our next game against Spurs. He can’t be much worse than Lee Cattermole, right?
All in all it was a good draw considering how bad we were in the first half.
Current league position (out of 20): 20th
Rif’s Man of the Match: Ola Toivonen (Sunderland): Has some potential to become a massive hit with our fans.
Next game: Tottenham Hotspur @ The Stadium of Light (Barclays Premier League)