Writer: Mike Field
Date:Wednesday February 12 2014
Manager Paul Lambert has bemoaned our missed chances in the game against Cardiff yesterday, and credited his old Celtic team mate David Marshall for pulling off two world class saves to deny us all three points, especially the attempt by Andi Weimann right at the end of the game.
It was again the quintessential game of two halves from Villa. Woeful in the first half is probably putting a positive spin on it and how we never went in at half time at least two nil down is more through luck than anything else.
Finally nice to get some though.
Second half, I disagree with Lambert as it wasn't fantastic. It was however a damn sight better again and the very least we should expect from this team. We got it down on the deck more, played it around, used the wings and Albrighton to good effect, had some fantastic balls through the middle that split the defence, and we had chances a plenty.
How we didn't end the game at least two nil up I'll probably never fathom.
What ever luck we had in the first 45 minutes, obviously deserted us in the last.
Scoreless, or any kind of draw at full time is on balance the fair result with how the 90 minutes played out, but how many games are we going to have like this and then not take an unfair (on balance) victory?
With the clear cut chances we had - Benteke, Gabby, Bacuna, Weimann - and the other chances we could've had if Benteke especially had moved to try and get on some Albrighton's crosses...two nil would've been flattering given what we could've created.
But for all the movement that led to some good chances, at other times we were so flat footed it looked like they'd taken root.
A good point or two points dropped? Has to be the latter, especially as rarely seem to put in a second half showing like that on home soil.
Anyway, Lambert's after match on the Official Site, he was asked if he had any frustration at not taking all three points.
'Yes, very much so. In the second half I thought we were fantastic and there was only one team looking likely to win it. Marshy kept them in it. He made two world class saves, especially the one from Andi. I felt Leandro and Gabby should both have scored, and I felt Christian should have hit it instead of trying to pass it.'
The gaffer goes on to say that it's not an easy place to come though and that Cardiff have picked up some good points at their own ground so far this season, but he really still thinks we should've won.
'Even when Cardiff hit the bar and hit the post I wasn't too concerned.'
You were alone there Paul. And the less said about the possible penalty the better, but I doubt you'll find anybody who disagreed that we shouldn't have taken that match one nil at least.
As for sharing credit around a bit after naming people who should've won us the match, Ron Vlaar came in for particular praise, who many have already highlighted as the Man of the Match from the performance.
'Ron was very good. It was touch and go whether he played on Saturday. He gives us that balance and I thought he played really well. This could be a huge point for us.'
There's no two ways about it, Vlaar is now a massive player for us in defence as we are so much stronger and organised when he's around. Just have to hope that between now and the end of the season he can keep himself injury and niggle free.
The other player to come in for praise was Joe Bennett who continues to split fans down the middle.
Bennett made his first team return for the first time in around four months since picking up an injury. Played in the more unfamiliar left midfield role, Lambert said he thought he did 'great' especially as it was his first 60 minutes of true competitive action since returning to fitness, adding it was only his match fitness levels that saw him removed.
I don't think he did too bad to be honest. He wasn't tearing up trees and making people think 'great Scott, he's actually a winger' but he was reasonably steady, especially for a first game back, so who knows if we'll more of him in that position in the future.
Given some of the criticism levelled at the players despite the second half showing, some interesting stats Here especially when it comes to Ashley Westwood who was our most productive passer in the final third. No surprise to see Albie number one for chance creation though.
The only controversial part of the after match verdict is, Lambert used the word 'fantastic' to describe us in the second half.
A different outlet used the word 'excellent.'
Our very own Grizzly had a little lighthearted stab at a few Lambertisms ahead of the game - Click Here - and postulated what the gaffer might say following the match and the 'excellent' variation triumphed.
Do they win or don't they? Does anybody care :-)
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Date:Wednesday February 12 2014
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