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Hard Fought Draw At JJB

0 - 0
Aston Villa

JJB Stadium


Attendance: 3 men and their dogs


It takes all sorts of performances to make a season and this one was a battling, edgy and hard fought point.

A mate of mine sent me a text saying 'this is ****ing abysmal, bring on January'. I agree bring on January, Martin O'Neill desperately needs some new blood in the squad and some of our players, no matter how hard they try - and they are trying - aren't good enough, but I don't think we were abysmal, not with the players available.

O'Neill had to put out a make shift team today, Gary Cahill (20) and Liam Ridgewell (22) made up the central defensive partnership as Olof Mellberg moved to right back and the still unconvincing Wilfred Bouma played at left back. In midfield Peter Whittingham came in from the cold and rookie midfielder Isaiah Osbourne (Simon if you read the BBC site!) stayed in the middle as Stiliyan Petrov missed the game, reasons as yet unknown as did Gavin McCann who was suspended.

There are those that will say Wigan on possession and chances deserved all three points but then again, they didn't get passed Thomas Sorensen who pulled off two instinctive and world class saves to earn Villa a point, so I'd say - especially with the forced changes, we were good for the point. Villa had lost some of their shape and certainly the understanding wasn't fully there, especially in the first half, but then again, through fair means of foul, we kept Wigan at bay.

Wigan are a tough, long ball team. They can pass it around but the final ball is usually a hoof and that isn't in anyway a criticism, they are difficult to beat and many teams will go to the JJB and come back with nothing, a point, keeping us in the mix at the top end of the league, will do very nicely. It was in many ways an ugly old fashioned game albeit played at a great pace and although at times our defenders were under siege they somehow managed to weather the storm and in the last five minutes Villa had a few chances to sneak a win. Now that would have been funny! Still, Wigan were on a run of four wins in a row, last season we'd not have halted that run, this season we are far more resilient.

Star Player

Team work today, Cahill and Ridgewell did very well as did Sorensen with his two outstanding saves.

Player Ratings

Thomas Sorensen 8

Two excellent saves, the first being in the first minute of the game, if he'd not stopped that, we'd have lost. He did flap a few times but having been under extreme pressure and once again having a different defence to contend with, that is no surprise.

Liam Ridgewell 8

Fought hard all game.

Gary Cahill 8

Fought hard all game.

Olof Mellberg 8

Fought.... you get the idea.

Wilfred Bouma 7

Not totally convinced to be honest but tried hard today, doesn't look like he'll ever move trees but hopefully he'll get fully fit and prove me wrong.

Gareth Barry 6.5

Not really at his usually biting self today but still contributed. His distribution wasn't up to his usually standards.

Isaiah Osbourne 6

Slightly out of his depth today but everytime you started to think, hmmmm, he made a great pass! He is certainly a great prospect but in at the deep end and found it difficult to cope with the tough Wigan midfield.

Gabriel Agbonlahor 7

The team didn't get the ball to him enough but he didn't stop running all afternoon and Jamie Redknapp doing pundit work for Sky said what we all know, he'll be a star of the game. Looks better when playing centrally.

Peter Whittingham 5.5

Don't think it is going to happen for Whittingham at Villa. He made one good shot that hit the post but I do think Kirkland had it covered anyway. It is difficult for him to come in out of the cold and be outstanding but he was beaten to the ball too much and brought off on 51 mins, being replaced by Didier Agathe.

Chris Sutton 6.5

Battled hard, got stuck in but no real chances fell to him.

Juan Pablo Angel 6.5

I feel sorry for the strikers especially Angel, he makes the right moves but the ball isn't played to him correctly, he really will struggle to score when there is no supply, for supply we need playmakers in the team, queue the transfer window.

Didier Agathe 6 (51 for Whittingham)

Some threat on the wing and a decent cross.

Steven Davis 6 (67 for Angel)

Not an easy game to come in for but did ok.

Match Facts

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Writer:J P Fear
Date:Sunday November 19 2006
Time: 4:44PM

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Wigan 4 wins on the bounce at Home, not a bad result for us in my opinion. Small yet impressive steps nothing will happen overnight andwith both central midfielders missing, I am more than happy. Abysmal seems a little harsh. they did the double over us last season
19/11/2006 18:48:00
Its not a bad result considering we had two of our first team midfielders out.
chris the villan
19/11/2006 19:35:00
If there's one thing we need to take out of the game it's we need to learn how to defend crosses into a box - too many times they got free headers
19/11/2006 20:06:00
Better drive home than we enjoyed last April. First half not in it, very much second best. Overall deserved the point though, and Gareth could have won it early in the second half if instead of shooting wildly over the bar he'd have squared it to the unmarked JPA. Happy with the draw though.
19/11/2006 20:16:00
The exact fixtures last season (Watford replacing the dildo salesmen from Somali Heath and Reading replacing those at the Yawnthorns) produced 3 wins, 3 draws and 7 defeats. A total of 12 points. I would say THAT it is abysmal. So whilst the game was not the best, it was an away point, a clean sheet and a point more than last season, despite missing six players. So a message for your pal Mr Fear. His comments are abysmal, and it his type of negativity that drags us all down. I would imagine that when we won the European Cup he said something like, "we were lucky, Withe nearly missed that chance". The sooner everybodys cup is half full, rather than half empty, the sooner VP will be the positive, vibrant place, most of us (I can't talk for the moaning, whingeing, miserable old gits that still infest our club) want. UTV
20/11/2006 11:10:00
I thought Cahill and Ridgewell were great, they dominated Wigan in the air for the most part and look a good partnership. 3 clean sheets in a row with 2 of the games at the toughest away days in the prem. How long is Petrov out though? He is vital along with Mccann.
20/11/2006 12:18:00
I make no excuses for being a stato but the same 13 games last season resulted in 11 goals for and 25 against. To save you checking the table, this season it is 15 goals for and 9 against. If we continue our current points per game ratio, we will end up on 64 or 65 points. Last season the Arse came fourth with 67 points and Spuds fifth with 65. However it does highlight how well M'ON and the players have done this season. And whilst I am one of the few not expecting to much activity in the January window, it does show that if we can hang around the top 6 until then, there is the possibility of this season exceeding our wildest expectations. UTV
20/11/2006 14:16:00
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