Hard Fought Draw At JJB
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.
Thomas Sorensen 8
Liam Ridgewell 8
Gary Cahill 8
Olof Mellberg 8
Wilfred Bouma 7
Gareth Barry 6.5
Isaiah Osbourne 6
Gabriel Agbonlahor 7
Peter Whittingham 5.5
Chris Sutton 6.5
Juan Pablo Angel 6.5
Didier Agathe 6 (51 for Whittingham)
Steven Davis 6 (67 for Angel)