Villa Pick Up Draw v Sunderland
Attendance: 37 473
Being a genius (cough cough... what a way to start a 'match report' by the way!) I didn't think we were on for 4th place this season. My prediction at the start of the season, if memory serves me right, was 6-8th (that was before the excellent defender purchases but with the lack of a new striker, even that didn't deflect me from that belief)
Well, it just means maybe that I am more relaxed than some. We flirted with 4th, we could mathematically still do it, but even MON has admitted the draws have killed us this year and the draws are getting more frequent.
I said before the Wolves game that if we were genuine contenders for 4th that we can't have any more draws at home. Sadly we drew with Wolves and again last night v Sunderland. You know Villa though, they'll go and win at Chelsea now and the optimism will again return!
I have to admit, as I was leaving one of my mates who sat in a different area met up with me, mate and dad and said 'what dross'. My mate Wiggy and me were a bit surprised, but then we listened to others reactions. I know near the final whistle (I'd gone to the top of Trinity Lower to see the end and then get a nice quick exit) one chap started moaning to me about the manager and the 'f****g awful play', I just looked away.
You see, I quite enjoyed the game! It was end to end, I thought we had more of the possession, the stats don't bear that thought out (we had 49% according to our stats) and we certainly had some excellent chances. I think because I like the people around me, that I sit near the bench and enjoy barracking the opposition (Steve Bruce was a good laugh last night for one) and the ref etc (all fairly nicely!) and the fact I don't think it is a God given right for us to win, I'm just more relaxed these days. I don't expect to finish where we want to but do have a lovely dream about the FA Cup this season, I'm sure you all share that!
Don't get me wrong, this isn't top quality football or anything but I can't say that I didn't think the players didn't put the effort in last night.
The biggest problem?
Two great chances, to awful misses.
First half James Collins (who played great last night by the way) only had to nut the ball on target and he'd have scored, he headed it high, wide and not so handsome. I bet he couldn't miss like that again if he tried?
Then second half John Carew, who is back on form and looking interested (why does he fade so much in the cold weather, I thought he came from Norway?!) had a clear header in front of goal that again, was put wide when you'd have put your mortgage on it going in.
You cannot miss chances like that and expect to pick up wins. Sunderland are no mugs. I have an email from the Vital Sunderland editor this morning, 'great point for Sunderland, couldn't be happier'. That sums it up, for Sunderland away at Villa Park, a draw was a good result, for us at home though, it just wasn't good enough.
Villa doing what they did last season? Looks like it, I just think I'm more immune to the disappointment now and also mindful - without looking at the bigger picture, money spent, lack of rotation etc which I just don't have the energy to get all angry about right now - it hasn't been a disaster this year. I know, I know, the counter arguments and I so wanted us to take our chance this year, but .....
Well, we'll just have to see how the season plays out now. The crowd certainly do seem to be turning a little, there is more frustration and certainly more anger growing. I can understand why, I just can't get into it myself, what will be will be and without a striker to bang home the goals - and a bit of help from supply would also be nice - we aren't quite as good as we'd all like to think we are and for that fact only, I can't bang my head against a brick wall expecting what isn't possible, I can however keep bashing my hands to death on the boarding's by me (note to the club, can you please repair the rivets holding the boarding's up, I have popped three off so far this season!) and carry on supporting the team and letting the refs know what a free kick is, when a yellow card should be given and enquire as to what is wrong with their contact lenses.
Last night? We had the chance to make hay as Man City lost, we failed, but I don't think that was for the lack of trying from the players, just the lack of new ideas, a plan b or shaking things up. Like last season, I think we've been sussed and not only that, we so miss the pace of Gabby Agbonlahor.
Must say our defence seemed to keep Darren Bent quiet all game and that Sunderland's Campbell looked a real handful, good goal from him.
Brad Friedel 6
Stephen Warnock 6
James Collins 7
Richard Dunne 6
Carlos Cuellar 10
Ashley Young 7
James Milner 6
Stiliyan Petrov 6.5
Stewart Downing 6
John Carew 8
Emile Heskey no rating
Nathan Delfouneso (on for Heskey 14) 6
Steve Sidwell (on for Milner 77) 6
No Pie Scandal