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Vital Match Report - Villa v Swansea

Aston Villa
2 - 0

Villa Park


Attendance: 34 005


There's a new man in town -Benteke, Christian Benteke. For the twenty or so minutes in which his six foot plus frame graced the Villa Park turf he was absolutely unplayable. His first goal for Villa rounded off a rocking afternoon and a 2-0 win for Paul Lambert and was duly celebrated by the manager in jubilant, pitch invading style.

However, if Brad Guzan had not pulled off two exceptional saves early in the first half it might have been a different story. First, the American Keeper saved Williams close range header, only then to fly with acrobatic gusto to palm away Nathan Dyers corner bound strike moments later, the latter having gathered up the loose ball. Guzan commanded the box with steel throughout, sweeping up and collecting everything that came near him to loud chants of his name. Watching from the subs bench, Shay Given must be feeling that his Premier League career has turned to dust.

Tactically Villa finally showed themselves able to execute a game plan with aplomb. Hunting the ball -and any Swansea player who found himself with it- in numbers and with tempo prevented Swansea from settling into their neat passing play. Indeed, the Swans looked engulfed and overwhelmed and as the game wore on the mistakes started to come.

At the heart of this high tempo approach, Brett Holman bombed around the middle of the park like a man possessed. He set the rhythm and the directness of play, showing good touches and drive when he found himself with the ball. However, Steven Ireland, although showing calmness and deftness of touch, once again lacked penetration or an end product, flattering to deceive through large parts of the game.

It was £3 million Matt Lowton though that opened the scoring. His 20yrd drive swerved, taking perhaps a slither of a defection of Tate, who has returned to the Swans back line after a year out with a broken leg, procured during an ill fated gold buggy accident. Lowton's shot wrong footed Vorn who watched helpless as the ball curled past him. Villa Park erupted in a way that it has not done for some time.

Swansea had a chance to equalize just before half time when Dyer found himself free on the right. A beautiful cross from the wing tempted Graham's boot though despite offering his outstretched leg the Swansea striker could not convert.

Villa, who have been guilty in the past of sticking ten men behind the ball or taking their foot of the gas, now know that the eleven men on the pitch must give everything they have until the final whistle. They duly obliged. After throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at Swansea during the opening salvo of the second half they managed to force a series of corners. Villa, who have not scored from a corner since the Jurassic Period, probably thought that Andreas Weimann's swivelled effort from a few yards out might bring them into the modern era. Not so. Leon Britton was there is still a duck to break.

Paul Lambert heralded the changes with two substitutes half way through the second half. Firstly, Ashley Westwood came on for Ireland, slotting in nicely, showing touch, energy and ability. He did not look out of place or overwhelmed. It was a good introduction at a positive time for a player who is enthusiastic and desperate to show the crowd that the club were right to promote him to the Premier League. Weimann was then substituted for Benteke, both receiving a standing ovation.

Perhaps the one issue I would have is that Bent, who now seems to be trading on reputation alone, should have been substituted in his place. Weimann, who looked sharp, quick and hungry all afternoon, looked more likely to score than Bent. The latter, despite working the line well seems short of confidence. Whether Benteke can help bring him back to his best remains to be seen.

It was Benteke himself though that put the game to bed. Having missed a clear chance to score from Bent's clever knock back he wasn't going to fluff his lines twice. Ashley Williams, having sent a poor header back toward Vorn, could only watch as Benteke intercepted, chipped the keeper, finishing off the move with a tap in in the 88th minute. Villa Park burst into celebration. A first home win since an injury time win over Fulham was assured back in March.

Finally, we have our Villa Park back, a famous and historic ground full of colour and sound in a way that seemed forgotten. It was nice for the new signings to experience Villa Park as it should be and for the Premier League to be reminded that this is no easy place to come to. Swansea and their fans certainly looked at times as though they were still waiting for the Villa team they beat last year to reveal themselves.

Moreover, after some of the dud signings of recent years, it finally looks like Villa have found a player in £7million Belgium international, Christian Benteke. (Ben-tea-key). Lambert demonstrated that Benteke has the ability to be an unplayable game changer.

Watch out Southampton. Here we come.

Star Player

Man of the Match: Holman.
Room for improvement: Bent.

Date:Sunday September 16 2012
Time: 12:55PM


great report, agree with man of the match and the room for improvement.
The Fear
16/09/2012 12:58:00
I meant to say- first home league win since March. Apologies for any confusion. And its golf buggy accident and not gold buggy accident. The buggy was probably a plastic metal motorized hybrid. No gold involved. Apologies again.
16/09/2012 13:04:00
Great report. Agree with Man of Match too, Holman is our new James Milner, runs tirelessly around and makes intelligent runs. Too soon to see if Benteke can link up well with Bent but he definitely bullied the Swansea defence when he came on. With the Bannan situation, having more physical and perhaps more capable players around him seems to let him play to his strengths. So thats encouraging.
16/09/2012 13:28:00
Excellent report Grizzly. Wish I had been there.
Pride of Lions
16/09/2012 14:54:00
i am happy for Bannan its clear to see that he is a natural talented footballer he could become our own scottish messi me thinks !
16/09/2012 15:08:00
Give Bent some time. He almost single handedly kept us up under Houllier. In the Mcleish reign he was stuck with no service and little to no one in the same half of the pitch. He is a natural goal scorer - he will come right! Just needs a goal or two and he will start banging them in for fun again :)
16/09/2012 22:53:00
Excellent report. However, for folk like myself, who rely on watching our favourite team on TV matches, I sometimes find it bewildering to listen to some commentators. We get our TV images from Foxtel (Sky in Britain) and I sometimes wonder if our side ever seem to be on the pitch to hear the way the "analyst" commentator was talking during the match. You'd think Swansea were another Barcelona to hear this moron talk. It gave me an inordinate amount of pleasure to hear this fool slowly eating humble pie when it became evident that we were not only getting the upper hand, but actually running the show. I wonder if anyone else noticed this. Oh for balanced commentary!!
17/09/2012 00:28:00
If I may add a couple more sentences. Before I moved to Oz, I recall the way Ron Saunders put together our League winning side of '81, and the look of the shape of this side has distinct similarities, particularly the way Mr Lambert has been so selective in his choice of players.
17/09/2012 00:52:00
My favourite thing about this game was we did exactly what we should be doing at home against teams like Swansea. We took the lead and went for more, as opposed to the last 5-6 seasons where we have taken the lead and sat back. Wonderful to see. I also think Bent is getting some unfair stick, he created 3 very good chances for his strike partners on Saturday (1 being the 2nd goal) and I felt his team contribution was far more effective than it has been in a claret and blue shirt.
17/09/2012 10:35:00
Must admit even two players I dont really have a lot of time for Ireland & Bannan do at least put in a shift under Lambert. But too delighted with the overall team performance to nitpick. Good report Grizz. Holman reminded me of Des Bremner with his never stop atittude,Bent needs the confidence of a couple of goals like all strikers his confidence sinks when he is not scoring.
17/09/2012 11:16:00
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