Analysis & Ratings: Aston Villa v Wolves
Despite very accomplished strikers in both teams the game ended a goalless draw. suprising? Not, really, both McLeish and McCarthy thinks safety first and strives to get all the players to defend all over the pitch and get behind the ball.
The first twenty minutes or so it looked like either or both of the teams would score, though. Wolves had their best chance in the game when Stephen Hunt came on to a long cross from Ward, but under pressure from a defender he headed straight into the arms of Given from up close.
After that Villa started to take over possession more and more, but both team defended well so the chances were few and far between and the defences were very good at holding their own and keeping hold on the danger men on both sides.
My thought after the first half was that Wolves would not be able to get a point from the game if they continued to play like they did in the second half of the first half and my fears almost came through.
If it wasn’t for a change of tactics after the hour Wolves would have lost this game, I’m sure, but McCarthy substituted both wingers and Foley came on for Hunty while Elokobi occupied the left back position while Ward moved up in midfield in Jarvis place.
That did the trick, really, Foley is our best holder of the ball and with both him and grafter Ward in midfield we seized more control of the game and a point didn’t look that distant anymore. We even managed to pull pressure on the strong Villa team with a row of corners towards the end of the game, but went never really close of taking the lead.
This was the ultimate test of our team and they passed it. It was first and foremost a tactical triumph for Mick McCarthy but also for our defending all over the pitch. We are a hard working TEAM most of all and the ability to defend well will give us many extra points this season, in contrast to the last.
Boring? Perhaps, but I rather see a boring team picking up extra points than a spectacular one going forward and ending up losing games. To the ratings.
Hennessey – 7 – Had a very good game again, but our players upfront didn’t manage to take control of the balls he kicked out for some reason. Made three good saves and was very alert in the area. Hennessey is the cliff we need in the back and he helped the team to secure a point. He gets the smiley!
Stearman – 8 – Had the hardest task of all this day. To stop Agbonlahor. This was one of the two big battles on the pitch and Stears came out of the ordeal on the fore.
Yes, Agbonlahor managed to get through on a couple of occasions, but he is one of the very best forwards in the world and looks to be in form, so to hold him back is a great accomplishment from a young, unknown defender from the West Midlands. Richard Stearman is Paddytheflea’s Star Man!
Johnson – 7 – Managed to contain Bent, practically making him invisible to his peers on the pitch. Also the manager of the back four, a job praised by todays Star Man Stearman among others. A large part of the clean sheet is in his doing.
Berra – 7 – In play he had more to do than Johnson and he did it very well. Very good in the air. Potentially Villa has one of the very best forward lineups in the league and to stop them renders high grades for a defence.
Had a hard task stopping N’Zogbia and – like Stears with Agbonlahor – did well most of the time, irritating him enough when he typically moved towards the center of the area trying to get room for a shot or finding the pass. Ward gets my little star!
Henry – 6 – Excellent in first half before Villa started to put more pressure on our back four. His passing was though not good enough and he is not good enough when under pressure. Does not find our wingers with his passes, but helped out the back four defending very well on many occassions.
O’Hara – 7 – Had a hard time when Villa started to press on and their midfield looked stronger than our. Had a lot of ball, but didn’t manage to get it up and to hold it up. Came back very strong after Foley came on and Ward moved up. Our midfield became much stronger then and allowed him to do what he is best at.
Hunt – 6 – Started very optimistic and was the engine we love to see in action. When Villa gained more and more of the game he disappeared more and more from the game. Gets an extra point for the chances he created and got the first twenty minutes. Very close to score.
Jarvis – 5 – Had a very hard time against young Ossie Herd who was the best player on the pitch. Neutralised him most of the time and he didn’t get the space to work his magic. With Capello watching he should have done better, but he will be back.
Doyle – 6 – Found himself against a very good Villa defence and weren’t given the time or space to get hold of the ball most of the time. Defended well from upfront as usual, though, which renders him an extra point, but I want to see more from him.
Fletcher – 5 – The same as Doyle, but he doesn’t possess the same skills as Doyler at defending from the front and became invisible at times.
Elokobi and Foley came in to late to get ratings, but they both helped a lot to hold the ball up, by that securing a point in this game.
Highlights in link in the right margin