Most Shots Attempted: Stewart Downing – 3 (on target – 0, blocked – 3)
Sharp Shooter: Darren Bent – 2 (on target – 2, goals – 2)
Sh*t Shooter: Gabby Agbonlahor, Ashley Young – no shots
Most Passes Attempted: Kyle Walker – 51 (29 on target – 56.86%)
Pass Master: Luke Young – 36/49 (73.47%)
Worst Passer: James Collins – 12/28 (42.86%)
Most Tackles Attempted: Kyle Walker – 18 (won 10 – 55.55%)
Tough Tackler: Luke Young, James Collins – 3/4 (75%)
Weakest Tackler: Jean Makoun – 0/5
Aston Villa, to my surprise, met my prediction of a 2-2 draw away to Everton, which on the face of it seems a decent result, but was it 1 point gained or 2 points dropped. In fact, Villa’s albeit unfortunate surrender of a 2-1 led to their 22nd and 23rd dropped points of the season. Don’t get me wrong, this little factoid coming up means very little as it’s all ifs and buts, however the stat showing that had Villa retained all 23 of their dropped points they would be sitting pretty in third, sums up the season frustratingly accurately!
In terms of a point gained, to coin an annoying Tesco phrase – every little helps, with regards to the unquestionable relegation battle the club is facing. However, if you take a look at the Everton squad from Saturday’s game it rapidly begins to look like a poor result. No Saha, Arteta, Cahill and Fellaini, not to mention the likes of Pienaar and Yakubu who are no longer at the club, mean that this game was well and truly there for the taking. The fact that none of the Everton subs named for the weekend’s game had ever played in the Premier League makes this all the more apparent. The fact that their best player was the distinctly average Leon Osman makes it almost unbearable.
Hey-ho, chin up and all that lark, the hosts played fairly well and will feel unlucky not to have won the game when a Jermaine Beckford effort cannoned off the underside of the bar and seemingly an inch over the line was adjudged not to have done so. Thanks Mr Blatter for your ridiculous hold out on goal-line technology! The decision was really rubbed in the Toffees noses when, from the resulting Friedel clearance, Ashley Young put through Darren Bent to give Villa a lead. Everton needn’t have feared as Villa haven’t won a game in which they had gone behind all season so a dubious, well let’s face it incorrect, penalty decision was inevitable really.
All this came after a decent game of football as it happens. The hosts certainly didn’t look weak despite their weakened side, while Villa offered an imposing threat on the counter attack in their first 4-4-2 system of the season, though what Gabby Agbonlahor did all game is lost to me.
The first real chance of the game fell to Beckford when the, on the day, dismal Kyle Walker attempted a 40-yard headed back-pass which instead travelled about 4 and straight to the former Leeds man. The striker bore down on goal only for his effort to be well saved by Friedel, the first of many from the American.
Villa’s first opening fell to the unlikely source of Nigel Reo-Coker, whose volley from a save produced by Tim Howard to keep out a Richard Dunne header, was superbly blocked by Everton right back Tony Hibbert.
The hosts took the lead after more poor work from Walker saw him dally in possession and lose out to Bilyaletdinov. The Russian thread through for Osman to run onto before the midfielder outfoxed James Collins, all to easily, before sliding an effort beyond the incoming Dunne and the outstretched Friedel. The American may feel he could have got a stronger hand to the effort but it was a lead that Everton probably warranted as half time approached.
After the break a slightly lacklustre Villa were immediately rejuvenated when Walker picked out Downing on the right, whose neat cut back was dispatched emphatically by the otherwise quiet Darren Bent.
Friedel denied a headed Heitinga effort before Osman had chances for his second and third of the game sail wide and over respectively.
Walker missed what was probably the best chance of the game, epitomising his day, practically clearing the stands with a volley from 3 yards when the ball was fired in from a corner.
Then the mad minute when Beckford rattled the bar from the edge of the area in a shot which saw Friedel helpless. Replays showed the ball probably did cross the line but it was a tight one for the linesman to see and if your not sure you can’t give it.
Villa duly went up the other end and Young, also quiet after international duty, picked out a curling Bent run which saw the England forward roll past the on-rushing Howard and into an empty net. Good finishing from Bent on the day after he had come into criticism from some sections of the support after some missed chances in games previous.
Osman missed another glorious chance to level the matters, slicing wildly over from close range before Phil Jagielka was ‘up-ended’ by Jean Makoun in the Villa box. Again, replays showed that it was the wrong decision with the defender going down like a sack of spuds under no contact from the Cameroonian. Makoun did however go in to make the challenge which wasn’t really necessary, and was punished despite pulling out of the tackle, allowing Baines to make it 2-2 with 7 minutes remaining.
Both sides are right to feel aggrieved therefore a draw was probably a fair result with the home side slightly shading the proceedings. A better spirit from Villa on their travels doesn’t stop the fact that a home win against Newcastle next time out is vital.
Villa Player Ratings
Brad Friedel – 8 – a number of decent stops showed the 39-year-old isn’t past it
Kyle Walker – 5 – by far his worst display for Villa, two defensive errors and a glorious chance missed
Richard Dunne – 7 – solid after lay-off
James Collins – 6 – beaten easily for first goal, Cuellar deserved to start over him or Walker at RB
Luke Young – 7 – filled in well at left-back repeating assured comeback against Blackpool
Stewart Downing – 8 – lively display with assist, best of those returning from internationals
Nigel Reo-Coker – 6 – got stuck in as ever but overrun by poor Everton midfield at times
Jean Makoun – 6 – same as NRC, unlucky to concede penalty but challenge didn’t need to be made
Ashley Young – 6 – quiet back in a wider role which will annoy the fans, good assist
Gabby Agbonlahor – 5 – nothing
Darren Bent – 7 – took goals superbly in an otherwise decent display
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