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
Two excellent saves, the first being in the first minute of the game, if he’d not stopped that, we’d have lost. He did flap a few times but having been under extreme pressure and once again having a different defence to contend with, that is no surprise.
Liam Ridgewell 8
Fought hard all game.
Gary Cahill 8
Fought hard all game.
Olof Mellberg 8
Fought…. you get the idea.
Wilfred Bouma 7
Not totally convinced to be honest but tried hard today, doesn’t look like he’ll ever move trees but hopefully he’ll get fully fit and prove me wrong.
Gareth Barry 6.5
Not really at his usually biting self today but still contributed. His distribution wasn’t up to his usually standards.
Isaiah Osbourne 6
Slightly out of his depth today but everytime you started to think, hmmmm, he made a great pass! He is certainly a great prospect but in at the deep end and found it difficult to cope with the tough Wigan midfield.
Gabriel Agbonlahor 7
The team didn’t get the ball to him enough but he didn’t stop running all afternoon and Jamie Redknapp doing pundit work for Sky said what we all know, he’ll be a star of the game. Looks better when playing centrally.
Peter Whittingham 5.5
Don’t think it is going to happen for Whittingham at Villa. He made one good shot that hit the post but I do think Kirkland had it covered anyway. It is difficult for him to come in out of the cold and be outstanding but he was beaten to the ball too much and brought off on 51 mins, being replaced by Didier Agathe.
Chris Sutton 6.5
Battled hard, got stuck in but no real chances fell to him.
Juan Pablo Angel 6.5
I feel sorry for the strikers especially Angel, he makes the right moves but the ball isn’t played to him correctly, he really will struggle to score when there is no supply, for supply we need playmakers in the team, queue the transfer window.
Didier Agathe 6 (51 for Whittingham)
Some threat on the wing and a decent cross.
Steven Davis 6 (67 for Angel)
Not an easy game to come in for but did ok.
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