Saturday, 8th November 2014
We have played four bad halves of football so far this season; two of them against Southampton, and the first halves against Burnley and Stoke. Whatever else can be said about this game, we did play quite well.
After the match, Lambert described his team's performance as resolute and that is a pretty fair description. They created few goalscoring opportunities; only for 10 minutes at the end of the first half, and five at the start of the second, did it look like we might actually concede.
Our best chances, though, were either wildly off target, or too close to the excellent Guzan. Mostly, a determined Villa team ensured that most chances were not easy ones. It might be that there is only one claret and blue team in the Premier League next year, but if Villa can start finding goals, this sort of performance should mean a relatively comfortable time for their fans. Six straight defeats, in light of this display, seems more than a bit odd.
Man of the Match can sometimes be a difficult choice, but today was fairly straightforward. The second half was rather scrappier than we would have liked, but Song ran, and sometimes simply walked, the midfield in the first 45.
I've been a little bit dubious about him so far this season. The class is undoubtedly there, but when it comes to passing, he all too often has still been playing in Spain, wanting time that is simply never allowed in England. Today, despite a few inevitable misplaced balls, he was our standout player.
Despite his best efforts, and the efforts of those around him, though, penetrating a disciplined defence proved to be beyond us. The first 10 minutes or so were cagey. Then Agbonlahor blazed one of Villa's few decent chances over, quickly followed by a deflected Valencia attempt at the other end.
From the resulting corner, a powerful Collins header went straight at Guzan. Sakho beat the Villa keeper to the ball on 20 minutes, but his header went wide. Downing was high, wide, and handsome just before half-time. In the last few minutes of the match, good chances again went straight at, or too close to, Guzan.
Aside from being two points short, though, there's little to be unhappy about today. It was a decent all round performance. Big Andy was not only back on the pitch, but made an immediate impact. On in stoppage time, he nearly won the game for us. Defence and midfield were largely comfortable. Adrian's only meaningful save came a little less than 10 minutes before half time, a Weimann shot, in the theme of the day, being too close to him to be a serious concern.
This was one of those peculiar games - it wasn't a bad game, by any stretch of the imagination. And yet... This might be the shortest match report I've made so far. There simply wasn't that much incident that I can write about. Entertaining enough, but nothing to get you out of your seat.
Five shots on target, and several good saves from Brad Guzan. We might have won this; we shouldn't have lost and didn't. Villa can rightly view this as a point well won. For us, a welcome clean sheet, but two points dropped, you can't help but feel. If you wanted it summed up in one paragraph... Well, there you are!
A sterner test of our credentials will come in a fortnight, when we visit Goodison Park. Everton have ever been difficult opposition. And yet, and yet... Whilst they still score quite freely, their defence, like ours, has been rather more porous this season than last. It ought to be interesting...
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Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
Unlike Stoke, had little to do.
Solid defensively, tried to get forward when he could. As for that header? Well, he's not a centre forward, after all!
Dodgy game against Stoke last week, or so I thought from the the few highlights that I saw. Back to good form today, defending well, and creating chances going forward.
Adequate, but hardly Arsenal.
Another very solid game in the centre of defence.
Cannot. Think. Of a thing to say about him. So nothing outstandingly good or bad, then...
His best game in a West Ham shirt.
Rather more busy than effective. Not yet back to pre-injury form.
No lack of effort, but couldn't find a key to unlock a solid Villa team.
I hoped today he would finally take someone apart. Still not quite, not quite...
Not his day today. Got in the right places again, but everything was a bit off.
(Replaced Kouyate) First sub again. Contributed... nothing much. Again.
(Replaced Valencia) Had chances, might have had a penalty, had less then 20 minutes, but still was better than Nolan.
(Replaced Noble) I mark subs as a 'five' by default. Not enough time in the game (usually) to default to six. Carroll had less than five minutes, but earned a six - what does that say? Not ready to start; not sure I'd want him to; how will Sam change tactics and formation? But, by 'eck, I'm delighted to see him back on't bench, and didn't 'e do well!
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.
Man of the Match: Alex Song.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, James Collins, Mark Noble, Alex Song , Cheikhou Kouyate, Stewart Downing, Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho.
Booked: tbc .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Bradley Guzan, Matthew Lowton, Nathan Baker, Ron Vlaar, Aly Cissokho, Tom Cleverley, Ashley Westwood, Carlos Sanchez, Andreas Weimann, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Charles N'Zogbia.
Substitutes: Philippe Senderos (Nathan Baker 88), Ciaran Clark (Charles N'Zogbia 90+2).
Subs not used: Shay Given, Darren Bent, Leandro Bacuna, Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson.
Booked: Tom Cleverley (68), Andreas Weimann (68), Gabriel Agbonlahor (88).
Sent Off: None sent off..