Premier League
Aston Villa 0 West Ham United 0

Monday, 16th September 2019
by Staff Writer

West Ham United missed the chance to go third in the league but came away with a hard-fought point in a back and forth game at Villa Park.

Pellegrini left his side unchanged after their destruction of Norwich before the international break and the game was open and intense, without ever really being fully in the control of either side.

Unfortunately, and for some unsurprisingly, Mike Dean decided to impose himself on the game and on a run of poor decisions, eventually sending off Arthur Masuaku for a second yellow card, hurting the flow of an otherwise entertaining and level match-up.

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In truth, there was little in individual moments to shout about, both halves a fascinating mix of contrasting styles and well-organised defences.

The Hammers wanted control of the ball, and their slow build-up play around the box was highlighted by the cute touches and neat passes of Lanzini and Anderson. In opposition, the home side were driven by the running and intensity of Grealish and McGinn through the middle, with both players covering a lot of ground and dictating their play. Where West Ham looked to wait for a gap, Villa wanted to get in and around the box as soon as possible, taking any opportunity to shoot or cross.

Both sides did have half chances, with Wesley and Guilbert both guilty of missing well-placed headers for Villa, whilst Haller got a sight of goal from a rare Anderson cross that he glanced wide having beaten Mings to the ball. It should have encouraged more use of Haller's aerial ability, but delays around the box and a hesitance to deliver balls to the big striker mean the Frenchman's ability to make space and win headers is often overlooked.

In reality, the most notable moments of the first half came from ill-discipline. Masuaku would regret his booking, whilst Noble got a yellow for what seemed to be the temerity of making the next foul after Grealish had been carded. Not for the last time, the referee looked influenced by a complaining Villa captain and a roar from the Villa crowd.

It was only after a surprising coming together between Mings and El Ghazi in the Villa defence, where the diminutive winger was lucky to stay on the pitch for butting his head into his defensive teammate, that Villa came to life.

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With minutes ticking away in the half, Fabianski earned his money. First, the Pole flew out from goal when El Ghazi was unmarked at the back post and prepared to score. The cross arrowed to him at the back post, and El Ghazi was free from 10 yards to head in. But he was beaten to it by the flying fist of Fabianski, whose intervention saved a clear goalscoring opportunity.

Moments later, the impressive McGinn hammered in a low shot from the edge of the area that came through a crowd of bodies to nestle in the bottom corner, were it not for the powerful hand of Fabianski diving down to his right post. The stop was all the more remarkable when replays showed it had deviated off the knee of Villa striker Wesley on the way through.

Neither side could feel disappointed to head to half-time at 0-0. They both came back out unchanged, and the game deviated very little from its first-half pattern, although Villa had a little more control.

It was after 20 minutes of this that Mike Dean could take no more.

An even contest looked destined to be drawn, if not for some magic or a mistake. When Masuaku was beaten in the Villa half and the winger went down, Magic Mike took his chance. A second yellow was flourished and Masuaku departed. He had made the faintest contact, his thigh gracing the forward on the turn, but the crowd were on their feet and the showman delivered.

In truth, it galvanised West Ham and helped the away side raise their intensity to counter their numerical deficit. Zabaleta came on for Anderson, Lanzini and substitute Fornals went wide and Pellegrini's men showed a grit and determination that was too much for Villa to outplay or outsmart.

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With the counter attack now their best option, West Ham worked incredibly hard to defend with fire and attack with pace and enough numbers to manage their situation. Fornals in particular was their to support Haller, who himself often held the ball up well and drew fouls when needed.

The defending was smart and decisive, with Declan Rice upping his game to cut many attacks before they could begin.

It wasn't until the last few minutes that the 11-men home side created an opening.

With two minutes remaining of the 90, Grealish was allowed to attack a cross alone. The deep cross from their right was, however, met by a weak finish. The Villa talisman leapt to either volley or control the ball, but really did neither and the ball dropped off the pitch meekly.

Then, with seconds really fading, a corner for Villa caused confusion. Cannoning around to go to the back post, Wesley flopped to the floor and begged for a penalty.

The calls for penalties didn't end there, with Fredericks praying for intervention as he went down in the box from a counter attack. It was soft, Mings pulling out of any tackle and Fredericks dropping easily as the defender brushed past him.

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0-0 it was destined to finish, although whether smarter play from Pablo Fornals could have made more from a counter attack within the last five seconds.

It was a fair result, with little to really threaten either goalkeeper, a harsh red card and a lot of midfield play that often amounted to nothing.

With a chance to go third, even this early in the season, it was a shame to miss out on the three points. However, a clean sheet away from home is a bonus, as well as holding on for that point when the side had lost a man to a red card.

Pellegrini will be pleased with their resolve, both before but especially after the red. He should also consider the way slow build attacks often gave Villa too much time to settle, which could be one reason why the attacking side of the team looked more blunt in this fixture.

The start remains good, unbeaten in the four since the City opener, and away clean sheets should be celebrated. All in all, a good point gained.

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Player Ratings

Lukasz Fabianski
Couple of very good saves and vital punch at the back post.


Ryan Fredericks
Kept his side controlled well and threatened with pace a few times.


Arthur Masuaku
It's a very harsh second yellow, considering how little contact there was, but he made the challenge and had been booked for similar before. Hadn't delivered a decent ball in the game before that but was passing neatly.


Issa Diop
Controlled Wesley and made several big challenges.


Angelo Ogbonna
Another quietly effective game, he and Diop bossed the middle.


Declan Rice
Another who was calmly and quietly doing his work until the red. Stepped up from there and nullified Villa.


Mark Noble
Some sloppy moments in the final third, but worked his socks off and disrupted Grealish.


Felipe Anderson
Was struggling before being taken off after the red. Not a bad outing, just not reaching anything notable.


Manuel Lanzini
Was the classiest player on the pitch and worked really hard defensively too. Had quiet patches but carried the burden when Anderson went off.


Andriy Yarmolenko
Worked hard and looked fitter, with some nice touches coming off. Feel he's either going to be in decisive moments or otherwise drift.


Sebastian Haller
A scrappy game for him, but his influence as a striker was really notable when the side were down to ten men. Holds the ball, passes well and draws fouls with lovely control.



Substitutes

Pablo Fornals
(Replaced Yarmolenko) Whilst it still isn't clicking, he linked well with Haller and got straight into his role when Masuaku was sent off, not at all shy of grafting and then busting a gut to get there for counters.


Pablo Zabaleta
(Replaced Anderson) Looked fit and fresh when he came on, making good challenges and supporting counters.


Fabian Balbuena
(Replaced Noble) Nothing to do in his 90 seconds on the pitch.


Roberto Jimenez Gago
Did not play.


Robert Snodgrass
Did not play.


Jack Wilshere
Did not play.


Albian Ajeti
Did not play.



Match Facts

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Ryan Fredericks, Arthur Masuaku, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice, Mark Noble, Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko, Sebastian Haller.

Goals: None.

Booked: Arthur Masuaku 23 Mark Noble 29        .

Sent Off: Arthur Masuaku 67    .

Aston Villa: Heaton, Guilbert (Davis 85), Engels, Mings, Taylor, McGinn, Nakamba (Douglas Luiz 81), Jota (El Mohamady 66), Grealish, El Ghazi, Wesley.

Subs not used: Steer, Konsa, Lansbury, Hourihane.

Goals: .

Booked: Grealish (28), Mings (77).

Sent off: None.

Referee: Mike Dean.

Attendance: 42,010.

Man of the Match: Manuel Lanzini.