Aston Villa edge a step closer to safety following a 0-0 draw at The Hawthorns, and they were backed by a strong 2,400 crowd who were vocal throughout the 90 minutes.
Villa went into the game knowing that every point is vital in the close season run-in. West Bromwich Albion were looking to do the league double over Aston Villa following their 2-1 win at Villa Park something they hadn’t managed since 1973/1974 season.
Villa welcomed back Richard Dunne from his broken collarbone injury which had kept him out since mid February against his former team Manchester City. It was thought that Dunne would not feature before the end of season but he returned earlier than expected.
It was a feisty and scrappy game at The Hawthorns but the refereeing decisions could have changed the game. West Bromwich Albion had a clear penalty claim turned down as Alan Hutton appeared to have handled the ball in front of Shay Given, this would have meant to Aston Villa being reduced to 10 men as Hutton had already been booked.
Aston Villa had two penalty claims also turned down the first being in the first half as Chris Brunt appeared to control the ball with his hand from Alan Hutton’s cross into the box. Villa was denied a second penalty claim as confusion in WBA defence crept in during the dying embers of the game when Jonas Olsson slid on the ground and appeared to leave his arm trailing.
Both teams really went for the win this which resulted in 32 shots being attempted in total between the two sides, but only 6 shots were on target – 3 from each side.
Aston Villa’s best chance fell to Charles N’Zogbia a cross from the wing found N’Zogbia unmarked in the WBA penalty area. N’Zogbia attempted volley only found Ben Foster who took two attempts to get hold of the ball.
Gabby’s pace allowed him to run free of the West Bromwich defence on many occasions throughout the game, but unfortunately the end product just wasn’t their. Gabby’s best run clear of the defence was only to be stopped by an outstretched Ben Foster who may have given Aston Villa a penalty but this was not questioned and play continued.
Aston Villa’s defence dug deep too as Carlos Cuellar cleared off the line with a sprung header to deny Peter Odemwingie.
Shay Given came to Villa’s rescue following Jerome Thomas’ cross found Peter Odemwingie who volleyed the ball but it was saved on the line by Shay Given’s knees.
West Bromwich Albion enjoyed 55.7% of possession compared to Aston Villa’s 44.3%
Aston Villa attempted 304 passes and was successful on 223 occasions giving them 73% pass accuracy. Compared to WBA: 383 attempted passes and being successful on 294 occasions giving them a 77% pass accuracy.
Richard Dunne was Villa’s defensive maestro and was Villa’s best passer with 88% of his passes reaching intended targets on 22 times out of 25. Dunne’s aerial threat allowed him to achieve 100% in headed clearances coming from 2 out of 2. Richard Dunne also managed to clear the ball successfully with his feet 5 times out of 9 attempts giving him a clearance percentage of 55.5%.
Aston Villa fans bemoan about Alex McLeish setting up the team in a defensive manner here is an interesting set of stats:
1.Villa attempted 88 passes in their defensive half and were accurate on 76 occasions (86.3%)
2. Villa attempted 232 passes in the attacking half and were accurate on 151 occasions (65.3%)
3. Villa total 149 passes in the final third and being successful on 94 occasions (63%)
Aston Villa’s best buy this season has to have been Shay Given and in recent weeks has been able to pull of some world-class saves. But I believe the one against West Bromwich Albion may be the one that keeps Villa up.
With the draw against WBA – Aston Villa recorded their 9th clean sheet of the 2011/2012 season. The three columns that most fans are interested in are Win/Lose/Draw and Villa’s doesn’t make pleasant reading out of the 36 games played:
Win = 19.44%
Lose = 36.11%
Draw = 44.44%
Aston Villa now face Tottenham Hotspur next Sunday at Villa Park before rounding off the season away at Norwich City on Sunday 13th May. I have ear-marked the Norwich City game to be a Premier League survival decider.