Monday, May 11, 2015
Well, it was a long time coming, but Sean finally got to see Villa win a league game and it was probably the first time he had been at Villa Park when the 'feel good factor was there'. Villa are still in slight danger of relegation, but recent wins against Spurs, Everton and an FA Cup Semi-final victory over Liverpool have only been slightly tempered by a defeat away to Manchester City where Villa should probably have got something. The crowd was in good spirits and the place was filled to near capacity. Villa were superb in the first half and we were right behind the goal where Jack Grealish jinsed in to set up Tom Cleverley for his 31st minute winner and third goal in three games. Villa should really have put the game to bed before half time. However, they went into the break with a slender lead and were forced to dig in a bit in the second half. It was a nervous end to the game, especially as West Ham had the ball in the net, but were offside. Villa deserved the win and Tim Sherwood was happy with the proffessional display. That said, there really was a sense of relief when the final whistle blew. All of the players deserve a mention, but especially the midfield who were brilliant at times.
Shay Given - had a very quiet first half. He was called into action in the second half on a couple of occassions, but saved well when needed. His kicking was also notably a lot better than Guzan's.
Leandro Bacuna - He really isn't a defender, but the way he gets forward is a real asset to the team. He also came close from a set piece. He was substituted for Hutton later on when it was time to shore up the defence.
Kieran Richardson - Again he's a bit too forward thinking for a defender, but put in a shift on Saturday.
Ron Vlaar- Grew into the game, he defended resolutely later on, but made a couple of mistakes which may have been punished by better forwards. He also had a couple of chances from headers from set pieces, but they weren't the best efforts you would ever see.
Jores Okore - Was playing injured, but you would never know. He epitomises the 'fight like lions' philosophy at the club at the moment.
Charles N'Zogbia - I thought he had a decent game, although a lot of the media thinks otherwise and his pace troubled the Hammers. He perhaps didn't look that great compared to the superb efforts put in by the rest of the Midfield. He came off late on to be replaced by Gabby, who really should have scored when Jack Grealish put him threw. We would have had a better last quarter of an hour if he had!
Tom Cleverley - Much maligned Tom wasn't a hit with the Villa fans for a while, but since Sherwood arrived he has been transformed. He scored the winner and fought for every ball. I would have awarded him Man of the Match.
Fabian Delph - Fabs is always Fab and his vision, movement, commitment and ball control was excellent, as it usually is.
Jack Grealish - Super Jack has finally been given a run in the team and he hasn't disappointed. He has been tremendous and set Cleverley up for the goal. West Ham couldn't get near to him apart from to kick him! He was given a standing ovation when substituted for Carlos Sanchez when the defence needed to kick in. I thought Cleverley was slightly more influential, but nobody can begrudge him the Man of the Match award.
Christian Benteke - Had a quiet day by his standards, but as he had just one player of the month then that isn't surprising, it's always a curse.
So, a great performance from the lads and we finally went home happy from Villa Park. There are still two games left and Villa still need to win them to be sure of survival and then there is the FA Cup final against Arsenal. It's been a tough few years, but the future is hopefully bright.