Aston Villa 2 Everton 2: Dropped points or salvaged point?

I could only do Twitter updates last night as I actually forgot my machine and only hand my phone, so apologies about that, but it was actually nice, for me anyway, as I could concentrate on the game and the very nice bottle of Whiskey my Everton supporting host opened.

But before we get to the game, we really need to get everyone around the table on the same page. Yes, fourth is possible. It is also possible that Pompey beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final, that they play in Europe next season and win the Europa League. Both things really are possible but the chances of us winning the last five games after last night are extremely slim.

What the Papers Say

Stuart James, The Guardian
An evening that started with Aston Villa hoping to keep alive their faint hopes of playing in the Champions League next season ended with Martin O'Neill's players clinging on to European qualification of any description. Phil Jagielka's own-goal in injury-time denied Everton only their second league win on this ground in 22 attempts and allowed Villa to maintain a healthy, and perhaps crucial, four-point gap over David Moyes' side in the race for the final Europa League place.
Phil Shaw, The Independent
Villa needed more than a draw if they were to keep alive their hopes of a tilt at next season's Champions League, although with their next three fixtures being at Portsmouth and Hull City and a home derby with Birmingham City, hope springs eternal. Realistically, they are now competing for a Europa League spot, as are Everton from further back, so forcing Moyes's side to settle for a third consecutive draw was useful in one respect.
Sandy Macaskill, The Telegraph
The referee, Martin Atkinson, called time of death at precisely 9.37pm on Wednesday night, but it has been clear for some time that reviving Aston Villa’s challenge for fourth place was beyond even the most accomplished paramedic.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill, The Telegraph
I thought before the game that we probably had to win the whole lot of the matches that were left to give us a proper chance (of the Champions League). It would have been a tall order and I would have thought that, certainly after this result, to give ourselves any chance we'll have to win all five. It's not impossible but it will be tough. You'd need a bit of luck here and there but we'll go to Portsmouth on Sunday and we'll give it everything.

Yes, we could still finish fourth, but we really needed to win last night for fifth and that is looking just a little bit harder now, after Spurs beat Arsenal. Real world people, come on.

The Players and Some Stats

We played 442 and I'll get stick for saying this, but it is an outdated way of playing football and we played with Big Friedel, King Carlos, The Ginger One, Ricardo Dunne, Stephen Warnock (The Fonz, 77), Webcam, Milly, Stiliyan Petrov, Stewart Downing, Gabby and Carew.

On the bench last night, that didn't get a look in, again, we had Little Brad, Luke Young, Sidders, My Fabulous, Heskey and £40k a week Beye.

Our passing number was way up last night and we looked better. We looked flat up front and in midfield and I tweeted that last night before knowing passing stats, but it is a step in the right direction. We made 382 passes last night, of which 317 were successful. It really is a step in the right direction, but we need more movement as a team and we need to work on this - I just think it is a bit late in the season to start playing like this.

Man of the Match

Because I forgot my laptop I couldn't put up the vote last night so I get to decide and I get to say it was King Carlos. The job of the full back, in the modern game, is to get forward and make yourself available. He does this I think, better than Warnock, who is more of a traditional full back and while he isn't a natural right back - I'm more than happy with him.

Final Analysis

Fifth is going to be tough, but it is not impossible and while we have a game in hand over Liverpool, I think we need to be more worried about securing seventh. Basically, we were lucky to get a point last night and that luck doesn't last forever.

We have five games left and they are all going to be important. If we can continue the passing, the movement might drop into place and we might start playing a more modern formation and we might, just might, see a game that looks like how we want to be playing.

This is happening a bit late in the season for me, but it might be mastered by the time next season starts and it might very well be mastered by the time we play Pompey in Sunday. Everything is possible.