Post-mortem: West Ham lucky to leave Villa Park with a point

At half time yesterday I tweeted 'We have had the lion's share this half and our passing number should be good but final ball has let us down too many times' and today, after looking at the stats, I think I can say that in this game we passed the ball more than in any other game this season - we just lacked something.

I didn't say it yesterday, but quite a few did in the comments after the match and I think I can confidently say that the general consensus is we need a striker with a little bit of a fire in the his belly.

What the Papers Say

Jason Burt, Telegraph
A goalless draw; a point apiece. But the psychological effect on the two clubs could not have been more contrasting. And the physical one.
Phil Shaw, Independent
West Ham are scarcely renowned for defiant rearguard actions, but outstanding goalkeeping by Robert Green and resolute defending earned the point that lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Stuart James, Guardian
Booing could be heard at the final whistle but in the far corner of the stadium the travelling supporters rejoiced.

Bottom line; Villa failed to capitalise and it was a frustrating afternoon.

The Manager

Martin O'Neill
I thought their effort was terrific. We got a wee bit tired in the last 10 or 15 minutes as we tried to force it. The game really opened up. West Ham caused us a few problems on the break, which I anticipated anyway.

Considering we played in a semi-final on Thursday night, I thought it was a terrific effort from the team. We were unable to score a goal. But it was a big, big effort.

If Martin O'Neill is going to persist in talking about tiredness then his players are going to actually believe they are tired and for the life of me, he has to start using the bloody bench. We don't know how much we paid for Fabian Delph but he was on the bench for 90 minutes yesterday, willing to come on and give someone a little break.

I mean, how is he going to get any experience if the manager who paid so much money for him doesn't really have that much confidence in him to come on and change a game? I understand the need to bring them in slowly, but what we are seeing is too slow. Look to how often Moyes played Rooney. If he is that good, he will come good. Same could be said for Delf and Albrighton.

Tiredness would be a good excuse in the first season, but not in January in your fourth season after just having an extended break. I mean, how would we cope if we had European football to contend with and surely then we need to strengthen in this transfer window so we can deal with the FA Cup or are we just going to wing it?

The Players and Some Stats

Brad Friedel, Ricardo Dunne, King Carlos, Stephen Warnock, James Collins, Stewart Downing, Webcam Young, James Milner, Stiliyan Petrov, Gabby Agbonlahor, Emile Heskey (John Carew, 57).

35,646 visited Villa Park yesterday to see Aston Villa make a whopping 406 passes, of which 321 were successful. Those passes created 16 corners and 18 shots. I think those that were calling for a striker, might have something.

Man of the Match

Stewart Downing gets his first for us with 31.1% of the vote and as the game was generally quite frustrating yesterday, I'm going to leave it here. This really could have gone to anyone.

Final Analysis

At the end of the day, I think Gabby is good enough, I really do but I think we need a player to play in the hole behind Gabby and in front of our midfield four. Call it the Steven Gerrard type role or the Robbie Keane type player. Maybe James Milner could fill it or maybe we need to go out and get a Robbie Keane type player, just a few years younger.

However, I also agree with some, that as of right now, Gabby needs to be benched. For the life of me, I don't know how a professional football player can get physically tired, even if they were to play two competitive matches a week the whole year, but I can understand how they could get mentally tired and Gabby looks mentally tired.

When Liverpool came to Villa Park recently and that opportunity presented itself to Torres, he did what was necessary. Yesterday, Gabby didn't and that for me is the difference in quality. Torres, presented with one opportunity to get all three points, was mentally able to do it. Gabby wasn't.

I am not even going to touch on the crossing as it was there for all to see and maybe, if we had someone else in the box, he might have gotten on one or two in the goal, you just don't know, but maybe had Nathan Delfouneso, a fresher player, gotten on the end of that opportunity with moment to go, the game would have been over. You just don't know.

At the end of the day, I'm not as unhappy as I was yesterday as we created the chances, possession was better and we passed the ball around a lot more. I want to see more of it and if we keep doing it better like this and bring in a player or two to strengthen our starting eleven, you never know, it could be all that is needed. It could be.

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