In a match between a side that just can’t seem to get results at home, and a team that’s struggling to lift themselves out of the bottom of the table, it’s really no surprise that Aston Villa and Sunderland produced a goalless draw. The point does lift Sunderland off the bottom, but they remain five points from safety, so it matters little to Gus Poyet’s side. As for the Villa, well, they’re finally midtable, but at what expense?
Aston Villa’s best chance in the first half came about ten minutes before the break. Karim El Ahmadi pulled the ball back for Ashley Westwood who laid off for Christian Benteke. However, the Belgian, who just hasn’t looked quite right since his injury layoff, side-footed his shot just a bit too high.
Sunderland got themselves into a flurry just before the halftime whistle, and Aston Villa were lucky to go into the break with the scoreline even. First, Craig Gardner had the ball in the back of the net, but it was correctly ruled out for offside, pleasing the Villa Park faithful to no end, for they love to hate the man who left their side for rivals Birmingham City. Next a header from John O’Shea bounced off Ciaran Clark’s arm, but the referee waved away penalty appeals. Finally, just before the break, Emanuele Giaccherini whiffed an absolute sitter from about six feet out, leaving the Villa players sighing in relief.
Nothing but the final whistle left any viewers of this match sighing in relief, however. By the 60th minute, the visitors had all but settled in for a point. Yes, Fabio Borini hit the post with about 25 minutes left to go, but for the most part, Sunderland had settled in to play for the draw. Villa’s only real chance came in the 83rd, when Aleksandar Tonev, on for about ten minutes, latched onto a ball from Antonio Luna to force Vito Mannone into a save. The players continued to run around for about ten more minutes, but when the match finished scoreless, no one seemed very surprised.
Aston Villa: Guzan, Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Luna, Delph, Westwood, El Ahmadi (Tonev 71), Agbonlahor, Benteke (Kozák 86), Weimann (Albrighton 71)
Subs not used: Steer, Baker, Lowton, Sylla
Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Dossena (Celustka 84), Brown, O’Shea, Giaccherini, Larsson, Gardner (Colback 76), Ki, Borini (Johnson 76), Fletcher
Subs not used: Pickford, Roberge, Celustka, Cattermole, Altidore