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Aston Villa vs. West Bromwich Albion Final: Villa 1-1 WBA

Some inconsistency is to be expected from a young, rebuilding team like Aston Villa, but so far this season they've been downright Sybilesque. With a strong West Brom team headed to Villa Park, Villa fans will be hoping it's the squad that stunned Manchester City mid-week that takes the pitch on Sunday.

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7 Total Updates since September 30, 2012
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Villa vs. West Brom Player Ratings

As frustrating as it may have been, there was a lot to like about the way Aston Villa played against West Brom on Sunday.

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Final: Aston Villa Secure Draw Against WBA

Aston Villa needed a goal from substitute Darren Bent to bring things even at Villa Park as they secured a point in their West Midlands Derby with West Brom. The match was an entertaining - if slightly chippy - affair, despite a lull in the action after the second half began.

The first half was back and forth at the beginning, but by the 30th minute, Aston Villa had taken complete control. At one point around the 42nd minute, Villa had 72% possession in a 10-minute period. Unfortunately, they couldn't make anything of numerous chances and went into the half in a goalless tie. Brett Holman was probably the best player on the pitch in the half. He didn't always get great chances to finish, but he was his usual dynamic self, running everywhere and creating opportunities for Villa while breaking them up before they had the chance to start for WBA. If Paul Lambert uses the 4<4>2 that he did today, it seems like Holman would make a great front midfielder in the diamond.

The second half began as a tepid affair, and a 51st minute goal from Shane Long sucked any atmosphere out of Villa Park. WBA clearly had the upper hand and it looked as if they were content playing for the 1-0 win. Part of the problem was that Villa couldn't keep up the breakneck pace they had set in the first half. Paul Lambert addressed that issue by subbing off Marc Albrighton, Christian Benteke, and Fabian Delph for Charles N'Zogbia, Darren Bent, and Barry Bannan in that order.

All three subs contributed pretty quickly, and Villa began to look threatening again. In the 80th minute they won a corner that was converted by Darren Bent to bring the two teams even. If you didn't see the goal, take a look here. It was a pretty standard Darren Bent poach. So: fantastic. After the goal, Villa brightened up and seemed as if they might have a chance at taking three points but it wasn't to be, and the match ended 1-1.

We'll be along with more in-depth analysis later, but for now enjoy the point. In just over a week Villa have lost 4-1 to the worst team on the table, defeated the defending EPL champs 2-4, and pulled off a draw with the sixth team on the table. What a roller coaster.

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GIF: Darren Bent Goal Makes It AVFC 1-1 WBA

Darren Bent scored yet another stereotypical Darren Bent goal, finishing off some ricochets that came on a Barry Bannan corner in the 80th minute. The goal is below:

Bentgoalgif_medium

With just a few minutes remaining, Villa seem to have come to life. The substitutions of Barry Bannan, Charles N'Zogbia, and Darren Bent (for Fabian Delph, Marc Albrighton, and Christian Benteke, respectively) have given Villa fresh legs.

We'll have more updates as the game progresses and of course after the match.

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GIF: Shane Long Scores, AVFC 0-1 WBA

West Bromwich Albion's Shane Long took advantage of some sloppy defending by Ciaran Clark and Ron Vlaar to slot home the first goal of the match in the 51st minute. It came approximately 2 minutes after a previous Long goal was disallowed for his having been offside.

For those of you who missed it, here's the goal in moving gif form:

Longgoalgif_medium

For what it's worth, Villa looked absolutely dominant in the first half. In the final 10 or so minutes they had more than 70% possession. With a few key substitutes, Paul Lambert still has the power to get Villa three points. Neither Christian Benteke nor Fabian Delph have looked very good today, and Marc Albrighton looks tired. I'd expect them to be coming off before too long.

Be sure to keep checking back here for updates as the match progresses. And don't miss our live match-thread, currently in progress on this stream.

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Villa - West Brom Open Match Thread

Aston Villa takes on West Brom in a West Midlands derby; can the claret and blue restore the natural order of things?

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