With injuries making his first-choice Aston Villa squad impossible, Paul Lambert put out a 3-5-2 lineup today against West Ham United. And for the first five minutes of the match, the lineup looked as feisty as it did in the second half against Manchester City. But something shifted, Villa seemed to move to a 5-3-2, and West Ham took control. The first half was a dismal affair, with neither team's offense doing well enough to score despite deficiencies in both defenses.
The second half wasn't much better. It began, almost immediately with a Leandro Bacuna yellow card. a Few minutes later, Andi Weimann pulled his hamstring, and hobbled around for far too long before Lambert finnaly pulled him off for Libor Kozak. Neither team seemed to want the match too much, and it was as boring as could be. In the 68th minute, Villa officially surpassed their longest goalless drought of last season. They continued to push that streak even longer, though Christian Benteke did everything he could to put an end to it in the 71st minute. He received a long cross from Matthew Lowton, but just barely missed burying the header:
From there, neither side was able to make much of the remaining time. The best chance came again from Benteke in the 88th minute when he very nearly put a ball into the bottom right corner (while striking from the left), but a superb save by Jussi Jaaskelainen kept everything even.
And even with four minutes of stoppage time, there was nothing to be had for either side. It's now been 375 minutes since Villa have scored. The only upside I can see in today's match was the fact that we've seen Villa keep yet another clean sheet.
But to be honest, it's maddening to be a Villa fan right now. If you're enjoying watching this club, you're a better fan than I. Let's hope this gets turned around quickly.