For the most part, it was a fairly boring match at Villa Park. It ended nil-nil, and was a typical "neither team has the quality to finish" type of affair. Both Aston Villa and Sunderland had their chances, but lacked the finishing touches. It may not be saying a lot to say that getting a draw against Sunderland was a good result, after all, Gus Poyet's men have drawn 11 times so far this season now, but with ten men a point isn't terrible.
Fabian Delph's red card changed the match. Possibly for the better, as the entertainment factor surely was higher after Aston Villa went down to ten men. Villa dominated possession in the first half, but after the red, Sunderland saw more of the ball. The best chance for the visitors came late in the day when Jordi Gomez's shot hit the post, fortunately Brad Guzan was able to get his fingertips to it.
Predictably, Jack Grealish was excellent. I would still say that it was lucky that he got a run out, as after the Delph red in the 49th minute, it looked as if manager Paul Lambert wouldn't be making any attacking substitutions. He replaced Tom Cleverley with just over 20 minutes remaining. It was not one of Cleverley's better performances. Grealish provided a much-needed spark for the Villans, delivering crosses into the box and causing problems for the Black Cats' defence in general. He had a curling shot that just went wide as well.
Somewhat shockingly, Lambert used all three of his subs. Jores Okore replaced Ciaran Clark at centre back, and it may be a bit of a concern for the Claret and Blues. Instead of going to the bench, Clark went straight to the dressing room, meaning he may have picked up an injury. The other substitution was Leandro Bacuna coming on for His Dreadfulness, Charles N'Zogbia.
N'Zogbia has been horrid for the vast majority of his Villa career, but today he was particularly useless. His preferred move seems to be walking at a defender when he has the ball, followed by instantly shooting when he gets into the area. Bacuna was positive, and may have staked a claim for a starting spot.
The defence was good, although Alan Hutton and Aly Cissokho really do not offer much going forward. Carlos Sánchez helped out quite a bit, tracking back to make good challenges.
It's obvious to say it will be difficult to score when you are playing a man down, but the chances that Villa had were decent. Christian Benteke is struggling, and part of it is because he needs either a good strike partner or better service. Andi Weimann looked lost again, and Callum Robinson is stuck on the bench. Gabby Agbonlahor was serving his suspension for yellow card accumulation for this match, but he will be back for Crystal Palace on New Year's Day.