That had 0-0 written all over it. And under it. And everywhere around it.
Our current points per game ratio suggests we're on course for 42 this season. That would be the most under Lambert, but hardly the kind of progression we should be looking at. This team has some players that should be playing much higher than a relegation battle. We have a lot of very average players in the squad as well, but the higher quality players should be capable of pushing us into midtable. That is...if we can ever stop shooting ourselves in the foot.
One Moment: Villa finish game with 11 men. Nah, just kidding.
The first half was incredibly dull. We had control without ever looking remotely threatening. Too many poor performances: Delph, Weimann, N'Zogbia, Benteke - all sloppy. The crossing from the full backs and absolute abomination.
Then of course, lo and behold, we go down to 10 men for a completely unnecessary tackle from Fabian Delph. It was poorly timed, poorly executed. A definite yellow. Probably not quite a red (because, you know, refs and Villa don't mix) but even if Lambert follows through with his intent to appeal I highly doubt they'll overturn it. It's a bad tackle and that's about all they need to justify denying the appeal. To overturn 2 Villa reds in 2 weeks would make them look incredibly foolish and the FA would far rather just shift the blame onto us rather than do anything productive to improve the standard of officiating.
Either way, it's a stupid tackle that put us up against it yet again. Sunderland were poor. Oh my, they were poor. Just like West Brom they eventually made the man advantage count to make some chances, but either found Guzan or found the stands. And though Guzan made a couple of very important saves, there is one man that pretty much single-handedly kept Sunderland at bay.
Worth a mention:
Carlos Sánchez channelled the spirit of Claude Makélélé to put in an absolutely monstrous performance. I've never seen anything like that in a Villa shirt. A real genuine defensive destroyer putting in countless important tackles, covering acres of ground, picking up the ball from deep, playing us out of trouble and into the opposition half. I criticized his contributions in early games as it was evident he was nowhere near up to the pace of the league at that stage. Now it's quickly becoming clear we've got a top player on our hands.
Jack Grealish...it's getting a bit ridiculous now that Lambert refuses to give him his first start. A sparkling sub appearance that relieved pressure and genuinely forced us to play on the front foot. Several excellent crosses that found nobody, if we had a poacher we'd have won at a canter.
Awful game for the neutral. Frustrating game for Villa fans. There have been mitigating circumstances but it's another winless Christmas. We simply must beat Palace on New Years Day if we are to avoid being sucked back into that dogfight. Groundhog day?