Monday Night Football at Villa Park.
Dean Smith called upon Marvelous Nakamba for his PL debut. Smith said in his pre match comments that Luiz’s travels over the international break contributed to the switch and Nakamba has been knocking at the door. El Ghazi also entered for the suspended Trezeguet.
The match started with Wesley earning a foul and Grealish being fouled within the first two minutes.
The ball ends up in the back of the net for the first time in the 7th minute when McGinn hit an excellent curled shot. But the whistle had gone well before the shot for the Scottish international clipping the heels of a West Ham defender. No card given for McGinn continuing to play. Really good finish though.
Sadly a few minutes later Wesley was not quite as clinical. Nakamba hit a poor pass to gift the ball to West Ham. Engels defended well in the end and started a Villa counter. Grealish and Jota combined to move the ball up the right side and Grealish hit a perfect cross into the six yard box. But Wesley headed it wide at his near post. It was a poor miss for a Premier League Striker.
Guilbert and McGinn lucky not to pick up yellows in the first 20 minutes.
West Ham’s new striker couldn’t finish in the 21’. He beat Mings in the air to a header but put it wide.
In the 24’ Guilbert and Masuaku collide, this results in a yellow for the West Ham player as he initiated and choose to make a meal of taking the the ball out of play.
In the 27’ Grealish takes down West Ham winger Felipe Anderson poorly and it awarded a Yellow Card. On the resulting free kick opportunity the clearance bounces out and back in but the West Ham pressure finally ends with a Yellow to Mark Noble for repeated fouls.
After the drop ball, Villa played the ball long, McGinn collected and passed out to the wing which lead to a corner. On the resulting corner however, which was taken short, Grealish is fouled and awarded a Free Kick in a fantastic position but eventually the pressure is handled as El Ghazi puts the ball out for a Goal Kick.
A good Villa opportunity came in the 30’ in which a Jota and Guilbert link up opened space up wide the pair was able to switch the play to the left side and a combination of Grealish and McGinn fashioned some space for a cross which the trio of Wesley, Jota, and Guilbert could not get enough on for a solid chance.
In the 35’ Villa tempers flair as El Ghazi and Mings get heated at each other as it appears that Mings accused the dutch winger of not tracking back, the pair get an offical warning for the effort
On a Villa counter-attack after a sustained period of West Ham pressure, El Ghazi met Lukasz Fabianski’s elbow when he had been attempting to head a ball in from Jota. The Dutch winger came off after being looked at but came back soon after.
Wesley was lucky not to receive a Yellow Card for dissension as the Striker had been called for a foul when attempting to hold a long ball up and screamed into the sky in the 44’
Before the second half could end, Jota had a terrible giveaway which led to a nerving moment of West Ham pressure but mercifully the half time whistle blew with the score being 0-0.
The second half began without changes and a bit of a lack of quality as neither side started as well as they ended the first. During this passage of play Neil Taylor picked up a yellow for holding up the Hammers midfielder Mark Noble.
In the 50’ the Villa defense fails to clear the ball convincingly and nearly gives up an own goal off of the head Taylor but Heaton holds the ball well. On an attack occurring directly after, McGinn is able to get into the action and puts a ball just wide of the post which looked promising.
In the 56’ after a bad giveaway to start the West Ham break, Grealish is able to block a shot from just outside the box. On the break after the pressure, El Ghazi takes a direct ball well with fantastic ball control but the shot could not best the Hammer’s Keeper.
The 60’ saw a pair of fantastic tackles to take the wind out of the West Ham sails. One by Guilbert was a great one on one effort which stopped Anderson in his tracks and the other by Marvelous took the ball out for a goal kick when the possession looked promising in the box. After this run of play West Ham substituted Yarmolenko for Pablo Fornals.
The first Villa sub of the day was Ahmed Elmohamady for Jota on the right wing, possibly in an effort to calm the game down defensively. Elmo’s first touch of the game saw him taken down and the offender, Masuaku, is booked again and taken off for his second yellow. In response the Hammers immediately bring on Pablo Zabaleta for Felipe Anderson, West Ham opting to play defensively down to 10 men.
West Ham did not disappear however as Haller ended up with the ball by the penalty spot but Mings saw it off with a heroic clear at the 72’.
After a period of anemic offense from the Villa, Douglas Luiz comes on in place of Marvelous in an effort to jump start the proceedings in the 81’. Luiz soon fouls Haller on a breakaway to stop a counter attack.
After further sustained pressure by the West Ham side, Deano uses his third sub on Keinan Davis in an attempt to force the effort while taking off Guilbert.
In the 87’ the best attempt came off of a Douglas Luiz ball which Jack just could not get to, Villa’s five minutes prior had been poor offensively.
As stoppage time was announced a corner was given to Villa and on the dead ball a ball seemed to fall to Wesley who came down holding his knee at the worst opportunity.
The game came to an end goalless after penalty shouts at both sides which come to nothing. It is hard to claim that Villa deserved the win but after all is said and done it is another point on the account. The result was clearly hard fought on both sides and neither could truly claim to be a possible victor. From the Villa perspective given the circumstances you would have hoped for a win but it was not meant to be.