Aston Villa 0-0 Portsmouth
Stadium: Villa Park, England
English Premier League
Date: 18 October 2008
Kickoff: 15:00 BST, 10:00 EST
Aston Villa and Portsmouth battled to a draw in a match that was long on action but short on scoring. Soccerlens brought the action to you live! Click below for the live-blog!
Aston Villa thought that they were ready to make the leap to the big-time this season, and with a run of three straight victories, there was even talk about breaking into the Big Four. Then came their visit to Stamford Bridge two weeks ago, when they were thoroughly out-classed by the injury-depleted Blues in a match that many (including myself) thought they were going to win. Villa did nothing against Chelsea’s dominant midfield and defense and it took all of Brad Friedel’s individual brilliance to keep the score at 2-0. A win against Portsmouth would go a long way to restoring their confidence and their swagger.
As for Pompey, it’s a minor miracle that they’re in seventh place to begin with. After all, this is a team that didn’t score a Premiership goal until their third match and gave up a combined 10 goals to Chelsea and Manchester City. Still, they’ve beaten the teams that they’re supposed to and have rebounded nicely since the Manchester City match. Even better news for Harry Redknapp’s boys is that the much-ballyhooed partnership between Crouch and Defoe finally seems to be clicking. The two have scored 8 out of the team’s last 9 Premiership goals, and have played so well together that Fabio Capello selected them both over Michael Owen.
Which team will take the next step towards the top of the table? Which high-scoring tandem will outshine the other? Which former Liverpool stopper will have a better game, Friedel or David James? Should be an interesting clash, to say the least.
Aston Villa: Friedel, Cuellar, Davies, Laursen (c), Milner, Reo-Coker, Petrov, Barry, A. Young, Agbonlahor, Carew.
Subs: Guzan, L. Young, Sidwell, Harewood, Shorey, Knight, Gardner.
After going with the same starting 11 for the entire season, Villa will make two big changes, both in defense. Luke Young will sit out for Cuellar at left-back, and Milner will get his first start in a Villa uniform in place of Shorey at right-back. Agbonlahor was a question-mark after hurting his hamstring for the England U-21’s, but he’ll make the start here. And, after a LONG injury layoff, Steve Sidwell will be available as a sub today. Here’s hoping he doesn’t hurt his ankle getting off the bench.
Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell (c), Distin, Traore, Little, Davis, Diop, Pamarot, Defoe, Crouch.
Subs: Ashdown, Hreidarsson, Thomas, Utaka, Kanu, Belhadj, Mvuemba.
Pompey will make a couple of changes from the side that won last weekend against Stoke City. Belhadj will sit, making way for Glen Little in midfield. Additionally, Hughes will miss out completely, as Pamarot will get the start.
90′ + 6 Villa on the attack and this could be their last chance. Milner’s cross goes off James and Petrov flicks it to Carew, whose header is easily saved by James. There’s the whistle and we’re done. Thanks to everyone who followed along. Join me on Monday when Newcastle United take on Manchester City!
90′ + 4 Pompey win the corner as Utaka gets tangled up with Luke Young. Pompey are taking their time with the corner as they’ll be more than happy to escape with the point. Corner is short and it’s off Pompey for a goal-kick.
90′ + 1 Four minutes will be added on. I’m sure Harry Redknapp isn’t happy about that. Long cross from Reo Coker into the box for Carew. Carew with a great header towards the top right corner, and it glances off the crossbar and goes out. Meanwhile, the line-judge is down as it looks like he was hit by something thrown from the crowd. By the way, Liverpool have scored to go ahead. Oh well.
90′ Short corner to Petrov in the box. His shot is blocked, but he gets it back and sends it out to Milner just outside the box. Milner fires a shot on goal, but it’s way over the crossbar.
89′ By the way, Arsenal are leading 2-1, and Liverpool have pulled even with Wigan. So much for the underdogs. Meanwhile, Carew gets it deep in the box and tries to turn and fire. Campbell knocks it out for a corner, though.
88′ Milner’s cross towards Carew is much better, but James gets to it first.
87′ Villa are pressing here. Milner’s cross from the right flank, but it’s long and out for a Pompey throw. Milner has not played well today. Laursen will come off for Luke Young.
86′ Milner gets it deep down the right flank, but he loses it to Belhadj. Utaka goes on the attack, but Petrov and Young combine to knock it away.
84′ Reo Coker tries to thread the through-ball to Carew, but Campbell is there to knock it away. Villa back on the attack and Agbonlahor tries to make the move on Campbell, but Campbell knocks that one away, too. Great game from Campbell, by the way.
83′ Free kick finds Laursen, who is right in James’ grill. James tries to knock it away, but he can’t get any power on it. Luckily for him, Campbell is there and knocks it away, otherwise it would have been an easy tap-in for Villa.
82′ Defoe will come off for Mvuemba. I guess Harry Redknapp’s determined to hold onto the point.
81′ Maybe not. Davis gets a second yellow after he gives Petrov a little love-tap. I don’t know if he deserved that yellow. It doesn’t matter since he’s off.
80′ Another whistle. Does Mike Riley have money on this one going to a scoreless draw or something?
79′ Johnson will take it for Pompey. He sends it short to Defoe in the box, who seems to catch Villa off-guard. Defoe’s shot is poor, though, and he shanks it well over the crossbar.
78′ Reo Coker fouls Utaka on the right edge of the box and Pompey will have a good free kick opportunity here. Traore will come off for Belhadj.
77′ Milner’s cross is knocked out for a corner. Crouch knocks it out again. Barry gets it and sends it towards Agbonlahor, who gets taken out by James. No penalty, though, and James gets the goal kick. On the replay, it looks like James should have been penalized. James had his fists out and caught a whole lot of Agbonlahor’s head and none of the ball.
76′ Obviously, Crouch is in the center of the wall. Young looks like he’ll take it. Sure enough, he curls it past the wall and goes to the far post. James is there to make the diving save, and Pompey are safe once again.
75′ Young gets fouled near the edge of the box by Diop. Diop gets booked for the foul and this will be a good chance for Villa.
74′ Young makes a great run at Johnson and his cross/shot just goes over the crossbar. Johnson’s really getting exposed today.
72′ Defoe gets it in the box and he tries to get around Laursen. Defoe makes the turn, but Laursen makes a good defensive play to take it away. Defoe is then called for the foul.
71′ Utaka will come on for Little. Utaka’s a good attacking player, so we’ll see if this breaks the deadlock.
70′ Pompey on the attack, but Little’s pass is poor and Friedel takes it. He springs Agbonlahor, this time down the right. He whips the cross into the box, but Distin knocks it away for the corner. Milner whips the corner in, but Little knocks it away from danger.
69′ Both sides have had plenty of buildup, but they just can’t seem to finish. Utaka looks like he’ll be coming on for Pompey.
68′ Milner with the cross towards the far post. It’s a poor cross, but James fumbles the catch and it’s out for a corner. His teammates save his blushes, though, as they clear away the corner from danger.
67′ Agbonlahor challenges Distin down the left after he gets a nice pass from Carew. Distin deflects the cross out for a throw. Young’s cross into the box gets knocked away by Diop.
66′ Little concedes the free kick from about 35 yards out. Young whips it into the box and, once again, Crouch heads it away. Peter Crouch: Defensive Specialist. Eh… maybe not.
64′ Pompey play the free kick short and try to catch Villa down the middle. Nothing doing, though, as Barry knocks it away for a throw.
63′ Crouch knocks away the corner. See? It does pay to be 6’7”. A booking for Ashley Young after he fouls Defoe. Not sure if it was for the foul or for Young’s remonstrations after the whistle.
62′ Barry’s cross from the left edge of the box is towards Milner on the far post. But Distin knocks it out for a corner.
61′ Carew makes a strong run towards Johnson (who’s on a yellow and has been victimized a lot). He loses the ball, but that’s what Villa has to do more of if they want to break the deadlock.
60′ Sorry folks. Internet issues here. Apparently, Davis gets a yellow card for a foul. Not sure what happened since my service went down for a little bit. ESPN missed it too, so I guess it was problem with the satellite feed or something.
57′ Diop is down on the pitch after a challenge from Carew. He looks fine, though.
56′ Diop knees Young in the face and he gets a talking-to from Riley. In fairness, it looked inadvertent. Agbonlahor gets the ball in the box and he gets taken down just outside the box. Play goes on and Young gets it and tries to get past Johnson. He five-holes him, but Distin kicks it away. Villa got a raw deal there, as they probably deserved a free kick from the edge of the box.
54′ Nothing doing on the corner as Pompey knock it away. Villa get it back, and the ball goes to Petrov. His cross goes towards the far post, where Ashley Young is completely unmarked. His shot is a poor one, though, and it’s out for a goal-kick.
53′ Carew gets the ball in the box and tries to outmuscle his defender. He sends it to Barry, but Diop cuts it out. Villa back on the attack as Laursen makes a great play to win possession. Barry tries the through-ball to Milner, but it’s deflected out for a corner. Cross is knocked out towards Petrov, who sends a cross to the far post. It evades everyone, but Young is there to whip the cross across goal. Johnson then has to knock it out for another corner.
51′ Diop makes a fancy move to get around Petrov. He then gives it away with a poor pass that goes out past the touchline. Oh well. Reo Coker then gets called for foul right as he’s making the break towards goal. Reo Coker then starts staring daggers at Mike Riley.
49′ Barry lobs it to Young in the box, and Young gets sandwiched Davis and Diop. Young retaliates by fouling Diop.
47′ The possession stats really evened out towards the end of the first half. Villa had it 54% of the time. At one point, it was up near 70.
46′ Pompey kick it off and we’re underway.
46′ Setanta is showing a really old video montage at halftime. One of the highlights was Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s penalty miss against Arsenal and then Martin Keown taunting him about it. I really didn’t need to see that again.
46′ A couple of interesting scores at halftime. Everton leads Arsenal 1-0, and Wigan are leading Liverpool 2-1. Zaki has scored twice for Wigan. I haven’t watched the highlights, but if Heskey set those goals up, then you can be sure that some team (probably Liverpool) will bid for him in January. Those would be a couple of big shockers, should they hold, of course. As we learned two weeks ago, never count out Liverpool until the end.
Well, it was an entertaining half. Both sides had their chances and it’s a little surprising that this match is still scoreless. Villa had the bulk of the possession and generated far more chances. But Pompey have come a lot closer to scoring. If Traore’s shot hadn’t hit the post or if Defoe hadn’t missed that point-blank opportunity, then they would be in the lead right now. There really wasn’t much between these teams in the first half, and the second half should be interesting, to say the least.
45′ + 1 Johnson’s cross goes into the box towards Crouch again, this time it’s off the mark and Villa clear it away. Agbonlahor makes a threatening run towards the Pompey goal, but Distin is there to take it away. There’s the whistle, and we’re at halftime.
45′ Same play as Little tries to find Crouch again, but Crouch takes a tumble in the box and wants a penalty. No dice, though.
44′ Little sends a cross from the right flank to the far post for Crouch. Crouch heads it on goal, but Friedel handles it easily. Crouch had Defoe behind him, but I guess he wanted the glory for himself.
43′ Another good opportunity for Villa. The free kick goes into the box and it bounces around dangerously before Pompey clear it away. Ball goes back out to Cuellar, who tries to challenge James from long-range. James easily handles it, though.
42′ Young makes a good pass to dispossess Johnson, and Johnson comes back with the cheap foul for which he gets booked.
41′ Carew with the nice lob into the box towards Reo Coker, but James takes it confidently. Reo Coker comes back with another shot, this one from long-range, but it’s over the crossbar.
39′ Pompey gets a corner after Davies knocks it away. Corner goes into the box, but Barry knocks it away. Traore gets it and tries another shot on Friedel, but it’s wide of the far post.
38′ More pressure from Agbonlahor down the left and Johnson makes a mistake on the back-pass to James to concede the corner. Nothing doing on the corner, though.
37′ Another free kick for Villa as Diop is called for the foul in the Pompey half of the field. Free kick into the box is cleared away from danger.
36′ Johnson fouls Young on the left wing. Ashley Young’s free kick goes towards the far post. Milner beats his defender but he’s too deep, so he keeps it alive for Cuellar. Cuellar catches James out of position and tries to head it in. It’s just over the cross-bar, and Pompey escape again.
35′ Laursen goes flying in for a tackle on Diop, but Diop just shrugs him off like a horse swatting away a mosquito. That was quite a tumble by Laursen.
34′ Another whistle, this time Diop is called for the foul in the Villa box after the free kick.
33′ Riley calls another foul, this one on Ashley Young, and Barry gets in his face. Better be careful, Gareth. You aren’t captain anymore, so you can’t talk to the ref.
32′ Well, I’ll say this, Crouch and Defoe really do seem to be developing excellent chemistry. I watched Pompey during the Community Shield, and it looked like they weren’t even in the same volume, let alone on the same page.
28′ A number of great chances for Pompey here. Crouch lays it off to Defoe, who’s at the edge of the box. He sends it to Traore, who’s making the run down the left. Traore’s shot beats Friedel, but hits the post. Cuellar tries to clear it away, but mishits it and it goes right to Defoe. Defoe has a golden opportunity to score, but his shot goes over the bar. He doesn’t miss too many of those.
27′ Milner leads the attack, but Carew gets dispossessed on the edge of the box. Agbonlahor threatens once again, this time from the right, but Distin does well to get in front of him.
26′ Villa have had a lot of possession in this match. Pompey will have to do better if they want to start generating chances on goal.
25′ Reo Coker has to change his shirt since he had gotten blood on his kit. He’s now #33.
24′ Traore is called for the foul on Cuellar. Villa will have a good chance here from the right flank. Barry whips it, but James claims it.
23′ Long pass from Barry is deflected out for a corner. Corner goes to Laursen and he tries to head it on goal. He can’t get enough power on it, though, and Pompey clear it from danger.
22′ Defoe with the shot that’s easily handled by Friedel. Not a good effort from Defoe, as he was well-marked. Ill-advised back-pass from Laursen to Friedel nearly leads to disaster as Friedel had two Pompey guys breathing down his neck. Friedel makes a nice move, though, and gets the ball back out to Laursen.
21′ Carew gets whistled for the foul and he’s unhappy since he had sprung Ashley Young into the box. Riley’s using that whistle a lot, so far.
20′ Defoe and Crouch with a nice one-two on the edge of the box. Crouch takes the long-range shot and it’s well over the cross-bar. Pompey come back and Little lays it off to Davis, who is deep down the right flank. Davis’ cross is poor, though, and Villa have a goal-kick.
17′ Golden chance for Villa there. Barry sends in the free kick into the box. Laursen heads it towards Davies, who is right in front of James. Davies just has to poke it past James, but his shot goes over the crossbar. Should have been 1-0 right there.
16′ Agbonlahor gets behind Johnson again. He lays it off to Young, who makes a run into the box. Young tries to back-heel it back to Agbonlahor, but Pompey clear it away. Crouch then gets called for the foul on Laursen.
13′ Agbonlahor makes another great run down the left. He tries to get around Johnson and get into the box. Campbell is there first, and Agbonlahor is called for a foul. Pompey seem to have trouble containing Agbonlahor down that left flank.
12′ Poor turnover by Villa in their own half. Crouch gets it and tries to run towards the goal. Petrov, however, makes a good play to take it away.
11′ Young’s second delivery is intercepted by James. Pompey go on the counterattack, but the pass to Traore is behind him and out for a Villa throw-in.
10′ Agbonlahor wins the corner as he challenges Campbell down the left flank. On the corner, Carew gets a foot on it, but it’s deflected out for another corner.
9′ Carew gets the ball on the edge of the box. He turns and fires on goal. It’s a lot closer than it should have been and it draws a few “ooh’s” and “aaah’s” from the crowd. Distin makes a mistake and Agbonlahor gets in behind him. His cross is errant, though, and Pompey dodge a bullet.
8′ Agbonlahor swings a cross towards the far post, but it’s over Milner’s head. Agbonlahor looks like he’s moving well, so that’s a good sign for Villa.
6′ Young tries to get around Johnson again, but Johnson is stout and Young takes him down to the pitch. Foul on Young as he once again fails to figure out the Pompey right back.
5′ Pompey on the attack. Little with a great cross from the right flank towards Crouch. Davies knocks it out to Traore, who takes the shot. It’s on target, but Friedel makes the diving save. Good effort from both teams, there.
4′ Good defense from Davies as he denies the entry pass from Crouch to Little.
3′ Crouch takes a tumble at the edge of the box, but no foul. In fairness, a strong gust of wind could probably knock Crouchy over.
2′ Ashley Young with the poor effort that is easily taken by Glen Johnson.
1′ Villa kick off and we’re under way. Mike Riley is our ref today. Villa challenge Cuellar down the left early, Cuellar gets outpaced, but he knocks it away for the throw-in.
0′ Call me biased, but I would take Brad Friedel over David James any day. If Friedel were British, he could be the #1 if he wanted it.
0′ I know it’s early, but I really can’t see anyone beating Chelsea this year. I think they’ll win the league, easily.
0′ Early score roundup: Chelsea-B spanked Middlesbrough 5-0. It could have been worse. They got the fifth goal with about 25 minutes left in the match. By the way, no Ballack, neither of the Coles, no Carvalho, no problem, apparently. No doubt Scolari is upset that they didn’t score 6. Scolari is a lot like my dad. If I brought home 95’s, he was wondering what happened to the other 5 points.
0′ Welcome to another weekend of English Premier League action. I’m Victor and I’ll be live-blogging today. In terms of table placement, this should be the biggest match of the weekend. Let’s see if Aston Villa can rebound from their disappointing showing at Chelsea, or whether Pompey will continue their recent run of good form.
As far as scoreless draws go, this one was actually pretty entertaining. Both sides had their chances to score and could have had one or two goals if it weren’t for some bad luck. Still, this was a match where the defenses dominated, in particularly Pompey, whose central defense duo of Campbell and Distin cut out numerous chances from Villa. Harry Redknapp won’t have a lot to complain about, considering they took a point from a team that was ahead of them in the standings. Plus, if it weren’t for a rare off-day from Jermain Defoe, they could have easily taken all three points.
As for Villa, they have the same problem that plagued them in the Chelsea match. They could not create chances in the box and were relying heavily on set pieces. They did well to control possession, especially early in the match, but they couldn’t finish. Still, if Carew’s header had been an inch lower, then they’d be looking at a win. In any event, Martin O’Neill will have to work with his players to improve their offensive play, otherwise their dream of finishing in the top 4 will die a quick death.
Man of the Match
Sol Campbell and Sylvain Distin
With a dominant defensive performance, Sol Campbell looked like defender of old. His partnership with Distin in central defense was the key to preserving the clean sheet. Both defenders really put the shackles on Agbonlahor and Carew, making up for Glen Johnson’s miserable performance on the right flank. Honorable mention goes to Crouch, who didn’t do much offensively (no one really did), but he came up big (literally) on a number of defensive plays off Villa set pieces. As for Villa, Agbonlahor looked like he was going to dominate this match with his runs down the right against the aforementioned Johnson, but ultimately, Pompey held him in check. Carew threatened a number of times, but he was largely invisible for most of the match. Laursen continues to play extremely well in defense as he has seemingly raised his game ever since earning the captain’s armband.