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November 30, 2013
• Villa Park, Birmingham
Referee: N. Swarbrick
• Attendance: 33036
FULL-TIME Aston Villa 0-0 Sunderland - And that's the final whistle here on what has been an afternoon largely to forget at Villa Park.Sunderland boss Gus Poyet will be delighted to have arrested the slide of five consecutive away defeats but for Villa and Paul Lambert, the most worrying statistic in all of this will be Christian Benteke's continued goal drought. The Belgian has failed to score in his last seven Premier League outings now.
90' + 4'
Yellow Card Phil Bardsley
90' + 3'
Yellow Card Gabriel Agbonlahor
90' + 2'
Sunderland look in a hurry to get rid of the ball each time they get it and Vito Mannone punts straight downfield to opposite number Brad Guzan.The game threatens to get a little bit nasty late on, with Gabriel Agbonlahor picking up a yellow card for a trip on Phil Bardsley while the latter then crashed into Ciaran Clark.
Sebastian Larsson commits a foul on the half-way line but Aston Villa have looked so bereft of attacking ideas all afternoon that this latest free-kick also comes to nothing.
John O'Shea goes down with what looks to be like a groin injury. It looks bad at first, but the Sunderland captain will continue here.
Christian Benteke has embodied Aston Villa's frustration today and he is hauled off for Libor Kozak as Villa go in hunt of a winner.The frustrations continue on the pitch as Fabian Delph's long-range effort flies over Vito Mannone's crossbar.
Ondrej Celustka comes on for Andrea Dossena for Sunderland.Meanwhile, Aleksandar Tonev's strike from range is easily collected by Vito Mannone. Audible groans around the ground at present.
Marc Albrighton has proved an inspired substitution by Paul Lambert here, sending in another brilliant cross but Christian Benteke, who has been poor, is unable to make the run towards the near post.
Sunderland getting nervier at the back now and Aston Villa are getting into good attacking areas.Aleksandar Tonev embarks on a weaving run towards the area but Jack Colback does brilliantly to regain possession.
Marc Albrighton delivers two excellent crosses in succession and, from the latter, Christian Benteke believes he is impeded by Phil Bardsley's challenge.Nothing doing this time either for Neil Swarbrick.
Sunderland make a double change of their own, as Jack Colback and Adam Johnson come on to replace Craig Gardner and Fabio Borini. Two like for like changes but it appears Gus Poyet has matched his counterpart Paul Lambert's idea of tightening up in the midfield and wide areas.
Both defences look to be tiring but the final ball is still sorely lacking. Can either side rally themselves to find a much-needed winner here?
More good work from Emanuele Giaccherini almost results in an opening. His ball is forced through a gap in the Aston Villa defence but Steven Fletcher is not quite alert enough to deal with the oncoming pass and Brad Guzan easily collects.
Karim El Ahmadi
Marc Albrighton and Aleksandar Tonev come on for Andreas Weimann and Karim El Ahmadi respectively. It looks like Paul Lambert is shoring up the midfield but can these substitutes have the same sort of impact as on Monday night?
Sunderland win a corner and when Ki Sung-Yueng mops up the pieces in midfield, the South Korean feeds Emanuele Giaccherini who takes a tumble in the area. Neil Swarbrick rightly waves away the protests.
CROSSBAR! It's becoming the Emanuele Giaccherini show here for Sunderland. Superb work from the Italian again, who this time produces the goods from out wide and scoops a ball into Fabio Borini.The fellow Italian is desperately unlucky to see his header come cannoning back off the crossbar. Sunderland slowly getting on top again.
Emanuele Giaccherini skips past Leandro Bacuna and the challenge on the Italian is desperate, but his cross is a disappointing one and ends up in the gloves of Brad Guzan.
Gabriel Agbonlahor does superbly for Aston Villa down the left, committing men and riding challenges before forcing a corner but, again, Wes Brown is there to clear up from the subsequent set piece and Sunderland can rebuild.
It's far more of an even contest now, with Aston Villa looking to hassle and harry their opponents in possession but Sunderland still look a threat on the counter.
Sunderland win a free-kick around 30 yards out but they cannot make the most of it as Craig Gardner wastefully fires over with Sebastian Larsson also well poised over the ball.
Ki Sung-Yueng thinks he is set to put Sunderland on the front foot by robbing Andreas Weimann but the Black Cats are then pegged back themselves and Villa break.Again, Gabriel Agbonlahor is the instigator but he cannot force his way through when he reaches the box.
Emanuele Giaccherini turns onto his favoured right side but is fouled and the Black Cats earn a free kick in an attacking position.
Aston Villa certainly on top now and Gabriel Agbonlahor's pace, in particular, is helping to stretch this game.The winger darts down the left but is confronted with traffic when he reaches the penalty area.
That's better from Aston Villa, as Gabriel Agbonlahor engineers a shooting chance and tests Vito Mannone with a stinging near-post effort, which the Italian has to turn aside for a corner.
Sunderland start the second half as they ended the first, on top.First, Andrea Dossena goes marauding down the left and sends in an inviting centre which Steven Fletcher cannot quite keep up with before Ki Sung-Yueng feeds Phil Bardsley on the other wing, but that also comes to nothing.
We are back underway here at Villa Park, as Sunderland get the ball rolling again for the start of the second half.
Sunderland can feel slightly aggrieved not to be in front here, having created many of the first half's most promising moments in the attacking third with Aston Villa unable to get going so far.Emanuele Giaccherini's shocking miss has been the main talking point, but Sebastian Larsson's narrow miss from a free-kick and a cross-cum-shot that evaded everyone illustrating the Black Cats' attacking endeavour.
45' + 1'
There goes the whistle to signal the end of the opening period. HALF-TIME: Aston Villa 0-0 Sunderland
WHAT A MISS! Somehow Emanuele Giaccherini, the player who has looked the biggest threat for Sunderland so far, scoops the ball over the bar from a matter of inches out, and with the goal gaping, after a tremendous knockdown from Phil Bardsley.Remarkably, the score remains 0-0 here at Villa Park.
Now it's Sunderland's cries for a handball as John O'Shea nods down towards Ciaran Clark but the ball is adjudged to have hit the Republic of Ireland international's chest and not arm.
Sunderland fail to deal with a Gabriel Agbonlahor flick and Wes Brown has to concede a corner under pressure but moments later, the visitors think they have the lead.Craig Gardner is threaded through by a lovely Fabio Borini pass and tucks past Brad Guzan but the linesman's flag is up and the goal is ruled out.
Huge appeals for a penalty as Ashley Westwood's driven shot from just outside the area appears to strike Phil Bardsley on the arm. Neil Swarbrick is unmoved, however, and waves play on.Sunderland nearly capitalise, as Emanuele Giaccherini's devilish cross into the front post area is hacked clear by Ciaran Clark with the visitors unable to get a decisive touch in time.
Aston Villa's riposte is Fabian Delph's vicious 25-yard strike, which ultimately flies harmlessly wide. Despite that, Sunderland goalkeeper Vito Mannone is furious at his defenders for allowing the shot to be engineered in the first place.
Signs that Sunderland are just beginning to dominate the midfield battle and, though there is a lack of quality in the final third from both sides, the visitors are beginning to look the most threatening.
Gabriel Agbonlahor, yet again, chases down a lost cause but it is to no effect as Christian Benteke is flagged offside.
Yellow Card Ron Vlaar
Emanuele Giaccherini goes down on the edge of the area after a foul from Ron Vlaar, which the Dutchman picks up a booking for.The free-kick is whipped towards the back post by Sebastian Larsson and, evading everyone, is only inches wide.
Aston Villa waste their best chance as Christian Benteke's goal drought continues.A storming run down the right from Karim El Ahmadi results in Ashley Westwood teeing up Benteke, but the Belgian can only curl over the bar from the left-hand side of the 18-yard box.
Gabriel Agbonlahor escapes down the left and squares up to Phil Bardsley but credit to the Sunderland defender who recovers to concede a corner.
It's absolute chaos in the Aston Villa area as Phil Bardsley's quick corner leaves the home side's defence at sixes and sevens. Ki Sung-Yueng's low ball into the area on the follow up cannot be turned home though, despite five Black Cats bodies going for it.
Sunderland just beginning to establish a foothold in the match and they work a corner down the left after a tricky run from Emanuele Giaccherini.
John O'Shea almost leaves his side in an almighty mess as he breaks from the back but, when Villa attack in numbers, Wes Brown shows wonderful discipline to come across and cover for his fellow central defender.
It has been the epitome of an end-to-end contest so far, with both sides looking to counter one another but so far, nothing to report in terms of clear goalscoring chances.
The Aston Villa defence fall asleep as former Villan Craig Gardner almost cashes in on the lapse in concentration.Andrea Dossena's long ball is not dealt with and Gardner steals ahead of Ron Vlaar before poking goalwards but Brad Guzan's presence puts off the Sunderland man, who could only steer wide.
Antonio Luna is being given the freedom of the left wing at times and after his first cross is easily caught by Vito Mannone, the Spaniard delays the second time around and earns a corner for his side.
Ron Vlaar has to be alert to deal with Emanuele Giaccherini's teasing cross into the area after good work from the Italian and Phil Bardsley down the right flank.
Aston Villa force a corner as Karim El Ahmadi latches on to Andreas Weimann's clever pass but it ultimately comes to nothing as Sunderland break downfield with the ball.
Aston Villa have probably started the brighter of the two sides and both full-backs Leandro Bacuna and Antonio Luna have looked to get forward at every opportunity. The former almost gets a shot away but swipes at thin air after a neat switch of play from Christian Benteke.
Andrea Dossena wastes Sunderland's first presentable opportunity, as he lashes wide following some neat link up play.Steven Fletcher retains possession well in front of the Aston Villa defence and feeds the onrushing Italian full-back but his shot is into the side netting when his teammates were well placed in the centre.
Andreas Weimann drives at the heart of the Sunderland defence and releases the lively Gabriel Agbonlahor on the left.Agbonlahor cut inside and unleashed a curling effort towards the far post but Vito Mannone had everything behind it and held on well.
Aston Villa create the first opening of the afternoon as Gabriel Agbonlahor heads Fabian Delph's right-wing cross just wide after a short spell of pressure following a throw from Leandro Bacuna.
And we're off, with Aston Villa getting us underway here at Villa Park.
Villa, meanwhile, have only lost two of their last eight games (W3, D3, L2) and are now the side to have gained most points from losing positions (seven) in the top flight after the 2-2 draw at West Brom on Monday.
The pre-match stats make for pretty grim reading for Sunderland fans, as the Black Cats are without a win in their last four trips to Villa Park (D2, L2).They have also had a man sent off in each of their last three visits here.
And here's the visitors' line-up.Sunderland: Mannone; Bardsley, Brown, O'Shea, Dossena; Larsson, Gardner, Ki, Giaccherini; Borini, Fletcher.Substitutes: Pickford, Celustka, Roberge, Colback, Cattermole, Johnson, Altidore.
Here are the teams in full, starting with today's hosts.Aston Villa: Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Clark, Luna; El Ahmadi, Westwood, Delph; Agbonlahor, Benteke, Weimann.Substitutes: Steer, Baker, Lowton, Albrighton, Sylla, Tonev, Kozak.
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet also shuffles his pack, with Andrea Dossena, Craig Gardner and Fabio Borini all coming in for Ondrej Celustka, Jack Colback and Adam Johnson respectively.Wes Brown remains the the heart of the defence after his farcical red card in last weekend's 2-0 defeat to Stoke was rescinded.
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert makes four changes to the side that fought back to draw 2-2 with West Brom on Monday as Antonio Luna and the trio of game-changing substitutes against the Baggies - Fabian Delph, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann - come in to the starting XI. Nathan Baker, Yacouba Sylla, Aleksandar Tonev and Libor Kozak are the men who drop to the bench.
Good afternoon and welcome to this LIVE commentary of Aston Villa v Sunderland in the Premier League.
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