Premier League
Aston Villa 0 West Ham United 0

Sunday, 17th January 2010
by Staff Writer

A superb defensive performance at Villa Park this afternoon saw West Ham move out of the relegation zone.

Gianfranco Zola's side climbed above both Hull and Wolves into 16th place in the Premier League after gaining a richly-deserved point against a frustrated Aston Villa.

Rob Green, who was rarely called upon during the game typified the performance with a superb save two minutes into injury time to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor after the England striker took advantage of a rare defensive lapse to burst through on goal.

That chance was one of just a handful of chances VIlla - 12 places ahead of United at start of play - managed to create despite the home side enjoying a shade under 56% of possession. Of the 12 shots they managed just three were on target; credit to the likes of James Tomkins who had an excellent game in the centre of defence.

The Irons, for their part managed just the one shot on target during the game (eight altogether) although the priority for this one, having gained just one clean sheet since last August, was clearly defence.

Frank Nouble, making his first Premier League start did his chances of extending his run in the first team no harm at all with an impressive performance, and could have scored in the opening moments had he remained a little more composed following a thrusting 50-yard run through the heart of the Villa ranks.

Despite the statistics - and Agbonlahor's 92nd minute chance - West Ham could have won the game in the closing 20 minutes when forward thinking changes by Zola (although mostly enforced) saw the Hammers finish the stronger.

With Villa on the backfoot and apparently out of ideas West Ham took the game to the home side in the closing stages. Although the Irons failed to seriously test Villa keeper Brad Friedal, under-pressure boss Zola will no doubt be pleased at the way his side ended the game.

The closest they came to snatching all three points was when Junior Stanislas' fierce 71st minute cross was turned behind by former team mate James Collins with team mates ready to pounce and keeper beaten - although some lovely football also saw chances for Diamanti, Noble and Parker at the game drew to a close.

All in all, a very satisfactory afternoon's work for Zola and his team, whose next outing is the crunch trip to Portsmouth nine days from now.

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Player Ratings

Robert Green
Comments to follow.

Julien Faubert
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Jonathan Spector
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James Tomkins
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Matthew Upson
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Radoslav Kovac
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Scott Parker
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Mark Noble
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Valon Behrami
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Jack Collison
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Frank Nouble
Comments to follow.


Alessandro Diamanti
(Replaced Parker, 57 minutes) Comments to follow.

Junior Stanislas
(Replaced Kovac, 62 minutes) Comments to follow.

Manuel Da Costa
(Replaced Nouble, 89 minutes) Comments to follow.

Peter Kurucz
Did not play.

Fabio Daprela
Did not play.

Luis Jimenez
Did not play.

Fred Sears
Did not play.

Match Facts

West Ham United: Robert Green, Julien Faubert, Jonathan Spector, James Tomkins, Matthew Upson, Radoslav Kovac, Scott Parker, Mark Noble, Valon Behrami, Jack Collison, Frank Nouble.

Goals: None                   .

Booked: Radoslav Kovac  Junior Stanislas  Jack Collison       .

Sent off: None.

Aston Villa: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: Mike Jones.

Attendance: 35,646.

Man of the Match: tbc.