Quick Kicks: Thoughts And Reaction From Aston Villa 0-0 Sunderland

Laurence Griffiths

This week Sunderland produced a surprise by not being a bunch of berks away from home. They didn't win, but we learn to appreciate the small mercies with this club. Here is what we made of it.

What The Gaffer Said

Of course we will take the point but we did want three and we were playing for three.

I think that we created the best chances of the game to go out and get those three points, however, we didn't get them, and so I will have to accept that.

Throughout the game we made it very difficult for the opposition, we competed, passed the ball and it was a very solid performance for the entire 90 minutes, therefore the outcome, as you expect it should be, was positive.

In recent away games we have performed for just one half or maybe struggled in certain areas on the pitch, today I was looking for a full performance from the whole team for 90 minutes and I think we got that.

The only thing missing was a goal, had we got that goal the players would have done exactly what I asked of them; played compact and solidly, as well as being brave enough to get forward and attack.

[On Giaccherini's first half chance] On another day, maybe that would have gone in, it's the situation that we're in. He mis-hit it and it went over the top, it was unfortunate.

We're looking like a better team; we need to continue to improve.

Next up there are two games at home. These are important for us because we know the fans there will push us and get behind us - I know they are against Chelsea and Tottenham but we have to have belief going into games with these teams.

John [O'Shea] injured his groin late in the game, he knew we'd made all three changes and he stuck in there, he put himself on the line for the game, which is magnificent. Let's hope it's nothing serious and he will be available on Wednesday.

There goes Gus with that infectious enthusiasm again. He makes this 0-0 draw sound like a win. No wonder the players are starting to look genuinely confident.

Giaccherini was 'unfortunate' to miss an open goal, John O'Shea 'magnificent' for not being injured, and the whole team 'brave' for trying not to be totally rubbish. The trick, of course, is that he actually makes it sound convincing and you find yourself believing him!

It's an act that would wear thin after a while if the losses kept on racking up, admittedly, but for now he is nailing it - and it shows.

Progress?

There were plenty of positives to take from the game, though I am not entirely sure we should take much pride in them being regarded as positives in the first place. Not getting a man sent off isn't really an achievement, or at least it shouldn't be. The same goes for actually trying to win a game.

But there was a definite sense of progress here. It was the first time in a long while that we have looked genuinely solid and assured away from home and the best chances created in the game were ours too. Let's hope that come May we are thankful for the point that was earned rather than ruing the two that slipped away.

Still No Sign Of Lady Luck

If you miss an open goal from 5 yards out, you probably can't blame everything on bad luck, but it is starting to feel like someone at Sunderland spent all summer stood under a ladder throwing mirrors at black cats that were crossing their path.

There was a very good penalty call in there when the ball clearly struck an Aston Villa hand which could have easily gone our way, and the Borini header was an agonizing inch too high. Then of course it is compounded when Hull pick up a win courtesy of two massive deflections.

At some point, you feel that this run of inexplicable bad luck must end and fortune will smile on us again. Should that happen after Christmas when momentum will be everything, I certainly won't be complaining.

Time For Some Gardner Leave?

Whilst I find myself generally feeling very receptive to the players at the moment, Craig Gardner's performance here was no where near up-to-scratch.

We know what he gives you - a good shot, a decent goal threat and, to be fair, he did have the ball in the net despite being offside. Gus Poyet claimed that he purposely picked every player to have scored for the club this season for this game in an attempt to find some firepower, so at least his selection has an explanation.

I just don't enjoy seeing him struggling like this though. The game passed him by entirely and he doesn't look comfortable at all in a side trying to pass a ball. I don't think he is the answer for us, and I don't think he ever will be.

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