Aston Villa and West Ham played out a goalless draw to close out matchday five of this season’s Premier League.
Chances were at a premium at Villa Park as two evenly matched teams couldn’t quite get the better of each other. Despite a lack of goals there was no shortage of action as the hosts saw two of their own players nearly come to blows.
With all eyes soon to be on the returning Champions League, here are five things we learned from this encounter….
1. A missed chance to equal history
After their opening day shalking by champions Manchester City it was hard to see West Ham potentially finishing the fifth matchday level on points with their more illustrious tormentor and sitting inside the top three. But this was the case going into this evening’s game. A win at Villa Park would have seen Manuel Pellegrini, celebrating his 66th birthday, equal the club’s best ever Premier League start after five matches.
— West Ham United (@WestHam) September 16, 2019
And that came in 2005/06 when Alan Pardew collected 10 points from 15 available scoring 10 times and conceding just four goals. Fast-forward 14 years later the Hammers can be disappointed but not discouraged: eight points after five played is not a bad early return especially when they were not high on many people’s list going into this campaign.
2. Mings-El Ghazi squabble illustrates contrasting approaches
Just over ten minutes before half-time came a moment no one could have envisaged before kick-off. West Ham had won a corner which displeased Villa centre-back Tyrone Mings, whose cut from the same cloth as assistant manager John Terry, that is he wears his heart on his sleeve.
He made his feelings known to winger Anwar El Ghazi, whom Mings deemed to not have tracked back and cover, though the former Ajax man gave as good as he got with both touching heads much to the displeasure of Terry on the bench. If anything this was a display of two worlds.
Team-mates coming head-to-head…
— Sky Sports MNF (@SkySportsMNF) September 16, 2019
Back when he was in Amsterdam the twice capped Dutch international made it known he modeled his game on idol Cristiano Ronaldo though concentrated wholly on the part of being stationed in the final half. El Ghazi was seldom known for his defending which he got away with as Ajax dominated the vast majority of games they played.
Villa, though, couldn’t be any more different. The cut and thrust nature of Premier League football means those outside the ‘big six’ cannot rest on their laurels and that everyone must pull their weight hence Mings anger. Nonchalance may be accepted in the Dutch capital but not in England’s second city.
3. Hammers creator-in-chief
The international break is done and dusted and we're back in action tonight at Villa Park! 💪
COME ON YOU IRONS!! ⚒ pic.twitter.com/Hvme7loK3M
— West Ham United (@WestHam) September 16, 2019
Manuel Lanzini’s return earlier this year, following his recovery from a serious knee injury, was met with great enthusiasm in east London and for good reason. The 26-year-old Argentina attacking midfielder is essentially West Ham’s beating heart. He’s show why across their opening four league fixtures this season and once more tonight. Playing in the zone behind centre-forward Sébastien Haller he’d complete 90% of his attempted passes (57/63), most by anyone on the field, as well as creating one chance.
That single chance created if anything consolidated his position in the league’s creative chart. Lanzini has now produced 15 goalscoring opportunities leaving him only behind Kevin De Bruyne (19) and Trent Alexander-Arnold in that regard though he trails De Bruyne by four assists in the race to be crowned as this season’s ‘assist king’. Of those aforementioned chances served just one has found its way into the goal.
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4. Wasteful Villans
Going into this game Villa had bagged four goals across their opening four Premier League fixtures which is the equal worst return of any side (alongside Newcastle United and bottom side Watford). Half of those efforts came in a previous home win over Everton and many felt it would be another game where their attack would shine especially when you consider how slack West Ham have been at the back.
20: 🦁 0-0 ⚒
Best chance of the game falls to Wesley, who can't quite guide Grealish's whipped-in ball home. The header goes over. McGinn also bursts into the box and goes down, but West Ham clear their lines.#AVFC #PL pic.twitter.com/yubV7xJmhb
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 16, 2019
Łukasz Fabiański, much to Dean Smith’s disappointed, was seldom tested. He’d produce one memorable save – a deflected John McGinn strike – though his job was half done by Villa’s attackers inability to hold possession. El Ghazi, Wesley and Jota combined were dispossessed eight times this wastefulness against a more ruthless outfit would be punished.
5. Famine continues
As frustrating the game was for the home side it wasn’t any better for West Ham who couldn’t dominate large swathes of the game. They would, however, attempt the most shots on goal (12) but just one of them really testing Tom Heaton and that came from defensive midfielder Mark Noble.
He’s the last one you’d expect to be finding the back of the net, that cannot be said for Felipe Anderson who is enduring a goal drought of late, the Brazilian forward has now failed to score in his last seven Premier League appearances for the Hammer since netting a consolation in their 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last April. He would be sacrificed following Arthur Masuaku’s sending off with 21 minutes remaining.