Match Analysis: Aston Villa 0-0 Sunderland

Emanuele Giaccherini of Sunderland fails to score from close range during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sunderland at Villa Park on November 30, 2013
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Sports Mole analyses the Premier League clash between Aston Villa and Sunderland at Villa Park, where the visitors picked up a point which lifts them off the bottom of the table.

Sunderland moved off the bottom of the Premier League by claiming just their second away point of the season in their 0-0 draw with Aston Villa at Villa Park this afternoon.

Emanuele Giaccherini had the best opportunity to break the first-half deadlock, but scooped the ball over the crossbar from six yards after he had been found unmarked by Phil Bardsley's cushioned cross.

In a game of few chances, the Black Cats came closest to snatching victory when Fabio Borini headed against the crossbar, but Villa withstood the Sunderland pressure to stay unbeaten in four matches.

Below, Sports Mole analyses whether the result was reflective of the action in the Midlands.

Match statistics:

Villa:
Shots: 13
On target: 4
Possession: 51%
Corners: 7
Fouls: 14

Sunderland:
Shots: 7
On target: 1
Possession: 49%
Corners: 6
Fouls: 12

Was the result fair?

As the scoreline suggests, neither team was able to muster up above quality in the final third to claim victory, but Sunderland certainly came closest. They were the better team, but to say that they warranted all three points may be stretching the truth, as their finishing was not deserving of more than a draw.

Villa's performance:

Paul Lambert reverted back to a 4-3-3 formation, with the recalled Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor employed on the wings. With them back in the side, Villa were sometimes a threat on the break, but they were devoid of ideas when they had to open Sunderland up from midfield. Their attacking full backs are an outlet that they did not utilise enough in the second period. They were defensively sound again, though, as they kept consecutive home clean sheets for the first time under Lambert.

Sunderland's performance:

Their defence is much improved since Wes Brown's return to the team. His partnership alongside fellow former Manchester United centre-back John O'Shea has resulted in the Black Cats being much more solid and organised. Giaccherini was a lively presence on the left wing, but lacked the final ball or finishing touch on more than one occasion. Despite pairing him with Borini, Steven Fletcher was often an isolated figure in attack and was feeding off scraps for most of the contest. He is comfortably their best source of goals, so if Sunderland want to climb the table, they need to find a way to provide him with more chances.

Sports Mole's man of the match:

Wes Brown: To say that Christian Benteke had a quiet game this afternoon would do a disservice to the way that Brown and O'Shea largely marked him out of the match. Sunderland's centre-back pair never afforded the Belgian any space, and despite surrendering height and power advantages to him, were always in control of the aerial duels with Benteke due to their awareness and good positioning. This award could have gone to either of them, but Brown probably edged it. Gus Poyet may have been furious with his sending off last week, but will be relieved that Brown's ban was overturned in time for today.

Biggest gaffe:

Giaccherini should have won this game for the visitors when he was found unmarked by Bardsley's cushioned pass across goal, but from six yards out, he scooped the ball over the crossbar. The Italian was certainly Sunderland's best creative outlet this afternoon, but he might want to work on his finishing.

Referee's performance:

Referee Neil Swarbrick was rarely called upon, with his main involvement coming when he turned down penalty appeals from each team for apparent handballs. He probably got both decisions right, too.

What next?

Villa: An away trip to Southampton on Wednesday, and they will then stay down south to face Fulham at the weekend. Villa lost at both St Mary's Stadium and Craven Cottage last season.

Sunderland: Two home games against Champions League-chasing London opposition in the space of four days, as firstly Chelsea and then Tottenham Hotspur visit the Stadium of Light.

Emanuele Giaccherini of Sunderland fails to score from close range during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sunderland at Villa Park on November 30, 2013
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