Aston Villa vs. Sunderland: 6 Things We Learned

Joshua HaywardContributor INovember 30, 2013

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30:  Antonio Luna (R) of Aston Villa is tackled by Craig Gardner (L) of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sunderland at Villa Park on November 30, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Aston Villa and Sunderland played out a goalless draw at Villa Park.

The visiting side, despite being rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table ahead of kick-off, had the more clear-cut chances and probably should have taken more than just a point back to the northeast.

For Villa, it was a relatively disappointing performance, but the point allows the Claret and Blues to move into the top half of the table.

Here are six things we learned from Villa's goalless draw with Sunderland.


Villa's back line continues to improve

Villa had the third-worst defensive record during the 2012/13 Premier League season. Only two other sides shipped more goals—only four, though—and, as you would have probably guessed, were relegated.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30:  Ron Vlaar (R) of Aston Villa clears the ball ahead of Steven Fletcher (L) of Sunderland during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sunderland at Villa Park on November 30, 2013 in Birmingham, Engla
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The Claret and Blues ended a league-record run of 26 games without a clean sheet during their narrow 1-0 win over Norwich at the end of September.

And now it appears that the Villa back line are growing ever-stronger. Despite having to contend with a number of injuries, the men at the back are obviously jelling and the shutout against Sunderland was the first time Paul Lambert's men have kept back-to-back clean sheets since November/December 2012.


Villa continue to struggle at home, however...

Villa Park has not been the fortress that the players and fans would like it to be over recent years.

Ahead of kick-off against the Black Cats, Villa's opponents were rooted to the bottom of the table, and although the home side weren't exactly flying high, the expectation was that the Villans would be taking all three points.

The stats may go in Villa's favour, but Sunderland had the better of the chances. The visitors had a penalty appeal rejected late in the first half before Emanuele Giaccherini somehow missed from point-blank range. Fabio Borini later headed onto the crossbar.

Villa have now failed to win consecutive Premier League home games since 2010.


Christian Benteke's goal drought continues

Ahead of the goalless draw with Sunderland, Paul Lambert stated that he was unfazed by Christian Benteke's goal drought.

In an interview with The Independent's Phill Barnett, the Villa boss said:

I don't have any concerns whatsoever. Even if he's not scoring he's still a handful, Christian.

He'll come through it. I said to him the other day 'you won't play every single game where you score every single goal.' He'll be fine. I know exactly what he's offering to the team so I don't worry about him.

Of course, Lambert would be right not to worry about Benteke—yet.

There's not a striker in world football that scores a goal in every single game. However, Villa's hero of last season has failed to score in six appearances since his return from injury.

The Belgian constantly causes opposing defences problems, but in such a game, Villa cried out for a goalscorer—a Benteke of last season—though, he wasn't there.


Similar Sunderland showings will see them stay up

Sunderland may have had the better of the chances in the match, yet their inability to snatch the win extends the Black Cats' run of nine league matches without a win away from home.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30:  John O'Shea of Sunderland reacts as match referee Neil Swarbrick turns down a penalty appeal during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sunderland at Villa Park on November 30, 2013 in Birmingham,
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Despite that, Gus Poyet certainly seems to have Sunderland playing in a positive, more effective way.

Following the 4-0 dismantling at the hands of Swansea on Poyet's debut, Sunderland have picked up some impressive results—such as the 2-1 win against Newcastle as well as the 1-0 victory over Manchester City.

The result against Villa halted a run of five successive league defeats away from home.


Emanuele Giaccherini could well be awarded miss of the season

In what was easily the game's best chance, Italian striker Emanuele Giaccherini somehow managed to turn the ball over the bar from less than six yards.

Giaccherini, Poyet and the surrounding Sunderland players couldn't quite believe that the ball hadn't nestled in the back of the Villa net.

According to the Sunderland boss, the striker wouldn't stop apologising after the game:


Being a Royal isn't all that bad

Villa took to the field in front of their most famous fan, Prince William.

Having travelled to the NEC earlier in the morning to enjoy the Motorcycle Live show, the Duke of Cambridge raced across the city to watch his beloved Villa in action.