Game #4716

Season | 2001-02 |

Matchday | #10 |

League Game | #4 |
Premier League Match-week | #4 |

Manager Game | #166 |

Sunday, 16 September 2001

Premier League | Home | Sunderland | Villa Park | 31,668 |  

Game Summary

Manager | John Gregory | 

KO | 15.00 |
Referee | Uriah Rennie | 
HT Score | 0-0 |
FT Score | 0-0 |
FT Result | Drew |
Last 5 Games | DWDWD | 

League Position | 10th | -2 |

Line Up |

GK Peter Schmeichel | 
FB Mark Delaney | 
CB Olof Mellberg | 
CB Alpay Özalan | 
LB Alan Wright | 
M George Boateng | 
M Paul Merson |
SUB OFF | 55' |
M Hassan Kachloul | 
M Lee Hendrie | 
F Darius Vassell | 
CF Dion Dublin | 
SUB OFF | 68' |

Substitutes |

W David Ginola for M Paul Merson | 55’ | 
F Boško Balaban for CF Dion Dublin | 68’ |

Unused Substitutes |

GK Peter Enckelman
M Gareth Barry
M Mustapha Hadji

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 28.34 | 

Oldest Player | GK Peter Schmeichel | 37.85 |

Youngest Player | F Darius Vassell | 21.27 |

Match Report

The Guardian

Monday, 17 September, 2001

Match report by Adrian Milledge

Gregory unhappy with sloppy Villa leave

John Gregory had described the visit of Sunderland as a bread and butter fixture following champagne displays against Liverpool and Manchester United.

In the event Villa, confronted by opponents nursing the hangover of their Worthington Cup exit to Sheffield Wednesday, lost their appetite and left their manager with the bitter taste of disappointment. 

“Victory at Liverpool should be followed up by a win at home,” Gregory said. “But there was a lack of urgency from some of my players; perhaps they felt it would be easy. We’ve got to set our standards higher than that, especially if we are to realise our ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League.” 

Gregory’s feeling of let down says much about the way his team has started the season and Villa’s early play, with Paul Merson and Darius Vassell in the forefront, smacked of confidence gained from the success at Anfield and near miss against the champions It was characterised by neat flicks and defence-challenging one-twos but, perversely, their best effort in what became a torpid first half owed much to the Wimbledon Book of Soccer Tactics, 1988 edition. 

Peter Schmeichel launched a long clearance, Dion Dublin headed the ball on and Vassell’s left-foot volley forced the diving Jurgen Macho to concede a corner. Schmeichel became their saviour when an inswinging right wing corner resulted in Niall Quinn’s header being palmed to safety by the Dane. 

While Villa’s more ambitious approach in the second period suggested a few choice words from Gregory, the end product remained the same. Likewise Sunderland. “I thought we passed the ball quite well but were unable to maintain any fluency in our play, said the Sunderland manager Peter Reid. “There were too many whistles out there instead of the advantage rule being played. “I think supporters like a good tackle and I fear for the physical side of the game - we had four players cautioned and I’m not sure why.” 


One of those yellow cards, for Kevin Phillips, could have been followed by red when the striker appeared to elbow Lee Hendrie in an incident that climaxed a catalogue of argy bargy between the pair. 

Reid claimed he had not seen the incident while Gregory added: “I don’t think Kevin Phillips has got it in him to do that sort of thing. If he did then it surprises me.” Television replays suggest Gregory will be in for a surprise, which is what Merson almost gave Macho shortly after the break. Bringing the ball down with one touch, Merson volleyed goalwards with his next and the Sunderland keeper did well to tip the subsequent lob over the bar. 

But it was the Turkish international defender Alpay who ensured Gregory’s team preserved their unbeaten run with a timely intervention to deny Phillips a late goal. 

*Man of the Match:*Darius Vassell (Aston Villa)