Match Reports

Six unbeaten but Albion are frustrated by Martinez

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Goalless at the Amex thanks to the brilliance of Villa keeper.

By Bruce Talbot • 13 February 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Alexis Mac Allister can't believe his first-half header went wide.
  • Albion 0, Aston Villa 0

Albion stretched their unbeaten run to six Premier League games and would have celebrated a fourth win in that sequence but for the brilliance of Emiliano Martinez.

The Villa keeper claimed his 12th Premier League clean sheet of the season, defying Albion with a succession of fantastic saves as he frustrated Leandro Trossard, Joel Veltman, Dan Burn and Danny Welbeck.

There were other chances too for Albion, all that was missing was a goal to reward another very encouraging performance.

What happened...

There were two changes to the team which drew 1-1 at Burnley in the last Premier League fixture with Trossard and Steven Alzate coming in for Aaron Connolly and the injured Adam Webster. Davy Propper returned to the squad after five games out.

Albion started like a side unbeaten in five and after Burn headed wide from Leo Trossard's angled ball they ought to have scored in the tenth minute.

Joel Veltman swung over an inviting right-wing cross which Alexis Mac Allister met with a firm header seven yards out but it flew wide when anything on target would have beaten Martinez.

The Villa keeper had to dive low to his left to save Veltman's drive after the Dutchman cut inside and it took 20 minutes before the visitors offered a threat when Alzate was booked for a heavy challenge on Jack Grealish, who was then cautioned for fouling Veltman after Villa had wasted a good free kick opportunity on the corner of the by-line and 18-yard line.

Mac Allister whipped a free kick from 20 yards over after Trossard was fouled then Gross forced Martinez to make a save from another free kick struck low through the Villa wall.

By Paul Hazlewood
Dan Burn and Lewis Dunk attack a set piece

It had been an encouraging first half hour for Albion. Veltman had done such a good job marking Grealish that the Villa captain switched to the right in search of space to influence proceedings.

Martinez made another save when Maupay tried to surprise him from a tight angle at his near post before producing an even better stop after a great move ended with Trossard forcing the Villa keeper to turn a shot heading for the top corner over the bar.

It was turning into a one-man show of defiance from Martinez with Burn left shaking his head in disbelief when he flung himself to his right to keep out the defender’s header which was heading inside the post. Without him, Albion would have been out of sight. They’d had 12 first-half shots, more than in any 45 minutes in their top-flight history.

By Paul Hazlewood
Villa's Jack Grealish shields the ball from Joel Veltman

Villa hadn't had one until Robert Sanchez was finally called upon early in the second half when Ross Barkley fired straight at him but almost immediately Martinez made another somewhat unconventional save, blocking Mac Allister’s 20-yarder which had taken a deflection off John Mc Ginn with his knee.

After another spell of pressure Trossard hit the side netting with a left-foot shot on the turn before Potter made his first change on the hour when Adam Lallana replaced Alzate.

Martinez was having an inspired night and he produced another save for his personal highlights reel to deny Veltman, who cut onto his left foot and unleashed a shot that was heading for the top corner until Martinez flung out a hand to divert it over.

By Paul Hazlewood
Substitute Danny Welbeck is foiled by Emi Martinez late on

Maupay was next to threaten after a mazy run opened up space but, under pressure from Tyrone Mings, he ran out of room when a pass inside might have picked out the unmarked Pascal Gross.

Albion brought on Danny Welbeck for Maupay with 11 minutes remaining and he nearly scored with his first touch only to be denied once again Martinez, who sprung to his left to push the ball away after Welbeck touched on Lallana’s cross.

Welbeck could hardly believe it and his incredulous reaction rather summed up Albion's night. Martinez had proved to be an impenetrable barrier.

Albion: Sanchez, Veltman, White, Dunk Burn, Alzate (Lallana 60), Bissouma, Gross, Mac Allister, Trossard, Maupay (Welbeck 79).

Subs: Walton, Karbownik, Connolly, Moder, Tau, Propper, Zeqiri.

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