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Match Review: Aston Villa 2-2 Manchester United

So apparently that big card that Fergie has up his sleeve is a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card., eh?

It would seem that way, after we yet again found ourselves in a precarious position with time not on our side, we yet again maneuvered our way out of potential disaster.

Early on, it was our uncanny ability to wriggle ourselves into sticky situations that caused us to drop points from winning positions.

We still haven’t solved that issue with being friendly with the goals in the second half, but it seems that we’ve found the great equalizer.

Even after analyzing the second half up and down, there really is no viable explanation for what transpired in the last 45 minutes at Villa Park. To allow as many clear chances as Villa had in the first half hour of the second half is the latest frightening example of how bad we can be defensively at times.

But to survive Villa’s run of dominance without getting completely destroyed is the latest example of the wave of good fortune that we seem to be riding on right now, and it appears that’s not lost on the team.

With 15 minutes left, we were deservedly down 2-0, and it could have – and should have – been even worse. At that point, we could’ve taken our beating lying down, called it a day, and let that be that.

But we took what small glimmer of opportunity we had left and turned it into our most stunning comeback in a season in which we’ve been on the wrong side of the comeback more often than not.

Three times this season, we’ve squandered a two-goal advantage in the second half, and along with the knowledge that somehow, we were still in it, an attitude of ‘if they can do it to us, then we can do it to them’ might well have also spurred us on.

So, does Fergie need to tell Macheda to take every chance, whether it’s the first minute or the 90th, like it’s crunch time? It’s an idea worth suggesting, because of his four career Premier League goals, all four have come after the 75th minute, and all four have come when United were either tied or trailing.

At least in the present, Saturday’s goal pales in significance to his first strike against Villa, but it took the door from being slightly cracked to wide open, with plenty of time left to take advantage of that opening.

Did we deserve a point? It all depends on what your definition of ‘deserved’ is. But on the surface, we didn’t particularly deserve it, given how many times Villa should’ve scored in the second half. Two in the net, two off of the woodwork, and two close misses by Albrighton. If even one of those earlier misses by Albrighton finds the target, the goal he scored that seemingly finished us legitimately would have.

But there’ve been quite a few occasions where we’ve deserved more and received less, so…

Does that mean I’m happy about the result? As much of a positive spin as I put on things sometimes, there’s only so much satisfaction that one can get from having to see yet another great escape.

Our issues with giving up goals in the second half continues to plague us, and there are only so many instances that we can do that and not get burned for it at least a handful of times. And speaking of getting burned, we have been absolutely torched on the counter far too often this season. True enough, for all of their hard work (and our lack thereof), Villa deserved to be up 2-0, but there is nothing that can be said positively about that second goal. Sometimes, you just get beat, it happens. But from Macheda’s error that started the move to Evra’s lack of effort on the other end to keep Albrighton and the ball separate, it’s more than a little disconcerting that we continue to be careless and listless at the worst possible time.

But, just like we’ve proven ourselves prone to getting in the mire, our penchant for pulling ourselves out of it continues to shine through. There are times when heart, not to mention a little good fortune (so much for the home bounce, eh?), trumps quality, and heart earned us what, in the end, is a valuable point.

Should we be satisfied with where we are at this point in the season? If you are, then you don’t have high standards, even if you live more for result than for performance.

But as it stands, we head into a favorable portion of our schedule in a position to make a move, and it’s not inconceivable that we could be top of the table or pretty close even before we face Chelsea.

My, what a strange season it has been.