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Player Match Ratings: Romantic nourishment absent




A rare two goals at home still produced “nul points” for us because we have a defence that is as watertight as was The Titanic.

If this was the performance of a team with the weight taken off their shoulders it was not markedly different from the performances they produced before relegation (which our “custodian” deemed inevitable after only 5 league games) became a mathematical certainty last weekend.

Southampton scored four and could have had a couple more if the woodwork had not denied them. We all arrived expecting another defeat and that is what we got. This was our 12th home defeat of the season, our 25th loss from 35 league games and our 10th successive defeat which brings us just one more defeat from equalling the worst run of losses in the history of our football club.

Everyone wants to play us at the moment. Even Newcastle who could well be joining us in the league below next season will anticipate getting nothing less than a win and an easy three points from our next and final home game of the season. So we had better get our chants of “Going down with the Villa” in early doors!  

Our caretaker manager selected a team no doubt with the hope that we could keep it tight at the back. That worked well didn’t it? We scored twice but the visitors still ran out comfortable winners. There is little point in picking players like Bacuna and Richardson (who would no doubt have played had he not had a knock) that have lost the crowd and done little to nothing to warrant selection this season.

Why not play the kids alongside Gil, Jack and Traoré? Its not as if doing so could cost us our place in the division is it? These players would enjoy the full backing of the fans in the way that Ayew does. Failing to play our more creative players along with the young players to give them some first team experience smacks of ignoring what the fans want but that is sadly not unusual at our football club.

It was great to see those thousands of banners held up before the game and on 74 minutes to show that the vast majority of fans are unwilling to accept how our football club is being run as it lurches from bad to worse on almost a daily basis. Well done to all involved in this protest!

My player ratings from a game that gave us another disappointing and predictable result are:

Brad Guzan – 4 – Came out to block a Long shot with an outstretched arm on 57 minutes, kept out a Davis effort at his near post on 59 minutes and then held a Rodriguez shot from outside of the box 2 minutes later although it was hit straight at him. Brad was beaten on 71 minutes by a shot from the edge of the area from Tadic which took a slight deflection off Westwood. He then pushed away a Davis cross with one hand on 79 minutes but did less well a minute later when he pushed weakly at a cross with one hand that fell to Long who spared his blushes by hitting the ball over. Did well to take the ball away from Mané inside the box as the substitute threatened to add a fourth on 84 minutes but he again exposed his fallibilities on 89 minutes when he presented the ball to an opponent with a quick ball played just outside his own area but fortunately Cissokho was able to take the ball off Long inside the area.

Alan Hutton – 6 – Kept trying to move us forwards. Had an 85th minute effort helped over the bar at his near post by Forster and had a header from a Grealish corner headed off the line late in second half stoppage time.

Micah Richards – 3 – Substituted at half time. 

Joleon Lescott – 2 – A ball was played for Long on the 2nd minute that went over the head of Richards and then bounced off Joleon and back to Long whose shot fortunately cannoned off the bar. He then left the same striker in space 12 minutes later and the ball was headed in for their opener from Bertrand’s cross. Rodriguez tried to turn in a dangerous cross on 56 minutes which was deflected wide of the post off Lescott. He was left covering space rather than the unmarked Mané when he gave them their fourth on 94 minutes.  

Aly Cissokho – 5 – Worked hard and Aly was solid enough at the back.

Leandro Bacuna  – 2 – Really should have been on target with a header from a nice cross from Westwood that he turned wide of the post on 22 minutes. He then gave the visitors a two-goal cushion after 39 minutes with a thoughtless as well as an aimless back pass from well within the visitor’s half. Long then easily outpaced Lescott to reach the ball first. Guzan did well to dive at Long’s feet and to push the ball away from him but the striker then squared the ball for Tadic who was unmarked when hitting the ball home. Had Richards hurried rather than ambled back he might have been able to have challenged the scorer. 

Ashley Westwood – 7 – MOTM – You wait almost a whole season for a league goal from him and then like the Clapham omnibus two come along together. His two goals were the highlights of our performance yesterday and his second was particularly well taken. Got on the end of a 38th minute Ayew cross but the ball went straight into Forster’s hands. Ashley then scored in the first minute of first half stoppage time when a good run and cross from Ayew was missed by Gana but ran on to him and he did well to find the corner of the net. His second came on 85 minutes when Gestede was unable to connect with a Grealish cross and the ball ran on to him just inside the box. Ashley proceeded to curl a splendid measured shot into the corner of the net. 

Idrissa Gana – 5 – Appeared to lack a little of his usual interest early on but got into the game increasingly as it wore on.

Carlos Sánchez – 3 – He has not been the rock in our midfield that we had hoped for when he signed for us and that continued to be the case yesterday prior to his substitution.

Scott Sinclair – 4 – Made a couple of decent runs. Hit a shot wide of the post on 35 minutes from the edge of the box and he had a shot saved by Forster’s feet after the ball had run to him in stoppage time after Gestede had lost it on the edge of the box.

Jordan Ayew – 5 – Why would anyone bring off Jordan when the team should have been chasing the game? That was clearly a view shared by many giving the resulting chant of “You don’t know what you’re doing”.  Had an 8th minute effort comfortably saved at his near post by Forster but was our biggest threat to the visitors until he was withdrawn.


Kevin Toner – 6 – Replaced Richards at half time and gave a steady enough display that should lead to him starting our remaining games for me.

Rudy Gestede – 4 - Replaced Ayew on 59 minutes and headed a 66th minute cross from Cissokho over which he had to stretch back to reach.

Jack Grealish – 5 - Replaced Sánchez on 68 minutes. He needs to start our remaining games. Jack gave a couple of reminders of the player we knew from last season and was unlucky that a few of the things that he tried that did not quite come off. 

Get straight back up next season Villa!

John Lewis




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