Jump to content

VillaTalk blog

  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Contributors to this blog

Player Match Ratings: Two down but we get one point



We gained a point from a losing position rather than lost points from a winning one for a change yesterday.  

We were nothing short of appalling in the first half and made it all too easy for Hull. Given our form of late, more than a few of us could see this one coming. Chester’s timely goal came just before half time and it gave us some grounds for hope where there had previously been none.

If there was anything positive to be taken from this game, it was that we awoke in the second half to come back from two goals down to claim a point. A point was not enough however, and Hull showed that they are not quite as good as their 6-game winning run might have suggested when they were belatedly put under some pressure yesterday. What they do have is the confidence that a good run of results brings in comparison to the lack of it and the anxiety that we currently suffer from due to our own ongoing dismal run.

Unfortunately, although there was plenty of time left after our equalizer to complete the recovery and to take all three points, we didn’t really look like doing so and the team seemed to lack the belief that they could go on to win the game. It seemed many of them, unlike the fans were perhaps a little too readily content with another “Desmond”.   

What has happened to the Villa that won at Derby, Boro and deserved to win at the Albion? We have clearly missed both Jack and Axel but to take just 7 points from our last 7 games is simply not good enough.

We now find ourselves in the bottom half of the table and 7 points adrift of sixth place. Had we managed 14 points from our last 7 games (which didn’t seem quite so unlikely back then) we would have 46 points rather than 39 and would now be 6th rather than 13th. We would also be within touching distance of the top 2 rather than having all but written off any lingering hopes of making the play offs.           

Let’s hope we can win another one of the games that appeared winnable a few short weeks ago next weekend. Hopefully we can use that to start the winning run that we need to start sooner rather than later, if not to start a late promotion run to give us some pride back. Not giving our visitors a 2-goal start would go some way to achieving that against bottom of the table Ipswich.

My player ratings from a game that left us top of the bottom half of the table once again are:

Lovre Kalinic – 5 – Beaten low at his left-hand post by Bowen’s first from the edge of the box on 27 minutes and he will be disappointed by that as were we. Had little chance with their second, with the unmarked Evandro’s well hit shot deflecting off Taylor on the line into the roof of the net. Blocked a 25th minute header from Burke at his near post. He then prevented us from surrendering all 3 points to the visitors on 90 minutes with a superb save from a point-blank Martin shot.

Alan Hutton – 5 – His cross produced our second goal.         

James Chester - 6 – Gave us a lifeline when he got his head to Hourihane’s 45th minute free kick. Did incredibly well to hook Elphick’s deflection on a Grosicki shot off the line in the 8th minute after Hourihane had lost possession at the start of the move.    

Tommy Elphick – 6 – Produced another steady enough performance in the centre of our brittle defence.              

Neil Taylor – 5 – Produced an improved second half display. One strong second half challenge was rather memorable, and he did very well to get back to clear a dangerous cross from the 6-yard box on 73 minutes. He stuck out a leg in an attempt to poke the ball clear on the edge of the area, but it invitingly fell straight to Bowen a couple of yards to his left from where he hit their opener.             

Birkir Bjarnason – 4 – He put himself about but has looked a pale imitation of the player he was earlier this season since his return from injury. Headed a 49th minute Hutton cross wide of the far post. A couple of times yesterday as he chased after and wrestled down opponents in the middle of the field, he looked more like a Keystone cop from the silent movie era rather than an international footballer. Might be worth another shot in the deeper role that Conor has been trying to fill. Substituted on 75 minutes.                

John McGinn – 8 – MOTM – Ran the show and battled gamely on but others around him declined to follow his excellent example for far too long. Kept trying to move us forward, worked tirelessly and shone brightly throughout the game. Hit a 56th minute shot wide from an Abraham cross and hit a shot from outside of the box over 12 minutes later.

Conor Hourihane – 5 – Hit a perfectly placed free kick for our first but he clearly cannot fill the deep midfield role where he looks uncomfortable and a bit of a fish out of water. He works hard but lacks the pace of some opponents he comes up against and is unfamiliar with what is expected from him in this role. His place in the team should be in the opposition half, where he has been effective rather than in our own where he is not.     

Albert Adomah – 3 – Only began to look partly interested in the second half after what I’m sure will have been a quiet word from the boss during the interval. He was substituted on 59 minutes as understandably Dean’s patience with him had been exhausted some time earlier. Made little to no contribution during the first half.       

Yannick Bolasie – 3 – See Albert’s rating above. Yannick mirrored his none performance and I found myself checking half way through the first half that he was still on the field given the scarcity of his contribution to the game.            

Tammy Abraham – 7 – This game should have been a celebration of Tammy’s decision to continue his loan spell with us but our sorry performance last week as well as in the first half yesterday unfortunately put paid to that. Suffered from a lack of service in the first half but always looked for the ball and hit our 64th minute equalizer when after having his first attempt at a low cross from Hutton blocked by a defender, he stepped over him to hit the ball past Marshall at the second attempt.        


Anwar El Ghazi - 5 – Replaced Bolasie on 59 minutes. He was on the bench today having given a couple of the sort of performances that Albert and Yannick produced today since his terrific display at The Hawthorns last month. This was a somewhat brighter display.    

Jonathan Kodjia - 5 – Came on for Adomah on 59 minutes and provided a little of the energy that we had been lacking.    

Andre Green – 6 - Replaced Bjarnason on 75 minutes. Showed some pace and desire on his return from his loan at Portsmouth but he also hit an 86th minute cross over from close range when a winner looked his for the taking.   

Up the Villa!

John Lewis


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

  • Posts

    • I'm not. He is one of the best at shithousing but my point was his game was never built on physicality. This has been found out recently as Barca's midfield has been constantly overrun with the physicality of the modern game. They could cope with it 8 - 10 years ago because they had Xavi and Iniesta who never gave away the ball. With a lower quality of player Busquets hasn't been afforded the luxury that he had before and has looked lost as the opposition run around akin to something like a ball in a pinball machine where as he just stands there powerless like an exposed King on a chess board.
    • ...and is therefore a witch?
    • I wouldn't bite their hands off if it means we cut our own hands off and leave ourselves with one recognised striker in the process of doing so either on the basis that Traore will become backup. (We have no Barry now as I have read in one of the other threads that he's got a serious foot injury so he is definately out of the equation) We need to be careful following this mantra incase something were to happen to Olly this season and then pulling in players in from other parts of the team to fill the gaps risks leaving us light in other areas, it's not the doings of a club pushing for a shot at European football. As a whole, he might look useless as a sub to many on here in the few minutes he has been given so far, doesn't mean to write him off as a useless player until we see him given a start somewhere wherever possible if Dean Smith intends on keeping him here unless another situation were to arise between now and deadline day.  
    • Anyone else think we need a quality CB? As for striking options I’d rather we started utilising Barry off the bench instead of Davis. 
    • Yeah, pretty much. 1st - 4th still get Champions League. 5th and 6th get Europa and 7th gets the new one. Of course, if a team from outside these wins the EFL cup or FA cup then they'd get the spot instead, like usual.
    • I was thinking that we could look at bringing someone in that would offer us options on the bench and would either join on loan, with a view to making the deal permanent or be a young player from an EFL team, that are mid-table (so willing sellers). The following list of EFL players was given by Gregor Robertson was in today's Times, that might give us some ideas, for this window or the next: "Hot on the heels of Eberechi Eze, Ollie Watkins, Joe Rodon, Jarrod Bowen et al — all of whom have made the step from EFL to Premier League with relative ease — is a bulging stable of young talent from the British Isles and there is a greater willingness than ever among Premier League clubs, it seems, to recognise their potential. The headline acts this season, perhaps, have been Brentford’s goal-machine Ivan Toney and the mercurial Michael Olise of Reading; and you are well aware, I’m sure, of the skillsets of the likes of Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell and Bournemouth’s David Brooks. But there are plenty more future stars out there — and I was tasked with picking ten of the best. Omar Richards, Reading - From the Championship to the Bundesliga? Richards is entering the final five months of his Reading contract and has been widely linked with a surprise transfer to Bayern Munich, with whom he is now free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement. The 22-year-old, who joined Reading after his release by Fulham aged 16, was converted from left winger to left-back by the coaching staff but has lost none of his attacking intent. Jaap Stam, the former Reading manager, handed Richards his debut in 2017, but since becoming a fixture of the Reading defence over the past 18 months his development has been remarkable. No player in the second tier has made more tackles and it is a rare sight to see a winger beat the south Londoner, who made his England under-21 bow in October 2019. Nathan Collins, Stoke City - Collins, who hails from Leixlip, near Dublin, joined Stoke at 14, has captained Republic of Ireland through the youth ranks, and was handed the armband by Nathan Jones, the former Stoke manager, against Leeds United last season aged just 18. Collins is a commanding presence: 6ft 4in, athletic, but composed enough in possession to have played both at centre half and right back in 19 Championship appearances this season. Several Premier League clubs are reported to be weighing up bids for Collins, who hails from a footballing family. His father, Dave, played for Liverpool and Oxford United; his uncle, Eamon, for Southampton and Colchester United. His brother, Josh, plays in the League of Ireland, as did his late grandfather, Mick. Adam Armstrong, Blackburn - Armstrong is the Championship’s joint-leading goalscorer on 16, alongside Brentford’s Toney, both of whom spent time with Newcastle United in their formative years. Armstrong, who has already equalled last season’s haul, made one Premier League start for Newcastle against Manchester United at Old Trafford in 2014, before loans to Coventry City, Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers and Rovers, which was made permanent in August 2018. The diminutive striker is a bustling, bundle of energy, with intelligent movement and what appears, at times, to be a policy of shoot-on-sight: the 23-year-old has taken on a whopping 122 shots this season, 42 per cent of which have hit the target. Harry Kane is the only player in England’s top two divisions to have uncorked more efforts (124). Ovie Ejaria, Reading - Ejaria is one of the most technically gifted players in the Championship and — closely followed by the Queens Park Rangers winger Bright Osayi Samuel — statistically the second tier’s best dribbler. The rangy, nimble-footed attacking midfielder, who spent nine years in Arsenal’s academy before joining Liverpool in 2014, was loaned to Sunderland, Rangers and Reading, before making the move to the Madejski permanent in the summer. He has flourished with the Royals, often dazzling with moments of virtuoso skill and, crucially, is beginning to improve his creative output — Ejaria has had a hand in six goals this season. Callum Styles, Barnsley - Styles was released by Burnley in early 2016, before joining Bury and making his debut for the Shakers on the final day of the 2015-16 season, aged 16. He joined Barnsley in August 2018 and this season Styles, who is comfortable with both feet, has impressed from the left of midfield in Barnsley’s high-pressing 3-4-3 formation, with his marriage of craft and industry. Only Reading’s Richards has made more tackles, and Styles has scored four goals in all competitions, including a magnificent left-footed strike from outside the penalty area against Nottingham Forest in November, and a low, right-footed drive in Barnsley’s 1-0 win against Norwich City in the FA Cup on Saturday. Brentford, against whom Styles scored in the 2-1 win that secured the Tykes’ Championship status on a thrilling final day of last season, are among the 20-year-old’s suitors. Rico Henry, Brentford - Ok, so Henry’s talents may not be a revelation for most EFL followers. But after missing more than a year of football with a nasty knee injury, in the past two seasons the 23-year-old left back has become a key component in one of the best sides in the Championship. There isn’t much between Richards and Henry, who also couples the pace and energy and attacking forays with defensive rigour — no player has blocked more crosses in the second tier. Henry has clocked up 170 appearances since Dean Smith handed him his debut for Walsall as a 17-year-old, and it was Smith who took Henry to the Bees in 2016, too. Do not be surprised if the Aston Villa manager is among Henry’s suitors again if Brentford fail to win promotion this season. Jason Knight, Derby County - Knight is perhaps the pick of a hugely talented bunch of Rams academy players — including forward Louie Sibley, 19; the midfielder, Max Bird, 20; and the left back, Lee Buchanan, 19 — who have become first-team regulars in the past two seasons. Knight, who can play anywhere across midfield or wide in a front three, is an outstanding ball carrier. The 19-year-old scored six goals last term and has two in 24 Championship starts this season. In the absence of goalkeeper and captain David Marshall, Wayne Rooney, the Derby manager, handed Knight the armband for the past three games, and has made no secret of his admiration for the Dubliner, who has three caps for the Republic of Ireland. “He’s very vocal, which is very rare for a young player these days. He gives everything in training — tackling, running, very similar to the way I was at his age,” Rooney said. “He’s the one — not just for the younger players in the dressing room, but the older lads — who others can look at. He gives you energy, desire, runs non stop.” Harry Pickering, Crewe Alexandra - Another left back! (Can you guess which position I played?) Anyway, Pickering, who has been a permanent fixture in Crewe’s defence for the past four seasons, deserves his place on this list. The academy graduate turned 22 last month and has already clocked up almost 150 appearances. Pickering has a wand of a left foot; his passing and crossing from both open play and set-plays are particular strengths. Crewe rejected a bid from Blackburn Rovers earlier this month. For now a Championship move appears likeliest for Pickering, who has chipped in with three goals and two assists in League One this season, but his ceiling may well be higher. Brennan Johnson, Lincoln City (on loan from Nottingham Forest) - Johnson has been a revelation for Lincoln this season and has drawn covetous glances from Premier League clubs in the process. The 19-year-old, who is the son of former Ipswich Town and Forest striker David Johnson, has a little bit of everything: skill, speed, swagger, and is a creator and scorer of goals. Johnson, who joined the Forest academy aged eight, has seven goals and seven assists in all competitions for Michael Appleton’s League One high-fliers this season and is hugely versatile, comfortable playing anywhere across the forward line. Johnson also made his debut for Wales in a friendly against USA in November. Joel Randall, Exeter City - If a player in League Two is making waves, chances are he plays for Exeter. Since the emergence of Matt Grimes (Swansea City), Ethan Ampadu (Sheffield United, on loan from Chelsea) and Ollie Watkins (Aston Villa) from the Grecians’ academy, Premier League clubs have poached a number of burgeoning talents before Exeter supporters got much of a chance to see them in first-team action. Randall’s path has been a little different. The fleet-footed winger has made an eye-catching breakthrough this season after five loan spells in non-League since 2018. The 21-year-old possesses wonderful close control, is comfortable with both feet and at home on either wing, and has scored eight goals and supplied five assists in all competitions this season. Charlton made an enquiry this month but were priced out, according to manager Lee Bowyer. Swansea City and Celtic have also been credited with interest. Randall is another from good stock: his father, Adrian, enjoyed a 14-year playing career with Bournemouth, Aldershot, Burnley, York City, Bury, and Forest Green Rovers." He later mentions two centre halves, Harry Souttar (Stoke) and Joe Worrall (Forest), along with Reading's Olise (who he did a piece on a couple of weeks ago and said would otherwise have been first on his list). 
    • I'm three tracks deep and just wanna say Treetops is an absolute banger.
    • People saying he should have passed it to Watkins are crazy, Watkins was further away from the goal than Jack was 
    • Nope. None of those will have been expecting Europe at the start of this season.  None of them will want to leave if we don't get it. Grealish may get more attention from other clubs if we're not in Europe, but he signed a 5 year deal presumably with an expectation of progressive sustained development.  A top half finish this season, some astute signings to top up depth and quality, and none of them will need or want to go anywhere else.   Edit: Luiz the exception to the above as if City trigger the buy back and we dont try and buy them out of it, he'll be going regardless of Europe or not i suspect.

  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of use Terms of Use, Cookies We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.