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Player Match Ratings: More players than thrills against Parma!


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Parma arrived at Villa Park with their season due to begin in three weeks time so we should have had a fitness edge over them although the pace at which the game was played did nothing to help demonstrate that. They finished last season sixth and we ended our season fifteenth but we are alike in one area we both have faced recent financial challenges. In their case this keeps them out of Europe this season and in our case our lack of financial support for the playing side threatens our place in the league.


There was little to see yesterday for those who were at Villa Park because neither team really got out of first gear and each seemed content to go through the motions. The game ended in a predictable stalemate with both camps seemingly happy enough about that. Very little happened in a tame first half and although we might have pinched a win in stoppage time the second half will be remembered for the incredibly high number of home substitutions (10) and for how one of these illuminated proceedings.                   


My player ratings from a game that too often resembled a training session are:


Brad Guzan – 7 – Not a particularly busy day at the office but what he needed to do he did well enough. Gathered a scuffed shot from Palladino easily on 9 minutes and kept out a 26th minute Biabiany effort at his near post. Brad also took the ball from the feet of Palladino on 56 minutes when he looked odds on to poke the ball home.                                                    


Alan Hutton – 7 – I had not expected to be giving him another rating in a Villa shirt but this may prove to be the first of many this season. He appears to have approached his departure from the bomb squad in which he had been languishing for so long with a surprisingly positive attitude. He showed determination and professionalism yesterday alongside an ability to get forward which if consistently matched with solid defending can make him an asset for us during this season rather than a drain on our balance sheet. Alan even found time to play a cheeky one-two off the corner flag on 70 minutes.                  


Nathan Baker – 5 – Not as frequently tested as he would be had he been playing 45 minutes next rather than this weekend. But he still took the opportunity to gain a customary booking on 17 minutes following another wild and late challenge that upended another opponent. He did however time a 42nd minute tackle well on the edge of the box before being replaced at half time.   


Philippe Senderos – 5 – Headed a free kick in on 16 minutes when unmarked because he was well offside. He can play the ball out of defence well enough unchallenged and can be a threat in the opponent’s box from dead balls but can he be solid enough in his own box and read the game well enough to compensate for his pace issues when the season begins for real?                     


Enda Stevens – 5 – Seemed to be keeping the shirt warm for our latest signing yesterday. A little surprising that he started and played most of this game but he did all that could have been reasonably anticipated of him and gave of his best as we have grown accustomed to from him.         


Charles N’Zogbia – 6 – Had a 41st minute shot from the edge of the box deflected over the bar. Looked reasonably effective on the wing on his return to the fold but will need further games to get up to speed and to see out games.        


Fabian Delph - 7 – Keeps things ticking in the middle and his game got better as the game progressed.                                


Ashley Westwood – 6 – A solid enough display but can be better than this.    


Kieran Richardson – 6 – Worked well enough in the middle and will become involved more often and with more end product as he settles in.       


Andreas Weimann – 5 – Misses Benteke more than most as they had a good understanding together. He works hard when it matters but needs to show more than he did yesterday now that the battle is due to commence for real. Andi needs to reproduce the goal threat that he demonstrated in our last home game of the season which guaranteed our safety in order to put what was a disappointing season behind him. He was fed by Gabby on 12 minutes and hit a decent shot which Mirante pushed out for a corner.            


Gabriel Agbonlahor – 5 – Made a couple of runs that ended with him taking a tumble and earning a free kick. He still has his pace to burn but his touch and finishing is lacking and we will need goals from him during the early months. Gabby will need to show he is prepared to work and to become involved throughout games rather than to drift into and out of them at will. Another who can do better.                     




Ron Vlaar – 7 – Replaced Baker for the second half and showed just what we fear we might soon be missing after this transfer window. He leads by example and we look a far better team with him than without him as was again the case yesterday.  


Jores Okore – 6 - Replaced Weimann on 64 minutes. He looks in need of games to blow the cobwebs away and to get him fully up to speed following his long injury. I would start him alongside our captain and another if necessary to secure a solid centre to our defence.   


Darren Bent – 6 - Replaced Senderos on 64 minutes and might have done what he does best namely score on the 91st minute when Grealish fed him inside the box and he rattled the crossbar with his shot. Needs to start for me to continue his rehabilitation.   


Jack Grealish – 7 – MOTM - Replaced Richardson on 64 minutes. Has a sweet touch and plays in a way that shows he is having fun and wants the ball to play with and to make things happen. Jack went on a mazy run inside the box on 78 minutes that led to a corner and played a sweet back heel for Bennett 3 minutes later before almost claiming an assist in stoppage time. Jack shows signs of real promise and of a player that can get the crowd on their feet on a regular basis in this and in coming seasons.     


Leandro Bacuna – Replaced N’Zogbia on 74 minutes. I had expected he might have got a full outing in this one. Did well enough in what time he had but did not do enough to collect a rating from this one.


Joe Bennett - Replaced Stevens on 74 minutes and was another to not earn a rating.


Gary Gardner – Replaced Delph on 82 minutes. Was unfortunately not given sufficient game time to merit a rating but I trust he will get his opportunities this season.


Karim El Ahmadi – Replaced Westwood on 82 minutes. Was not on long enough to earn a rating but did hit a shot wide of the post from the edge of the box on 89 minutes.    


Chris Herd - Replaced Gabby on 82 minutes. A welcome return to the playing side but Chris was also not on long enough to earn a rating.


Matthew Lowton – Replaced Hutton on 82 minutes and did not have time to earn a rating or to stake a claim for a shirt. Given we are not overflowing with players I would not be looking to farm him out just yet.       



Up the Villa!

John Lewis

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I had expected them both to be given 45 minutes yesterday or for Bennett to have had the lion's share of the game. I can see that the jury may be still out as far as which of these two options would be the most reliable when looking to use one of them as cover for our new signing.


It seems the manager may have either made his mind up or have wanted to have a proper look at Stevens yesterday before deciding which of the two to go for should that be a decision he has to make this weekend or later in the season. I myself had thought  Bennett would have been more likely to have got the nod yesterday and more often than not when a choice between these two options in isolation is required.  

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