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John

Player Match Ratings: A Nightmare before Christmas!

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We had an unwelcome visit from the ghost of relegations past yesterday. This was our fourth successive league defeat. Unsurprisingly that grim losing run has left us in the bottom three, facing a relegation fight and a possible Fulham-like immediate return to the Championship.                 

In earlier games this season, we could blame VAR for some unjust decisions and rightly claim that we were not getting the points that some of our performances merited. In our last home game, we could point to the fact that we were up against a team in Leicester, who were on the crest of an unbeaten run and thus being outplayed in defeat against them, did not quite seem to be a harbinger of potential doom. The same cannot be claimed, after being outplayed by a team that started the day three points behind us and that won a game that both teams could not afford to lose, way too easily  

This crucial run of three games, that could set the tone for the rest of this season, could not have started any worse. Nine points from the games against the teams that occupied the relegation places, before yesterday’s abject defeat, could have pulled us clear of them. We must now get something from both of our next two games to prevent Norwich and Watford, pulling us back towards them.

We went into this run of games already without Tyrone Mings, who is both inspirational and undoubtably, one of our three most consistent performers. Yesterday a cruel early injury, robbed us of a second of them. Captain Jack has now to lead a team that has fast grown bereft of confidence, to show a determination to compensate for the absence of their two teammates, in the next two vital games we have remaining this year.        

We started slowly again yesterday, as we had done against Liverpool, but this time it was our visitors that scored the crucial first goal. Our heads dropped all too readily following that opening goal. We badly missed John McGinn when injury robbed us of his strong running and competitive edge. I also wonder why we chose to replace him, after only 8 minutes, with a second holding midfield player in a game that we needed to win. Jack was on the periphery of things, wide on the left and surely, he then needed to be moved into the middle, where he would have had a greater involvement in the game.       

There was a distinct lack of Christmas cheer to be had at Villa Park for home supporters yesterday. Our visitors were of course happy to receive our gift of three points, but they had perhaps not quite been expecting to have them handed to them on a plate. It is said that it is better to give than to receive, few of us were of that opinion as we left the ground, after this game!         

My player ratings from a game that we need to put behind us and learn from are:

Tom Heaton – 6 – Did well to get right hand to Long’s 21st minute shot from inside of the box, but the ball was pushed into the path of Ings for their opening goal. Prevented Ings from getting a hat-trick when he pushed his 84th minute shot to his left and was relieved when Hojbjerg blasted the resultant loose ball over. He then made a save low to his left from Hojbjerg 4 minutes later.       

Frederic Guilbert – 4 – Had a shot helped over the bar by McCarthy’s right-hand in the 3rd minute of first half stoppage time, having been found by Grealish on the edge of the box.       

Bjorn Engles - 4 – Looked a shadow of the player that played so convincingly alongside Mings in earlier games during this season. Was far too easily outpaced by Long, as he ran onto a pass from Redmond that led to their first.        

Kortney Hause – 5 – The best of our defenders during this one. Coolly chested a Long header down for Heaton to collect on the goal line, with Ings behind him on 26 minutes               

Matt Targett – 4 – Let Ings run past him as they both ran into the box for their first. Both full backs struggled at the back on Saturday.               

Anwar El Ghazi – 3 – McCarthy blocked his 15th minute attempt to turn in a Targett cross at the far post. Made a half-hearted at best challenge on Stephens, when marking him at the corner from which he headed their third. Anwar produced one of those infuriating displays yesterday, when he seemed to lack the determination to try to get into the game and to make a positive impression upon it.         

John McGinn – Substituted after only 8 minutes due to injury, not therefore on long enough to gather a rating.       

Douglas Luiz – 5 – Hit a 27th minute shot from the edge of the box wide of the left-hand post, having been found by Grealish.              

Conor Hourihane – 4 – We expect much more from him, but he was not alone in that yesterday.          

Jack Grealish – 7 – MOTM – Hit our consolation goal on 75 minutes and hit another shot from a similar spot in the 94th minute that moved in the air, which McCarthy pushed out for a corner. His fine goal was the one bright spot in a gloomy afternoon at Villa Park. He chested the ball down, which took one bounce before he hit a sweet shot from the edge of the box into the top right-hand corner.                       

Wesley – 3 – Hit a 19th minute El Ghazi cross wide of the post, which was the way he was facing, rather than turn it towards goal and he was also unable to direct a 37th minute header from an El Ghazi cross towards goal. Headed a corner wide of the post from a 65th minute corner. He lacks confidence, wasn’t provided with a lot of service and didn’t go looking for the ball too often either. At times held the ball up and moved it around but he needs to make a bigger contribution in games like this, that tend to pass him by all too easily. The ball is not his friend on the ground or in the air, particularly when he is inside or near to the area and goals do not seem to be his forte.             

Substitutes:

Marvelous Nakamba – 3 - Replaced McGinn after just 8 minutes. Another player who having shown outstanding early promise, currently is producing something other than marvellous displays. His awful touch on Redmond’s cross presented the ball to Ings for their third on 51 minutes and when the resultant loose ball fell to their striker on the edge of the 6-yard box, the result was all too inevitable. 

Jonathan Kodjia - 5 - Came on for Hourihane on 56 minutes and looked worthy of a start soon. 

Trezeguet – 5 - Replaced El Ghazi after 68 minutes. In the absence of Conor, he hit an 80th minute free kick from the left edge of the box that was gathered by McCarthy.

Stay up Villa and Merry Christmas to all Villa Talkers!

John Lewis

 

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The ball is not his friend on the ground or in the air, particularly when he is inside or near to the area and goals do not seem to be his forte.             

The most elegant way I've ever seen saying a striker is shit. David Mitchell'esque 😂

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Thanks John, reading your version is exactly how i remember the game pinpointing all the necessary shortcomings of what was an atrocious performance from us.

I wholeheartedly agree that mistakes were made when bringing the subs on too. Putting Nakamba on for McGinn was a poor move. For me he should have moved Grealish into the centre & brought Elmo on on the right of midfield, who played well in midweek i felt and would have added a bit more experience in such a crucial fixture, whilst changing formation into a 4-4-2 with Targett, Hause, Engels & Guilbert across the back four, ElGhazi, Hourihane, Luiz & Elmo across midfield & Grealish at No.10 position with Wesley ahead of but near him.

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