Aston Villa Half-Term Report – 2023/24 Season

The Aston Villa Squad Half-Term Report

By Rob Carter

After a stellar start to 2023-24, its time to take a deep-dive into matters in Aston B6 to see who has pleased Headmaster Emery, and who is on the naughty step.

Playing Staff

Emiliano Martinez

The king of the wind-up, and to some extent the Crown Prince of Villa Park.  Villa’s most decorated player has not let anyone down this season, continuing to put in a string of superb performances.  It says a lot that we can remember his errors because they are so seldom.  Attitude counts for a lot when you’re chasing success, and this guy has it in spades. Long may it continue. 

Grade: A.  Future status – retain (at all costs).

Robin Olsen

Perhaps surprising to many that the beanpole Swede was retained in the summer, but to be fair to him his performances when called upon to deputise for Martinez (five appearances) have improved.  Many would still like to see an upgrade, but for now it seems like Olsen has the trust of Unai Emery and will be sticking around. 

Grade: C.  Future status – sell (for a more competent older/newer model)

Filip Marschall

Hard to judge a player on one appearance (especially a youngster), but Marschall was called upon to stand in away in Mostar and did ok, despite the odd wobbly moment. 

Grade: C.  Future status – retain.

Ezri Konsa

Mr Rolls Royce himself continues to display a calm authority and serene sense of unflappability.  Even Mr Southgate was eventually convinced to call him up for England (a few years too late), but it shows that Ezri’s star is rising.  Even when moved to the right side of a defensive five, he has coped admirably.  

Grade: A.  Future status – retain.

Diego Carlos

2023-24 felt like a make or break season for Diego, and he hasn’t disappointed, with some rugged and robust performances at the heart of defence.  Perhaps prone to more errors than his centre-back colleagues, but performs well more often than not.  When on song, his distribution has certainly been above average for a centre-back.

Grade: B.  Future status – retain.

Pau Torres

The Spaniard, brought into the club amidst much fanfare, has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water.  Calm, composed and possessing a wonderful passing range (89% pass completion to date), he has become one of the first names on the team sheet when fit, whilst also chipping in with two valuable goals.  When not available, he is missed.  A fantastic start.  

Grade: A.  Future status – retain.

Clement Longlet

Originally seen perhaps as a fringe player, Longlet has improved massively of late, deputising for the injured Torres and not looking out of place.  Again, a composed defender, with perhaps the only negative being a lack of pace.  A valuable squad member.  

Grade: B.  Future status – retain.

Matty Cash

Has perhaps the best song of all Villa Players, despite some inconsistent performances.  You can never accuse the Polish Cafu of not putting in 100% effort, but his passing is sometimes awry, and consistent rumours about Emery looking to upgrade at right-back won’t go away.  Despite all this, Cash has made 28 appearances, across all competitions, and weighed in with an impressive four goals.  

Grade: B.  Future status – retain.

Lucas Digne

The Frenchman has impressed hugely this season and must be one of the most improved players under Emery.  His crossing has gone to another level, and defensively he is as solid as they come.  Now he’s returning from his injury, there will be a real battle between Digne & Alex Moreno as to who is the number one left-back at the club.  A strong showing.  

Grade: B+.  Future status – retain.

Alex Moreno

The hamstring injury picked up at Anfield last season has restricted the Spaniard to just three Premier League starts, so far this season, but despite featuring off the bench the majority of the time, he has contributed two goals, and looked impressive.  He gives the team more attacking thrust than Digne, and for that reason many seem to prefer him to start, although he hasn’t reached the highs of last season yet, since returning.  A lovely player, though.  

Grade: B. Future status – retain.

Calum Chambers

The dictionary definition of ‘bit-part player,’ Chambers has only featured in the Europa Conference League this season and has apparently been told by Emery that he can leave the club in the January window.  Many would be ok with that decision.  

Grade: D.  Future status – sell.

Douglas Luiz

In all competitions, Luiz has made 30 appearances, scored seven goals, and contributed six assists.  Need we say more?  Another candidate for ‘most improved,’ the Brazilian is a vital cog in the midfield double-pivot and has upped his game to another level this season. Certainly if Villa finish outside the top four this season, Luiz will be one of the Villa players potentially targeted by other Premier League clubs in the summer. That said, it’s in his power to help Villa get one of the Champions League places.

Grade: A.  Future status – retain.

John McGinn

Sometimes it’s hard to find the words, but I’ll try.  This guy.  This wonderful Scottish slab of meat(ball).  Captain Fantastic was excellent in the second half of last season, but this term he seems to have taken his game to another level, adding more goals (seven, so far) and assists (four) to his extensive repertoire.  Has the potential to go down as a Villa legend, especially if come May he is raising a shiny silver trophy above his head or lead Villa into the Champions League.

Grade: A. Future status – retain.

Leon Bailey

What a difference half a season makes.  The mercurial Jamaican has morphed from potential game-changer off the bench into a dependable, skilful, and at times unplayable, winger.  Some of his performances have been mesmeric (especially Man City at home), and he is a guaranteed goal threat.  Nine goals and seven assists in all competitions tell their own story.

Grade: B+.  Future status – retain.

Leander Dendoncker

The Big Daddy has his critics among the Villa fanbase, but his role off the bench, which has helped chalk up 15 appearances (and 1 goal) in all competitions, this season, show that Emery has faith in the Belgian.  He’s never going to pull up any trees, but a useful squad player nonetheless.  

Grade: C.  Future status – retain.

Jacob Ramsey

An injury-ravaged season has seen ‘one of our own’ Ramsey restricted to just four Premier League starts this season, but there have been glimpses of his quality (remember his goal against Brighton?)  Some have questioned him recently, but a player who was a firm Unai favourite last term will surely shake off the rust and come again.  

Grade: B-.  Future status – retain.

Boubacar Kamara

Bouba is one of those players who is missed massively when unavailable, and when he is available, rarely puts a foot wrong.  A lynchpin of the team alongside Luiz in the midfield, the Frenchman is moving up through the gears this season.  A very clever & perceptive player.  

Grade: A.  Future status – retain.

Bertrand Traore

Bertie made some useful contributions at the end of last season, when he was recalled from his loan spell in Turkey, this season though, he’s been anonymous in his six appearances off the bench.  

Grade: E.  Future status – sell.

Youri Tielemans

Despite a slow start, Tielemans has won the fanbase over with a series of rugged and dynamic displays.  His partnership with Luiz & Kamara has blossomed, and he has the nous and discipline to fill in across every midfield position.  Right now, he looks an absolute steal on a free transfer and there’s no doubt a lot more to come from him.

Grade: B+.  Future status – retain.

Moussa Diaby

Rapid.  Absolutely rapid.  But Diaby can be so much more, as his five goals and four assists, so far prove. The French forward is currently experiencing a dip in form, but when he’s on his game, this guy can be electric, and he works well in tandem with his old Leverkusen team mate Bailey.  

Grade: B.  Future status – retain.

Nicolo Zaniolo

Oh Nicolo!  Despite the promise, the Italian has largely failed to live up to expectations.  Perhaps sometimes tries too hard and gets frustrated when things don’t come off.  If asked the question as to whether we should make the transfer permanent right now, most would probably decline.  Such a shame.  Still, if he features in the run-in, Villa will probably need him to step up, if they are to make the Champions League.

Grade: D+.  Future status – not at Villa Park.

Jhon Duran

A mystery within a riddle wrapped in an enigma.  The live wire Colombian is just as likely to get a red card as to smash a worldly in at the Holte End. There’s definitely a player in there, but there’s also the potential for literally anything to happen in the 20-year-old’s career. Ultimately, perhaps Duran is too raw to be relied on as the only back-up to Watkins.

Grade: C.  Future status – No idea!

Ollie Watkins

Despite not being the most natural finisher, Ollie has still managed to bag 14 goals this season in all competitions, with an impressive eight assists, getting himself back into the England reckoning to boot.  Never gives less than 100%, it’s hard to imagine Villa without him right now.  A superb start to the campaign.  

Grade: A. Future status – retain.

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Unai Emery

Hard to find the words. Unai retains God-like status in B6 for transforming a team of relegation battlers into one currently sitting firmly in the top four of the Premier League. He has done so with such humility and grace that it’s hard not to fall in love with him. The second half of the season promises to be a tougher test, so it’ll be an A+, if Villa finish in the Champions League places come the end of the season.

Grade: A.  Future status – retain (forever).


  1. there has to be a category of a player you tell your kids about. For me, it was Pongo Waring. The Stats are always there – and I was amazed when his record of 50 goals in a season was finally matched last season no one seemed to remember it. But the stories my Dad told me were more about a character that you turned up to watch just in case. Emi Martinez is in this category. He has not gone quite as far for us as he did for Argentina in the world cup, but he puts a smile on your face. Not since John Burridge – the much loved ‘flying pig’ – have we had a goalie who was worth the admission price alone – and Emi is a better goalie than Burridge was. But always likely to do something memorable. Wonderful character, long may he last.

    Trevor Fisher

    • You’re looking at more consistency for an A, I’d argue. He’s only started 9 PL games. Much improved and hopefully, he’ll get even better!

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