Ultimate Aston Villa Player Ratings and Observations Preston Home

On what was a wet and miserable night, Steve Bruce may have sampled his last night at Villa Park. If the new majority owners consider one win in the last 10 games, as threatening Villa’s promotion potential, then it could be curtains for the Villa boss over the upcoming international break.

Bottom of the Championship Preston looked like a routine home win for Villa, when they were coasting at 2-0, after Kodjia and Abraham had both scored. A dubious penalty decision turned everything on its head though, resulting in both James Chester being sent off and the deficit reduced to 2-1.

Villa then sat deep and folded. Soon enough, they found themselves 3-2 down.

It seems Bruce’s Villa struggle equally to play with 10-men, as they do playing against 10-men.

If there’s one positive trait though that Villa have shown this season, it’s their willingness to battle to the end. This time they scored an injury-time equaliser and should have also added a winner with the last kick of the game, but for Glenn Whelan’s penalty miss.

In the end though, despite all the drama on the pitch, the limelight was taken by a potato and a cabbage.

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Villa Player Ratings vs Preston Home

Mark Bunn – 5

If things were going well at Villa, Bunn probably wouldn’t be at the club, even as a third-choice keeper. The fact he was actually starting a game tells you all you need to know about the level of the two keepers Bruce has brought in. The mistake riddled number one Nyland was benched, while our supposed number two, Andre Moreira, cut an isolated figure during the warm-up.

It started off as a quite night for Bunn, then as Villa collapsed after Chester’s dismissal, bar one decent save, he had a night to forget. I’m not quite sure what he was doing on the freekick Preston scored, his positioning was all wrong and the wall wasn’t set up properly.

Ahmed Elmohamady – 5

Chalked up an assist for Kodjia’s header, but was all at sea like his teammates when Villa were down to ten men.

Axel Tuanzebe – 6

At times was a little too eager and gave away cheap free-kicks early on. He certainly showed he could have done with a run of games in the position, as suggested in this column previously. Why play him at DM in the last cup game, when he could have got another game at centre-back under his belt? He struggled when it was him and Bree at the back. Did well to dig out an assist for Bolasie’s late equaliser though.

Alan Hutton – 6

Was having an easy night in the first half, but struggled in the second half. His Emile Heskey-like shot, that was heading for a throw-in before it was picked up, reminded us of the potential yin and yang of Hutton going forward.

James Chester – 5.5

Struggled to contain the physicality of Preston’s Lukas Nmecha throughout the game and got caught out giving the ref the option to blow for a penalty. Having viewed the incident back a few times on one camera view, it’s a tough call and would need a few VAR angles to look at it. A straight red though? Remind me of the triple punishment rules again…

Conor Hourihane – 6

Another match where he perhaps was Villa’s most consistent midfielder throughout the game, yet he showed little authority in the middle of the park, when it got tough with Villa a man down.

Jack Grealish – 6

Grealish had Preston on the back foot in the first half and always gave them something to think about. In the second half though, he seemed to disappear from sight. This was hardly a Dwight Yorke vs Newcastle performance, when Villa went down to 10-men then. There was little evidence of his billing as Villa’s main man. I would have liked to have seen him stepping up for the penalty.

John McGinn – 5

Not the kind of McGinn display that won him early plaudits this season, especially in the second-half when Villa had little resistance in the midfield. Normally, 10-men, if organised in two banks, are difficult to break down, not so Villa and McGinn didn’t seem to help his team hold any kind of shape.

Birkir Bjarnason – 6

Another one of the lost midfielders in the second half, although to his credit he did ‘win’ the penalty in the final seconds and served up a potential three points up on a plate.

Jonathan Kodjia – 6.5

Rose very well for his headed goal, but when Villa went down to 10-men and needed him to hold the ball up and be a one-man nuisance at the top of the pitch, he offered very little and was subbed. If he had made more of an impression, he may have still been on the pitch to take the penalty.

Tammy Abraham – 7 MOTM

Worked hard and his directness paid off with his goal. Looked good for more in the second half, but was sacrificed after the Chester sending off. We’ll give him the MOTM, simply because he could do nothing about his vanishing act from the pitch, when Villa went down to 10-men, unlike most of his teammates.

Off the Bench

James Bree (55) – 5

With little in terms of midfield resistance in front of him, he was swamped.

Yannick Bolasie (73) – 6

Ultimately, grabbing Villa’s late equaliser vindicated Bruce’s decision to bring him on for Villa’s sole striker. Bolasie should have then told Whelan, he was taking the penalty though.

Glenn Whelan (82) – 4

Only had four touches while he was on the pitch. His final one was the missed penalty. No Phil King unlikely penalty king moment for him, but why a player with one goal in the last seven seasons was taking a penalty, raises concerns over the temperament (and balls) of others in the team.

Manager Rating: 4

Dropping Nyland and ignoring Moreira, in favour of Bunn in goal, was the first talking point of the game, but an understandable decision (although it does not reflect well on Bruce’s judgment to get those keepers in the first place).  Losing Jedinak to injury was a blow, although Villa were initially coasting without him.

Yes, Bruce did get unlucky with the Chester sending off, but considering the times Villa have struggled to break 10-men down (especially for 87 minutes against Middlesbrough, 51 minutes against Ipswich and 20 minutes in the play-off final), it was very disappointing to see Villa wilt so quickly to be 3-2 down in front of their home fans.

What were the midfield doing? Bruce was obviously involved in the organisation of defending with 10-men here.

Maybe rather than turning his back on Villa’s last second penalty, Bruce should have made sure a player used to scoring more frequently than Whelan, took it? Bolasie, Grealish, or McGinn, maybe? He needed to win the game, his actions were too passive for my liking.



  1. Phew he’s gone. Well Iv been calling for his head since lat Christmas..whilst I have never doubted his commitment and desire, his failure to manage people including all those he signed except Mcginn has resulted in us being bankrupt with more frightening consequences to come. Hopefully , a new younger manager can come in and take us forward. Many of those in the betting are similar to Bruce with less success. Araldyce, pardew, o Neil, etc. Let’s look long term for a manager who will develope players not just replace them with lower quality while still paying the others.

  2. Why is he still in the job ? Does one win in ten threaten our promotion hopes, it’s a no brainer it already has and if Bruce is still her at the week end it’s going to be one in eleven, can’t believe our owners are letting this go on. Perhaps they have more money than sense.

  3. Bruce in.

    Thanks to him this season is already practically a write-off, and I wouldn’t think any manager with any kind of potential or ability to drive us forward (DSFFS) would EVER want to come in to this kind of mess during a season in progress. That’s the scenario that landed us this cabbage in the first place.

    No, let Bruce wallow in his own mess and deal with the problems he created. If he wants out, he can hand in his notice.

  4. I couldn’t believe it when Whelan stepped up to take it, Jack’s meant to be the main man, he has the most ability, he should be stepping up to score the winner at the holte end, not go and hide and let a defensive player do it, fair enough if he missed, its gotta be Jack or bolaise, if they miss then so be it, penalty’s are sometimes missed, but you really open your self to criticism when you let someone whos scored once in 7 years to take the peno.

  5. No recognised centre-back (singular, ladies and gents, because we only had one…) for the weekends game due to Chester’s suspension. Third choice goalie starting over two new signings, ten games into the season. 15 points after 11 games with a goal difference of +1. The inability to comfortably beat the worst team in the league at home, with our resources.

    Calamitous. Humiliating. Predictable.

    Bruce’s position in untenable and he needs to go. As this point, I’d suggest the cabbage couldn’t do much worse.

  6. Whilst an unusual game in terms of incedents the team selection the capitulation tactics substitutions etc were very predictable against bottom of the table. His half time team talk had the usual effect of giving the opposition 90% of the play that’s what caused the penalty and no ch for 3 games.
    How about this for a team.
    Nyland, De lait, Elphic yedinack, Taylor, Bolasie , El ghazi, Whelan , Adomah, and 2 20 goals season strikers in Hogan and McCormack up front.
    That team should piss the championship. Tishbola, Doyle Hayes, Lansbury, Davies, Moriera, O hare, green on the bench. Full of internationals and hugely successful at this level Leeds, Middlesbrough, etc would love that squad. And none of those started! Where’s the problem lie? Good riddance ” The Cabbage” . There or there abouts he must mean relegation. the points deduction he has created will hopefully come this season. And we still have enough points under the new manager to stay in this league. Surely he won’t be in charge Saturday. The worst thing is that the new owners should have know this was coming. 90% of the fans did.

  7. An innocent vegetable is lobbed at an incompetent vegetable. The half-baked potato is outraged. Unlike most burglaries, frauds & assaults the police are investigating. SB’s now elapsed time at Villa will be bracketed by Gate gate ending with Cabbage gate. When Granville is found can we crowd fund his defence?

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