Ultimate Aston Villa Player Ratings as Villa’s Relegation Destiny Stiffens After Wolves

By Jonathan Parkin

Aston Villa vs Wolves

If the first three games back since the restart had offered up uncertain performances by Aston Villa, a win against their high-flying Midlands neighbours Wolves, would have certainly jolted their survival campaign into life. Villa would have finished the weekend out of the bottom three and three points clear of the drop zone.

To achieve that, Villa had to contain the impressive Wolves and find a gear or two extra going forward.

After calling for two strikers for what seems like an age, Dean Smith finally gave the Villa faithful what they desired. Keinan Davis took the place of Trezeguet to make the partnership up front with Ally Samatta, and Marvelous Nakamba and Conor Hourihane took the places of John McGinn and Anwar El Ghazi. A four-man Villa midfield with no wingers meant width would have to come from the full-back positions, although Smith persisted with Ezri Konsa in the right-back role. With Adama Traore starting on the bench, at least Matt Targett could focus on getting into the Wolves half to support attacks.

While the Villa backline initially marshalled the dual threat of Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez well, but for a moment of craziness from Orjan Nyland, there were few clear cut chances for the visitors. At the other end though, once again Villa struggled to get any urgency or momentum in their game going forward.

While Villa continued to look pedestrian offering up very little spark, the introduction of the dangerous Adama for Wolves had instant impact as Leander Dendoncker scored at the end of a well-worked moved.

After going behind the boys in claret and blue looked defeated, devoid of ideas, and also seemingly not particularly bothered about the predicament they found themselves in. A Douglas Luiz shot from 30 yards was about the best attempt the Villans could muster. Even with only minutes to go, there was little movement up front, and a complete lack of any desire. The players ambled forward on the attack as if they didn’t realise the club’s status in the Premier League was at stake.

Most Villa fans would probably bite your hand off for a chance to stay up on the final day against West Ham, and really that seems the best that anyone can hope for. Jack Grealish looks defeated and nowhere near his best, and other than Douglas Luiz and the improved organisation of the backline, the rest of the squad seems to have regressed considerably since the restart.

Player Ratings

Orjan Nyland – 5

Orjan Nyland wasn’t tested a great deal by the Wolves forwards (hat tip the improved defensive organisation). He created his own problems with his poor handling though. Early on he near dropped a soft Raul Jimenez header at the attacker’s feet, and the less said about his attempt to throw the ball the better. The confidence in him, he did well to win back from fans after his injury, is fast dissolving.

Ezri Konsa – 6

Villa looked relatively organised at the back, and didn’t have too much grief from Jonny Otto down the Wolves left. This was largely due to the good work of Ezri Konsa defensively. The 22-year-old didn’t offer much going forward however, other than one cross.

Kortney Hause – 6.5

Other than the attack for the Wolves goal, the Villa defence wasn’t tested particularly by the hard-working Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota. Kortney Hause did his bit with some reasonable defending. He also provided one of the only Villa attacking threats, despite this his headers from set pieces never seem to find the target.

Tyrone Mings – 6

Like with the rest of the Villa defence, Tyrone Mings had a decent enough game. He got across to make a couple of good tackles when Wolves looked to get in behind. He did however, fail to close down Jonny as the wing-back sprinted straight into the heart of the Villa defence to set up the Wolves goal.

Matt Targett – N/A

Matt Targett didn’t have a chance to have an impact on the game before being substituted due to injury after 10 minutes. It’s a shame because when Villa have played well this season, Targett is normally a key part of that. Though relying on a player who gets injured so frequently, isn’t the best policy.

Douglas Luiz – 6.5 MOTM

Brazilian Douglas Luiz was once again Villa’s best performer. He filled in for defenders at the back when the defence was pulled out of shape, and spread the play well. The one fault in his performance was failing to take down Adama in the move leading up to the Wolves goal, a tactical foul was necessary when the visitors were breaking so quickly.

Marvelous Nakamba – 5.5

Though Marvelous Nakamba did run around a lot before being substituted in the 81stminute, he didn’t do an awful lot, particularly when Villa looked to get forward. The ball stops when it gets to the Zimbabwean, and in a team that is slow to get forward at the best of times, that really dents the attack effort.

Conor Hourihane – 5.5

Much like with Marvelous Nakamba, Conor Hourihane didn’t do a great deal in the centre of the park. He had a good chance in the first half, but he failed to elevate the ball over the legs of the diving Wolves defender. This lack of influence by Hourihane and Nakamba was most likely due to Villa’s more direct approach to the game.

Jack Grealish © – 5

Super Jack Grealish is in danger of fast losing his ‘super’ moniker, if he keeps this level of lacklustre performance up. One run and shot in the first half showed more of the directness that is expected from Villa’s star man, but he didn’t build on the promising start. The midfield maestro kept dropping deep to collect the ball, where he can’t hurt the opposition, and he rarely if ever makes runs in behind the striker, which is desperately needed when playing direct football. He seemingly wants more time on the ball than he has got, and so as a result Villa’s attacks faultered time after time, as he either slowed the pace of the game or gave the ball away.

Keinan Davis – 6

It was a confusing decision by Dean Smith to take Keinan Davis off and leave Ally Samatta on. Davis was working his hardest and did well to challenge the Wolves defenders and hold up the ball on several occasions. The service to the strikers was poor, and Davis did his best to make something from it.

Ally Samatta – 5.5

Ally Samatta didn’t look at all threatening, even when the Tanzanian was given space in the box to attack by a rare Willy Boly mistake. The striker rarely ran the channels and found himself dropping far to deep to come and get the ball. Samatta is making it far too easy to defend against him, his lack of movement and strength on the ball mean he has very little impact.

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Off the Bench

Neil Taylor (10) – 6

Despite the BT commentary team talking up the tough test for Neil Taylor against Adama when he came on, the full-back did an admirable job at dealing with the Spaniard. Throughout the rest of proceedings Taylor put in a solid, if unspectacular shift at left-back. The Welshman even mustered up a nice low pass into Jack Grealish in the box, in the second half.

John McGinn (59) – 5.5

After coming off the bench in the 59th minute, John McGinn was mostly anonymous. He drifted out to the right-hand side when Villa were on the attack, but his crosses, bar one, were poor and didn’t challenge the Wolves defence.

Ahmed Elmohamady (59) – 5.5

Ahmed Elmohamady was presumably brought on for Konsa to add some extra attacking impetus for Villa down the right. The change did not have the desired effect. Elmo’s crosses were few in number, and lacking in quality.

Anwar El Ghazi (81) – 5.5

Anwar El Ghazi came on and failed to improve the lethargic Villa attack. Excluding one cross, he only succeeded in giving the ball away and committing stupid fouls. He had enough of the ball in his brief cameo to make an impact, but he didn’t.

Trezeguet (81) – 4.5

Trezeguet had one touch, as soon as he came onto the pitch, and that was the only time he touched the ball. It’s almost as if the Egyptian was trying to avoid the ball. Villa were going forward for the majority of the time that he was on the pitch, so to have such little impact when dynamic attacking play is needed is baffling.

Manager Rating

Dean Smith – 4.5

The positive for Dean Smith was that the defence looks much better organised than earlier in the season. Despite this, the negatives heavily outweigh the positives. The players don’t look fussed that the team is performing badly, and they don’t react other than to lower their heads when they go behind. The attack is as sharp as a spoon, with players standing like statues waiting for someone else to take the initiative and do something, instead of themselves.

Villa fans want to at least see some fight and effort, but the displays have been pathetic and show minimal effort all round. A defeat in isolation to this talented Wolves team is not the end of the world, but it’s the manner of the performance that is the big concern. Such toothless attacking displays have underlined all of Villa’s performances since the restart, and it’s a recipe for relegation.


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  1. FBH, The anxiety,frustration, almost desperation, in your piece is palpable and I am sure we all echo your feelings. I remember playing in the streets of Aston as a fanatical 9 year old Villa fan in 1957 as news of the Villa victory was released from the only house in our street that had a television, we didn’t even have electric let alone a radio. The feeling of utter joy is felt to this day, and I would feel the same emotion if we can somehow manage to survive this season. Pongo Waring, (dad’s favourite) Johnny Dixon, Charlie Aitken, Peter Withe echoes from the past, come on Jack add your name to the list. UTV

  2. DS and JT need to get their fingers out and MOTIVATE this squad. We only need 7 points. All other teams in the relegation battle keep failing to muster points, so we just need to raise our game and steal some points from somewhere (Palace/Arsenal/ Hammers). 6 freaking games to save this AWFUL season. DS needs to use his squad. Get some speed up front w/ Vassilev. Play a 4-1-4-1. Keep a ruddy clean sheet and nick a goal. At least TRY!

  3. Watford are on target for 33 points. Bournemouth and West ham, even with game in hand, and villa 32. So it is possible still. But motivation is terribly lacking both on and off the pitch. All 4 are playing like they are already down. But 2 will survive with a freak result or 2. We should have beaten both Liverpool and Man Utd. But we will never score without passing the ball quickly. Grealish does not know when to release and when to drive forward and maybe shoot. There is no running off the ball. The defence just boots the ball upfield. That’s not ability its what they are told to do and what they have the confidence to do. That’s the managers job.

  4. Would the prem s most fouled player want to leave is home club ? He looked absolutely shattered for much of yesterdays match , but would he fair any better @ another club ? And that could be a major factor in whether another club might bid for him As for next season there are a few players on loan / in the U23’s who might figure .But the season is not over yet & despite the poor results there has been a steady improvement in performance. which is the converse of the teams around us .so there is still hope for survival

  5. Cani ask for your opinion guys I don’t see Man U paying 80 m for Jack even their fans only rate him as worth 40m tops, I can understand our owners saying 80m not a penny less because they don’t need to sell. I can’t see Jack asking for a transfer from his boy hood club , I can understand If we go down that Jack will want to leave and is capable of playing at a much higher level so where does that leave us, unless of course he goes abroad and we get the 80m, and David yes I hear what you say I just get teed off with it all but at the end of the day generations of my family have been Villa fans as have I so having calmed down a bit I’m still hopeful especially as the teams around us are just as bad hopefully worse and keep doing us favours. Let’s hope Liverpool play the kids.

  6. Three cheers for the Saints, we are constantly being thrown lifelines, but for how much longer, we have to dig in and save ourselves and that starts with another chance next Saturday v Liverpool, impossible I hear you say but hope springs eternal and where it is, there is always a chance, but we must show more desire, far to many players are ambling around, the build up to the Wolves goal could and should have been snuffed out long before they got near to our box but our players seemed content to jog alongside the opposition rather than put in a challenge. Come on Villa you can do better than this, let’s show some balls and get stuck in, in all areas of the pitch winning is a mentality, but so is looking, so let’s blow out our chests, fill our famous shirts and from somewhere pick up 3 points, it is not impossible. UTV Come on Colin don’t give up just yet.


  8. The players have given up, we have lacked a goal threat all season, our recruitment has been shocking given the amount of money spent, the whole thing is sad and unacceptable we have Terry and the worst defensive record in the league, our two up front Davis and Samatta couldnt hit a barn door, I don’t like being so critical but how many goals have they scored between them, I think DS is a decent person but way out of his depth, I just don’t want to think about it much more it just gets more and more depressing and where we go from here I have no idea.

  9. I also agree with much of that . What I would say is that playing 2 up front can be effective in disturbing the oppositions defence , Trouble was that is all the 2 strikers did as for much of the time they played like 2 lone strikers instead of linking up when one had the ball & Jack did little to support them either

  10. I cannot disagree with any of this review.

    The dreaded drop now looks inevitable. Not so much due to the remaining fixture list, but more due to the current performance level.

    In a funny old way, I do wonder if the side might become better balanced next year minus Grealish. Despite his talent, we seem to compromise our set up somehow.

    I anticipate another large player change this close season, mainly to recoup funds and with only a few additions likely to come in. The wide areas really look in need of work.

    Next season could prove interesting, but please not with Terry in control.

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