Ultimate Aston Villa Player Ratings vs Southampton at Villa Park

By Jonathan Parkin

The phrase ‘relegation six-pointer’ was legitimately banded about before the kick-off, with Villa sitting perilously above the relegation zone and Southampton just below them, by goal difference.

It was a game Villa could ill-afford to lose, considering the psychological blow of dropping into the relegation zone, instantly three points adrift.

Ralph Hassenhuttl’s men had recovered somewhat since their 9-0 loss to Leicester over a month ago, and Danny Ings came into the tie in hot goalscoring form. Dean Smith was looking for some kind of bounce back after a dire performance against a hard-battling Sheffield United team.

The League Cup Quarter-Final against Liverpool’s youth provided some relief and confidence. In reality however, this game was much more important. Winning in this would provide a springboard for the next two relegation scraps against Norwich and Watford.

The Villans managed to completely not turn up, in what was one of the worst performances to grace Villa Park in a good while. Minus Jack Grealish, I don’t think a single one of the players could genuinely be happy with how they played.

The midfield was far too open, and certain players floated through the game as if it were a friendly and not a turning point game in the season. The defence was bullied and consistently beaten by a hungry Southampton frontline. The injury to John McGinn and the inept refereeing display didn’t help matters, but that’s no excuse for the limp excuse of an effort put in by the players.

Much work is needed to improve, but it’ll be a surprise if Villa win all six points from the next two games.

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Player Ratings

Tom Heaton- 6

Tom Heaton made a few simple saves and his distribution was consistent. The issue was most of what he had to do was picking the ball out of his net. Heaton must be feeling very let down by the defence in front of him.

Frederic Guilbert- 4

Frederic Guilbert was erratic. He was over committed when bombing forward far too often as well as being weak in the air against Long and Ings. He also committed more fouls than any other member of the defence, showing that he was lacking in the tackling department too. He needs to learn to not commit forward as much when he has a defensively weak winger like El Ghazi in front of him.

Bjorn Engels- 4

Bjorn Engels was destroyed by Ings and Long all the way through the game. He was ineffective in the air when he needed to be and his lack of pace helped contribute to the scoring of the first goal.

Kortney Hause- 4.5

Kortney Hause was slightly better than Engels, but still not very good. His passing was below his standard of last season, mainly one dimensional aimlessly hoofs of the ball up the pitch, when no one offered him a simple pass. His aerial ability is decent and markedly superior to Engels, but he still wasn’t effective enough at getting the ball clear when Saints pumped it long.

Matt Targett- 4

Much like Guilbert on the other side, Matt Targett was particularly erratic. He had the poorest passing completion of any of the defence and the Villa faithful didn’t even get to see the positive attacking side of his game.

Douglas Luiz- 3

When he has space and the team is on the front foot, Douglas Luiz is a good player to have in the team. When everyone needs to dig in and defend, and show some grit, he is unbelievably ineffective. The Brazilian is still having a hard time adjusting from the amount of time he had on the ball in Spain, and it’s half way through the season. Every tackle Luiz attempted was a foul, which just about sums up the defensive side of his game.

Conor Hourihane- 2.5

Someone better put some posters up to help look for an Irishman by the name of Conor Hourihane. He was last seen at Villa park at three o’clock and then disappeared. He offered nothing to stop Saints storming through the pathetically weak midfield and he couldn’t even put in a good delivery from set pieces when needed. 

John Mcginn- n/a

John McGinn went off with an injured ankle after seven minutes, and it looks like it could be a long-term injury. It’s not good news for the boys in Claret and Blue, who are desperate for some inspiration. No one else in the midfield does what he does. It’s a shame because in the opening five minutes he looked really up for it.

Anwar El Ghazi- 1.5

It was pretty shocking that Dean Smith selected Anwar El Ghazi in the first place after his dismal performance against Sheffield United. This showing was somehow worse. He showed little to no effort when tracking back, leaving Guilbert stranded, and no desire to press. When he finally mustered up enough energy to get back and make a tackle just before being substituted, he gave away a foul on the edge of the Villa box. He put in one good cross in the game and tends to just run with his head down into players instead of looking up and offloading the ball.

Jack Grealish © – 7

Jack Grealish was having to do everything all by himself. It’s never a good sign when Jack is dropping between the centre-backs to collect the ball, it means the team can’t get the ball forward with any pace at all. His seven key passes and goal highlight how all the creativity in the team was coming from him. He must be feeling very frustrated right now.

Wesley- 6

Until Jonathan Kodjia came on, Wesley had very little support. He was putting in a real shift up front and it was actually one of his better games. The Southampton centre-halves were there for the taking and the Brazil international tried his best, and at times the ball was sticking to him. He really should have finished his chance early on in the first half however.

Off the Bench

Marvellous Nakamba (7) – 6.5

Marvellous Nakamba was having to run the midfield all on his own. He was putting out fires left right and centre, but he is one man at the end of the day. The midfield was weak, but that wasn’t down to a lack of effort from the Zimbabwean. He made a crucial error in passing to Ings for the third, but the ball should have been cleared much earlier before Marvellous came in and played it.

Jonathan Kodjia (55) – 6

Jonathan Kodjia actually showed a bit of desire and didn’t look too bad after he came on. He provided a bit of support for Wesley but it still wasn’t enough. The Villans attack after Kodjia came on consisted of lumps forward to Wesley and the Ivorian. It would be good to see Smith start with two up-front against Norwich.

Trezeguet (67) – 6

The substitution of Trezeguet for El Ghazi was greeted with ironic cheers from the stands, as most could see it was a much-needed change. While there is much room for improvement, Trezeguet offers effort as well as skill and if he’s allowed to start more games, he could become a real threat for Villa on the front foot. He tracks back well and has proved he has a goal in him.

Manager Rating

Dean Smith- 5

Apart from the baffling decision to start El Ghazi over Trezeguet, I think Dean Smith got his selection mostly right. He made the right changes also, besides McGinn as that was forced, but made them much too late. There doesn’t seem to be a solid plan b for the team and though McGinn’s injury threw a spanner in the works, it shouldn’t completely cripple the team’s ability to play. Smith needs to have a bit of a rethink.

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  1. I think my biggest concerns have already been mentioned. I have always rated Terry as a player, arguably one of the best CB of the recent era, but I cannot see what he or Smith, also a CB are playing at. The defence has good players, but jesus we are naive and poor. It wouldnt be so bad of we scored lots, but playing el ghazi who is the laziest back tracker and leaves Guilbert open to onslaught is suicide, twinned with wide players to whip crosses in which osnt Wesley’s strength…. why buy a player to ask.him to play like you instead of someone to slot into your style..baffling

    And Smith has no plan b… if this was his first ever season as a manager I’d let him.off but hes been managing years… and clearly has no alternative style.of play or tactics…. naivety of the highest form and we are rightly being punished. Time to try a bit more pulis and a lot less pep….. survival.is THE only target and we should leave trying to play fancy football until we have a solid foundation and few more points me thinks.

  2. MOMS: “Smith needs to have a bit of a rethink”- You think???? Look at the inexperienced Lampard. Chelsea were on a bad run (almost as bad as Villa’s) and he had the balls to change his formation and drop “regulars” in Jorginho and Pulisic. That is what decent managers do. DS keeps beating a dead horse with his failed formation and tactics (proof- we’ve lost ELEVEN games!!). Bring in Chester for leadership at the back and load up the midfield with 4 or 5 players focusing on defense. Try a 4-4-1-1 or a 3-5-1-1 with Captain Jack in a free role. He can support and supply chances to Wes. Must get at least 7 points from the next 3 games. Otherwise time to bring in Rafa… Cheers.

  3. I am not sure he did get the Mcginn substitution right, it left us with 4 midfielders on the pitch that want to play in front of the CB’s. Maybe Grealish should be brought back inside and be told to stop dropping so deep and start Trezeguet who seems to bring some enthusiasm. Wesley needs help up top but really should have done better with that chance.

  4. Wesley embarrassing…ds out of his depth no plan b..
    Negligence in summer by ds..
    125 on average unproven players..
    22 on the worst forward I’ve ever known at vp..

  5. Most worrying thing for me was the lack of heart. Saints won every 50 50 ball, because they wanted it more. No ideas apart from “give it to Jack”, and I haven’t seen Wesley win a header all season. Worrying.

  6. What I find strange is that the pre- season look at Wesley showed him scoring goals when balls were played along the floor for him to run onto. Nowhere were there soaring leaps and headed goals! Give him some support, play to his so called strengths. What did the coaching staff see to warrant the fee. Can you imagine if Vardy had joined Arsenal? He would never have scored with their playing style.

  7. Iv been calling for Conors recall as he occasionally hurts teams. But he was useless but not as useless as the rest of midfield. Apart from the goal grealish makes far too many bad decisions. Never a 6 performance. Yes Wesley at least put some effort in but Kodja achieved more in 20 mins than he did in 90. And probably as much goal threat as Wesley’s last 6 games. But as no one gives him the ball or supports him it’s not surprising. We bought a silly amount of players apart from Heaton and El hammadys relegation non have any premiership experience. A fatal error in recruitment and not having a proven striker. I said in close season we need a Danny ings or a Chris Wood. We bought so many ayers who were no better than we had. 8 Iinernationals the reserves had against Liverpool! Like Bruce Smith has too many options all of a similar level and all overrated. What the hell are we paying John Terry for when u look at our defense? Saturday we looked like a team already resided to relegation. Need 3 wins out of 3 to turn it round and that looks like an impossibility

  8. I always consider MOMS as one of the best AVFC real blogs around but to rate Conor at 2.5 is an absolute joke, hang your head inshame “my old man said”

    • The score was the individual writer’s opinion, who in MOMS opinion was very harsh, but ultimately, the performance wasn’t good enough, which is the main thing. The number, ultimately doesn’t matter.

  9. Wesley and Nakamba were shocking. How anyone could give them the rating here beggars belief !

  10. I agree with a lot of what Greg says, but it may be too late already. Buying young for the future is ok but we should have first secured our present. Cahill,Defoe,Austin and many more proven”older players” we’re passed up who could and probably would have helped secure our survival for at least this season and a couple more Scots who would walk through fire for their team and team mate would help, work permit means just that. Feel for Heaton and Grealish they can’t do it alone. Come on guys show some spirit and fight an prove us all wrong before It’s too late. UTV.

  11. People seem to forget that we were the 5th best team in the championship last season and that was only due to a 10 match winning streak, so I think the expectations of some fans are unrealistic. The team and club are slowly being rebuilt from the sorry state it was left in after extremely poor management from both the Lerner and Xia regimes. The aim this season should be purely to stay up. Anything above that would be a great achievement.

    Most of our players haven’t played in the premier league, considered to be the most competitive in the world, so they need time to get used to playing with new team mates and against tougher opponents. The abuse and ironic cheers that both Hourihane and more recently El Ghazi have received are not helpful and are in fact counter productive.

    Dean Smith is also learning and has made some errors : not getting another striker in during the summer, leaving Wesley up front on his own and not having a plan B. However, there are too many knee jerk reactions from the fanbase. I was angry as much as anyone else after the match yesterday. It was certainly one of the worst performances I’ve seen under Smith. He’s allowed a few of those though isn’t he? Yes it was a 6 pointer yesterday and we were outplayed for the whole game, but I’m sure that Smith will make changes. The fact that he put Kodjia and Wesley up front together towards the end and we looked more lively will give him food for thought.

    Dean Smith has himself said that we’ll have a better 2nd half of the season once players have had time to settle and gel with one another. Just look at last season for evidence of that.

    I just hope that our fanbase (which like any other club can be fickle at times) stick with Smith and the players and offer support rather than getting on their backs. We don’t want a repeat of previous seasons where the players were scared of playing at Villa Park.

  12. We couldn’t travel to the game so had the pleasure of listening to Charlie Nicolas commentating. Although to be fair he was pretty honest saying the same as the majority. El Ghazi is chasing goals so really isn’t thinking logically meant no everyone around him is dealing with the fallout. Trezeguet when starting does a decent job but comes on as a sub and seems to panic. Now I like Macamba,yes he can give the ball away but let’s be honest who isn’t at the minute. McGinn needs a decent recovery time. Maybe they should start Kodjia upfront with Wesley, miracles might happen. Hourihane is and always has been fantastic player, his issue is frustration having to babysit. We need Mings back, get Chester in to steady the boat at the back. Finally what’s frustrating for me is listening to goals being scored by our youngsters like Hepburn-Murphy, O’Doyle for other teams, GET THEM BACK!!

  13. ⁰we have let in so many goals. He doesnt track back like you think. He keeps passing to opposition. A waste of money. So over rated. Hourihane again was put out to dry by Smith to accommodate Useless Nakamba. Hourihane had no position. So dont blame Conor. He plays great when in rightful position. Jack was 10/10. Class above anyone on that pitch. Watch the 94 minutes back – you may change your ratings. MOTD highlighted how poor Nakamba was.

  14. Grealish is shit, im a villa supporter but the sooner people realise that he is just a luxury player the better. How is he beyond critism , captain fantastic! !!

  15. Unacceptable performance from team and manager why keep on playing Wesley sorry to say this but neither he or DS up to PL standard, half of the season gone our league position tells you everything, defence is laughable, and we are lightweight upfront with no threat. Only jack looks interested, so unless something drastic happens rapidly which includes Signing a goal scorer, I see us going straight back down.

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