Ultimate Villa Player Ratings and Reviews for the Vicarage Road Shocker

By Jonathan Parkin

Villa Serve Up a Shocker

The decade came to a close for Aston Villa at Vicarage Road, with them losing another ‘must win’ match, against Watford. The boys in claret and blue looked to build on a battling performance against Norwich, that still had plenty of room for improvement, but put in a performance that was farcical.

Dean Smith had changed the starting XI yet again – Jota, Hourihane and Lansbury came in, and Jack Grealish moved out to the left again. This was a puzzling decision by Smith as Grealish played better as a number ten against Norwich.

The performance served up by the Villans was a mess of misplaced passes, stupid fouls and lazy pressing. When you’re 1-0 down and then get a golden opportunity to get back into the game, after the opposition go down to 10-men, but then lose 3-0, it’s bad. Villa proved that they deserve to be in the relegation zone, and are lucky to not be lower.

The changes to the line up did nothing to fix the problems seen in the Norwich match, and if anything made them worse. The only question remaining is when will the players realise the situation that they’re in?

You can’t float through games and expect to win. It’s embarrassing to be a Villa fan right now after showings like this. The fans back the players with their support wherever they go, but Villa currently have the poorest away form in the league. This time, the best the players can give back is a game where a 3-0 Villa loss feels a little harsh on Watford.

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Player Ratings

Tom Heaton- 6

Tom Heaton did what he could to stop a tirade of goals from going in. 40 seconds in he was forced into action, and that was a sign of things to come. He did his best to stop the first Deeney Goal, but got a bit unlucky, Konsa shouldn’t have put him in that position in the first place.

Ahmed Elmohamady – 4

After an unspectacular performance for the right reasons on Boxing Day, Ahmed Elmohamady put in an unspectacular performance for all the wrong reasons. He offered nothing going forward other than the occasional over or under hit cross, and his defensive work was lacking.

Ezri Konsa – 4

Villa went 1-0 down because of a foolish pass from Ezri Konsa while under pressure. Through the 90 minutes, Troy Deeney dominated the defence, and Konsa just offered nothing to stop him. His passing other than the mistake was ok, but that kind of error is inexcusable.

Kortney Hause – 5

Once again Hause was dominant in the air, winning more aerial duels than any other player. That is about where the positives stop however, he failed to at all track Sarr for the third goal, and his passing was uninspired as ever.

This combo of Hause and Konsa wouldn’t have been in the first XI, if they were in the squad let season in the Championship, which spells out where Villa are at.

Matt Targett- 3.5

Matt Targett is made of glass. Every game he spends a period of the game down injured, it just so happened that he went down perfectly to play Troy Deeney onside before the Watford penalty. The defensive side of his game just isn’t good, but usually he makes up for it with his attacking play, he didn’t this time.

Douglas Luiz- 3.5

After a hard fough performance against Norwich, it seemed as if Douglas Luiz had turned a corner. How mistaken everyone was, he was back to stupid fouls galore and bad touches to give the ball away. He just won’t adjust to the fast English game, and showing one or two decent touches every now and again doesn’t make you a good player.

There was also no need for him to barge into Deeney in the way he did for the penalty, a schoolboy error that completely took the game away from Villa.

Conor Hourihane – 4

Yet another poor game for Conor Hourihane. When the team doesn’t play well, he doesn’t play well. He did relatively well to spread the play early on from the base of midfield and his 88% pass completion shows his passing was tidy enough. Despite this his complete unwillingness to be hard in the tackle and horrific set piece delivery meant he was completely ineffective in the more defensive role that Smith put him in.

Henri Lansbury – 4

Certain people keep saying Lansbury should get more game time to show how good he is. He has now had a couple of chances against Sheffield United and Watford, and he’s added nothing at all. In this match at least he had some energy, but that was about it. His terrific range of passing that he’s shown in the cup is suddenly nowhere to be seen. His five unsuccessful touches to give the opposition possession is higher than any other Villa player, and he didn’t even play the full 90.

Was playing for a mid-table Championship team while with Forest, perhaps his true level?

Jota – 3.5

Jota is another player who has wasted his chance to secure a place in the starting XI. He did diddly squat in the first half, and was deservedly hauled off at half time. It’s hard to remember a single thing he did. Only 15% of Villa’s first half attacks came down the right, that says it all.

Jack Grealish © – 5.5

The Villa tactic is currently, give it to Jack Grealish and pray. He’s the only player that can conjure something up out of nothing, and the only player with a bit of intent to take on a man. He looked frustrated in the second half and that effected his play, some wayward shots and crosses. No matter how much he complains, he was at fault for the third goal, his pass was awful and he needs to learn when to go down and when not to.

Wesley – 4

If Wesley stuck away his chance in the first half the game could’ve been much different. Watford were still fragile, and a goal against the run of play would have thrown them. Instead, his poor finish came back to hurt the Villans. He didn’t even work that hard, which is what has been the one good element of having him on the field in recent times.

Off the Bench

Anwar El Ghazi (45) – 4

Anwar El Ghazi is like a Grizzly bear. This isn’t because of his fight and determination, it’s because he hibernates during the winter. He was bad in the winter months of last season, and the same is happening again. He had as few ideas as the rest of the team after coming off the bench. He gave the ball away constantly and his crossing was dreadful, every cross he attempted was unsuccessful.

Frederic Guilbert (67) – 5

Ran about a bit after coming off the bench at 2-0, but the game had already slid in Watford’s favour by that point. He did little to inspire, and his one attempted cross was straight at the first man.

Jonathan Kodjia (72) – 4

Added nothing to the Villa frontline other than the ability to give the ball away cheaply. Scoring against children is a lot easier than getting a goal in the Premier League, and Kodjia has proved that.

Manager Rating

Dean Smith – 4

The change of putting Jack back on the left wing was a ludicrous one by Dean Smith. Yes, the wingers had been poor against Norwich, but Jack had been so much better with the free role in the centre.

At half-time the players needed a rocket up them, and Smith’s harsh words clearly didn’t have the desired effect.

There seems to be little Plan B other than throwing on Kodjia for a midfielder. The current players are too nice, you can play nice flowing football when you’re better than teams in the Championship, the reality is Villa are one of the worst teams in the Premier League. Smith needs to rethink big time, get tougher or there will be consequences.


Follow Jonathan on Twitter here – @JonParkinSports


  1. It’s looking bad for the Burnley game. Confidence must be low. Very few quality options to freshen things up. Put Trez and El Gazi back in. I’m not saying they’re quality, but they are better than Lansbury and Jota. I lost faith in Wesley a long time ago. Keep playing him as our centre forward and we are definitely relegated. He doesn’t have goals in him. I don’t give a monkey’s for his hold up play. That’s yesterday’s football. Classy teams play at speed, hold up play, what’s that?

    Hope Keinan Davis is available soon. Not sure what Kodjia’s done wrong, but he can’t be worse than Wesley. Hard to believe we spent over 100 million on our new players!

  2. Gotta agree in bringing in Rafa. He is a coach during the week and a manager on game day. DS is just out of his depth. Surely after 12 games he must have realized he doesn’t have the players to play an expansive 4-3-3? Now we are half way through the season and the fans don’t even get effort or commitment. I coach a pub team and even I know to be pragmatic and stack up the midfield when we play better teams. Try a 3-5-1-1 w/ Jack in a free role and the 5 midfielders playing defense first. I feel sorry for Wes: not even Kane or Aguero could score in this current Villa formation w/ no service or support. Purslow has a big call to make come the final whistle of the Burnley game (and boy- did they look pretty poor, too v United). Our one saving grace is that there are another 8 weak teams in and around us so we do have a shot of survival if DS stops being so stubborn or Purslow brings in a manager w/ Premier experience.

  3. to me it looks like the players have given up with the managers way of playing, and that means the manager needs to go. imo I would get BIG SAM in (big sam would keep us up he always does) and I think it was jack grealish who got us promoted last season not dean smith

  4. It’s all quite easy being an armchair manager [myself]. But i thought this when we got promoted. ‘If we try that formation in the prem, we are gonna have lots of problems’ …. Having read the comments, i do agree [apart from the negative stuff] example : Jota is not a winger. Grealish is better central. Wesley is on his own, and when an attack happens from the flanks. Who is there? [needle in a haystack] …. obvious! …… My armchair answer? …. Jeez, you don’t play a newly promoted young team with a 4-3-3 formation. SIMPLE … That is for the likes of the established big boys.

    Coming from the old school and the likes of Furgie. What a great idea of playing variations of 4-4-2. It’s so bloody versatile ….. Think about it ….. 4-4-1-1 ….. 4-1-4-1 [ok] …..etc etc …. All the above mentioned would be solved. And more importantly. Protection of the FLANKS! ….. i.e. [above problems] .. Jota would be able to play his position. Grealish his position. Wesley would have MORE backup and our wide players wouldn’t have to run so far back to help the flanks …. SIMPLE …. so bloody simple.

    I actually feel a bit sorry for them players. What are they to do? Argue with DS? …. is it there fault that another attack comes again from the flanks. [usually having one man surrounded by two]. Is it Jotas fault he is not playing behind the stricker or AM? … i could go on and on. But using these simple examples, i am sure you get my drift …. The FACT is, on the pitch [attack] we usually have one midfielder in the center. with 3 players too bloody far away …. Who do you pass to? [even for a cross] …. And the defence knowing that there is usually one man between them and another cross! …… basic facts …. Yes i do feel a bit sorry for them.

    Having said that VTID. And i am 100% behind DS [i’m sure he’ll work it out] .. VARIATIONS OF 4-4-2 !!!! [although personally i would favour the above mentiond]

  5. I agree, change ds now. Hate to say it but without radical surgery and the players fighting for every ball not only will we go down, get done for FP and lose grealish and McGinn to man Utd!

  6. Here are my ratings 0000000000 note there are 10 zeros one is for DS. The remaining two 8 & 8 Grealish and Heaton, that’s it. It’s totally unacceptable and sorry but DS albeit a Villa fan has no clue, my opinion is if we don’t get a response against Burnley which I very much doubt, he simply has to go, if not we’re down. End of, it’s all very well trying to remain optimistic but believe me that won’t keep us up. Action from the board is needed now.

  7. Wesley is a bloody joke, needs to go in my opinion, formation needs to change there has to be more than one target man up top, and we need to play through the middle more often. Going out to Elmohamady and crossing it in to one man who doesn’t know what a goal is, is definitely not the answer. Need two strikers which will allow players like Grealish and McGinn (when fit) to have more freedom and less pressure to conjure something from nothing.

  8. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Wasn’t it roughly 12 months ago we lost 3-0 away at Wigan and everything was doom and gloom as we faced another year in the Championship? Roll forward 5 months and we were in the Prem.

    Clearly we need to find some of the ingredients that we found last year to engineer a survival.

    I agree it doesn’t look good, in fact it looks awful, but from somewhere we have to find a solution and I don’t think sacking DS or anyone else at board level is the answer.

    The players need to stand up and be counted, many a team win matches by sheer effort and determination. We don’t appear to have the skill to compete but everyone has to give 100% as an absolute minimum.

    Come on the Villa we have to fight to secure survival, be proud to wear the shirt, it means everything to Villa fans……it needs to be the same for the players


  9. Most of the squad don’t have the bottle for the fight, and with the cold weather now upon us this is exactly what we need, they need to pull their tights up put their gloves and scarves on and get out there and battle for their team for each other and for survival and prove us wrong, I don’t mind eating a bit of humble pie. What would Ron Saunders be thinking. UTV

  10. The worst performance I’d ever witnessed was a trip to Watford when we lost 3-0 30 odd years ago. This was worse. Norwich could have had 3 from corners Watford a couple. What the hell are we paying John Terry for? Iv been saying for weeks the manager like the players are out of thier depth with no experience at this level. Maybe we should put Terry in charge? Changes need to happen now. We have been outplayed out fought and outpassed by the bottom 3 and scraped one very lucky win. Wesley should have been dropped 6 games ago. We look doomed. Relegation will mean FFP problems we are going backwards fast.

  11. What a pity that a season that started with so much optimism and hope from a fanatical club and fan base has been reduced to rubble in less than half way point in our first promotion season. I hate to be pessimistic but I cannot see us surviving this season, one in which we just needed to consolidate with experience to give us a base to build on with youth for the future, the players brought in are just not good enough at this level, if only they would show a bit of grit and passion, Birmingham City fans actually told us Jota was not up to it so what did Dean see that their fans didn’t? I am now afraid that our predicament will have an adverse affect on the quality of player we are able to attract to the club come January. Raschica is in a similar position with Bremen and Mitrovic has just gone through the same situation. What a sad sad situation. UTV.

  12. Possibly the worst game I’ve seen from a Villa team. At one point in the first 20 minutes it looked like Luiz was Centre half and Hause was playing in midfield. Wesley’s one or two successful flick ons went straight to Watford players because there’s no one playing off him and every time Jack got the ball there were two players on him, which is easy when Jack is out on the byline! Jota jogged around pointing out players that weren’t marked, players that he should be marking, and Lansbury, sadly just isn’t good enough. If Smith doesn’t got for a 4-4-2 with another striker playing off Wesley (I know options are limited) and Jack in a 10 role we are down! Defence isn’t great, but the reason Konsa and Hause panic on the ball is that Watford found it to easy to hustle as there was constantly no options. If we go to Burnley in a 4-3-3 and get anything less than a win then smith needs to go on Jan 2.

  13. Trying to stay optimistic as there are a lot of games left at home that we could win. But while bad results early in the season had good performances, today again was a bad result with an abysmal performance. Only four of the current squad are up to this level (Heaton, Grealish, Mings and Mcginn). I’m becoming perplexed by team selection, tactics and substitutions. Just one example of many – understand the desire to be patient with a big money striker, but half way through the season and apart from intermittently running around chasing lost causes, Wesley has contributed very little. If Smith is not going to fulfill his destiny as current bookie’s favourite to be next to lose his job, he needs to demonstrate that he knows what the issues are, and he has solutions.

  14. Team selection trash DS finished has to go now while there a bit of time left to turn it around. Wesley next to useless, As is Jota, why keep on playing Wesley the manager is tactically inept, I never wanted to say this but we have only two chances left, slim and none, so It has to be changed now he has to go so does the clown that sanctioned a new 4 year contract, we only have two players as far as I can see Grealish and Heaton the rest wouldn’t get into a decent pub team. Let’s face facts DS has lost the dressing room and the players are not fit. Get Rafa in quickly and give him some funds it’s our only chance.

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