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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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.
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.
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