Southampton vs. Aston Villa: Player Ratings

Remember our brief time of happiness?

That was not pretty. Neither are this week's player ratings.

Starting XI:

Brad Guzan: There wasn't much that could be done about any of Southampton's first three goals and was hung pretty badly out to dry on the play that led to his conceding a penalty, but any time you let in four it's a bad day at the office. It will be interesting to see whether or not Guzan is in goal tomorrow night against Manchester City.

Rating: 5

Matthew Lowton: Definitely the toughest game in a Villa shirt for Lowton; got caught out on more than a few occasions and had trouble handling Adam Lallana all day. Wasn't really a factor in the attacking phase of things. Did have a few nice plays to break up good attacking moves, but things might not have gotten to that point had he been in a better position to begin with. A day to forget, to say the least.

Rating: 5

Ron Vlaar: You know it's a rough game when even Ron Vlaar looked bad. Well, bad may not be entirely fair, but he didn't look good. Wasn't able to provide the last line of support as he's reliably done so far this season on a day that it would have been quite helpful. Didn't make a whole lot of mistakes, but didn't do much to help either.

Rating: 5.5

Ciaran Clark: Somewhat similar to Vlaar, it's difficult to point at any one thing that Clark did poorly, but it's difficult to remember him doing too much right either. Hard to criticize him too harshly for the own goal, but it certainly didn't help matters.

Rating: 5

Eric Lichaj: Let us never speak of this again.

Rating: 4

Brett Holman: Brett Holman will run all day and never give up on a ball. Unfortunately, that's not always the best thing; on several occasions Holman's instinct to chase led to his being caught badly out of position, putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on Matthew Lowton. Holman is incredibly effective when he's using his positional awareness and ability to read the game to harass the opposition into making mistakes, but when he gets sloppy as he did against Southampton he's a pretty serious liability.

Rating: 5

Karim El Ahmadi: This was not the KEA we know and love. Something was just off, and he was pretty much a non-factor. Still managed to complete a whole lot of passes, but he gave the ball away with uncharacteristic ease and made some puzzling decisions in the final third. On a day when the rest of the team is clicking this probably isn't the kind of performance that does too much harm, but with everyone else struggling KEA wasn't able to settle things.

Rating: 5.5

Barry Bannan: Still looks significantly better on the left than in the middle, but didn't do much to impress. This might be the kind of performance that opens the door for Charles N'Zogbia to make a return to the starting lineup. Bannan wasn't poor, but he wasn't much of anything. A bit of a disappointment following two strong showings.

Rating: 5.5

Stephen Ireland: Puts in what was easily his best performance of the season in the first half, has to leave the game due to injury and may be lost for quite some time. I am beginning to feel really, genuinely bad for Stephen Ireland as a person. Get well soon, buddy.

Rating: 6.5

Christian Benteke: Didn't get on the scoresheet, but gave Southampton all they could handle while Villa was still a factor in the run of play. Was a serious threat from set pieces, and the ball he sent in to Darren Bent that really should have been a goal was breathtaking. I'm really liking this striker pairing.

Rating: 6.5

Darren Bent: Definitely the best game of the season for Bent, but should have done better on a few occasions. His goal was vintage stuff and eased some concerns about tentativeness, but if he puts away the chance that Benteke set up this game may have turned out very differently. Still, encouraging signs.

Rating: 6.5

Substitutes:

Ashley Westwood: It's hyperbole to say that Villa lost this game because Westwood replaced Ireland, but the dropoff was very noticeable. Didn't look especially comfortable, gave the ball away far too easily, and was a bit of a mess defensively. No reason to worry about what this means long-term, but far from an encouraging performance.

Rating: 5

Gabby Agbonlahor: Wait, Gabby played? I had no idea.

Rating: 5

Joe Bennett: Was an improvement over Lichaj on the day, and we'll probably get a better look at what he can do in the very near future. Still looked a bit overmatched at times, but coming into the game so late as a defender is a bit of a poisoned pill.

Rating: 5.5

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