It is often said that you make your own luck. And throughout much of this season, I thought maybe Aston Villa weren't working hard enough or doing enough things well to earn luck on their side. But Saturday's 3-2 defeat to Watford was another horrifically unlucky one-goal defeat for a team that has perfected the art of that very thing this season.
I'm not saying Villa are playing well. But this isn't one of the worst teams in Premier League history, as the current points haul of five through 14 games might suggest. And Saturday's match, which saw Watford score two goals via crazy deflections and another on a fluke own goal, was the worst occurrence in a long line of bad luck and harsh deflections that the Villa defense has had to deal with this season.
But lessons must be learned and Villa must improve. Deflections and unlucky goals don't seem to plague Tony Pulis and Sam Allardyce teams. Aston Villa now probably need 10+ wins and a few draws in 24 matches to stay up this season. Is it impossible? No. But Villa HAVE to find a way to win close games -- and soon -- by learning how to make their own luck however possible.
With that said, here are the Aston Villa player ratings from Saturday's Watford defeat, using something new -- "the good, the bad, and the lucky" -- to highlight what each player did for the claret and blues in their latest loss:
GK: Brad Guzan, Rating: 4
The Good: His save on Capoue in the 24th minute was a fine stop that kept Villa in it.
The Bad: 40-percent passing from any Premier League player in any match is pretty bad.
The Ugly: The lack of defensive organization Villa have shown all season has to fall partly on Guzan's wide shoulders. Watford had seven chances on Saturday and scored three times. That can't happen.
RB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 4
The Good: Continues to work himself into good offensive positions with powerful and direct play. Also drew the foul that resulted in Villa's first goal.
The Bad: Five crosses without one finding a teammate. No end product again for Hutton.
The Ugly: That own goal. My word -- what a catastrophe of bad luck and ill timing.
CB: Micah Richards, Rating: 5
The Good: A brilliant header for his first Aston Villa goal in the Premier League. He was offsides though.
The Bad: He made 11 clearances, but just one in his own box. Richards struggles to defend when under real pressure. He needs to help this team clear its lines much better.
The Ugly: Zero tackles made or attempted. With how sloppy Villa defended at times and the ball pinballing around the box, Richards needed to be in position to get stuck in.
CB: Ciaran Clark, Rating: 4
The Good: 81-percent passing. Clark did well to help Villa maintain possession for long stretches during the match.
The Bad: Missed a great chance to equalize late in the first half because he didn't react to a ball rolling across the six-yard box quickly enough. Really should've been a goal.
The Ugly: When Troy Deeney leaped over him for Watford's third goal. Harsh deflection on the way, but Clark didn't react at all.
LB: Kieran Richardson, Rating: 6
The Good: Great pass to Ayew for Villa's second goal. It was a beautiful cutback cross on the ground into a perfect area for Ayew to collect and attack from.
The Bad: Nothing? Richardson actually played relatively well, keeping Paredes and Anya quiet.
The Ugly: The fact that Richardson might have been Villa's best defender on the day.
CDM: Carlos Sanchez, Rating: 3
The Good: Uhh, not much? He had a shot on goal and some alright passes.
The Bad: Pretty much everything else. Just a really sloppy match from a player Villa NEED to step up.
The Ugly: His giveaway in the 26th minute was the worst pass I've seen any Aston Villa player make in years.
RCM: Jordan Veretout, Rating: 6
The Good: Recorded an assist on Richards' goal and his set-piece delivery nearly set up other goals as well.
The Bad: Zero take-ons. Veretout hasn't shown any ability to beat his man.
The Ugly: I don't think this is Veretout's fault, but it really bothers me when he presses up high to try to win the ball back from an opposing defender and none of his teammates follow. It's a waste of energy and sucks him out of position.
LCM: Idrissa Gana, Rating: 5
The Good: 91-percent passing and three interceptions. Gana played a big role in Villa's possession dominance.
The Bad: Just one take-on from a player capable of much more shows that Villa failed to do much with said possession.
The Ugly: And zero tackles from Gana in a match that was end-to-end and scrappy at times just speaks to his overall lack of major involvement and impact before departing.
RW: Carles Gil, Rating: 4
The Good: 92-percent passing and two great corner kicks that created chances for Villa.
The Bad: Just his overall drive forward was lacking. Not the typical positive play we expect from the Spaniard.
The Ugly: Didn't complete a cross or dangerous forward pass from open play.
LW: Scott Sinclair, Rating: 4
The Good: Forced a great save from Gomes with a fine strike in the first half. Also helped Richardson well defensively.
The Bad: No link-up play with his fellow attackers in the final third. Mostly tried solo stuff.
The Ugly: One of several Villans guilty of a hospital ball to a teammate in the defending third.
ST: Jordan Ayew, Rating: 6
The Good: Scored a fantastic goal late. His overall play continues to be positive with an occasional quality end product. Could've had an assist as well. If/when Villa go down, it won't be because of Ayew if he maintains this form.
The Bad: Again, his support was very limited. Really want to see Ayew with Gestede up top for a run of games.
The Ugly: Missed a great chance to equalize immediately in the first half, scuffing a loose ball wide from six yards.
RW: Adama Traore, Rating: 6
He's basically a sideshow cameo player right now, but boy is Traore fun to watch. Uses his blistering pace to beat defenders with ease, and completed six take-ons in 30+ minutes on Saturday. With end product, he'd be amazing.
ST: Rudy Gestede, Rating: 4
Didn't really have an impact after coming on, but Villa didn't play any crosses to him either.