There are many ways to describe the Aston Villa performance against Manchester City on Sunday in the Premier League debut for new Villa manager Rémi Garde. Encouraging, entertaining, nervy, committed and lucky come to mind.
But I found myself also frustrated. Not by Villa's performance in the probably deserved 0-0 draw with the league leaders at Villa Park, but by the fact that Garde picked a team of players that Villa fans have known all season could be successful, which went unseen by previous management. Hopefully Sunday's match is a sign to come for Villa as more positive results -- and many wins -- will be needed to keep the club in the Premier League this season.
With that said, here are the Aston Villa player ratings along with analysis and stats from the home draw with Manchester City, with Villa's players rated on a scale of 1 to 10:
GK: Brad Guzan, Rating: 6
Villa's American goalkeeper kept his first clean sheet in the Premier League since the opening day, but it wasn't without some shaky moments. I saw some people heaping praise on Guzan on Sunday, but this still wasn't a flawless performance by any means. Sure, Guzan's face save on a close-range header by Raheem Sterling looked great and was huge, but it resulted from luck just as much as good positioning. And the two other saves Guzan was forced to make were both fortunate as he spilled two firm shots from Aleksandar Kolarov -- one onto his post and the other back into the six-yard box. His claiming of crosses and punches was very sound, though. Hopefully this clean sheet gives Guzan some much-needed confidence, because he still looked rather nervous at times on Sunday.
RB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 7
Hutton put in another solid shift for Villa to continue his impressive run of form at right back. He managed to get forward at times, although this allowed Sterling to get in behind him a couple times, especially in the first half. But Hutton or his fellow defenders managed to recover each time enough to put Sterling off. And his reading of the game helped him make five interceptions to end City attacks.
CB: Micah Richards, Rating: 8
Immense for most of the match, Richards produced four interceptions and eight clearances in a heroic display of defending to shut out his former club. He again wandered wildly out of position once or twice; maybe Garde can sort that out going forward. But on the whole, Richards valiantly put himself about, winning brave headers and challenges in key moments throughout the match in helping Villa keep a clean sheet against City.
CB: Ciaran Clark, Rating: 8
Likewise, Clark was great on Sunday. A player that has always had talent and potential, it was great to see him recover from his awful outing at Tottenham last Monday. But thanks to Garde, Clark was able to play in his much-preferred left center back role, and his reading of the game and understanding of his favored position was much clearer as a result. With 12 clearances and four blocks, Clark made an impression on his new manager and the Villa Park faithful.
LB: Jordan Amavi, Rating: 6
Amavi will be glad to see the back of Jesus Navas, who gave him a torrid time throughout the second half. But on his return to the starting lineup, Villa's talented young French left back was very involved on Sunday. Amavi completed four successful take-ons -- all in the first 25 minutes -- as he aided in Villa's sprightly beginning, and then he settled into his defensive position to make four interceptions as City turned the screw later on. Amavi turned down the chances to put in crosses several times too, which was strange. He's not perfect, but this match confirmed that Amavi almost always needs to start for Villa.
CDM: Carlos Sanchez, Rating: 7
There was talk that Sanchez might be the Villa player to benefit the most from Garde's coaching at Villa based on the manager's previous success with anchoring midfielders, and Sunday was certainly a fine start for the Colombian. Sanchez's tenacity in front of the back four prevented City's midfielders, specifically Yaya Toure, from making any attacking impact. He survived a few loose passes, but 87-percent passing in total from Sanchez is a very encouraging stat for a player that Villa fans have been frustrated by, mostly because of his impressive performances for his national team. If Garde can get the Colombia Carlos Sanchez every week at Villa, that will be a huge boost.
RM: Carles Gil, Rating: 7
While David Silva wasn't available for City, there was still a special left-footed Spanish attacking midfielder on display at Villa Park on Sunday. From the first minute, when he nutmegged Nicolas Otamendi to start a Villa attack, Gil was special. He finished with 96-percent passing, which was even more impressive considering that most of his work was done in the City half. There were very real signs from Gil that he can create scoring chances for fun when Villa aren't playing the league title favorites in upcoming matches. His rating would be higher if he hadn't tired so obviously in the second half before being substituted on 65 minutes.
CM: Jordan Veretout, Rating: 6
In contrast to Gil, Veretout started slowly and misplaced some early passes as the frantic pace in the opening 20 minutes didn't suit him. But as Villa dropped deeper, Veretout did well to pick up his own game and started helping his team escape from pressure with some very composed passing and dribbling. And he certainly didn't tire, which has been a big issue with Villa midfielders this season. This match showed signs that perhaps Veretout can be the Villa midfielder that comes to life in the second of the season, like Tom Cleverley did last campaign.
CM: Idrissa Gana, Rating: 6
Gana did a little bit of everything in the midfield for Villa as he returned to the lineup certainly looking fresher. There were several moments in the match where I noticed Gana's pressing and thought how he probably would've won the ball back in a great area for Villa against a lesser team, but City maintained possession. An undoubtedly good player, Gana's legs give Villa the energy that is needed to make it through matches like this and he could be another to excel under Garde.
LM: Scott Sinclair, Rating: 5
It was always going to be hard for Sinclair to make an impact against such a talented City team, but try he did. He started well by helping Villa win the ball high up the pitch in the opening 20 minutes, but then faded as he was limited to providing cover for Amavi on the left. Will be interesting to see if he starts for Garde in the next few matches.
ST: Jordan Ayew, Rating: 5
A similar story for Ayew, who chased helpless causes and tried to hold up play for Villa when possible. Tough to judge a striker in a match that was heavily played in the midfield and eventually in the Villa half, but Ayew still has been improving each week in the Premier League, and Sunday didn't necessarily halt that.
LM: Charles N'Zogbia, Rating: 5
A surprising introduction, N'Zogbia appears to have been given yet another chance under a new manager. It's easy to see why every Villa manager thinks they can be the one to unleash the Frenchman's obvious talents at Villa Park, but maybe Garde can actually be the guy. N'Zogbia came on, completed all of his passes, sent in a few crosses and beat Otamendi at the byline once. A N'Zogbia revival would be another thing that would really be nice to see as Villa need all the help they can get to fight off relegation.
RM: Leandro Bacuna, Rating: 4
Completed two passes in 20 minutes. Mostly entered the game for his legs, but it would've been nice to see Bacuna do a little bit more on the ball towards the end.
ST: Rudy Gestede, Rating: 6
Gestede came on late and didn't have much of an impact on proceedings, but he was involved in one of the match's controversial moments as he threw the ball back to City harder than goalkeeper Joe Hart liked and nearly scored from the resulting corner kick as Villa almost capitalized on a strange situation. I found it amusing, so I'll give Rudy a 6.