Yeah, I just couldn't do it last week. When Aston Villa lost 2-0 to Arsenal last Sunday without putting up a fight, I didn't have it in me to write player ratings. Villa showed no life and didn't look up for the fight of this ongoing relegation battle. Most likely, all Villa ratings would've been within 2 and 4. It was yet another low point for the club and its fans. I apologize, but we're back this week!
Saturday's performance at Newcastle was one that, while not being the victory Villa needed to cut the gap to 17th place in the Premier League, still deserved some praise and further evaluation of individual performances.
So here they are: these are the Aston Villa player ratings from the 1-1 draw at Newcastle with analysis and individual ratings based on a scale of 1 to 10.
GK: Brad Guzan, Rating: 5
Made two saves, one of which was quickly forgotten as Newcastle scored on the ensuing corner kick. Actually had some nice passes and coped with the conditions relatively well.
RB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 6
Earned his rating mostly because he was the only Villa player to show up in the first half. His constant willingness to run down the right wing is admirable and, with eight crosses sent in, Hutton's determination is great to see when so many other Villa players lack the same sort of attitude in this relegation battle.
CB: Jores Okore, Rating: 6
His three interceptions and four clearances were fine, but his 88-percent passing really made me appreciate what Okore provides to Villa. He's the only deep-lying player who actually looks to build up moves through possession, and when you watch the replays, it's no surprise that most of Villa's good attacks start with an Okore forward pass on the ground.
CB: Joleon Lescott, Rating: 4
Continues to be a liability with his marking as he cost Villa potentially two more points by allowing a similar goal to the one Southampton scored two weeks ago. He may have all the experience in the world, but he's not putting it to good use and Ciaran Clark deserves another chance.
LB: Leandro Bacuna, Rating: 4
Really struggled but it's hard to be too critical of him given the circumstances. He definitely isn't a left back and is doing his best to adapt to the situation. Sadly, Kieran Richarson might be a better option in this role.
CDM: Carlos Sanchez, Rating: 5
The Rock made seven interceptions as he broke up some Newcastle attacks, but he barely got on the ball and seemed to default to his other central midfield teammates. Maybe that was the plan given Sanchez's weakness on the ball in recent weeks. When used primarily as a destroyer, he can still be useful.
RCM: Ashley Westwood, Rating: 5
Westwood was quiet but effective in this match, posting 88-percent passing and four tackles as he provided some needed stability to the Villa midfield. Could be a crucial player for Villa as the season goes on if the team continues to player four central midfielders in matches.
LCM: Idrissa Gana, Rating: 5
Struggled with the ball but excelled without it. His 71-percent passing was very sloppy, but he made up for it with seven interceptions and three tackles. A ball-winner more than anything else, Gana needs to work on adding some style and composure to his athleticism and work rate.
CAM: Jordan Veretout, Rating: 6
Played in 14 crosses and was at the heart of most of Villa's attacking play, including Ayew's goal and Gestede's late header. Continues to improve each week and has cemented himself as one of the first names on manager Remi Garde's team sheet. Could really be a top player with better talent around him.
ST: Scott Sinclair, Rating: 4
Another anonymous day from Sinclair, who completed eight passes before being the only player that Garde felt needed to be substituted.
ST: Jordan Ayew, Rating: 8
In Ayew, Villa have a player capable of the spectacular. Scorer of another fantastic goal and becoming the man almost solely responsible for Villa's attacking successes. Ayew has now scored four of Villa's last six Premier League goals and he looks a threat almost every time he touches the ball. His dribbling and drive changed this match in the second half and lifted the entire team.
ST: Rudy Gestede, Rating: 5
The conditions suited his direct style, and he did have an impact in the second half with some decent hold-up play and headed one decent shot on target late. Even though Villa have struggled when he starts, I still feel that the squad needs Gestede on the pitch and playing well to have any chance of going on a good run and staying up.