Nobody expected it to be pretty or fluid or beautiful. And it wasn't.
All any Aston Villa fan could've asked out of a season opener fixture in which manager Tim Sherwood started 10 different players from the squad he sent out in May's FA Cup Final, including five new signings, was a performance that showed effort and some glimpses of what this team could become. And Villa provided plenty of that, gutting out three points after another new signing, Rudy Gestede, headed home a brilliant winner and nabbed a 1-0 victory for Villa at newly-promoted and quite-adorable Bournemouth on a lovely Saturday afternoon on the south coast of England.
All things considered, based on a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best -- here are the Aston Villa player ratings and analysis from the first match of the new Premier League season.
GK: Brad Guzan, Rating: 7
A display typical of what Villa fans have come to expect from the American goalkeeper: terrible kicking compensated for by great reaction saves. Guzan made two saves towards the end of the first half that really kept Villa in the match when the team appeared to be losing all of its shape and confidence. However, his distribution was once again terrible, much to the annoyance of Villa fans and manager Tim Sherwood.
RB: Leandro Bacuna, Rating: 6
Starting ahead of Alan Hutton, Bacuna had a solid outing. Without his pal Christian Benteke around to cross to anymore, Bacuna's inclusion in the team came into question with other right back options available at the club. But his pace and energy down the right side in this match showed why Bacuna seems to be a Sherwood favorite. However, Gradel's late cameo exposed Bacuna somewhat, showing his occasional defensive liability to the team.
CB: Micah Richards, Rating: 8
A captain's performance from Richards. Nine clearances, seven interceptions and 83-percent passing show the type of match Richards had on his debut. His pace and strength negated several Bournemouth opportunities and he improved as the match went on. If he can stay healthy and avoid his moments of madness that sometimes pull him out of position, Richards could prove to be quite a signing for the club.
CB: Ciaran Clark, Rating: 7
What Richards didn't deal with, Clark did. Lacking the speed and strength of his partner, Clark made up for with his incredible reading of the game on Saturday, with 16 clearances and four interceptions. He made sure none of Bournemouth's crosses into the box threatened Guzan while also cutting out several dangerous passes on the ground as well. More of that from Villa's center backs, please.
LB: Jordan Amavi, Rating: 8
My word. A quality left back at Aston Villa? Amavi's second-half performance was one of the big reasons Villa controlled the match in the final 45 minutes, with all four of his successful take-ons coming in the second half. Amavi sat back and defended pretty well against Bournemouth's talented right winger Matt Ritchie in the first half before Sherwood unleashed Villa's expensive new left back after the break with great success. Amavi's potential is very obvious and exciting.
CDM: Ashley Westwood, Rating: 7
91-percent passing means Ashley Westwood had a good day. It was his prototypical performance as he outclassed Bournemouth's midfielders more and more as the contest wore on, misplacing only one pass in the entire second half. Could do without his time-wasting antics that picked up a needless yellow card in stoppage time though.
CM: Idrissa Gana Gueye (or whatever he wants to be called), Rating: 6
Gueye was another player to improved greatly after the break. He misplaced too many passes in the first half but settled down and played well enough in the second. Almost scored right after the break. Appears to be more of a Tom Cleverley type than Fabian Delph in terms of replacing last year's Villa midfielders, but Gueye should still be a good player once he settles.
CM: Jordan Veretout, Rating: 6
For a player who wasn't expected to play, Veretout did well in his Aston Villa debut. His knack for a forward pass into the channel proved nifty, and he has some bite and energy about his game as well. Another exciting signing, Veretout's 85-percent passing and three tackles showed a glimpse of what Villa fans can expect this season.
RW: Jordan Ayew, Rating: 4
The least influential of Villa's new signings on Saturday, Jordan Ayew was pretty invisible for most of his 59 minutes on the pitch. Actually did more in his early second half spell than anything in the first half, but Ayew's departure coincided with Villa's rejuvenated performance after the half. Villa fans were told about Ayew's inconsistency, and it showed in this match. There's nothing but room for improvement from the Ghanaian.
LW: Scott Sinclair, Rating: 5
Put in a shift. Had a few moments of quality mixed with some periods of disappointing play. Did quite a bit of defending with Amavi on Ritchie. Sinclair will have better days, but he certainly contributed and did a job for the team on Saturday.
ST: Gabby Agbonlahor, Rating: 6
Gabby seems to really enjoy playing against teams he knows he can exploit his speed with. I wish he had the type of confidence he showed on the ball on Saturday more often. He'll never been world class, but his determination and drive to get forward and dribble past defenders was nice to see, especially in the first half when he was Villa's only attacking threat really. Should've shot when put through early in the second half, but almost set up Gueye for a goal. Could form a good partnership with Gestede.
ST: Rudy Gestede, Rating: 8
Game changer, match winner and a real handful. Gestede made quite the impression as a substitute in his Premier League debut, scoring the deciding goal with a header that made Villa fans collectively say, "Who's Christian Benteke?" But Gestede impressed beyond just his goal. His hold-up play and athleticism was apparent, and his willingness to use his aerial ability defensively helped clinch the result. Gestede won eight headers in 30+ minutes of action, all over the pitch. Remarkable.
CM: Carlos Sanchez, Rating: 6
A man not to be forgotten, Sanchez gives the Villa solid midfield depth, especially in games like this. He came on and added a physical presence defensively to help see out the match. Solid contribution.
CM: Kieran Richardson, Rating: 5
Played the last 15 minutes as basically a second left back to mark Ritchie. Did alright.