Things aren’t looking good at Aston Villa Football Club.
Saturday’s defeat to West Brom was an early-season must win for Villa. With it being a derby match at Villa Park, and with a tough string of fixtures on the horizon for the claret and blues, a victory was desperately needed. Instead, Villa were outmaneuvered tactically and outplayed to a man, losing 1-0 in a cagey affair in the Premier League’s West Midlands Derby.
Here are the Aston Villa player ratings for the West Brom game, along with analysis and stats, based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best:
GK: Brad Guzan, Rating: 3
Another shaky performance from the American. Started pretty well, making an early stop on Rondon and denying Fletcher with a sprawling save on an arrowing shot. But when West Brom’s goal via a deflection trickled past Guzan, who has had real issues with his footwork on deflections multiple times this season now, his lack of confidence reappeared. While the Baggies didn’t score again, Guzan bobbled a few shots and struggled with his distribution for the remainder of the match.
RB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 4
Entered the starting lineup for this match but had a frustrating outing. He actually started well and put in a few good crosses in the first half; however, strangely, when Gestede entered the match as a target man in the second half, Hutton’s crossing failed him time after time. Didn’t play poorly on the whole, but not the attacking full back display that Villa needed to break down an annoying and organized Tony Pulis defense.
CB: Micah Richards, Rating: 6
For the most part, Richards dealt well with the threat of Rondon in the air. Made seven clearances, won 75-percent of his aerial duels and was a perfect 4-for-4 on tackles. Scored a great header that the referee ruled out because the referee didn’t understand the advantage rule (although West Brom’s goalkeeper didn’t try to stop the shot after hearing the whistle). Richards continues to play well in spurts but needs to find some consistency.
CB: Joleon Lescott, Rating: 5
A pretty average outing for Lescott against the team he played for just a few weeks ago. While he recorded eight clearances, three interceptions and two tackles, his most notable moment was the decision to drop to the goal line in the sequence of play during West Brom’s goal, which kept Berahino onside. The thing is, if Lescott makes a goal-line clearance there, it looks great; instead, his decision cost Villa a goal. Unlucky in that moment, but it’s also his job to read the game and know when the proper moment to drop there is. Lescott needs to be better.
LB: Jordan Amavi, Rating: 3
Amavi defended well early but started to struggle as the match progressed. His one especially poor moment, a half-hearted tackle in his own box, led to the opportunity that resulted in the West Brom goal. Provided minimal threat going forward, only creating space for himself on one occasion. Amavi still possesses obvious talent, and Villa fans were told that he needed time. Today was just bad timing for a bad match from him. On a positive note, he didn’t shy away from the derby setting, making five tackles, five interceptions and six clearances in an all-action display; unfortunately, many of his actions involving passing, dribbling and strength weren’t good enough.
CDM: Ashley Westwood, Rating: 4
Very bland performance from Westwood. Didn’t provide any incisive passing and was outclassed at times by the strength and experience of Fletcher in midfield. Had a few shots that barely threatened the West Brom goal, but Westwood really did nothing else of note on an anonymous day for the Englishman.
CDM: Carlos Sanchez, Rating: 5
Like many Villans on Saturday, Sanchez was thoroughly average. Had one brilliant sequence halfway through the first half where he tracked Fletcher the length of the pitch, cleared the ball, then immediately won Villa possession back on the ensuing throw-in. Impressively won six aerial duels too. But besides that, the Colombian struggled with his passing and reading of the game. He just gets caught off balance and/or misjudges the flight of the ball in bad areas too frequently.
RW: Carles Gil, Rating: 5
Gil threatened at times. Unlucky not to score on a cutback from Gabby that was blocked in the first half. Hit the target with a free kick soon after the break. But he fizzled out in the second half, and I had no problem with Tim Sherwood taking him out because Villa had no width in this match, and Carles wasn’t helping that issue.
CAM: Jack Grealish, Rating: 4
Very minimal impact from Grealish. Lacked a spring in his step, which was especially surprising from a local lad given the derby atmosphere. In the midfield, he was fine, connecting passes, dribbling past the Baggies and moving Villa forward. But he just had absolutely no cutting edge in the final third and was too easy for West Brom to defend. Too many times, he gave his defender time to face up, which was a big reason why he only delivered one failed cross despite having numerous opportunities to swing the ball in.
LW: Scott Sinclair, Rating: 3
Completely anonymous in the first half and deserved to be subbed. Sinclair just couldn’t get on the ball or find space. Dribbled past Brunt and got him booked, but beyond that, it was a day to forget for Scott.
ST: Gabby Agbonlahor, Rating: 5
Gabby played fine, as you would expect in a derby. But Villa need more than alright from their strikers with the lack of goals in this midfield. Agbonlahor created a few chances, most notably setting up Gil in the first half after a great dribble and pass that mirrored his move for Villa’s second goal at Leicester last week. However, Gabby doesn’t seem to have any connection with Gestede yet like he had previously with John Carew and Christian Benteke. That understanding needs to develop soon, or Villa are in deep trouble.
ST: Rudy Gestede, Rating: 4
Watching the game, it felt like Gestede had no impact after coming on. But he did win 10 headers and had one decent chance right at the death to equalize that he headed over. The potential is there for Rudy to be a really effective Premier League player with his traits, but he needs to gel with his teammates first. And that didn’t happen on Saturday on several occasions.
RW: Leandro Bacuna, Rating: 5
Bacuna came on with just 15 minutes to go and put in five crosses, including one that Gestede should’ve hit the target from. This type of impact-sub role from Bacuna probably suits Villa’s needs the best, rather than having the Dutchman starting at right back regularly.
CM: Jordan Veretout, Rating: 4
Veretout came on late and completed 8-of-9 passes, but frustrated with his lack of ambition shown. He didn’t drive forward at all and missed a few chances to pick a forward pass, instead choosing the safer option.