Yesterday afternoon, as the West Midlands was starting to experience Storm Brian, Slaviša Jokanović’s Fulham side travelled up to the B6 in hopes repeating the 3-1 victory they notched in April at Craven Cottage.
For Steve Bruce and Aston Villa , the match against Fulham represented a tricky test as it was sandwiched between to derbys. After a poor showing last week against Wolverhampton, a loss against the Cottagers would have proved to stunt nearly all of the positive momentum Villa built up last month.
Fortunately for Villans everywhere, particularly the 30,000 plus at Villa Park, Aston Villa were able to rebound from last week’s loss and take all three points in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Fulham.
It was a tough call for ‘MotM’ honours as yesterday’s victory saw a number of players perform at a high level and help Aston Villa move to 5th ahead of next week’s Second City Derby.
Here are the full player ratings -- based on a scale of 1 to 10, with five being an average performance -- for Saturday's 2-1 victory over Fulham:
GK: Sam Johnstone, Rating: 6.5
The Cottagers managed just two total shots on target. One of those shots was Stefan Johansen’s free kick that found the back of the net in first half stoppage time. Fulham’s second chance on target came in the 54th minute via Floyd Ayité. It looked a sure equalizer for the visitors, but once again, Sam Johnstone made a brilliant save.
That save alone earned Johnstone a solid rating because it was another example of why he needs to be on a permanent. Somewhere at Unique Sports Management -- Johnstone’s representatives -- an agent should be getting a Rod Tidwell-esque call from the Manchester United loanee. Hopefully Dr. Tony and the board give Steve Bruce the funds needed to secure his services.
LB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 6.25
Towards the end of yesterday’s match, the commentator on AVTV’s video broadcast was asking the question of whether or not Neil Taylor, upon his return from suspension, slots back in as the starter at left-back? That question was probably a bit premature.
However, Alan Hutton has acquitted himself rather well the past two weeks. Yesterday against Fulham, he won three aerial duals. On top of that, Hutton had three defensive clearances and three interceptions. The Scot also managed to get a head on a couple of threatening balls into the box.
Even though he has done well, you have to love the bit of humour from Daniel Raza:
CB: James Chester, Rating: 6.25
As Gregg Evans (i.e. a strong name) of the Birmingham Mail pointed out a few days ago…
Once again, against Slaviša Jokanović’s side, Chester played every single minute. The Welsh stalwart made a key clearance down the stretch as Fulham were dominating the ball. He also completed 23 of his 25 attempted passes. Outside of that 92% completion rate, he did not have a ton statistically to shout about. Even with that said, he made himself a presence on the pitch in an important win. We’ll rate that and hope there is more of it to come.
CB: John Terry, Rating: 7.5
The captain opened his Aston Villa account when he latched onto the end of Conor Hourihane’s free kick in the 23rd minute (footage here). Terry also tallied a total of eleven defensive clearances. His importance in preserving Villa’s 2-1 victory cannot be understated as 7 out of 11 of those clearances were in the second half!
On the whole, John Terry was absolutely outstanding yesterday afternoon.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady, Rating: 5.75
Typically you can count on Elmo filling up the stat sheet doing a lot of the things that often go unnoticed. However, yesterday against the Cottagers he was relatively silent on that front.
In his previous few Championship matches, Elmo managed a number of touches in both halves, but yesterday afternoon saw him largely stay on defence. The Egyptian did make three defensive clearances in the 18-yard box. Though he was relatively silent statistically, the trade-off seemed to be that Elmohamady was more solid at the back. By no means did he have a bad outing.
CM: Conor Hourihane, Rating: 7.75
Conor Hourihane pulling all the strings in midfield today #AVFC— Matt Lynch (@mattlyynch) October 21, 2017
We couldn’t agree more with the great Matt Lynch. Against Fulham, Hourihane led the claret and blue with 61 total touches. The map of those touches further confirmed just how great of a box-to-box midfielder the Irishman is.
On top of being all over the pitch, Hourihane threatened David Button’s goal with both his set piece delivery and shots from distance. He, like Josh Onomah, also made key passes that helped open up Fulham’s defence. Oh, don’t forget his assist on John Terry’s opening goal -- Hourihane was once again a real bright spot for Aston Villa.
CM: Glenn Whelan, Rating: 5.75
When the Irish midfielder tackled Floyd Ayité from behind to give up the free kick that tied the match at 1-1, many supporters were probably prepared to scapegoat Whelan. Fortunately, Villa kept the lead that Albert Adomah went on to grab in the 49th minute.
As a matter of fact, it was Whelan’s well-weighted ball to Josh Onomah that started the attacking move that created Adomah’s goal. On a day in which passing accuracy wasn’t particularly high for Steve Bruce’s side, his completion rate of 84% was the best of any midfielder. His poor tackle aside, Whelan actually did not have a bad game.
CAM/CM: Josh Onomah, Rating: 7.75
‘Joshy’ demonstrated a knack for attacking from midfield yesterday against Fulham. Onomah playing off of Jonathan Kodjia really looked to be a partnership that should lead to goals going forward. The young talent played a number of clever one-twos with not only Kodjia, but Albert Adomah as well.
If you were at the match or able to stream it via AVTV, you would not be surprised to find out that he led Steve Bruce’s side in key passes. In addition to those through passes, Onomah almost scored a screamer in the 28th minute. To boot, he also led the team with seven successful tackles.
Once again, Josh Onomah was simply great. Sadly that means we all have to remind ourselves that he is on-loan from Spurs. Though if you want a sliver of hope, just look at Steve Bruce’s comments to the Birmingham Mail after the match:
“Josh (Onomah) was terrific today. We’ll try and break the bank for him!”
LW: Albert Adomah, Rating: 8 (MotM) (substituted off, 86th minute)
After being the target of plenty of stick, the club’s official feed got it absolutely right with this one:
Adomah was first-class yesterday. He netted his fifth goal of the season and fourth in the Championship. That goal was ultimately the winner. Albert tallied 52 total touches with many of them being in an attacking position on the left side of the pitch. When he was taken off in the 86th minute, he was exhausted.
He had definitely earned the standing ovation he received. Even though it was a tough call, Adomah was our ‘Man of the Match.’
RW: Robert Snodgrass, Rating: 6 (substituted off, 81st minute)
The winger actually led Villa with four total blocks yesterday afternoon. Two of those blocks came inside the 18-yard box as Ryan Sessegnon found space down the right flank. With Elmo seemingly not pressing as much in attack, Snodgrass ended up with 57 total touches down the right side. The Scot also was successful on 60% of his attempted tackles. Nothing too flashy in terms of attack, but a good outing for ‘Snoddy.’
ST: Jonathan Kodjia, Rating: 7 (substituted off, 73rd minute)
After a performance against Wolves that left many to question his commitment, Kodjia was much better against Fulham. The Ivorian had six total offensive dribbles showing that he can be a major threat with the ball at his feet. In the 37th minute he was in on goal after Josh Onomah’s through ball, but was ultimately denied by a good save from Button. We should also mention that ‘Jimmy Danger’ was credited with a rather fortunate assist on Adomah’s winner!
Kodjia this week demonstrated that he is a top lad. His play yesterday exhibited that he should have goals in him going forward.
ST: Keinan Davis, Rating: 5.25 (substitute, 73rd minute)
The young striker came on and did enough of what he was probably instructed to do, hold-up the play. Davis accounted for ten total touches with nearly all of them coming in Fulham’s half. In the 86th minute he probably could have notched a goal if his timing on Conor Hourihane’s cross was a bit better. He was perhaps unlucky to be dropped, but Steve Bruce’s tactical change worked yesterday afternoon.
RM/RWB: Ritchie De Laet, Rating: 5.25 (substitute, 81st minute)
Like Davis, the Belgian came on and did his job, help batten down the hatches. De Laet was also very close to getting an improbable goal off of Albert Adomah’s industrious cross in the 85th minute.
LM: Birkir Bjarnason, Rating: 5 (substitute, 86th minute)
You know what, ‘Thor’ came on and Villa held off Fulham’s attack for the win. Largely because of a clear results based bias, he’ll get a rating.