Yesterday, Aston Villa welcomed Sheffield Wednesday to Villa Park, in the hope that Villa would be able to continue their good form, despite lacking Josh Onomah and Jonathan Kodjia — both lost due to injury.
What actually happened was that Villa would concede a world class finish within 20 seconds and then continue to be played off the park until deep in the second half of play.
The game ended 2-1, thanks to some scrappy play from Villa - but the Villans also had a goal ruled out due to ‘handball’, when Keinan Davis finished in off the post from point-blank range.
Here are the full player ratings -- based on a scale of 1 to 10, with five being a ‘normal’ or ‘average’ performance -- for the first league loss of the season at Villa Park.
GK: Sam Johnstone, Rating: 4.5
Sam didn’t have a lot to do during the game, and was caught out within seconds after Adam Reach blasted the ball into the net. He wasn’t expecting it, and he wasn’t going to save it.
Following that, Jordan Rhodes found it all too easy to finish soon after. He came up with some stops, for sure - but it was too late for Johnstone. Villa were two goals down!
Next time, Sam will likely know that a goal can come at any time - let’s hope so, anyway. However, when Sheffield Wednesday score two chances that they have no right to score, you have to look at the goalkeeper. Better luck next time.
LB/CB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 4.75
Alan Hutton isn’t an awful left-back, however the fact that he cannot use his left foot to play football is worrisome, and something that a big-time manager like Steve Bruce should know. What that means is that Hutton - who is best played with the ball at his feet, is most vulnerable with the ball at his feet.
Hutton looked lively on the attack, but was caught out of position too many times. That’s expected at this point, though.
CB: James Chester, Rating: 5.75
When the chips were down, Chester came up big for Villa yesterday. He made 10 clearances and won the ball a bunch through tackles and interceptions. You have to give him credit for performing to his standards despite lacking his defensive partner.
The big black mark for Chester is that he missed a big set piece chance for Villa. When the ball is placed on your head, to have to make your mark. He didn’t, and Villa will regret that.
CB: John Terry, Rating: NA (Substituted 21st minute)
Went down too easily for Sheffield’s first goal, but it was a foul. Was solid until he broke his foot and went off. Come back soon, John. Was taken
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady, Rating: 5
Elmo wasn’t up to his usual tricks yesterday, and looked a bit shellshocked at times. He’s always on the ball and is one of Villa’s better players - however his crosses couldn’t find a home this time around.
LM/LB: Albert Adomah, Rating: 4.75
Adomah looked better at left back, but was completely shut out of the game by Sheffield Wednesday and you can’t blame him for a team showing up at the back. Put some good balls in and looked good going forward, but nothing came off for him.
CM: Conor Hourihane, Rating: 6
Conor Hourihane emulated a bit of Lord of the Rings today, as he played the part of Aragorn at the Black Gate - fighting for a lost cause. Played a number of good balls in from corners, argued with ref and genuinely tried to make Villa work. You have to love this man.
CDM: Glenn Whelan, Rating: 3 (Substituted 77th minute)
Villa were abject in the middle today, and part of that is because of Hourihane’s bravado, but mostly, it was Glenn Whelan’s refusal to do anything of note. Whelan was unable to back his partner up, and went missing too often. Missed interceptions, poor passes and awful positioning mean that this man needs to be benched. Villa looked better defensively when Jack Grealish replaced him.
RM: Robert Snodgrass, Rating: N/A (Substituted 40th minute)
When you’ve got two broken ribs and your manager starts you, that’s not a good idea, is it? Cut a picture of frustration and has likely worsened his injury.
ST: Keinan Davis , Rating: 6.25
Keinan Davis and Aston Villa are currently going through negotiations regarding a new contract for the Villa hotshot. After this performance, I’ll ask Villa to please pay this man. Did he score a goal? No - but he was the one man linking the entire team. Not scared to drop deep, press and help out, he’s a genuine wonder. It’s a shame he doesn’t scare defenders like Jonathan Kodjia does, but that’s why we have Kodjia! Davis was unlucky to have a goal pulled back, but looked a constant threat, despite Villa’s general lack of it!
ST: Scott Hogan, Rating: 5.75
Tries ever so hard to do the right thing, but as per usual, it’s beyond him. Something is going wrong for Scott at Villa and it might be time to move him on, despite his decent performance. He can’t seem to score, but he’s a trier. At least he’s a trier.
CM/LW: Jack Grealish, Rating: 6 (MotM) (substitute, 77th minute)
Super Jack came back for a poor Glen Whelan and instantly lit up the park. His technique and intelligence on the pitch has been missed and Villa looked likely to score as soon as he touched the ball. He’s copped some flak in the past for his performances, but it’s good to see him back. Now, how do we fit him in the team?
ST/CM: Callum O’Hare, Rating: 6 (substitute, 40th minute)
O’Hare was bright upon his arrival, but the physical nature of the Wednesday midfield affected his game early on. He looked lively going forward and when Grealish came on, the youngster came to life when he dropped deeper. Came up with some big tackles and was a constant presser in the midfield. Grabbed an assist late on, and needs to start for Villa, somehow. Genuinely quite the player we have in O’Hare
CB/ST: Chris Samba, Rating: 5.5 (substitute, 21st minute)
Chris Samba was at fault for Villa’s second goal, but was on the pitch for about thirty seconds, so you can’t blame him for being unsettled. Settled into the game late on and won almost every header. Was moved upfront by Bruce late on and the move eventually paid off - with 96th minute goal for the big man. You don’t want that decision vindicated!