On a chilly one-degree afternoon, Aston Villa continued their busy finish to the calendar year when the welcomed recently promoted Millwall to Villa Park.
Seeing Neil Harris’ side on the schedule, many supporters expected to come away from the match jubilant after having watched Villa take all three points.
That was not the outcome. Sam Johnstone’s fine performance in goal was the highlight of a 0-0 draw.
Perhaps it was the cold that led many in the claret and blue to have a rather stalled performance? Whatever the potential reasons, the play from many can best be described as:
Here are the full player ratings -- based on a scale of 1 to 10 -- for yesterday’s scoreless draw against Millwall:
GK: Sam Johnstone, Rating: 7.5 (MotM)
That pretty much sums it up. Another home draw where the the keeper was the best player on the pitch was not at all what Villans wanted to witness yesterday afternoon.
LB: Neil Taylor, Rating: 5.25
The Welsh international did not pass the eye test as Jed Wallace definitely gave him fits at times and he managed just one successful tackle.
However, other analytics show that he actually had a semi-decent outing. Taylor’s 73 total touches led the claret and blue. He also blocked two crosses and a shot. His two interceptions led the backline in that category.
CB: James Chester, Rating: 5.5
It certainly was not his best outing. But to be fair to ‘Chesty,’ that sentence applies to just about every player in the starting XI.
Chester won every aerial dual he was involved in. He also managed to tally twelve total clearances against Millwall. Five of those clearances came within the 18-yard box after the 50th minute. That stat alone earns him a slightly higher rating than his compatriot, Neil Taylor.
CB: Christopher Samba, Rating: 5.5 (substituted off, 77th minute)
A side that counter-attacks with pace will always expose the fact that the Congolese man lacks a quick step. Certainly, Neil Harris’ men did that at times yesterday.
When it comes to no nonsense defending, Samba can be quite good at that. Against Millwall he had a team leading 15 defensive clearances and 6 won aerial duals. Amazingly, he also completed 87% of his passes!
Given his decent play against the Lions, Samba going off in the 77th minute with a hamstring injury was not a welcomed sight. However, it was made a bit less stressful by this:
What a sight!— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) December 9, 2017
Great to see skipper John Terry continue his rehab as he worked out pre-match at Villa Park today
Looking forward to seeing you back, JT pic.twitter.com/O4Ftyd0Kax
RB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 4.75 (substituted off, 70th minute)
It was a bit of a mixed bag for the Scot yesterday. The combination of both the good and the bad pretty much leveled his play out to just a “meh.” He’ll have to do much better to be under consideration next year:
Dunno how Alan Hutton didn’t win the Ballon d’Or but always next year I guess?— Cray (@joeetaylor37) December 7, 2017
LM/RM: Albert Adomah, Rating: 5
In terms of taking on defenders in attack, Adomah was probably the player who did it most consistently yesterday at Villa Park. The downside of that for the Ghanaian was that he was also dispossessed quite a bit (i.e. seven times).
None of his three shots were on target. Unfortunately he was not able to make his performance on his 29th birthday a very memorable one. Nonetheless, Happy Birthday Albert!
CM: Glenn Whelan, Rating: 4.75
The Irish midfielder’s play was nothing to write home about. He had just 45 total touches. The only real high point of Whelan’s play was that he did track back on defence and clear the Millwall threat on three occasions.
CM: Henri Lansbury, Rating: 6.25
The former Forest man and hero of last Friday’s draw at Leeds got the start over Conor Hourihane. That decision by Steve Bruce was a move that left many supporters a bit curious.
That said, Henri Lansbury did rather well to justify his place in the starting XI. Lansbury led Aston Villa with 84 total touches from box-to-box. He also tallied eight defensive clearances and completed 59 of his 70 total passes.
When it comes to those passes, some of his forward distribution (i.e. 48 passes) was simply outstanding. After his play against Millwall, you would not be shocked to see him starting next Saturday at Pride Park.
RM: Robert Snodgrass, Rating: 4.75 (substituted off, 59th minute)
Snodgrass completed just 17 of his 28 passes (i.e. 61%) and had just two successful attacking dribbles. Suffice to say, Jack Grealish coming on for the Scot was a good substitution.
CAM: Josh Onomah, Rating: 5
The English U20 had some decent moves in possession of the ball. The vast majority of his 68 total touches were in Millwall’s defensive half.
His attacking intent is one thing that does consistently stand out. Villa were fairly poor going forward and the youngster did not get much help from his team-mates at times. Onomah’s also never afraid to have a go, even from distance. Millwall defenders blocked all three of his attempts.
It was certainly better as Onomah looked sharper that he did the last time out.
ST: Keinan Davis, Rating: 5.5
Davis’ left footed shot in the 11th minute was one of the best attempts the claret and blue had all afternoon.
Once again, Davis’ strength and hold-up played helped create some of Villa’s better attacking moves. The 19-year-old also had six successful dribbles, won three aerial duals and completed 85% of his passes.
Goals are the only thing that continues to be missing from otherwise, fairly solid performances up front.
LM: Jack Grealish, Rating: 5.25 (substitute, 59th minute)
Grealish came off the bench to provide Steve Bruce’s side with a bit of a spark. His curled shot in the 67th minute was Villa’s only attempt on target. He also had two other shots blocked.
In his 35 minutes on the pitch, he had 25 total touches and completed over 90% of his passes. Could it beneficial to potentially give him a start on the right flank?
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady, Rating: 5 (substitute, 70th minute)
He was definitely brought on to try to create chances and notch Villa a winning goal. Whilst he was able to play a couple of balls into the box, they ultimately did not create much of a threat.
On a day in which Alan Hutton was not at his best, Elmo was the slightly better option late on.
CB: Tommy Elphick, Rating: 5 (substitute, 78th minute)
Our Phil Vogel had the right take:
Samba down injured. Hogan pulled back -- so he won't be the final change. Tommy Elphick coming on (remember him?!)— 7500 To Holte (@7500toHolte) December 9, 2017
With Scott Hogan ready to come on, it was Christopher Samba’s knock that saw out of favour Tommy Elphick get time on the pitch.
The Bournemouth legend was probably fortunate not to immediately be shown a card for a bad challenge. However, he did have three headed defensive clearances. Elphick gets a rating for helping Villa see out the match.