Aston Villa were clearly suffering from a Christmas hangover as they went to Brentford and... just got slapped up a bit, really.
Dean Smith’s Brentford are a side with ideas and smarts, while Villa’s timid approach gifted the game to Brentford. End this year, please.
Here are the full player ratings -- based on a scale of 1 to 10 -- with five being an average performance.
GK: Sam Johnstone, Rating: 4.75
Looked resolute in the early stages, and made the box his kingdom. Wasn’t at fault for Brentford’s first goal, as Romaine Sawyers’ shot came through the legs of James Chester.
However, Johnstone’s performance deteriorated as the game went on. He almost gifted Brentford a second by flapping at a routine ball into the box. When Brentford’s second did come, he remained rooted to his line and was unable to react to the situation unfolding before him.
A stupid push on Lasse Vibe that went unpunished sums up the immaturity that remains in this very talented keepers game.
LB: Neil Taylor, Rating: 4.5
We’ll get to defensive discipline later - when we talk about Tommy Elphick - but Neil Taylor showed far too much positional stoicism when he refused to close down an open Romaine Sawyers. If he did, he may have stopped the Brentford man from shooting, and scoring. Missed interceptions and poor forward play was the order of the day for this man. His game was topped when his cross overshot a surging Keinan Davis.
CB: James Chester, Rating: 5
You know that scene in Spider-Man Homecoming when the Staten Island ferry is coming apart and he’s just hanging there, screaming, trying to hold it all from collapsing? That’s James Chester all the damn time
CB: Tommy Elphick, Rating: 3.75 (Substituted for Ahmed Elmohamady, 84th Minute)
Tommy Elphick played the role of hero and villain in this game. He came to Villa’s rescue in the first half with a crucial block, but his lapse of judgement in the second half allowed Brentford to find a new lease of life. Thankfully, he recovered well to save his, and Villa’s blushes.
He played a part in Brentford’s second by colliding with Josh Onomah during a corner. Villa need so much more at the back than this man can provide. An entire game of solid play can be undone by a few seconds of madness. For whatever reason, Elphick lacks so much discipline in his role - and it shows.
RB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 5
An average showing from Alan Hutton, who flew down the flanks for Villa. Was never a real danger, but gave Brentford something to think about. Should have spent the whole game getting mugged off by Canos, but the Spaniard was too busy cutting inside to worry James Chester.
Hutton did slightly better than his left-sided counterpart in that he actually did things down the right.
LM: Albert Adomah, Rating: N/A (Substituted for Josh Onomah, 18th Minute)
Started very brightly for Villa, but took a kick to the family jewels and couldn’t really get his feet under him for the ten minutes he remained on the pitch post-incident.
CM: Glenn Whelan, Rating: 5 (Substituted for Keinan Davis, 67th Minute)
A quiet game for Glenn who settled in well after ballsing up a counter to gift Brentford the lead. Didn’t seem to do much, but that’s his job.
CM: Mile Jedinak, Rating: 5.75
Probably one of Villa’s better performers. Was resolute in his approach and his quick-thinking to win the ball and play in Snodgrass meant that Villa could easily equalise. A quiet game for Mile is a good game for Villa, usually.
RM/LM: Robert Snodgrass, Rating: 4.5
Villa had a number of good set-piece chances, and none of them were a danger thanks to Snodgrass and his inability to get the ball over a wall. These are wasted opportunities now, especially when you can see first-hand how Brentford use set pieces to steal chances. The Scotsman was frustrated by a solid Brentford defence and he should have gambled more on Grealish’s ball in, because he’d have had a goal.
On the flipside, his neat play to push Hogan to the byline helped create Villa’s goal.
CAM: Jack Grealish, Rating: 6
You’ll see a lot of people criticising Jack Grealish for his display in the Brentford match, and yes - he was poor for the first 20 or so minutes. After that, it was very much his game. His crosses in were pitch-perfect and the fact that they didn’t result in a goal is a failing on the part of Villa’s strikeforce. How some of his corners weren’t reached by a Villa player is a complete showcase of Bruce’s terrible set-piece play. This is basic!
Always surged forward and always looked to create, he’s getting a lot of hate, but he’s the only man looking to win a game for Villa.
ST: Scott Hogan, Rating: 6.25 (MotM for Villa)
A brilliant first half for the Villa man was capped off by a cool cross in to assist the rampant Josh Onomah. Hogan looked bright when Villa actually involved him in play, including a neat 1-2 with Grealish that was an inch offside, otherwise it’d have been a goal for Hogan.
It became a bit hit and hope as the second half started, and thus Hogan faded. A shame, as his first-half was probably his best spell in a Villa shirt so far. That means Bruce will bench him going forward, though.
LM/CAM: Josh Onomah, Rating: 4.75 (substitute, 18th minute)
Did well to score a tremendous headed goal from Scott Hogan’s cross, but dropped off considerably after. Villa’s long ball approach ignored him, among others, and he found disaster when he ran into Tommy Elphick to gift Lasse Vibe a goal.
RM: Ahmed Elmohamady, Rating: N/A (substitute, 84th minute)
Came on for Elphick and started brightly with some good balls in. Too late for a serious rating though.
ST: Keinan Davis, Rating: 5 (substitute, 67th minute)
He’s a bright spark for Villa, but when he comes on, it signals a ‘Pulisball’ approach for Villa, who just start to kick it at him. He did find a bit of success, but was denied three times by solid defending from Brentford. He’ll score, eventually.