With the World Cup next summer, this season’s international breaks should provide Villa supporters with a little more to get excited about.
However, with the likelihood that it could potentially be a relatively quiet Transfer Deadline Day, minus any quality live shots on the telly, we figured it a great time to assess the first month of Villa’s 2017/18 campaign.
With Steve Bruce’s side having played seven total matches in the month of August, we will summarize the monthly average rating for each player that made an appearance for Aston Villa.
Keep in mind, due in large part to scheduling conflicts and the EFL’s ridiculousness, it was collectively decided that we were unable to knowledgeably provide comprehensive individual ratings for Aston Villa’s 4-1 victory over Wigan in the Carabao Cup. Though that match will be addressed, especially for those who stood out.
Below are our full player ratings — based on a scale of 1 to 10, with 5 being average — for the month of August. Please note the averages are based on total performance rate divided by number of appearances.
GK: Sam Johnstone, 5 appearances – Average Rating: 5.5
The Manchester United keeper that Steve Bruce clearly rates has not managed to keep a clean sheet in five Champsionship appearances thus far. However, last season Johnstone tallied eight clean sheets in just twenty-one appearances.
His play in five league matches received a slightly above average rating from us. If Villa can tighten things up at the back, hopefully Johnstone can approach or exceed last season’s rate of roughly four clean sheets for every ten appearances (i.e. 38.1%).
RB: Ritchie De Laet, 2 appearances – Average Rating: 3
After missing nearly all of last season with a serious knee injury, the Belgian has made two appearances for the claret and blue this season. One of those was on the road at Reading where he was a part of a subpar collective effort.
His other run-out was against Wigan Athletic in the second round of the Carabao Cup. In that match, De Laet assisted on Villa’s fourth and final goal (Bjarnason, 74’). With that said, he has shown glimpses that he is capable of being a viable option for Steve Bruce at right-back. Based on that match, De Laet probably deserves a slightly higher average rating.
LB/LWB: Neil Taylor, 5 appearances – Average Rating: 5.1 (on-duty with Wales this break)
The Welsh International having an average rating for his five appearances in the Championship is not at all shocking. When healthy, Taylor looks like he will consistently provide Villa with a decent enough showing while throwing in the occasional great or poor performance. Having a reliable performer on the left side of defence is certainly welcomed after some of the recent misses in that role (e.g. Jordan Amavi).
CB/LCB: Chris Samba, 4 appearances – Average Rating: 4.8
The big man has been an easy target for critical supporters this season. We were admittedly generous with his rating in the victory over Norwich City at Villa Park.
However, in his appearances against Colchester United and Bristol City, the Congolese defender did enough to fall right below average. Samba is undoubtedly off-pace, but in August he at times showed that he still has something to offer defensively. Though we must say, he should not be in the starting XI.
CB/RB: James Chester, 6 appearances – Average Rating: 5.4 (on-duty with Wales this break)
After the first month of the campaign, Chester came out with the highest average of all of Steve Bruce’s typical first team back four. We are glad our assessment showed that because the Welshman currently looks like the most reliable centre back Villa have going forward.
CM/CDM: Glenn Whelan, 5 appearances – Average Rating: 4.7 (on-duty with Ireland this break)
It has been a bit uneven for the central midfielder signed from Stoke over the summer. Whelan has been fairly consistent in terms of his passing accuracy. However, his ability to create from the midfield has been far too often hindered by him being needed to sit deep in front of the back line.
Whelan certainly adds depth and experience in midfield for Steve Bruce. With Mile Jedinak likely returning to full fitness after the break, we have to think the Irish international might not continually be a starter.
CM/CAM: Henri Lansbury, 3 appearances – Average Rating: 5.4
Once considered one of the top-20 future English stars, it has not really gone as predicted for Henri Lansbury. That isn’t to say he hasn’t carved out a decent professional career.
In August, against Norwich City, the attacking midfielder had one of his better performances since transferring from Forest. In that match his two assists earned him a 7.0 rating that counter balanced a couple of uneventful appearances.
It looks likely that Lansbury will probably only feature as a substitute as Bruce’s men continue to get back to full fitness.
ST: Scott Hogan, 6 appearances – Average Rating: 5.5
Hogan’s rating is perhaps one of our most flawed because of our inability to comprehensively cover the 4-1 victory over Wigan Athletic. The striker scored two in that match, including this beauty:
That performance would without question bolster his average rating. Stats show that Villa need to be more prolific this season if they are to get promoted. That said, with three goals in six, Scott Hogan clearly has it in him. Steve Bruce could probably do with playing Hogan a bit more.
LCM/CF: Gabby Agbonhalor, 3 appearances – Average Rating: 5.2
Gabby’s 2017/18 campaign started off with a flyer as his goal against Hull City earned him Man of the Match honours. However, then came his next outing against Cardiff City where Phil Vogel rightfully said the following:
LM/RM/CM/CF (?) ….What position is he playing? Does he know? Was all over the pitch — and not in a good way.
It doesn’t appear that the Erdington native and Villa youth product will likely ever find the form that once earned three appearances for England. That’s probably a bit of a tough ask. However, if Gabby can score any more goals this campaign, he’ll have bested his output from last season.
GK: Jed Steer, 2 appearances – Average Rating: 8
Unlike Scott Hogan, Steer’s August rating would be decreased after his appearance against Wigan in the Carabao Cup. However, it would not be by much because minus the goal he let in, the majority of that match was a walk in Villa Park for ole’ Jed!
On the road at rain soaked Colchester United, he was our MotM. Steer had a couple of outstanding saves that night. His play in goal helped spare Villa the embarrassment of a second consecutive first round loss to a League-Two side.
CM/CAM: Conor Hourihane, 5 appearances – Average Rating: 6.75 (on-duty with Ireland this break)
The Irishman did not end up with the highest overall rating for the month of August. That doesn’t take away from his memorable performance against Norwich that helped earn him player of the month hounours.
Hourihane did not exactly shine at Colchester United and came on against Cardiff when the game was beyond lost. His three following performances were far far better, as he has tallied four total goals to become Villa’s top scorer going into the break.
Hopefully his run of form continues when he returns from duty with the Irish national team.
RB: James Bree, 4 appearances – Average Rating: 5.5
In our view, when the young prospect signed from Barnsley has been on the pitch, he has acquitted himself rather well. Bree looks like an astute signing for not just the future, but NOW!
Alan Hutton has been rather poor and the target of ire from supporters. With that said, it will be interesting to see who gets the nod at RB against Brentford on September 9th. It seems like Bruce should go with Bree, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him give the start to Hutton, Ritchie De Laet or even, Ahmed Elmohamady.
CM/CAM: Josh Onomah, 6 appearances – Average Rating: 6
If you look at the table above, the 20-year old Spurs loanee has been consistently good for Steve Bruce. Wearing no. 18 ironically, it appears that he is the best box-to-box midfield prospect that Villa has had since Fabian Delph slithered off to Manchester City.
In has last outing on the road at Ashton Gate, Onomah was the Man of the Match after his strike earned Villa a much needed away point. If he continues to perform well for Aston Villa this season and doesn’t figure into Mauricio Pochettino’s future plans at White Hart Lane, we’d encourage Dr. Xia to get out his checkbook.
LM/LW: Andre Green, 5 appearances – Average Rating: 6.3 (on-duty with England’s U20 this break)
There is a reason why the 19-year-old academy product earned his first call-up to the English U20 team for this international break. Keith Downing clearly witnessed the same thing we did in the month of August, Green’s quality performances.
The pace and goal scoring threat from the left wing that Green exhibited this past month is already attracting many Premier League suitors. Hopefully Villa will be able to keep him for the long-term and Villa Park sees many more goals like this:
LM/LW/LB: Birkir Bjarnason, 4 appearances – Average Rating: 4.7 (on-duty with Iceland this break)
The Icelander is another player who would have benefited from a rating in the cup-tie versus Wigan Athletic. In that match he started in his natural position on the left. That night ‘Thor’ was able to latch onto Ritchie De Laet’s cross and net his first goal for the club.
With that said, his month of August wasn’t a bad one. When he came on as a substitute, Birkir showed that at the very least, he is going to give it his all each time out. We figure he’ll continue to be primarily used as a substitute going forward.
RB: Alan Hutton, 4 appearances – Average Rating: 4
Gordan Strachan did not select Hutton for national team duty this break.
While it is possible that choice was because Hutton has an ankle injury, we’d like to think it was because of his poor play in the month of August. The general consensus amongst supporters is that the Scot shouldn’t continue to start at right-back for Steve Bruce.
We will see if he feels similarly when the claret and blue return to play at home against Brentford on September 9th. If Hutton is given the nod, Villa’s boss won’t win himself any points with yours truly or our Alex Carson:
WHY IS ALAN HUTTON IN THE SQUAD— alex carson (@crashcarson15) August 19, 2017
CB: John Terry, 5 appearances – Average Rating: 4.7
Billed by Steve Bruce as the most important signing of the summer, the Chelsea legend did not exactly live up to that label in his five Championship appearances.
Terry did well enough at times for a slightly below average rating. However, in those matches, it did appear that time has naturally caught up to the 36-year-old. However, given that he will likely remain Bruce’s captain, supporters should do what ‘JT26’ asked from the outset (i.e. for awhile longer):
John Terry singing 'Stand By Me' at his Villa initiation. pic.twitter.com/5fhnSxPwuc— Football Stands (@TheFootyStands) July 6, 2017
RM/RW/RWB: Ahmed Elmohamady, 4 appearances – Average Rating: 5.8 (on-duty with Egypt this break)
The Egyptian that plays anywhere on the right flank once again linked up with Steve Bruce over the summer. His play in four Championship appearances was by and large fairly decent.
Elmo got an assist on one of Conor Hourihane’s three goals against Norwich City. In each of his appearances, with Bristol City being the one glaring exception, he exhibited great vision and the ability to pick out a pass or cross. What he also does well that doesn’t garner much attention, is track back defensively to win aerial balls.
However, with the recent play of Albert Adomah (see below) and signing of Robert Snodgrass on-loan, Steve Bruce should have an embarrassment of riches in the right of midfield. The next few outings in September will provide a preview of where Elmohamady fits in.
CAM/CM: Callum O’Hare, 3 appearances – Average Rating: 6
In his first-team debut against Colchester United, the Villa youth product was simply brilliant. In that match he was played in his preferred no. 10 role. O’Hare wowed supporters with both his ability on-the-ball as well as vision to pick out a forward pass.
Against Cardiff City, the 19-year-old once again showed glimpses of play that suggest he has a very exciting future at Villa Park. O’Hare was also a part of a young starting XI against Wigan Athletic in the Carabao Cup. Hopefully he continues to feature going forward because as Steve Bruce told the Birmingham Mail after the trip to Colchester :
“He’s a breath of fresh air.
RM/RW: Albert Adomah, 4 apperances – Average Rating: 5.7
After Villa’s loss against Reading, our James Rushton questioned why Adomah did not start. The Ghanian’s play against Wigan Athletic would have increased his average and left some of you asking the same question:
Adomah faces competition from Elmo and Snodgrass for the rest of the campaign. Though with one goal and two assists thus far, for every match he is fully fit, the winger should be named in the team.
ST: Keinan Davis, 3 appearances – Average Rating: 7.75 (on-duty with England’s U20 this break)
In two appearances in the Championship against Norwich City and Bristol City, the young striker sparkled.
Like his teammate Andre Green, his play was enough to draw the attention of Keith Downing. Davis is strong beyond his years and can hold-up the ball extremely well. In addition to that, he has shown a willingness to track down long balls. That tracking combined with his hold-up play caused numerous threats in opponents halves.
The 19-year-old was just about grabbed himself a goal or two in August. Having drawn comparisons to Christian Benteke, he looks to be a great find by the club’s scouting deparment. With such praise, Steve Bruce will likely give Davis more and more opportunities this campaign.
CM: Leandro Bacuna, 1 appearance – Average Rating: 4
After a poor performance on opening day against Hull City, the Curaçaoan international was booed of the pitch when replaced in the 71st minute. From then on, Bacuna and many supporters shared a mutual disdain. He was subsequently sold to Reading. On his home debut, he went peak Bacuna (watch and you’ll see)
A number of other players made an appearance for Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup. They largely fall into the following two categories:
- Talented Youth Academy Prospects (expect to see more of them in the future)
Young forward came on as a substitute in the 69th minute at Colchester United.
Easah Suliman (on-duty for England’s U20 this break)
The defender scored for England in their U19 World Cup Final against Portugal. He is one to watch. Suliman made his first-team debut as a substitute against Wigan Athletic.
The 18-year old defensive back, made his initial first team appearance as a starter in Villa’s 4-1 win over Wigan Athletic. Typically featuring right side of defence in Villa’s youth ranks, Clark acquitted himself well starting on the left for Steve Bruce.
Much like Mitch Clark, the young Irish midfielder also debuted as a starter in the second round of the Carabao Cup. Jake was also a rather impressive debutant.
- “Are you Transfer Window Shopping? Please have a look what we have on special.”
Elphick got a run-out as a starter against Wigan Athletic. It will be interesting to see if the Bournemouth legend will be at Villa after midnight tonight.
Much like Elphick, the midfielder has also been rumoured to be moving to a host of clubs. Against the Latics, he too featured in Steve Bruce’s starting XI.
Against Wigan, the Aussie replaced young Jake Doyle-Hayes in 78th minute. We’re not sure he has necessarily been linked with a move away, but does he have a role this campaign?
When the Scot came on as a substitute versus Wigan, the Villa Park faithful really wanted him to grab a goal. Unfortunately the striker whiffed on his best opportunity. How long will he be with the club?