The scoreline says mainly all that needs to be said: Aston Villa 3-0 ‘Boro. Three against might be a bit harsh to Boro fans, but it’s the very nature of the game. We deserved to win, and we did as such. It was a great three points picked up to continue to dive head first into the craziness of this league, and this stretch of matches in this holiday span.
Here's the match ratings:
Ørjan Nyland—(8)— Great, great, response after allowing five goals in the midweek outing. Lots of criticism was thrown his way, and he responded with an away shutout. He came out and grabbed the ball well, there were one or two nervy moments where he didn’t quite get the ball off his line, but he surely made up for any mistakes today with a save on a shot from eight yards out that he barely got fingers to and pushed onto the bar. Not five minutes later, its 3-0. Saved it from going 2-1, and good things came. Well done yesterday, for sure.
Ahmed Elmohamady—(7)—Nothing to really complain about from Elmo today. Stepping in for Hutton, who was suspended for yellow card accumulation, and did the job needed. Didn’t let Boro counter on us, and also provided help in the attack, playing 62 passes, and a completion rate of 82% in the attacking half.
Axel Tuanzebe—(8)— Nothing much to complain about here either, holding onto a shutout away is definitely a positive in this league. Won nine duels, and had five clearances to go along with it, really solid performance from the Manchester United loanee today.
James Chester—(9)— Not just no complaints today for him, our captain even netted a goal, the opening one to put Villa ahead. After a dominating start to the match, it was a crucial flick in off a corner that rewarded Villa with the lead. Pair that with a shutout, and Chester has a damn near perfect performance.
Neil Taylor—(7)— Quiet night for Taylor, with only two tackles and two clearances, and no successful crosses, but he was a distraction to the Boro defense when our wingers went forward, and once again, an away shutout is an away shutout, so there’s not much to knock about the back line today.
Conor Hourihane—(9)—Not really much on the stat-line for Hourihane today (minus the one assist to Whelan at the end), but the stats don’t necessarily show exactly what the engine running the train does. Stopping the Boro attack and starting ours was a crucial part of today’s success, and Conor saw the Sky MOTM for it. A spotty performance for him on Wednesday was part of the five goals that Forest scored, so he made sure he held his own today and didn’t let much by him.
John McGinn—Subbed off for Whelan 82’—(8)—Super John McGinn was a real threat today charging through the midfield. Definitely a workhorse, if that wasn’t already noticed, and really sets the tone for our press. Another guy whose stats won’t show it, but he really put in a shift today. Wish he could convert on more of his chances in and around the box, but it’ll come for him surely. The calf injury might still be a bit lingering, as he’s subbed off late for the second straight game.
Jack Grealish—(8)— For Grealish, this was even a bit of a quiet night on the stat-sheet. Only drawing three fouls is a bit weird for him, but the amount of times he kept possession for us is absolutely absurd, and definitely cannot go without notice. He swings the ball from one side of the field to another, and also links up short passes through the middle of the field with nice combination play. 72 passes total this game for Super Jack, with over an 87% passing rate.
Anwar El Ghazi—(8)— Great to see him be rewarded with a start, and he played the role well. It sort of seems like he was chosen for this match over Kodjia, because of Anwar’s defensive ability too. We saw him work back and win the ball in the defensive third plenty of times (six, in fact), and also creating a couple of chances too. He got hacked a handful of times, and came across with a few knocks, even on clean challenges, and he definitely provides a different, option to Kodjia.
Yannick Bolasie—Subbed off for Kodjia 73’—(9)— Great play from a great player. He dances around often, but it works, and then he puts his head down, drives, and creates chances. Finally fit enough to start, even if it is meaning Adomah is still injured, but Bolasie is providing another big spark to a dangerous side in that attacking third. Perfect ball across for Tammy’s goal, and could’ve had another or two.
Tammy Abraham—Subbed off for Hogan 82’—(9)—He just cannot stop scoring. Even in a game that doesn’t necessarily cater to his strengths against this Boro defense, he finds a way to get on the end of chances, and create his own. Could’ve and should’ve had a penalty called for him early on in the match, just before Chester’s goal, but it was ignored. Then he gets a goal of his own off Bolasie’s cross to put Villa in a bit of a comfort zone later on in the match. At this rate, I just hope Chelsea don’t want him back in January!
Jonathan Kodjia—On for Bolasie 73’—(6)— Shame that he was on for about 20’ and failed to really get into the match. The only reason I remembered that he came on, was because I realized Bolasie was no longer on providing the chances. I love Kodjia, but he’s such a player that rides the confidence wave, and not starting today may have had an effect on that. The one chance he had was a half-chance, getting on the end of a lofted cross back post, which he lofted into the keepers hands.
Scott Hogan—On for Abraham 82’—(8)—In a side that has such a dangerous attack, it’s good to remember we still have Scotty Hogan on the bench ready to make his mark. He came on and immediately became a threat, charging past the defense and firing a shot that was saved, which popped out and eventually Whelan scored. He is definitely eager to get into this side, it’s just bad (for him) that Tammy and our attack is in such good form.
Glenn Whelan—On for McGinn 82’—(8)—Whelan is undertaking the role of a late sub to lock down the lead and the match, and today he got his rare goal. It was a very mediocre shot right at the keeper, but if you get it on net, there’s a chance it’ll go in, and he made that chance happen with his late providing run and strike on net. Hard to judge a performance such as this short one for him, but he got a goal and really provided the comfort he was brought on for, so he got a good rating too.
This was one of my harder ratings I’ve done, because it was a pretty quiet, but solid performance all around. There were plenty of bright spots, and if we play every match like today, I’m really struggling to pick out a side in this league that would beat us. After a crazy week of three matches in six days, we get a little bit of a break, until we go visit fourth-placed West Brom on Friday, in a battle of the top two scoring sides in this league. Should be a good one, UP THE VILLA.