Friday night once again saw Aston Villa involved in another fixture under the lights. This time the claret and blue made the short journey to the B71 to take on local rivals West Bromwich Albion for the 168th time.
As you could expect from a derby, this about does it in terms of summing up the play last night at The Hawthorns:
In the end, the match finished 2-2 after the officiating crew (i.e. Darren England & co.) allowed this 92nd minute equalizer:
Turns out that it isn’t just Scotland where the refs are having a mare.— SPFL Pish (@stramashing) December 7, 2018
Jay Rodriguez with the most obvious handball that you will ever see in the West Brom - Aston Villa game! pic.twitter.com/EmaQA8IV22
That awful and massive decision led one to wonder whether the referees played this song in their dressing room prior to the match.
Controversy aside, here are the full player ratings -- based on a scale of 1 to 10 -- for last night’s draw with West Brom:
GK: Ørjan Nyland, Rating: 5.25
There were plenty of ‘Villans’ on social media that felt the often-maligned Norwegian should have collected the cross that led to Jay Rodriguez’s “goal.” Admittedly this was his rating prior to that passage of play. To be fair to Ørjan, he was absolutely clattered by the West Brom striker and Axel Tuanzebe.
That moment aside, Nyland had a decent outing last night. He managed four total saves including two late on (i.e. 82nd & 92nd minutes). Villa’s keeper also did well to collect the ball at the feet of Dwight Gayle in the 89th minute. Had he not done that, the Baggies would have likely scored a proper equalizer.
LB: Neil Taylor, Rating: 5 (substituted off, 52nd minute)
Two clearances just outside the 18-yard box, an interception and a couple of tackles -- the Welsh left-back put in an average spell. Though he rather was lucky in the 47th minute when he allowed Gayle to have an uncontested headed attempt from close range.
Taylor’s night was done five minutes later as he went off with what appeared to be a hamstring issue.
CB: Axel Tuanzebe, Rating: 5.75
The young centre-back has definitely improved as a player this season, particularly under Dean Smith. His play at The Hawthorns -- for the better part of the match -- was evident of that.
As the match progressed, the Manchester United loanee looked more and more comfortable. Tuanzebe tallied nine clearances in or around the box and also successfully completed his attempted tackles. In addition, he was a perfect 3 for 3 in his defensive aerial duals and completed 45 of his 52 total passes (i.e. 87%).
However, as previously mentioned he didn’t exactly help his goalkeeper during the robbery. Even with that said, Tuanzebe was still pretty good.
CB: James Chester, Rating: 5.75
Much like his partner in the centre of defence, ‘Chezzy’ put in a solid performance. He too completed 87% of his passes, but attempted far fewer.
The former West Brom man made nine clearances within 20-yards of Villa’s goal -- the majority of which came in the second half. Chester also made a vital tackle in the 70th minute when Dwight Gayle had the ball at his feet just a few yards away from goal.
Throw on a couple of aerial duals won as well as a block or two and the Welshman acquitted himself well in last night’s derby.
RB/LB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 5.25
There is no question that Harvey Barnes absolutely did him in when he created the Baggies first goal in the 28th minute. Hutton was absolutely caught out and that error cost Aston Villa. Though from an analytical standpoint, the Scot did enough to redeem himself.
Hutton ended the match with nine defensive clearances, five blocks and an interception. One of those blocks came in the 49th minute when he slid to stop Barnes’ dangerous effort from eight-yards out. As per usual, he was active in both halves of the pitch with 59 total touches.
Had the ‘Scottish Cafu’ not made a crucial error, his rating would have been higher because as he was fairly productive statistically.
LCM: Jack Grealish, Rating: 6.5 (substituted off, 87th minute)
Here is a compilation of his matches so far this season:
As per usual, Grealish had plenty of touches (i.e. 61) that drew defenders and subsequently led him to be battered. It appeared he needed some ice when he went off in the 87th minute.
Villa’s no. 10 finished the night with an assist and very well could have tallied one or two more if Tammy Abraham had brought his shooting boots. Given that he is a boyhood ‘Villan’ you have also got to love this interview.
CM: Conor Hourihane, Rating: 5.5
The Irish midfielder got away with one in the 33rd when he attempted to clear the ball out of defence by playing it low and across the pitch --learned not to do that in primary school.
However, he once again demonstrated box-to-box nature. His shift included three defensive clearances, 59 touches, and a pass completion rate of 87% (i.e. 41 of 47).
The mental lapse aside, Hourihane delivered a decent performance against Darren Moore’s men.
RCM: John McGinn, Rating: 6.25
John Champion called the match in the states. In the 38th minute after McGinn hit a rocket from 20-yards that was only denied by the post, Champion said this:
“He [McGinn] really has some energy about him…some dynamism.”
Hear! Hear! The Scot was a menace at times with his industry and completed 100% of his attempted tackles. With his play against West Brom, it was no surprise to see ‘Villans’ make posts such as this:
LW: Yannick Bolasie, Rating: 5.75 (Substituted off, 82nd minute)
The Ivorian seems to be finding the creative form that led Everton to pay Crystal Palace £25m for his services in the summer of 2016.
Against the Baggies, Bolasie attempted 21 total passes -- 20 of which came in the attacking half. Of those passes, seven were crosses into the box from the left flank. The winger further showcased his ability to give defenders all sorts trouble with his trickery on the ball. Unfortunately his attacking intent did not produce a goal or an assist, but it was still enough to boost his overall rating.
RW: Anwar El Ghazi, Rating: 8.25 (MotM)
As a fledgling legal eagle please see the following:
- Exhibit A
Note: by the letter of the law, his attempt was on target and thus he gets credit for the opening goal in the 12th minute.
- Exhibit B
Based on those exhibits we conclude that the Dutch loanee absolutely put on a display at The Hawthorns. With that said, Anwar El Ghazi was undoubtedly our ‘Man of the Match.’ Now the question is, does he really want to go back to Lille, France?
ST: Tammy Abraham, Rating: 4.75
The reigning Championship player of the month and in-form striker had five total shots in the 18-yard box. Four of those were actually on target. Yet when the final whistle blew, Tammy Abraham’s goal column had a big ol’ goose egg in it. With the recent standard the Chelsea loanee has set, his performance in the derby was below par.
Though if there was one bright spot to his play last night, it was Tammy showing just how good he is at getting into dangerous positions.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady, Rating: 5 (Substituted on, 52nd minute)
With four clearances and 21 touches in roughly 40-minutes of action, Elmo did enough to spell the injured Neil Taylor.
LW: Jonathan Kodjia, Rating: N/A (Substituted on, 82nd minute)
‘Jimmy Danger’ came on with fresh legs and brought a bit of energy as well as a dribble or two in attack. However, he did not really have an impact.
LCM: Glenn Whelan, Rating: N/A (Substituted on, 87th minute)
John Champion said Whelan was brought on because “he knows how to see out matches.”
Aston Villa will play host to Stoke City next Saturday afternoon (15:00 GMT, 10:00 EST & 7:00 PST). As always UTV!