With a full week of buildup to the 124th Second City Derby between Aston Villa and Birmingham City, the anticipation heading into yesterday’s match at Villa Park was palpable.
As always, the week heading into the fixture was filled with banter and storylines. Aston Villa would be hoping to add to their six match-winning streak whilst the Blues would look to make it five matches without a defeat. On top of that, the week saw Steve Bruce face a personal tragedy and there were questions as to whether or not he’d be on the touchline.
Well all questions were answered yesterday in the B6. Steve Bruce did indeed manage, and his decision to start Mile Jedinak paid dividends as Aston Villa won their seventh Championship match in a row.
With goals from Albert Adomah and Conor Hourihane, Villa’s 2-0 victory over the Blues was their 54th in the Second City Derby. The claret and blue’s all-time record now stands at: 54W – 32D – 38L.
After that result all supporters can proudly proclaim: “THE CITY IS OURS.” On top of that, and just as important, Aston Villa’s derby triumph moved them into 2nd in the league!
Here are the full player ratings -- based on a scale of 1 to 10 -- for Sunday’s 2-0 victory over the Blues:
GK: Sam Johnstone, Rating: 5.75
Villa’s keeper had a rather quiet day as the Blues only managed two total shots on target. Johnstone saved both of those efforts and was also quick to react to Alan Hutton’s headed effort in the 33rd minute!
John Terry’s slip left Johnstone out to dry nine minutes later. Fortunately for Villa, Sam Gallagher smashed his initial effort off the post and sailed the rebound over the bar.
At times Johnstone’s distribution wasn’t the best, but a clean sheet – his 22nd in Aston Villa’s goal – has to count for something.
LB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 6
As per usual, Hutton had a lot of touches and attempted passes in both halves (i.e. 68 and 62). When he ventured on long runs forward, he occasionally linked-up well with Albert Adomah on the left.
As the match went on, his passing in attack improved. Tack on three clearances around the box and it is fair to say the Scot put in another solid shift as the starting left-back.
The decision not to extend his contract after this season led to mixed emotions amongst Villans. At the very least, one has to admire Alan Hutton’s passion and tenacity:
Bruvvvv I’m creasinnngg ahahaha he got blasted pic.twitter.com/VXRXMOe3q8— R (@1RBS2) February 11, 2018
CB: John Terry, Rating: 6.5
Terry had five clearances and two blocks in the box. He won all of his aerial duals and completed the majority of his attempted tackles.
His unfortunate slip aside, the captain did exactly what you’d want in a contentious rivalry - lead the claret and blue on the pitch.
Exhibit “A”: His coming to the defence of Mile Jedinak after Cheikh Ndoye clattered into yet another Villa player in the 94th minute. By that point Terry was probably like most who witnessed the match, tired of the Senegalese’s antics. Ndoye would ultimately see a second yellow for his stupidity. His interaction with Villa’s captain created a memeworthy photo:
All bets cancelled for John Terry to appear on @bbcstrictly next year pic.twitter.com/XjOYzZ1Zyg— Andy Jack (@ajack1888) February 11, 2018
Exhibit “B”: Look at John Terry’s celebration in front of the Holte End after yesterday’s win. You can tell just how much it meant to him – absolute scenes:
The City is Ours ❤️ #PartOfThePride #AVFC pic.twitter.com/2KU0EawWvs— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) February 11, 2018
CB: James Chester, Rating: 6.5
A team-leading ten clearances as well as a 100% success rate on his aerial duels - well Dan Bardell, we concur.
The Welsh centre-back was once again an integral part of another quality defensive effort from Steve Bruce’s men.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady, Rating: 6
Elmo was tasked with going up against Jérémie Boga yesteday afternoon. With a combination of menacing pace and poor finishing, 21-year-old Chelsea man put in a performance that would have made Adama proud.
His total number of touches and attempted passes were almost identical to those of Alan Hutton. He also was a perfect three for three on attempted tackles. Even though he was troubled at times, on the whole, the Egyptian had a good outing.
CDM: Mile Jedinak, Rating: 8 (co-MotM)
Steve Bruce showed a lot of gumption starting the beard over Birkir Bjarnason. Clearly Villa’s gaffer was onto something as Mile Jedinak was a f*#*#*g rock against Birmingham City.
Yesterday, the claret and blue won 28 aerial duals. Mile Jedinak accounted for 11 of those. The Australian was involved in a total of 17 offensive and defensive aerial battles.
Sitting in front of the back four, Jedinak tallied seven clearances, three blocks, three tackles, and two interceptions.
After his performance yesterday at Villa Park, one would not be shocked to see Jedinak’s next professional venture be as a wall consultant for a certain orange-hued leader.
He built one yesterday and ultimately shared ‘Man of the Match’ honours with Jack Grealish.
LM: Albert Adomah, Rating: 7.5 (substituted off, 88th minute)
Albert Adomah. 1-0 #avfc pic.twitter.com/qWE7Y7aT06— villareport (@villareport) February 11, 2018
His 60th minute goal yesterday was absolutely vital as both Villa Park and the squad were buzzing after the Ghanaian’s 14th of the season. He probably could have had another via two first half chances. When he’s on, like he was yesterday against the Blues, Adomah provides quite the threat on the left.
Yesterday, the Sky Sports broadcasters called Albert Adomah, “King of his subjects in the Holte End…” and “…one of the best players in the Championship.”
The man is becoming a legend with his play this season.
CM: Conor Hourihane, Rating: 7.25
"Aston Villa looking for the killer strike... there it is! And there it is in style from Conor Hourihane! They may just have won the second city derby again!"— AVFC Goals (@avfcgoals) February 11, 2018
Conor Hourihane Vs Birmingham City (11/02/2018) #AVFC pic.twitter.com/bAxktlzTFr
What a strike that. It was an absolute dagger to the hearts of any Bluenoses who somehow thought they’d finally get a result at Villa Park. You’ll always get a rating for scoring in a derby win.
With his 8th Championship goal, the Irish midfielder is also endearing himself to Villa supporters.
CM: Jack Grealish, Rating: 8 (co-MotM) (substituted off, 84th minute)
Here are some of Grealish’s numbers against the Blues:
- 82% passing accuracy (42 out of 52)
- 77 total touches
- Fouled 6 times
- Completed 5 of 6 dribbles
- 4 key passes
- 1 assist
This just about sums it up perfectly:
My other observation so far: Jack Grealish is about 86 times better at football than anyone else on the pitch, and possibly in Birmingham.— Rory Smith (@RorySmith) February 11, 2018
You’d be pressed to find a superlative that doesn’t fit the recent play of Jack Grealish. One has to wonder whether former Aston Villa man, Gareth Southgate, has taken note of Grealish just bossing matches for the claret and blue.
RM: Robert Snodgrass, Rating: 7
Against Steve Cotterill’s side, the Scot filled up the stat sheet. Whilst he did not necessarily lead Villa in any category, Snodgrass did a little bit of everything yesterday.
He went close on one of his two shots in the 87th minute. Snodgrass also played two key passes and had a number of dangerous deliveries. His 68 total touches tied him with countryman Alan Hutton for second most on the day. Tack on a couple of blocks as well as clearances and you get the picture.
If Villa go on to achieve promotion, it might be worthwhile to make his loan from West Ham permanent.
ST: Scott Hogan, Rating: 6 (substituted off, 78th minute)
Hogan very nearly got the opening goal in the 18th minute. A good piece of individual skill led to a volleyed effort that rattled David Stockdale’s crossbar.
The in-form striker did not produce a better attempt, but he did use his industry and pace to threaten the Blues defence. Whilst he did not extend his scoring run, Scott Hogan showed that he should continue to be dangerous with the ball at his feet.
ST: Lewis Grabban, Rating: 5.25 (substitute, 78th minute)
The striker, on loan from Bournemouth, made his debut in the derby. He produced a quality touch that created a chance for Robert Snodgrass.
CM/LM: Birkir Bjarnason, Rating: 5.5 (substitute, 84th minute)
His left-footed effort in the 89th minute probably would have been Aston Villa’s third, but it was blocked. After a recent spell of fine performances, perhaps he was unlucky not to start. However, competition in the squad is not a bad thing.
CM: Glenn Whelan, Rating: 5 (substitute, 88th minute)
Came on and Villa saw out another clean sheet.
Aston Villa travel to the banks of the Thames to take on red-hot Fulham next Saturday at Craven Cottage. To sign off:
We’re going up, they’re going down, we’re going up, they’re going down pic.twitter.com/RB93YKpbdU— HomeOfTheVilla (@TheVillaHome) February 11, 2018