In the deep snow of Northern England, Aston Villa found it far too easy to succumb to a Bolton Wanderer’s team languishing in the bottom half of the table.
Over 4,000 of the Villa faithful travelled to Bolton to witness Villa’s second demoralising defeat in a row. Bolton had to work harder than Villa, due to the gulf in quality, and did just that. Their work ethic bled out on the pitch, and Villa will have to learn a lot of lessons from that.
No excuses anymore. The pressure can’t get to Villa again. I’d find it hard to single out any single man as being ‘the reason why we lost’, simply because the team didn’t show up today.
Onto the ratings. 5 is average.
Sam Johnstone - 5 : Sam didn’t have much to do all game. Did excellent to come out and head the ball away from Will Buckley. He’s getting better at making crucial decisions and is growing in confidence.
Ahmed Elmohamady - 3.5 : Didn’t spend a single second of the game looking anywhere near defensively convincing. A big thumbs-up from us for picking out Rushian Hepburn-Murphy, but he needs to be so much better defensively. Villa’s back four didn’t look anything like an organised unit on the day.
James Chester - 4 : Looked shaky from the get-go and booked up an almost instantaneous booking. Somehow didn’t take the lead on Bolton’s scoring corner, either. Villa needed a bit more from this man, who has been so very good this season. Didn’t put in a single tackle.
John Terry - 4.5 : Not able to deal with Ameobi’s corner, not able to secure Villa at the back, not able to get on the end of Robert Snodgrass’ set plays. Sometimes he’s everything to Villa, sometimes he disappears. Looked stronger as the game went on and ended up saving his own rating by clearing his lines and putting in some key tackles.
James Bree - 4 : James spent most of the first half being hassled and harried by Jon Flanagan and Sammy Ameobi. Took him a while to settle into a unfamiliar role, but at least he settled. Could have put Villa back into the game with a last-minute header, but was stopped by an unbelievable save.
Robert Snodgrass - 5 : Loves a scrap and loves a cross. Gets a 10/10 for his first-half delivery. Managed to get a booking for leaping headfirst into a scrap, but that’s Snoddy. Did everything he could to spark Villa alive, but nothing worked for him, or for anyone else.
Birkir Bjarnason - 4.25 : Birkir did well to survive a crunching challenge from Bolton’s Taylor, but should really have done better on Bolton’s first goal. Everyone should have. Showed a bit of might by keeping the middle safe, but misplaced a whole bunch of easy passes to kill Villa’s own counter.
Conor Hourihane - 4 : If John Terry was unable to deal with Ameobi’s ball in, Hourihane should have followed up. He didn’t and Bolton scored. Didn’t get started, at all.
Jack Grealish - 5 :- Showed brilliant technique to keep a move alive for Villa, and sparked his team into life with a superb dipping shot when he was off-balance. Tried to spark Villa to life from deep in the second-half. Cut a frustrated figure, and ran out of ideas as time trickled away.
Lewis Grabban - 3 : - Missed a point blank chance, which he should have buried with ease. Spent much of the match under the radar, when Villa needed a leader at the front. Touched the ball fewer times than Sam Johnstone, in the Villa goal. He didn’t win a single aerial duel either. That’s all you need to know.
Albert Adomah - 5 : - Tried his best to drag Aston Villa back into the game and nothing happened for him. Would have helped Villa equalise if Lewis Grabban put his effort home.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy - 4.5 : Came on for Conor Hourihane to make his 10th appearance for the side and could have put Villa ahead - still, he didn’t connect. Made himself a hassle, and left an impression on the game, until more strikers came on. Was a diffcult game for him
Scott Hogan - 4.5 : Replaced Albert Adomah late on and should have put Villa back into the game, if not for Jon Flanagan’s clearance. Should have hit the ball with conviction.
Keinan Davis - N/A : Came on too late to anything, and Villa would have had more success lumping the ball to him.