Wow, oh wow.
After a first half where we were unlucky not to be in the lead, we came out in the second half and deservedly lost that point. Lucky to get it back, and then grabbing the winner in the end, it was exactly what you would expect from Aston Villa this season. Some players had a good performance, others, not so well.
Here’s my match ratings for the 3-2 win over Wigan Athletic. Way to leave it late.
Ørjan Nyland—(4)— A 4 might be harsh, considering it’s his first look at English football, but a miscommunication with Mile Jedinak (I’ll get to that) caused Wigan’s first goal and gave them momentum going into halftime. Some errant kicks in the second half could be attributed to not wanting another mistake, but he didn’t really command his box well, Wigan got a hell of a lot of crosses in and just missed the mark a few times. No saves in his debut, two goals allowed. Would definitely like to see more confidence, but hey, we got the win.
Axel Tuanzebe—Subbed off for Adomah 65’—(7)— Not a bad return for Axel. Obviously fresh off a preseason tour with Man U, trying to find his legs with us now, but put in a solid shift with some interceptions and clearances, and winning some fouls in the defensive half. Would like to see him play at his natural role of CB, but Steve Bruce gon’ be Steve Bruce.
James Chester—(8)— Came in with a thumping header to give us the early lead and give us comfort for the majority of the first half. A handful of blocks and clearances had our captain fitting the part throughout the game. The only reason he didn’t rate higher was because of the amount of late crosses that managed to reach players in the box, I feel like that could be solved by him a bit.
Mile Jedinak—(2)—Now this is harsh, but rightly so. First and foremost, I love me some Mile. Great defensive midfielder, who commands that midfield. I, however, HATE Mile as a CB. He looks lost, and he’s just not that good of a 1v1 defender. His soft pass back caused the swing in the game from us semi-dominating at 1-0, to us on our heels at halftime and out of the second half gates. He gets a 2 because I guess there were a few times that he won a clearing header or slowed Wigan’s attack? Lucky.
Alan Hutton—(7)—Hutton played well. He was on the ball at left-back often, and linked up and started the attack with McGinn often. No goal this time for the Cafu, but I don’t think he did much wrong in a defense that was all over the place today. He does need to stop falling over so easily and relying on the calls, one of these times it won’t get called and he’ll have us caught out.
Andre Green—Subbed off for RHM 74’—(7)—Nothing special today from Andre, but made some solid runs forward and had a good shot on target. Needs to get a bit more involved with the attack, but loads to look forward to with him still.
Ahmed Elmohamady—(7)—I like Elmo a lot more as a full-back. He is pretty slow going forward, there was a break which fell to him on the wing and he was immediately caught and shut down, but like Hutton and Green, not really much wrong with his play today, some successful crosses put in and challenges won, might lose a starting role to De Laet when he’s back, but we’ll see about that.
Birkir Bjarnason—(3)/(10)—Have to give 2 ratings here for BB. Overall, a pretty lacklustre game for the Icelandic, who was invisible throughout the game. He was supposed to be running the midfield, but McGinn stole the show linking with Grealish. 4 fouls against and other than the winner, BB’s biggest moment was his errant touch in the defensive third that led to a big Wigan chance. a 3 for the game, but a 10/10 for being there to win all three points for the Villa. That’s what matters.
John McGinn—(9)—Ah, what a debut for this man. 5 chances created, a great shot on target, an assist from the corner kick that Chester headed home. Really, all he was missing was the winning goal. Super link-up play with Jack, starting virtually every attack. The Hibernian fanbase hyped him up, but there was obviously reason for it. Taking Snoddy’s #7 was a tough thing to look at initially, but I really like the way it’s looking for this box to box midfielder in John McGinn. The will to be winning possession in the middle of the field and also serve in crosses is exactly what we needed, and he’s doing it perfectly. Only one game in for him, so I won’t get too ahead of myself...
Jack Grealish—(8)—The most fouled player in the Championship last year, does it again. Almost every time Jack is on the ball, the defender dives in. Rarely, is it successful. Once again, so far this season, he blows by the defenders time after time, and gets taken down also, time after time. Great attacking play from our #10, but I really want to see him be more lethal when he’s in or around the box.
Jonathan Kodjia—Subbed off for Hourihane 87’—(4)—God, it is so frustrating to watch Kodjia play still. He gets the ball near the goal and tries to find the perfect shot, which ends up getting blocked as he kicks it. You can see how close he is to finding that goal-scoring form again, but it just has not been happening for him. Some good runs behind and link-up play is overshadowed by his mistimed headers that miss the net, and chances that Grealish feed him go unfinished, our defenders are more consistent at scoring off corners than he is nowadays. He’s so good, just needs to settle. Ultimately subbed off for Hourihane, who provided the winner
Albert Adomah—On for Tuanzebe 65’—(7)—Definitely a better outside attacking option than Elmo, gave us good attack on the width when he came on, and spread the game out for the final few attacks.
Rushian Hepburn-Murphy—On for Green in 74’—(7)—Honestly, some good runs and hold-up play from RHM should see him more minutes. Lively coming on in a slower game towards the end. Want to see more confidence from him as he gains fitness.
Conor Hourihane—On for Kodjia in 84’—(10)—Didn’t do much other than clear the ball and assist for the winner. That’s a 10 in my book, because what else can you give him? But actually, kinda wanna see him start in the middle with McGinn, and BB to the bench.
Good win for Villa to get six points out of two matches, hope there’s a little more comfort in home matches like these this season, though.