Last evening Aston Villa and their seemingly embattled manager, Steve Bruce, made the journey south to take on Lee Johnson’s Bristol City.
The Friday night match under the lights did not live up to its theatre. It was a rather uneven affair with very few moments that stood out and individual performances that were largely just good enough.
With that said, the outcome of a 1-1 draw was probably fair. For Aston Villa, it looked dire after they went down 1-0 in the 16th minute and played poorly for pretty much all of the first half.
Fortunately for supporters, and perhaps Steve Bruce, a headed goal from Birkir Bjarnason on probably the last kick of first half stoppage time ultimately salvaged a result for the claret and blue.
There are probably some out there who would disagree, but the recent run of form just does not seem to be good enough for this side.
Here are the full player ratings -- based on a scale of 1 to 10 -- for last night’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City:
GK: Ørjan Nyland, Rating: 4.75
Initially it looked that Villa’s keeper had his vision obstructed on Bristol City’s 16th minute goal because the Norwegian made no effort to save Josh Brownhill’s strike from outside the box. However upon further review, the shot took a deflection and left Nyland with no real chance to make the stop.
Villa’s keeper finished with two saves including one nervy moment at the start of the second half. Fortunately his drop on a cross did not give the Robins an opportunity to take advantage of.
On the night, nothing really occurred to knock his rating down from average.
LB: Alan Hutton, Rating: 4.75
Our ‘Scottish Cafu’ did not really have a performance to write home about, but then again, not many did. His 51 touches and zero dribbles were indicative of a less active night on the left side of Villa’s defence.
Hutton did just enough, winning 4 out of 8 aerial duals in the defensive half. Like many others his overall performance was run of the mill.
CB: Mile Jedinak, Rating: 5.5
Jedinak had a pretty awful attempted standing tackle during the move that created Bristol City’s only goal of the night. From that point onward, the centre-back -- since that appears to be consistently a thing -- was better.
On the evening he actually tallied a decent defensive stat line:
· 12 defensive clearances
· 9 out of 11 defensive aerials won
· 3 interceptions
In addition to those numbers, the Australian also pinged a few nice long balls forward. Overall, on a day where he was done an injustice, he did himself a bit of justice with his play on the pitch last night.
CB: James Chester, Rating: 4.75
Villa’s defensive stalwart certainly did not have his best showing. With six defensive clearances on the night, he too did enough of a job at Ashton Gate last night.
RB: Axel Tuanzebe, Rating: 4.75
The Manchester United talent showed spells of just that in yesterday’s draw.
Tuanzebe had an active night as he led Steve Bruce’s side with 78 total touches. In the 38th minute he made a great run down the right flank and hit a threatening cross into Niki Mäenpää’s box. Unfortunately, not a minute later, he very nearly played an opponent in on Villa’s goal with a rather poor ball back to Nyland.
The aforementioned exchange just about sums up his evening. The Dutchman did some things great whilst others, not so much.
CDM: Birkir Bjarnason, Rating: 6 (co-MotM)
Yours truly was admittedly in the midst of drafting a completely negative social media post as Villa were fairly shocking in the first half.
However, that was when the combination of Conor Hourihane and ‘Thor’ produced this equalizer in the last seconds of stoppage time.
Birkir also had a decent chance in the box to make it two in the 46th minute, but could not make quality contact with his right foot. His goal was vital and bumps him up to share ‘Man of the Match’ honours.
CDM: John McGinn, Rating: 5.25
The Scot was reportedly set for Celtic as it was his “…dream move.” Fortunately for the club and all Villans, Villa Park as well as the club’s great support can lure talent.
Last night against Lee Johnson’s men, McGinn demonstrated more flashes that indicate he will continue to endear himself to supporters.
The midfielder completed 26 of 30 attempted passes whilst registering two defensive blocks and clearances. He also preserved a point by being in the right place at the right time and clearing Famara Diedhiou’s header off the line in the 84th minute.
In addition, earlier in the 55th minute he very nearly scored his second volley in as many matches. With such ability, one could suggest he consider playing at the All England Club next July:
"And it comes to McGinn! Oh, what a goal! John McGinn with a blockbuster! That is sensational! Four minutes having gone behind, John McGinn has come up with a crackerjack of a strike! That is how you open your account!"— AVFC Goals (@avfcgoals) September 22, 2018
John McGinn v Sheffield Wednesday (22/09/2018) #AVFC pic.twitter.com/2fGHma0j7R
One more time can never hurt with that beauty…
LM/LW/RW: Jonathan Kodjia, Rating: 4.5 (substituted off, 75th minute)
‘Jimmy Danger’s’ notable offensive highlight came in the 55th after some good combination play with Axel Tuanzebe on the right side of the 18-yard-box. Their exchange led to Kodjia’s low cross that forced a corner. Outside of that, the Ivorian was previously booked for a bad challenge in the 26th minute.
That said, it was not a great return to his old stomping grounds. Suffice to say, it would be brilliant if he can find the form to match the surname of his moniker.
CM: Conor Hourihane, Rating: 6 (co-MotM)
The Irishman’s delivery against Bristol City was excellent. Evidence of that was the free kick that found the head of ‘Thor’ and possibly helped give Steve Bruce a bit more life.
That was not the only excellent ball he played last night. In the 51st minute, another outstanding free kick into the box led to multiple shouts for various fouls. Perhaps Villa we unlucky not to get a penalty, but in all reality both sides were probably guilty of something on that exchange.
Hourihane produced a half-chance with his favoured left in the 22nd minute. A more dangerous attempt came late in the 89th when his strike from roughly 20-yards out just fizzed past the right hand post of Mäenpää’s goal.
With his assist and deliveries, he shared ‘Man of the Match’ with Birkir Bjarnason.
RM/RW/LW: Jack Grealish, Rating: 5.25
As ever, ‘Super Jack’ had a high number of touches (i.e. 63 -- second most) and helped draw numerous set piece opportunities with his ability on the ball.
He certainly did not come anywhere near to the sublime performances he is capable of, but Grealish was once again a catalyst for Villa’s attack.
ST: Tammy Abraham, Rating: 4.75 (substituted off, 90th minute)
For the first 23 minutes of last night’s contest, Villa did just about nothing of note in attack. Such is why is was a site for sore eyes in that minute to see the Chelsea loanee make a driving run on the ball and have a crack from distance. His effort was easily saved, but at least it was something.
He’s obviously scored this season and demonstrated an ability to play with the ball at his feet. Unfortunately he went down in the 64th minute and looked to be in some pain, but managed to carry on.
When he was substituted off in the 90th minute, traveling supporters gave Steve Bruce some stick. That crowd reaction led Villa’s manager to gesture that Abraham might have suffered a knock when he had gone down prior.
Much like many of his teammates, he too hovered right around average with his play against Bristol City.
RW: Yannick Bolasie, Rating: 5 (substitute, 75th minute)
In the 19 minutes he was on the pitch, Bolasie completed three successful dribbles in attack and won a corner. Definitely has a few tricks in his bag and possibly could have done with coming on sooner.
LW: Albert Adomah, Rating: N/A (substitute, 90th minute)
Came on late and did not have time to make any sort of impact.
Villa next host Preston North End on Tuesday night (19:45 BST, 14:45 EDT & 11:45 PDT). As per that match:
As always, UTV!