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Aston Villa v Manchester City Player Ratings

The 3-0 scoreline may not tell the entire story of the Villa side

Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus

This gameweek saw Aston Villa take the trip to Manchester and take on the League Champions on their home pitch. Although all week the pundits and the average Premier League fan dissuaded the idea of anything good coming for the Claret and Blue, The Villa faithful had their head held high after two good wins in a row. The expectations were nonexistent for most, but the hopes were that we’d come away from the Etihad with a point and one of our blossoming stars would grab some headlines. However, this game served as a good wake up call, a learning experience, and yet another example of why the Premier League needs to handle VAR differently. With all that being said, lets get into the ratings.

Starting XI: GK: Tom Heaton, LB: Matt Targett, CB: Tyrone Mings, CB: Bjorn Engels, RB: Frederic Guilbert, CDM: Marvelous Nakamba, CDM: Douglas Luiz, CM: John McGinn, LW: Jack Grealish, ST: Wesley, RW: Trezeguet

Tom Heaton:

When thinking about the reasons for buying a keeper like Tom Heaton instead of opting to keep Jed Steer in between the sticks, one of the biggest reasons was Heaton’s big game experience. Here I thought he showed it despite the 3-0 score line. The keeper did well to keep the first half clean sheet and stopped five of the eight shots on target. Also, none of the goals were actually Heaton’s fault, the first was Sterling in a one on one that should have never happened, a goal which VAR looked the other way on, and an extremely lucky ball dropping to Gundogan. Through it all though the Veteran kept his composure and made some good saves, not much else you can ask of a keeper. Rating: 6.5

Matt Targett

For the record, this is the exact game I would opt for Neil Taylor in if I was Dean Smith, the approach he went with stifled a progressive, attacking fullback like Targett by asking him to hoof it for the counter to start. However, Targett made me feel better about his defensive prowess than I was coming into the match. The fullback looked okay on his wing when overloaded and did well trying to clear to Wesley. Although, he did lose 4 duels on the day and wasn’t perfect, the defender did well enough against a game plan made by one of the best managers of all time which tried to exploit him. Rating: 6

Tyrone Mings

Tyrone Mings' game will be remembered mostly for one play, the header, or lack thereof, against a striker who he had half of a foot of height on. Beyond this play I don’t remember an impact which Mings had upon this game. I mean sure, he was playing against one of the best attacks in the world and helped lead the back line to a very solid first half. But, Mings didn’t step up the way I thought he would in a game like this. There were no moments of dominance or efforts like in the Spurs game or Norwich, there wasn’t enough of what makes Tyrone Mings special. I hope that he understands that, internalizes the feeling after a loss like this and brings it with him against Liverpool because it is hard to defend without a Tyrone freaking Mings in the backline. Rating: 5

Bjorn Engels

Engels had easily his worst performance in a Villa shirt against City this weekend. The Belgian was caught out often and couldn’t clear his lines to save his life at times. There were several opportunities that were created, particularly in the first half, by Engels’ performance which weren’t converted. It felt like he was outclassed by the City attackers who to be fair are world class in their own right. Rating: 4

Frederic Guilbert

The key plan of the Manchester City attack was to attack Dean Smith’s attacking fullbacks and overload the wings. This all had to change though as Guilbert was having none of it. The Frenchman stood his ground and frustrated the likes of De Bruyne, Sterling, David Silva, and even Mendy when he dared attack his opposition. Guilbert also did well to get the likes of Trezeguet involved in the game along with attempting to link play up the few times the ball was in the opposition half. The stat sheet will show Guilbert has having been dominated by the City attack, but the fact is he won the most duels of any Villa defender and was successful enough for City to change plans and force their way in the middle of the park. Rating: 7 (Man of the Match)

Marvelous Nakamba

The Zimbabwean pivot man came to the Etihad to do two things, win duels and play the ball forward. To this end he did at least one of those things effectively as he won the most duels of the game. Also, Nakamba had a 91% pass completion and a key pass. The only issue is that the center of the park looked to be totally overrun by the second half even with a holding midfield partner in Luiz. Marvelous did well on the stat sheet this week but didn’t pass the eye test for me. Rating: 6

Douglas Luiz

I thought it was a very cheeky move by Deano to start the Brazilian in front of Pep Guardiola, essentially saying look what I’ve stolen from your grasp. To his credit, the Brazilian looked pretty good in front of his former team. Luiz got stuck in the midfield as best as anyone can when facing Manchester City at home and provided something going forward as well. My only issue with the game from his perspective is the same problem as his midfield partner: the midfield was overrun by Gundogan and the Gang. Rating: 6.5

John McGinn

The Scot almost found a late effort that would have saved face, along with some goal differential. Other than that flash and another which saw Villa grab a corner or two, McGinn was stifled offensively. I had hoped for the talismanic McGinn to be a bit of a hold up merchant during the game and bring out his best Meatball qualities, but it never really happened. Further I expected him to assert his physicality on to the midfield which also didn’t happen. This game for McGinn was not poor, but I had expected more. Rating: 6

Jack Grealish (Subbed 84’)

The only thing about Grealish’s performance on anyone’s mind should be when will he be cleared for return from this injury. After being the most fouled person in the game yet again, Grealish warranted no protection cards until he was taken down brutally. Other than that, the Referees also got one over on the Villa captain with the gift of a yellow card on a foul which was definitely not a foul. Although he hadn’t played like last gameweek, it was a spirted performance from the captain, and I hope we see him soon. Rating: 6.5

Wesley (Subbed 76’)

Wesley looked frustrated pretty much from the start of the game. It looked like the old English hoofing which Villa had to attempt to break pressure and clear the lines just didn’t suit the man despite being a hulking mass of a striker. Wesley never made the attempt to come in to receive the ball which could have introduced a more progressive mentality to the squad. Also, I think in these styles of games the Wingers should hang higher with Wes if possible, he is a striker who will not create much with dribbling but is an intelligent passer of the ball and needs a partner. Wesley never really got into the game and hopefully against Liverpool he’ll drop deeper to help break the press or simply get after it. Rating: 5

Trezeguet

For the first 75 minutes of the game the Egyptian was the most explosive man in a Villa shirt. Trezeguet always seemed ready to make something out of nothing and nearly did on a couple of occasions. He even did well to track back at times and help Guilbert when overloaded on the wing. The winger did well to create and based on his own chances will be feeling unlucky to not have gotten a goal. Rating: 7

Substitutions

Keinan Davis (76’) & Anwar El Ghazi (84’)

Keinan Davis

Someone needs to reward his efforts over the last couple of weeks with a start, either beside Wesley or in place of him. The young striker works his behind off when he is in the game and wants to get goals. Davis felt like he was always on the ball and frustrated Fernandinho enough to get him sent off. The guy just works, get him in the starting XI Deano. Rating: 6.5

Anwar El Ghazi

El Ghazi came on after Grealish got hurt and played well enough in his cameo. The Dutch winger was able to get 3 touches in 6 minutes. Rating: N/A