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Aston Villa v Newcastle United Player Ratings

Bruce came back to town and the Villa stepped up to the challenge

Aston Villa v Newcastle United - Premier League Photo by Visionhaus

After a lackluster performance against Wolves heading into international break, Villa found themselves in 17th place with 11 points. Dean Smith had put the squad on full alert, seconds after the final whistle saying he needed to see improvement in the squad on the return from break. Oh and also, the first game back from international break was against Newcastle United meaning that this game was a potential relegation six pointer AND that the old manager Steve Bruce was coming to Villa Park. Clearly the pressure was squarely on the Villans shoulders as the game approached. However, as the Captain Jack Grealish and veteran goalkeeper Tom Heaton returned, the Claret and Blue rose to the occasion and dismantled Newcastle United. With all that having been said, lets get to the ratings which are from 1-10 with 6 being about average.

Starting XI: GK: Tom Heaton, LB: Matt Targett, CB: Tyrone Mings, CB: Ezri Konsa, RB: Frederic Guilbert, CDM: Douglas Luiz, CM: Conor Hourihane, CM: John McGinn, LW: Jack Grealish, ST: Wesley, RW: Anwar El Ghazi

GK: Tom Heaton

After having been injured against Wolves and subsequently pulled out of the England squad for this international break, Tom Heaton made a return to action against Newcastle United. Although he wasn’t busy for most of the night, Heaton made good, crucial saves when asked and kept the clean sheet intact. The reflex save on a Newcastle corner late in the first half and the Saint-Maximin save early in the second showcase why Heaton is an instrumental part of this Starting XI. Rating: 7.5

LB: Matt Targett

Matt Targett played extremely well and apparently was playing through some pain as he keeled over in pain and even got sick on the pitch early in the match. However, this did not seem to phase him in the slightest, Targett just kept on with a tremendous all-around performance. Offensively, the full back was able to create chances and fill in the spot of Left Winger when Grealish was playmaking in other areas of the pitch. Defensively, Targett kept Almiron from doing anything meaningful throughout the game and won 8 duels. Targett had himself an understated yet impressive game against Newcastle. Rating: 8

CB: Tyrone Mings

As the English international returned from duty after the last break, it took him awhile to return to form for the Villa. However, Mings looked in good shape against Newcastle. Although he wasn’t asked to do much, Mings did well and made few mistakes. Further, he was vital in the movement around the back and linked up well with the midfield. Mings also almost had a goal in the Set Piece from Hourihane which looked to be headed his way until El Ghazi snatched it up. Rating: 7

CB: Ezri Konsa

With Bjorn Engels continuing to be injured Konsa was asked again to fill in for the Belgain. Although there was a particularly shaky moment in which the young defender almost put in an own goal, otherwise the performance from Konsa was good. Konsa almost got a goal as well on a corner in which he headed a bullet right at the keeper. Konsa had another solid performance and is doing a good job in making the Manager question his decision for the starting spot once Engels is healthy. Rating: 7

RB: Frederic Guilbert

Guilbert drew the hardest assignment that Newcastle had to offer in the form of Allan Saint-Maximin. The French winger had arrived too Newcastle with fanfare and was known to be tricky and full of pace. Guilbert did extremely well to limit the young winger’s impact on the game having limited him to a single shot on target. The French Fullback played within himself throughout the night and didn’t fall for the hotshot’s fancy dribbling and let him make his own mistakes. This game was one which showcased the growth and maturity of Guilbert. Rating: 7.5

CDM: Douglas Luiz

After Marvelous having started the last few games in this spot, I found it odd to see Douglas Luiz on the team sheet. The Brazilian international proved my suspicion wrong though as he was able to play the role of pivot midfielder very well. Douglas Luiz helped in controlling possession along with taking some scoring chances as well. There were some spots in the game however, I felt he put the squad in unnecessary risk. If he can knock those moments out of his game, Villa have one heck of a player on their hands. Rating: 7

CM: John McGinn

I love John McGinn, but he had one of his weaker performances at Villa Park against Newcastle. The Scot was still able to aid in possession and made some good late runs in the box but was uncharacteristically selfish against Newcastle. There were times in which the opportunity to drop off a pass to Wesley or one of the wingers was a better opportunity for the team and McGinn opted for the shot. Also, I didn’t quite feel the “McGinniesta” factor, I didn’t feel like he was constantly on the ball. This performance is an outlier from what we know McGinn to be, hopefully he can be himself at Old Trafford. Rating: 6

CM: Conor Hourihane (Subbed 90’)

Hourihane played one of his best games of the year thus far against Newcastle, against Steve Bruce. Hourihane was able to use his wand of a left peg to be responsible for the only two goals of the game and make a difference during the Dead Ball opportunities that everyone knew a Steve Bruce side would give away. I found it funny that Hourihane had played so well against Bruce, a man who had games saved by that very same magic left foot. The Irish midfielder was able to create chances during the dead ball opportunities early and often and may have had another assist or goal if not for the heroics of the Newcastle goalkeeper. Hourihane’s left foot was brilliant Monday night. Rating: 8.5

LW: Jack Grealish

Unfortunately for Hourihane, Grealish had an equally if not more outstanding game against Newcastle. Grealish was the main playmaker of the night and the game seemed to be just had his fingertips. Captain Jack created 7 chances throughout the night and was gifted an assist for his efforts during the Hourihane goal. Grealish was particularly good in the second half when he was able to glide through defenders and slip in and out of defensive markings. When the Newcastle side couldn’t stop him, they began fouling him, which led to 5 fouls and disastrous results in their perspective. Grealish couldn’t be stopped Monday night and somehow overshadowed what was a brilliant performance from Hourihane. Rating: 9, Man of the Match

ST: Wesley

Wesley didn’t score against Newcastle; I still think the game showed leagues of improvement from the young Brazilian though. Wesley seemed lively off of the ball, something we hadn’t seen too much of up until this point, through the press and general offensive movement Wesley was running all game. The hold-up play was good; Wesley held the ball up more than a few times and got some chances created. Wesley was more involved, there weren’t many moments, if any, in which I though Wesley had disappeared. Sure, Wesley missed a good chance, but everything else was so much better. Rating: 7

RW: Anwar El Ghazi

Another surprising addition into the starting lineup was El Ghazi, not because of the Dutch winger’s ability but because Trezeguet had scored in the previous two games for Villa. El Ghazi took his chance and ran with it though as he had a good game capped off with a goal off of the Hourihane set piece in the 36th minute. El Ghazi was also able to create chances throughout the game and had been tricky enough to fool his defenders once or twice. This was a good game for El Ghazi and a return to form, hopefully he can keep this up. Rating: 7

Substitutions

CM: Henri Lansbury (90’)

Lansbury was Dean Smith’s only sub through the 90 minutes and was primarily done to give Hourihane some recognition late in my opinion. Lansbury made a pass or two before the final whistle but wasn’t in long enough to make an impact. Rating: N/A