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Player Ratings: Aston Villa v Crewe Alexandra

A 6-1 scoreline looks great on paper but how were the performances?

The League Cup competition was renewed once again for the Villa as they visited League Two’s Crewe Alexandra in the second round. In the previous round Crewe had taken down Championship team Middlesborough and were hoping to continue the momentum of being “Giant Slayers” against the mighty Villa. However, despite fantastic support from the Crewe Fans and some honestly beautiful football at times, the home team ultimately fell to a Villa side who seemed to have a fire under them. This fire and desire to win helped the five-time League Cup winners to a victory to the tune of 6 to 1. Although the score line looks very impressive, its important to understand the individual performances that led to it. With that being said lets get into the ratings, per usual they are from 1-10 with an average of about 6.

Starting XI: GK: Jed Steer, LB: Matt Targett, CB: Kourtney Hause, CB: Ezri Konsa, RB: Ahmed Elmohamady, CDM: Marvelous Nakamba, CM: Henri Lansbury, CM: Conor Hourihane, LW: Anwar El Ghazi, ST: Keinan Davis, RW: Jota

Jed Steer

Steer was handed the start and he’s assumed the role of number two, which includes cup duty. Although the shots on target stat and the final score may make it appear like it was a quiet night for the Playoff hero, it was anything but. Crewe is a solid attacking side who were constantly putting pressure on the back four and Steer but were missing a clinical finish for much of the game. Steer still made several impressive saves to shut out the League 2 side for much of the game and was only finally beaten by some impressive play. Lastly, Steer seemed to be commanding in his area, hopefully this points to some experience from Heaton rubbing off on him. Rating: 7.5

Matt Targett (Subbed 43’)

The former Southampton man made his Villa debut against Crewe after fans have been wondering if he could overtake Neil Taylor at the left back spot. Although Targett came off with what looked to be a hamstring injury, his play beforehand did not warrant a call up to the first team. Targett was beat more than a few times during the game and looked to foul quickly after he’d been beat. This led to free kicks in dangerous areas on the wing. Offensively, the Englishman was not bringing enough forward to forgive him for his defensive lapses. This performance may just have been a case of a lack of match fitness or just a poor outing, either way Neil Taylor looks to have the position under lock and key at the moment. Rating: 5.5

Kourtney Hause

Hause showed me during this game that he is the perfect back up for Tyrone Mings. That may sound like a slight against him, but it isn’t. It is due to the fact that the two centre halves have very similar games and at this moment one is more refined than the other. During this game Hause showed the potential to be a mobile defender who can bring the ball out, likes a ping, and can get to a header just like Big Tyrone. However, he also showed that he’s inconsistent right now and needs to grow into the role. Hause had some flashes and some mistakes during the match but this is what early rounds of the Cup are for. Rating: 7

Ezri Konsa

Konsa started his competitive Villa debut with a bang and his first goal which was a mad scramble in the box in which he got his head to the ball. From then on, he looked to have played with some confidence which is important for a young player. Although the back line as a whole looked a bit suspect, I chalk this down to a lack of game time together and inexperience not individual error. Although there was some of that from Konsa, letting the Crewe number 9 free in the box for instance, there were more positives to be had from the game. Rating: 7

Ahmed Elmohamady

Easily the most experienced member of the side and a good Villa servant for the years he has been here, Elmo had recently been awarded with a contract extension and now the Captaincy for a game. Unfortunately, the performance was not his best as there were many crosses that went wayward and his link up with Jota at times wasn’t the best. However, defensively he did nothing wrong and was the leader the side needed as he could be seen shouting out instructions to the pitch. Rating: 6

Marvelous Nakamba

In Nakamba’s Villa debut, he showed flashes of what he could become for the club. That is a ball playing defensive midfielder with a few tricks up his sleeve to keep possession. Marvelous made several solid tackles and by now we’ve all seen the incredible skill he used to nutmeg a would-be dispossessor and start a break. At times though, Marvelous went a bit missing and the football seemed to be played around him. However, I chalk this up to the football being played and the fact that the Zimbabwean had not played football in some time. Rating: 6.5

Conor Hourihane

Hourihane made his first appearance since starting against Spurs in the Premier League opener and performed like he had never left the side. Albeit he was playing in his preferred more forward position and had more creative freedom than when he was the deep lying midfielder. Although he didn’t exactly do a lot of the heavy lifting for his two goals, being in the right place at the right time is one of the most important skills a midfielder can possess. Hourihane showed why he is an important man to keep around and vital to the depth of the squad, the skill he showed against Crewe was brilliant and is waiting for an opportunity in the league. Rating: 8

Henri Lansbury

I’ll admit, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Lansbury. I can’t help it, we hear about his skill in training and see it in preseason but he is always counted out or injured during competitive games. But today he had the opportunity to show his stuff in a League Cup game and boy did he, to the tune of three assists. The first one was class, by making a fantastic run on to a through ball from Elmo he had everyone beat aside from the keeper but did the unselfish thing and gave it off to Hourihane instead. Although the second assist was nothing special on his part, a simple pass to Guilbert, the third was an inspired backheel to Grealish. Lansbury’s movement, skill, and tenacity broke the game wide open and made the difference. Rating: 9 Man of the Match

Anwar El Ghazi

El Ghazi has looked much better in his last two appearances than he did in his first two of the season. Seems to me the Dutch winger needed a bit of settling in as he’s calmed down and cut out the erratic mistakes and has focused on doing more with the opportunities given. El Ghazi looked as tricky as ever and always ready to test the keeper but kept the rest of the team more involved and linked up much better with the rest of the midfield. The playoff hero was seen dropping in the middle to gather passes, tracking back, using the overlapping full back, and gave a beauty of a cross for Hourihane’s second goal. Rating: 7.5

Keinan Davis (Subbed 82’)

Getting an opportunity to start over the likes of Jonathan Kodjia, Davis was hoping to take advantage of the opportunity given. The young striker took the start and milked it for every second he was on the pitch and came away with a goal for the effort. Davis bullied the Crewe backline and linked up like a proper target man. One particular instance found him holding the ball up from two Crewe players and then using the space that was then created to play El Ghazi in, unfortunately the winger hit the post with the shot though. Davis was immense and we’ll hope to see more of this play as the season progresses. Rating: 8

Jota (Subbed 68’)

The only player left over from Villa’s 2-0 win over Everton, Jota looked a bit off during the game. This could be due to the proximity of games but likely is because the link up between him and Elmo needs some work. That isn’t to say that Jota had a bad game by any means, there just wasn’t the same intensity and beauty in the football he showcased during the match as he provided during Everton. The flashes were there, it just did not materialize the same way. Rating: 6.5

Substitutions: LB: Fredric Guilbert (43’), RW(?): Jack Grealish(68’), ST: Cameron Archer (82’)

Frederic Guilbert (43’)

When Targett went down injured I was sure that Deano would go either three at the back or tell Hause to play Left Back. But what I was not expecting was Guilbert to come in as an inverted LB and play spectacularly. He worked tirelessly, made fewer mistakes defensively, and took one heck of a goal. People were wondering if the Frenchman was our best option at Right Back but now, I wonder if Neil Taylor should be looking over his shoulder. Rating: 8

Jack Grealish (68’)

Unexpectedly the Villa captain took the pitch against Crewe. But once he was on, Grealish pushed the game into overdrive as would have been expected. In only 22 minutes on the pitch he got both a goal and an assist, the latter coming within a minute of appearing. Also, he played more of a roaming playmaker role which I think may suit him better than a static Central Midfielder. Rating: 8

Cameron Archer (82’)

Archer made his first team debut against Crewe and looked energetic and rearing to go. Notable was the effort in which players tried to get him on the ball. Archer had a shot on target and provided the press which led to Grealish’s goal. Rating: N/A