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Brighton v Aston Villa Player Ratings

The individual performances of the 1-1 draw

Brighton & Hove Albion v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

After the 6–1 drubbing at the hands of Manchester City last week, Aston Villa found themselves in dire need of something to bring a sense of momentum to the club. Luckily, up this week were fellow relegation rivals Brighton and Hove Albion. The first fixture in a favorable run, the Villa needed a result badly and fortunately the squad delivered with a 1–1 away draw. New loan signing Pepe Reina and 18-year-old forward Indiana Vassilev made their Premier League debuts. The game was truly a tale of two halves but one in which Villa was able to improve their play from the first to the second. Although there was a large variety of quality on the pitch today from Villa, there are definite performances which stood out from the rest.

Starting XI: GK: Pepe Reina, LWB: Matt Targett, CB: Kourtney Hause, CB: Tyrone Mings, CB: Ezri Konsa, RWB: Frederic Guilbert, CM: Marvelous Nakamba, CM: Danny Drinkwater, LW: Jack Grealish, CF: Anwar El Ghazi, RW: Trezeguet

Pepe Reina

After having been spotted in the stands during the Manchester City game, Reina signed on the dotted line Monday to complete his loan from AC Milan. Through his comments during the week one would have guessed that the veteran keeper would be a calming influence, which was reflected in his performance against Brighton. The backline seemed more composed and trusting of the Spaniard to play the ball out or collect in traffic. Further, Reina made a magnificent save in the 88th minute to deny Neal Maupay from finding the back of the net on the half volley. Although Reina wasn’t able to keep the clean sheet on his debut for the club, the veteran was able to convince the squad that he is more than just a pedigree between the sticks. Rating: 7

Matt Targett

The Brighton game also saw the reintroduction of Matt Targett into the squad after having missed the past four fixtures due to an injury sustained during the defeat at Watford. The 3-4-3 formation which Smith has used since the win at Burnley had been crying out for a more offensive performer at left wingback and Targett answered the call. He did well going forward throughout the game and linked up with Grealish when given the opportunity to do so. Notably, Targett beautifully delivered a set-piece kick to Anwar El Ghazi and was unfortunate not to notch an assist when the winger missed an open header. Defensively, Targett did well tracking back and getting stuck in his wing, and made four successful tackles—the most of any Villa player. Targett represented a huge step up from Neil Taylor this week, namely because he didn’t look terrified to bomb up the field. If he can stay healthy he can make this position his own. Rating: 7.5

Kourtney Hause

I have been a huge fan of Hause this season—he’s possibly the biggest bargain of the summer—however, he was incredibly inconsistent against Brighton. Hause played with class in certain moments, including his matchups with Connolly in which he simply bullied the young Brighton man to the ground or his aerial success late in the game against Glenn Murray. Apart from these moments, Hause was guilty of playing off his man and providing too much space for the Brighton attackers to work in. If Hause can deliver more complete performances in the future, and stick on to the opposing attackers, the center half will be a complete steal. Rating: 6

Tyrone Mings

Tyrone Mings is the glue that holds the Villa backline together. Throughout the game against Brighton Mings was found organizing the defense and team shape and calling out for the improvement of the squad surrounding him. Speaking about his own performance, the English international was crucial to the result at the AMEX Stadium. Mings cleared his lines multiple times, played out of the back effectively, and got some crucial tackles in against the likes of Maupay. In the first half, Mings tried everything he could in an effort to tighten the team shape and show some defensive resolve. In the second half, the team rallied around him to bring a point back to Villa Park. Rating: 7

Ezri Konsa

Aside from the defensive effort from the center half, the defining moment of Konsa’s game against Brighton came on a set piece in which a well-timed ball from captain Jack Grealish found his foot, but Konsa was not able to put the ball in the back of the net. Defensively, Konsa’s performance wasn’t poor but it wasn’t special either; he was 50/50 for his duels and tackles and finished the game with a couple of clearances. All in all, a fairly average day of work, but if he had packed his shooting boots it could have been a performance deserving of applause. Rating: 6.5

Frédéric Guilbert

For a good portion of the game, the only worthwhile possession began with the fullbacks. Guilbert did well to get his side involved in creative ways, particularly in his link-up play with Trézéguet down the right wing, allowing the Egyptian into some dangerous areas to swing a cross in. The passes that Guilbert put in were often perfectly weighted and moved the play in a significant way. Defensively, the Frenchman was active often throughout the game and had to handle the live wire that is Leandro Trossard. Although the Brighton man got the better of Guilbert on the counter, the battle was well fought and Guilbert should not hang his head over this performance. Like Targett, if Guilbert can keep at this level, he’ll make the position his own; he was one of my favorite performers on the day. Rating: 7.5

Marvelous Nakamba (Subbed off 86’)

After having been subbed on during the Manchester Massacre of the previous week, Marvelous impressed enough to earn a starting spot against Brighton. It took a while for Nakamba to really get into the game; however, especially in the second half, his performance improved. Marvelous ended up with a 90% passing percentage and was crucial to breaking up the play in the second half. However, for as good as his second half was, Marvelous was missing in the midfield for much of the first and wasn’t able to win possession on a consistent basis until the halfway mark. Near the end of the match he was brought off for Conor Hourihane, but up until that point in the second half he been adept at breaking down the Brighton attack when called upon. Hopefully going forward, we see more performances like the second half from Marvelous and he can solidify his spot in the lineup. Rating: 6

Danny Drinkwater (Subbed off 68’)

Last seen chasing shadows all over the midfield against Manchester City, it was a bit surprising to see Drinkwater named as part of the starting XI against Brighton. In the first half, Drinkwater picked up right where he left off against City, seeming like a spectator rather than a participant. He found himself booked for a very late tackle on Neal Maupay while the striker was headed towards his own goal. Going forward this seemed to hinder Drinkwater as he didn’t charge into tackles or attack the ball effectively. In the second half the performance got better but only marginally so. Thankfully, the Chelsea loanee was taken off at the 68th minute mark for Douglas Luiz. At this point, Drinkwater may just be here for depth and experience—which Villa need— but having a decent performance to go along with that would be nice too. Rating: 4.5

Jack Grealish

The savior of B6 once again! Jack Grealish was outstanding against Brighton. During the first 60-odd minutes, Grealish looked like the only hope for the Villa in getting anything out of the game. His first notable offensive contribution came during a counter attack in which Grealish ran over half the length of the pitch, dispatched a defender and got a shot off inside the Brighton box that went just wide. The most notable contribution of the game for the captain was the equalizer he scored thanks to a brilliant pass from Douglas Luiz, which he took in stride and finished the goal off the half volley. Besides these two moments, the academy product put in several crosses and placed a key pass. Grealish looked the perfect part of a game-changer against Brighton and thanks to his intervention Aston Villa came home with a result. Rating: 8 (Man of the Match)

Anwar El Ghazi

It’s difficult to determine who is more upset about the striker recruitment process this January, Dean Smith or Anwar El Ghazi. During the past few fixtures, El Ghazi has been stuck up top in place of a true striker and credit to the winger, he’s done the best he could. He tried to back into defenders and hold up the ball, but he simply lacks the physical presence and the experience to make up for the lack of size needed to be successful in that position. However, the effort shown by El Ghazi during this period is impressive and it’s easy to understand why Smith continues to put him up top during this stretch. Although El Ghazi is pretty much a square peg in a round hole at this point, we can hope he carries this same intensity to the wing once Samatta or someone else takes on the traditional no. 9 position. Rating: 6.5

Trézéguet (Subbed off 68’)

Trézéguet missed the all-important finish against Brighton, which ultimately overshadowed much of the work he accomplished along his wing. The Egyptian did well most of the match in getting to the byline and into dangerous areas along the wing, but his crosses rarely found people in the box. When they found someone, usually Drinkwater, they were simply wasted. The winger never truly influenced the game and hasn’t shown the pace or creativity expected when he is named to the squad. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, Trézéguet seems like more a player to make an impact from the bench rather than one to rely on week in and week out. Rating: 5.5


68th : CM: Douglas Luiz & ST: Indiana Vassilev

86th : CM: Conor Hourihane

Douglas Luiz

Immediately after having been subbed on in place of Danny Drinkwater, Luiz made an impact with some impressive technical work and an outstanding pass to a running Jack Grealish. Luiz’s pass broke the game wide open and was the most influential action taken by a midfielder all day. Passes like these bring people back into the starting lineup and Douglas Luiz should expect to be included against Watford. Rating: 7

Indiana Vassilev

The reliable U-23 striker saw his Premier League debut against Brighton and did not look completely out of his depth. The youngster did well in the high press and won the ball a few times in the opposition’s half. Further, even though Vassilev was not able to get on the score sheet, his inclusion in the team changed the squad’s shape and provided a target for Mings and co. to hoof it to in times of need. Vassilev may be young but is perhaps ready for a bit part in the senior side going forward. Rating: 6.5

Conor Hourihane

The Irishman was brought on late presumably for his experience and set piece ability. Although he never saw a dead ball, Hourihane did take a good professional foul late and was awarded a yellow for his efforts. Rating: N/A