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Aston Villa v Watford Player Ratings

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After we’ve finally calmed down from that last minute winner, let’s look at how the other Villans fared

Aston Villa v Watford FC - Premier League Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

After coming off an adequate result on the southern coast on Saturday, Villa turned the game around from 1–0 to a 2–1 win over Watford on Tuesday in what felt like a momentum-changing fixture. It wasn’t a change to the starting XI (much to the chagrin of Villa fans)—despite their efforts against Brighton, Douglas Luiz and Indiana Vassilev were left on the bench—but a change in the side’s demeanor and effort. Still, the Villa went a goal down to the Bluenose Troy Deeney, and it was only after the introduction of Douglas Luiz, who scored less than 15 minutes later, and Vassilev, whose mere presence on the pitch apparently brought in the goals, that Villa came back with an extra time thriller to take all three points off of their relegation rivals.

Starting XI

GK: Pepe Reina, LWB: Matt Targett, CB: Kortney Hause, CB: Tyrone Mings, CB: Ezri Konsa, RWB: Frédéric Guilbert, CM: Marvelous Nakamba, CM: Danny Drinkwater, LW: Jack Grealish, ST: Anwar El Ghazi, RW: Trézéguet

Pepe Reina

Reina is the perfect Heaton replacement we Villa fans didn’t even know we needed. On multiple occasions Reina his side from a draw or, worse, losing all three points. The veteran goalkeeper performed a fantastic reflex save around the 56th minute to keep Deeney from stealing a second, and functioned as a sweeper keeper to deny compatriot Gerard Deulofeu a clean run on goal. Reina is still searching for his first clean sheet in a Villa shirt, but thus far the loan move from Milan has proved his worth to Aston Villa. Rating: 8

Matt Targett

Like many players against Watford, Targett dominated in possession and ball retention yet lacked a bit of the edge one usually expects from him. Targett managed to get forward and went on some bombing runs, but too often he placed his crosses too wide when near the goal. Otherwise, though, he played fine. Targett assisted in the press and made a few necessary tackles to halt Watford counters. Where he went wrong, though, was his failure to close down Deulofeu before he sent in his well-placed cross for the Deeney goal. If the performance against Brighton was about getting back into the team, Targett’s performance against Watford was, hopefully, about knocking the rust off. Rating: 6.5

Kortney Hause

After a fairly inconsistent performance against Brighton, Hause bounced back in fine form. The center-back put his mark on the game by making crucial plays along the way. Notably, Hause was able to deny Deeney with a well-timed defensive heade on a weird bounce that seemed destined for the Bluenose’s foot. Offensively, Hause enjoyed freedom of the ball and displayed his class at times. He sprayed balls down the wing, made the Watford forwards miss tackles, and—crucially—headed the ball on to Mings during the last gasp of the match. Hause put forth a more complete performance that, should it continue, will make it clear he’s the bargain of the summer. Rating: 7

Tyrone Mings

We all know Tyrone Mings wears a magic hat, but the end of this game revealed his boots carry a bit of sparkle in them too. Mings’ moment to s defined the match, after a foul brought Pepe Reina forward to put a hope and a prayer into the box, Mings collected the knock on from Hause, drove into the box, and got the pass to Konsa who appeared to have fired it home but it took a deflection off of the left boot of Mings who sent it flying into the top corner. Aside from the winning goal, Mings had a good performance throughout the game. The center half didn’t let a dribble past him and refused to lose a duel all game. You couldn’t ask more of a player to lead a composed defense, spray balls all over the pitch, and score the winner. Rating: 8.5

Ezri Konsa

Ezri Konsa provided both the highest high against Watford and the lowest low. Konsa was the right man in the right place in the 95th minute put the ball right on to the rolling foot of Tyrone Mings, sending it into the top left corner. Yet Konsa was also the defender marking Troy Deeney a bit too softly in the 37th minute. These two moments tell the tale of the match as a whole for Konsa: for every mistake he made, he eventually made good. He was in the right place at the right time, and sometimes that all that matters, but not when scoring his performance overall. Rating: 6.5

Frédéric Guilbert

Guilbert would have had a hat trick if he had timed his runs to the far post just a bit later. In a game full of overpowered crosses and corners that couldn’t find a head it seemed Guilbert would eventually find the net. He didn’t, but put in a quality offensive performance, bringing the ball out from the back and putting a few good balls into the box. Defensively, however, Guilbert was caught out on several occasions and was partially responsible for the Deeney goal. The wing-back lost the majority of the duels he took on, an overwhelming number of those in the air. For all the good Guilbert does going forward, he needs to do better coming back. . . Although others may not agree. Rating: 6

Marvelous Nakamba

The Watford game represented a turn of form for Nakamba. The Zimbabwean really inserted himself into the game and squashed a lot of what Watford attempted in the middle of the park. Nakamba cut out passes before they got near the center-backs and performed much of the dirty work necessary against a team like Watford. After Drinkwater came off, Nakamba’s performance actually improved. Perhaps with a midfield partner who has the freedom to push on, Nakamba feels a certain responsibility to clean up messes? Either way watch this space going forward, as Nakamba’s play is becoming Marvelous. Rating: 7

Danny Drinkwater (Subbed 56’)

Drinkwater’s sub-par performances against both Brighton and Manchester City were apparently not enough to keep Dean Smith from naming him in the starting XI over the in-form Douglas Luiz. To his credit, Drinkwater looked decent at times, solid in transition from defense to offense. During a period of applied pressure in the 32nd minute, Drinkwater won the ball away from a Watford man and recycled the play forward. On the resulting corner, Drinkwater won the ball back twice and sent it to playmakers quickly. Although this didn’t result in a goal or even show up in a notable way on the scoresheet, it shows improvement by the midfielder. Drinkwater was gassed after 50 minutes, but if this upward trajectory continues, he may be able to repay the manager’s confidence in him. Rating: 6.5

Jack Grealish

Playing against Watford felt similar to Championship matches in that Jack was kicked all around the park and the referees didn’t see . . . or care. However, despite being assaulted all match long, the Villa talisman still put in a solid performance. Grealish ended the game with four key passes and a passing completion percentage of 88%. Despite all those falls, Jack had the Watford defense on strings. The only negative in his performance is the captain just tried to do it all himself at times. Grealish would run into crowds of three or four opposition players and didn’t have his head up enough to pass the ball out. Considering a few recent performances, though, it’s hard to blame him. Rating: 7.5

Anwar El Ghazi

This was the fourth and hopefully final game of the Anwar El Ghazi striker experiment. The winger tries hard to be a center forward when asked but it simply doesn’t work. That being said, El Ghazi did once manage to collect a long ball from the back and hold it up just enough to send it to Grealish. But alas Anwar El Ghazi doesn’t have a striker’s instinct or the ability to make a striker’s runs. He’s to be commended for his efforts, but he’ll look better when he’s back on the wing again. Rating: 6

Trézéguet (Subbed 77’)

Trézéguet was quite the surprise against Watford. The Egyptian looked smooth on the ball during possession and linked up well with Guilbert. At the end of the first half he seemed to be the only player not named Jack Grealish pushing forward and trying to equalize. Yet the times he managed to put a solid ball in a good area, Drinkwater was the one to collect. The final product didn’t materialize before Smith brought him off, but it looked like Trézéguet’s pace would be key to winning the match. Overall, he showed both heart and quality, and should’ve been given more time to make something from those qualities. Rating: 7

Substitutes

Douglas Luiz (on 56’)

For the second straight game Douglas Luiz came on for Drinkwater and totally changed the game. The late run behind El Ghazi that led to his goal was brilliant, and his offensive composure helped the squad push on late. And that jump into the Holte End after scoring the equalizer? That’ll endear him to the Villa faithful, who always get behind a player that exhibits a love for the club. Rating: 7

Indiana Vassilev (on 77’)

After having made his Premier League debut last week, the 18-year-old striker made his home debut at Villa Park. Vassilev wasn’t fazed, almost putting a cross into the back of the net as he helped lead the charge for a winner. It helped, too, to have a striker playing in the striker position (who would’ve thought?) as it forced the Watford defense to back off the press and allowed Villa to enjoy more possession. Rating: 6.5