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Fulham v Aston Villa Player Ratings

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Grading the performances (hint: they are pretty good)

Fulham v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

After four competitive wins on the bounce to start the season, Aston Villa were set to head to Craven Cottage to take on Premier League returnees Fulham. Given the recent success and the general good feeling around the club, the fixture seemed ripe for a letdown. But Dean Smith’s men held firm and claimed all three points in a 0-3 victory on the road. Aston Villa did so well in fact that the Fulham owner Tony Khan actually apologized on twitter directly after the loss, needless to say the match was all Aston Villa. Scoring started early with a Grealish goal in the 4th minute and a Hourihane strike in the 14th. The game was put on ice as Mings scored from a set piece delivered by Hourihane just as the second half was getting under way. As Villa saw the rest of the game out Smith handed debuts to Jacob Ramsey and Bertrand Traoré and made sure to keep the clean sheet.

The Lineup

Emiliano Martinez

Martinez is the first Villa keeper to hold on to a clean sheet away from home in the top flight since Mark Bunn. The Argentine was hardly busy throughout the evening but did more than just stay at home and get a tan. In a particular moment which mattered, Martinez showed class and made a terrific save on a Joe Bryan ball which looked certain for the back of the net. Coming off of Bryan’s foot, the ball curled and came across goal, heading for the top corner before Martinez got his fingertips to the ball and nudged it onto the cross bar. This goal would have been insignificant to the result as Villa were up 0-3 in the 87th minute but shows the willingness to keep the clean sheet and showing a certain amount of pride which is always good to see. Rating: 7.5

Matty Cash

During the offseason many Villa fans questioned the acquisition of Matty Cash and through the first two games of this season he is showing why he was snapped up from Nottingham. Cash was all over the pitch against Fulham and was a linchpin to the success that the defense had in keeping a clean sheet. Through all the hard work, he earned a glowing defensive stat sheet which recorded 7 tackles, 3 interceptions, 4 clearances-including a goal line clearance, and 2 blocked shots. Cash forced play away from his right side due to the effort he put in and earned a shout out from the keeper in a postgame tweet. Rating: 8

Ezri Konsa

Coming into the Fulham fixture, one of the most interesting match ups was set to be Aleksandar Mitrovic v the Villa center defenders. Mitrovic is one of the more talented and physical number 9s that Villa will come up against in the league this year and looked to be a challenge for the pairing of Mings and Konsa. Throughout the game I slowly forgot about the presence of Mitrovic because Konsa specifically had matched up with the center forward at every opportunity and canceled out the threat. The most impactful moment from the Fulham man was when he had fouled Konsa in the build up to Fulham’s VAR cancelled goal. By the end of the match the mighty Mitrovic had been demoralized and lacked the motivation to go for the crosses Fulham tried to supply him. Rating: 8

Tyrone Mings

While Konsa was busy man marking Fulham’s most potent goal scorer, Mings was playing high in the air and grounding every Fulham ball shipped into the box. There was a solid passage of play in which Fulham would get possession, play down the right wing, send in a cross, Mings would clear the cross, and the passage would repeat. Nothing was getting past the English international through the air or in front of goal as Mings put his body on the line late to block a shot. While being a stalwart in the back, Mings also made time to come forward and contributed with his second attacking contribution in as many matches and scored the third goal off of a Hourihane set piece. The goal was well taken and was reminiscent of the goal he had scored at Old Trafford last year. Although Mings was handed a yellow late for getting into it with a Fulham player, the performance was otherwise fantastic. Rating: 8.5

Matt Targett

In an impressive defensive display by Villa, Targett’s performance was definitely the weak point of the back four. In the first half particularly, Targett looked poor defensively he had earned a quick yellow for a late tackle and could not keep runners out of his defensive channel. As the game wore on Targett looked less like a liability on the left but did not do enough to solidify his flank and had to be bailed out by a back tracking winger or Hourihane more often than he should. Targett has to clear this string of poor defensive performances quickly, Liverpool is next in the league. Rating: 5.5

Douglas Luiz (Subbed 87th)

For the majority of this game Fulham played on the wings in a 343 formation and tried to float crosses into score. This means that Douglas Luiz did not have to gum up the works in the middle of the pitch defensively and was not called on for much in that aspect aside from the occasional counter attack which needed breaking up. Offensively, he did not contribute much either. Luiz had a pretty measly passing percentage of 64% with only 34 touches. Simply put, Luiz was a pedestrian in this game and uncharacteristically didn’t influence play. Rating: 6

Conor Hourihane (Subbed 76th)

During a week full of the rumors of Villa picking up either Ross Barkley or Ruben Loftus-Cheek on loan to provide competition for the number 8 spot, Hourihane decided to put in a performance that would make Deano think about displacing him. Hourihane looked like a bundle of energy on the pitch against Fulham and was doing everything from box to box. Defensively, Hourihane tracked runners back to Matt Targett and man marked well. Offensively, the Irish international was able to assist one of the three goals and score one of them as well. Hourihane’s goal came in the 14th minute as he ran into the box behind a charging Grealish and finished a setup from John McGinn fantastically into the bottom left corner. The assist came off of one of Hourihane’s trademark set pieces as he put the ball on a silver platter for Mings to knock home. The only negative to his game against Fulham was the occasional poor ball collected by the keeper in decent opportunities and a very small period of disappearance. Rating: 8

John McGinn

Against Fulham John McGinn was finally super once again. For the first time since his injury before restart, McGinn looked like the midfielder who won the player of the year award during our promotion. Defensively, McGinn operated like a striker in a 442 in the defensive shape and was directed to press any time the ball came remotely near him. Offensively, McGinn looked like a man possessed at times. Aside from the two assists that he managed, the Scot pulled off skill in the midfield with a perfect Zidane style roulette and showed grit by holding on to the ball using his famous rear end and by being fouled 5 times. Speaking of his ability to hold off a man, this led to the second assist by him in the day as he held off a man in the box while receiving a pass from Grealish and was able to gift the ball to Hourihane just to the left of the penalty spot. Before that though, McGinn was able to show a bit of skill by placing an inch perfect ball into the path of Grealish who was able to sneak it past the keeper. In moments, McGinn showed the skill he is capable of and the grit that supporter’s love but the combination of both made him super. Rating: 9 (Man of the Match)

Trezeguet (Subbed 84th)

Before the match lots of fans had been predicting a change in the side with the introduction of the newest Villa man, Bertrand Traoré. However, Smith decided to show faith and loyalty to Trezeguet by giving him an opportunity in the starting lineup. To his credit, Trezeguet repaid that faith with a performance full of effort and heart. The Egyptian constantly was seen tracking back and running to get into an interesting position for the attack. Unfortunately for Trezeguet and all of his effort, his skill let him down, particularly in two major opportunities to set Watkins up with a final ball. Although Trezeguet was one of the hardest workers on the pitch, a passing percentage of 58.3 is hard to ignore from a winger and may impact the manager going forward. Rating: 6.5

Ollie Watkins

Aston Villa’s record signing can’t buy a goal right now. Watkins, despite elite level movement and creativity through his first two games has been unlucky not to come away from either of the two league fixtures with a goal. The striker is clearly in good form having bagged in two appearances in the League Cup along with the traits he has shown within the first two league fixtures. Aside from goal scoring, Watkins did everything you would want out of a striker, he was good on the counter and ran into space constantly for the outlet. Watkins also held up the ball nicely while also having a few successful dribbles. Watkins looks sure to bag soon in the league, it just hasn’t happened yet. Rating: 7

Jack Grealish

Grealish set things off with a bang by scoring the first goal of the match and making everything happen prior to the assist of the second. The first goal was an example of how Grealish can impact the play by drifting in from the left. By drifting in between the full back and center half he was able to split the line that Fulham had set and get a 1 on 1 with the keeper after receiving the threaded pass and slot the ball home. The second goal was an example of just how freaking good the captain can be. Starting from the throw in that Grealish sent to Watkins, he was able to create space with a simple 1-2 with the striker on the wing and glide into the box with the ball. Then he noticed McGinn holding up his man presumably to enable Grealish to shoot but instead allowed him to utilize his position to set up Hourihane to make the score 0-2. Aside from this fantastic opening 15 minutes, Grealish also tracked back well to assist Targett on the wing and played the ball forward to Ollie and McGinn quite well. Only negative for the talisman was a gaffe in the first half which saw him attempt a cross field pass to Konsa or Cash which was intercepted by Cavaleiro for an opportunity which he squandered. Rating: 8.5

Substitutions

Jacob Ramsey (Subbed on 76th)

After a brilliant performance during the League Cup match against Bristol City, the youngster Jacob Ramsey was handed his Premier League debut against Fulham. During his 15 minutes on the pitch, Ramsey wasn’t able to make a huge impact but had inspired movement including a missed opportunity where he wasn’t picked out as a free runner into the six yard box. Rating: 6.5

Bertrand Traoré (Subbed on 84th)

Dean Smith handed another debut to Traoré for the final 10 minutes including stoppage time. Although he was on for a short amount of time he showed some encouraging activity including a good looking 1-2 with Grealish played in the middle of the pitch to set up the counter. Rating: N/A

Marvelous Nakamba (Subbed on 87th)

Brought on to bring fresh legs for stoppage time and to provide defensive stability. Not on long enough to make an impact. Rating: N/A