Aston Villa manager, Dean Smith, was seemingly unimpressed with the games officiating as he publicly questioned several of the referee’s crucial decisions that swayed against his team, which in his mind, determined the outcome of the game.
Emi Martínez: 6/10
The Argentinian faced a difficult affair against the team placed second in the league. He was continuously called upon in the first half to which he came up trumps. An impressive first half then turned sour as less than ten minutes after the interval, he saw two goals fly past him to turn the game on its head.
Matty Cash: 6/10
A sunny afternoon at Villa Park was dampened within quick succession for the right-back as, from the first whistle, it became apparent the visitors looked to exploit the left-hand side of the pitch, leaving him susceptible to an opposition overlap. In the rare moments, the Englishman found himself in possession, boasting an improved pass percentage and ensuring the home side kept possession in order to deny the visitors the opportunity to dictate the tempo of play.
Ezri Konsa: 7/10
The England hopeful endured a dominant display under the watchful eye of international manager, Gareth Southgate, in a bid to earn himself a place in the expanded Euro 2021 squad. Boasting his best pass completion rate of the season (93%), he managed to successfully transition play into the attacking third of the pitch efficiently.
He kept attacker, Marcus Rashford, under his wing throughout the game and frustrated the forward to the point where he squared up to the Villa center-back late in the day. Considering England mainstay, Harry Maguire, hobbled off and left Villa Park in a protected boot, this could have been the perfect audition for the Aston Villa center-back to stake a claim with a defensively sound performance.
Tyrone Mings: 6/10
It was a difficult afternoon for the former Ipswich Town defender as he was caught out of position, leading to the visitors second goal of the game. He allowed youngster, Mason Greenwood, to shadow the ball and get a shot away inside the penalty area with relative ease.
The defender was focusing on playing lofted balls towards attacker, Ollie Watkins, initiating the forward line to consistently pressure the opposition when in possession. Consequently, this mindset let to Villa grabbing their only goal of the game, enforcing the opposition defense into a mistake through persistent attacking pressure.
Matt Targett: 6/10
Another consistent outing from the left-back, blocking crosses into the area and deflecting shots away from danger. However, attacking positioning was scarce on this occasion, spending 73% of the game within the confounds of the defensive third of the pitch. On the rare occasion the full-back ventured forward, his final ball was lacking, failing to find a claret and blue shirt with his searching crosses conceding possession cheaply.
Douglas Luiz: 5/10
It was a birthday to forget for the now twenty-three-year-old Brazilian midfielder after naively going in for a needless challenge in the penalty area and gifting the opposition a penalty and a route back in to the match. The midfielder conceded possession on too many an occasions and looked allergic to the attacking third of the pitch. Reflection is needed from the midfielder in order to regain the form shown after Project Restart and recapture the style of play that helped Villa escape the drop last time around.
John McGinn: 7/10
It was evident that the home team on this occasion had been drilled to condemn the away side to very little time on the ball by consistently allowing them a reduced time in possession and forcing them to take limited touches of the ball; such a press was lead by rugged midfielder, John McGinn. The Scottish international had his ruthless nature out on display as all play seemingly ran through him as he enjoyed over fifty touches on the ball.
Ross Barkley: 5/10
The Chelsea loanee crawled under the radar on this occasion as he failed to be effective in possession and penetrative in the attacking third. It was apparent he failed to provide sufficient support to the striker, losing possession more than any other player on the pitch (18 times).
Anwar El Ghazi: 6/10
The flying Dutchman failed to add to his consecutive goals in his last two outings. The wide man clearly had an eye to goal as he tried his luck on no more than five times, hitting the target with just one of those. Unfortunately, the ex-Ajax starlet failed to provide sufficient support to full-back, Matt Targett, as he won two out of nine attempted ground duels and none of his four attempted defensive headers.
Bertrand Traoré: 7/10
The Burkina Faso international opened the scoring in emphatic style, turning his defender and cutely placing the ball in the top drawer from an acute angle. Despite his efforts, it was not his side who would eventually prevail, but not without an impressive display from the wide man.
With three shots attempted, it could have been a very different outcome and as for his defensive responsibilities in which he has been consistently criticized for throughout the season, it was much improved as he won seven out his ten attempted ground duels and displayed a dominant aerial ability with two defensive clearances in the air.
Ollie Watkins: 5/10
The striker will miss his first minutes of the season next time around as he saw his name go into the referee’s book on two occasions, subsequently seeing himself dismissed just minutes before the final whistle was blown. In an attempt to win a penalty for his side, Watkins was adjudged to have dived by the referee and was quickly shown his marching orders, much to the disbelief of manager, Dean Smith.