A new season filled with hope, starts in the League Cup second round. Villa got to the final of the competition last season in an impressive cup run, before losing narrowly to Man City. League One Burton Albion, Villa’s opponents, last faced the Villans at the same stage of the League Cup a couple of years ago. The Villa boys lost that night, though the team was a far cry from recent starting XI’s, containing the likes of Andre Moreira and Ritchie De Laet.
Dean Smith gave a debut to new record signing Ollie Watkins, and youngster Jacob Ramsey was given an opportunity to impress in midfield. Jack Grealish started fresh from signing his new five-year contract, the announcement of which surely put a smile on the face of every Villa fan.
Villa just about got the job done against a Burton side that sat deep for large portions of the 90 minutes. A goal after 64 seconds was certainly a shock, Villa hadn’t touched the ball yet as the ball was lashed home.
The visitors then huffed and puffed as they struggled to break down the stubborn Burton backline. However, a neat pass from Grealish played in Neil Taylor, who once he collected his senses, fizzed the ball across the face of goal for Ollie Watkins to score on his debut.
There were a few hairy moments as Hause and Mings proceeded to defend in a very casual fashion at times. Despite this, a Jack Grealish volley, despatching a corner from the edge of the area, and a tidy finish from Keinan Davis shortly before the 90 was up, secured Villa’s place in the next round.
A sharper performance will be required from the Villa boys on Monday against Sheffield United. There was a lack of spark, other than from Jack Grealish, and to describe the match as dull until the final minutes, might be a bit of an understatement.
Orjan Nyland – 6
Norwegian Goalkeeper Orjan Nyland had very little to do in the 90 mins. He picked the ball out of his net in the second minute and didn’t really have to make a save. He made a very good throw to set Ollie Watkins up the pitch in the second half.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 6
Ahmed Elmohamady could be seen as being at fault for the opening goal, with Colin Daniel finding himself in acres of space to get his shot away on the left side of the box. Other than that, Elmo put in an unspectacular performance, with a handful of troubling balls into the Burton box.
Kortney Hause – 5.5
In football defenders can’t afford to be switched off at any point, and in the first minute Kortney Hause was exactly that. The centre-back failed to win an aerial duel and allowed Burton to keep hold of the ball leading up to the opener. Hause was also dispossessed twice, highlighting how the centre-back wasn’t fully switched on.
Tyrone Mings – 5.5
Tyrone Mings is capable of defending extremely casually, and he proved this again in this match. In the 49th minute Mings didn’t get enough on a header, allowing the Burton forward to run through on goal, to make it worse he didn’t even make any effort to amend for his mistake. In spite of this, Mings passed the ball well, and hopefully will move up a gear for the opening game of Villa’s Premier League campaign.
Neil Taylor – 6
One of the more entertaining moments of the match came from Neil Taylor, as the Welshman didn’t realise the ball was directly in front of him before he assisted the Watkins goal. Taylor was no frills as usual and did his job to a satisfactory standard.
Marvelous Nakamba – 6
The up side to Marvelous Nakamba’s performance was that the energetic midfielder made six tackles, an impressive effort. However, it seemed that as often as the Zimbabwean won the ball back, he gave it away. This included one dispossession in the first half that nearly led to a goal for the Brewers. On top of this, Nakamba was frustratingly slow to release the ball, and often opted for a sideways or backwards pass instead of looking up the pitch.
Henri Lansbury – 5.5
Though Henri Lansbury played a terrific corner delivery for Jack Grealish’s goal, he had very little influence otherwise. The midfielder went missing for huge chunks of the game, and didn’t show much to set himself apart from any of the other Villa midfielders.
Jacob Ramsey – 6.5
It was a solid debut for 19-year-old Jacob Ramsey, the midfielder played two key passes, won two free kicks and had a 91% pass completion in his time on the pitch. He lacked a little composure when on the ball in the box, but Ramsey still has a lot of time to improve his game. His flying tackle just before his substitution also emphasised Ramsey’s commitment and determination, even if it did result in a yellow card. Promising.
Anwar El Ghazi – 5
The word uninspired comes to mind when thinking about Anwar El Ghazi’s performance. The Dutchman’s delivery from set pieces and crossing was truly awful, and he lacked any willingness to take on a man. This really hammers home Villa’s need for more options out wide.
Ollie Watkins – 7
Despite missing a golden opportunity to grab his second goal, Ollie Watkins showed some of the reasons as to why Villa splashed out £28 million to buy him. The 24-year-old’s movement around the box was fantastic, and he got into positions that Villa strikers haven’t in recent times.
Jack Grealish © – 8.5 MOTM
Everything that was good about Villa’s performance came through Jack Grealish. At times it seemed as if he was playing all over the pitch as he switched wings, dropped deep or drove down the middle at different intervals. Jack’s creativity created the first goal and his technique and finishing provided the second. Though it was against lower league opposition, Jack really exhibited why it was so important to tie him up to a new contract.
Free Shipping on Villa Kit Below
Off the Bench
Douglas Luiz (70) – 6
Douglas Luiz looked pretty sharp in his 20-minute cameo. He had little to do defensively, and drove forward from midfield comfortably. His through ball for Keinan Davis was nicely weighted, and a good way to cap off a decent first outing of the season for the Brazilian.
Keinan Davis (70) – 7
Finally, Keinan Davis has the goal that all of his hard work has merited. His cool finish can only give the big striker some confidence to push on and score a few more.
Jota (79) – n/a
Jota blasted a shot wide of the mark at 1-1 when Villa were looking to get ahead, that was the biggest contribution the Spaniard would make. He made 6 passes in 15 minutes.
Dean Smith – 6
Dean Smith certainly wouldn’t have been hoping for a Burton goal after 64 seconds. However, the boys in claret and blue pressed on and got the win. In the end, the most defining thing Smith did was leave Grealish on the pitch to inspire the late win. The performance against Sheffield United will have to be much better if Villa are to get something, but the team will be very different to this one. There are some good signs of a link forming between Watkins and Grealish, which can only be a good thing for the Villans going forward.