By Jonathan Parkin

What Happened…

A decent enough performance, but gut-wrenching loss, against Tottenham gave many fans hope of a good showing against Southampton. Dean Smith made two changes from the side that took on Spurs, with Drinkwater and Engels dropping to the bench, and Mings and Nakamba taking their place. This game was considered by many a ‘make or break’ match, with a good result vital in keeping the Villans away from the drop zone.

While against Spurs, Villa played some of the best football they’d played all season, against Saints the opposite could be said. Shane Long put the hosts ahead early on, with his traditional goal against the Villans, and the chances kept coming.

Villa failed to have a single shot until a good while after the half time break. Consistently losing every second ball in the midfield, hitting passes short, and even the reliable Pepe Reina shanking passes to opposition players, there was little reaction.

It’s hard to put any kind of positive spin on the display, which has to go down as one of the worst in recent times. Jack Grealish didn’t get on the ball often enough, and when he did, he looked far from his best. A change in formation after 58 minutes provided a bit of impetus for the boys in claret and blue, but moves still continued to break down in the final third.

Southampton did their best to give Villa a way back into the game, by missing chance after chance after chance. Despite this Villa only mustered up four shots in the 90 minutes, compared to Southampton’s 28. This will have got many of the Villa faithful thinking the Villa are destined for the drop. One thing is for sure, if the performances continue to be this bad, ‘Yazz’ got it wrong, because the only way is down.

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Player Ratings

Pepe Reina – 6

Pepe Reina did make several good saves to keep Villa in the game, but two or three of the chances leading to them were created by the Spaniard’s distribution. While usually Reina’s passing is pinpoint and accurate, his pass completion was just 54%. Some of the ball’s he played were just downright dangerous. He attempted 22 long balls in the 90 minutes, six were accurate, though this wasn’t helped by the extremely windy conditions.

Frederic Guilbert – 4

There was a worrying amount of strapping on one of Fred Guilbert’s knees. Whether this contributed to his bad performance we don’t know. That said, this was easily the Frenchman’s worst performance in a Villa shirt. Moussa Djenepo, down the Southampton left, had the beating of him every time he took the 25-year-old on. 

For much of the game, he looked as if he couldn’t pass to a teammate, and he committed more fouls than anyone else. The infuriating thing was where these fouls were taking place, when Villa had pressure on Saints and could press, and the fouls just released all the pressure. He also gave the ball away five times on top of this, an awful day at the office for the full-back.

Ezri Konsa – 5

Before being substituted in the 58th minute, Ezri Konsa hardly inspired much confidence in his defensive abilities. Southampton got in time after time down the Villa right-hand side and Konsa did nothing to stop the onslaught. The 22-year-old was incredibly slow in reacting to Djenepo’s run in behind that created the opener, if he had been fully alert and less lethargic, Saints wouldn’t have gone 1-0 up.

Tyrone Mings – 6.5

Tyrone Mings was the only member of the back three that looked fully committed to the cause. Early on Mings was getting on the end of every ball into the box and heading it away, an he continued to make blocks and interceptions throughout the 90. Unfortunately for Mings, the defenders around him really let him down.

Kortney Hause – 4.5

Like Konsa, Kortney Hause was very poor defensively. He wasn’t as dominant in the air as usual, and thus the less impressive areas of his game stood out. Whenever the ball was played into the centre-backs feet it took him an age to get it under control and get it moving again. This really slowed up Villa’s play going forward and caused it to stall on multiple occasions. Hause also got himself into some real messes, including once where he tried to leave the ball for Pepe Reina, which resulted in an open goal attempt for Che Adams. Thankfully for Hause, he got back to block the former Birmingham man’s shot.

Matt Targett – 6

While on the opposite side Guilbert had a shocker, Matt Targett put in a reasonable performance. By no means was the left-back fantastic, but he was one of the main reasons that Villa had any attacks at all. He put in six crosses, though no one was ever there to meet them, and fed the ball into Jack Grealish whenever he could. The Villans looked at their most threatening on the one occasion that Grealish, Douglas Luiz and Targett linked up in the final third.

Douglas Luiz – 4.5

After some really good performances from Douglas Luiz in recent weeks, he regressed massively in this game. The Villa midfield was cut through easily by Saints, and Douglas made one tackle in the entire game. In the first half Luiz played some real hospital passes, which allowed saints to grab the ball back and keep up the pressure on the Villa goal.

Marvelous Nakamba – 5

Once again, Marvelous Nakamba tried his hardest to stop the opposition driving through the Villa midfield, but he was fighting a losing battle. The Zimbabwean made three interceptions and four clearances in the time he was on the pitch, but the midfield still looked like it wasn’t there.

Anwar El Ghazi – 6

Anwar El Ghazi looked pretty dangerous until he was poked in the eye and had to go off. He had the beating of Ryan Bertrand once or twice, and the loss of the Dutchman definitely hurt Villa’s chances of getting back into the game. Was the challenge on El Ghazi a soft one? Should he have shook it off? It’s tempting to take points off, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Ally Samatta – 6

Ally Samatta was powerless to do anything as he watched the players behind him bumble about for the whole game. He got one good chance and put it away, unfortunately for the Villans he was offside. His hold up play was good when the ball actually got to him, but the Tanzania international was starved of service.

Jack Grealish © – 5.5

It was easy to tell that Jack Grealish was frustrated with how the team was playing from very early on. He didn’t help things by having an uncharacteristically bad game. Southampton doubled up on the Villa skipper, and he had the ball robbed from his feet in several instances. His passing was loose and he simply didn’t look as dangerous as in other games. When Grealish can’t carry the team when it’s playing badly, it’s not a good sign.

Off the Bench

Trezeguet (27) – 5

It was another poor game for Trezeguet. The Egyptian ran about, but didn’t really do much. The opportunities on the break that fell the way of him, he failed to make the most of, and his lack of pace in attack really hurts Villa when they try to counter.

Conor Hourihane (58) – 5.5

Villa had a bit more about them when Conor Hourihane initially came on. This soon faded however, and the Irishman wasted Villa’s best attack by blasting the ball into the legs of the Southampton defender, when Grealish was free on his left.

Borja Baston (80) – n/a

Borja Baston was an extra body up the pitch late on. He closed down the Saints defenders well once, but failed to contribute anything else of note.

Manager Rating

Dean Smith – 4

While Dean Smith stood on the touchline in the first half, looking like he was chewing a wasp, it was easy to think ‘they’ll be better in the second half’. Smith’s fury has little effect, and it was much the same. Deano can say he’s disappointed with the result and performance, but he has consistently failed to get the players up and ready for games against the teams around Villa in the table.

Fruitless good performances against the big six don’t matter, if you can’t perform against the teams around you, you will be relegated. Eventually the games will run out and three teams will be relegated. Unless Smith can pull out some more inspiration from somewhere, Villa look as if they will be one of those three teams.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. the message to the villa fans from purslow and dean smith is as follows – weve got you to a Wembley cup final, what more do you want.

  2. Why!! oh!! why!! did we let Chester leave, it was obviously only a matter of a couple of games to get him back up to speed which he is now proving at Stoke, even A Hutton would be an automatic choice in this team, at least you would know what to expect, at least 110% effort, sorry DS your decision making is criminal, and will ultimately cost us our Premiership position survival.

  3. Not enough playing for your place in a cup final mentality from quite a few, I’d go nyland,Elmo,mings , engels targett,marvelous, hourihane, Luiz,jack,samatta,Davis if fit and 🙏🙏

  4. Completely agree with my fellow supporters this was unacceptable crap and with the worst defence in the league by a country mile yes Terry has to be questioned. How can Smith justify no shots on goal in 90+ mins, Smith has clearly demonstrated that he has no clue about PL management ,or team selection, and who sanctions the signing of crap players, and what about Drinkwater I reckon this was all Smith, personally I think he should have gone at Christmas, but what did they do give him a new contract ? when you look at our upcoming fixtures it’s a joke and probably all too late now, all they care about is the cup final and that looks like being Double figures, we should have been focussed on our league position I couldn’t give a toss about the cup, let’s be honest our club is a shambles run by a bunch of numpties, I thought our owners were top business men but not showing any signs of that. And as for the players well what can you say just a bunch of freeloaders
    Happy to rip of the fans who pay good hard earnt Money to watch this. our club are having a laugh at our expense. And it won’t end well

  5. Same old shitty excuses. No effort. We were second to the ball. Didn’t win the headers. Deans like a parrot as he’s being saying the same crap since day one in the premier league. Shit system of play. No plan B and crap over rated players who don’t care. Dean should have gone mid way thru the season. He’s clueless. Useless at subs as well. As for John Terry. What the fuck are you working at with the defence.

  6. Well I won’t be wasting my time getting up at 3am to watch an absolute bunch of wasters , when you buy fucking crap players from shit leagues you going to be a shit tram I said before Xmas sack smith he is totally out of his depth in epl get rid of before next epl game or we odds on for the championship all this crap from Purslow about good/ great academy players means diddly squat when we back in championship wake up villa buy proper epl players stop cutting corners sack smith before it’s to late

  7. It is so sad that we can (almost) match the likes of Spurs (League) and Leicester (Cup) but just FAIL against the likes of Southampton… This was the team w/ the worst home record and we just never got off the bus (feel the players sat on the bus hoping to go straight on to Wembley!). This lies w/ DS- a manager needs to make drastic changes at the half and for the rest of the season. We need about 12 points to survive… luckily for the Villa there are 5 other awful teams in and around us. Can see someone being relegated on goal difference/ goals conceded… guess we are doomed. Boy, I hope McGinn is back on the 9th- he is the only one that can save us!

  8. it’s hurtfull to watch trezeguet trying to run past players, he’s been pretty bad since he came to Villa. They played so badly it was just hard to watch and I had a feeling that if game lasted for a few more hours we wouldn’t score any goal how awful that was.

    I hope it will be better when Mcginn and Davis recover from their injuries.

  9. About the rumour of the tunnel bust up with Terry. Well i have had my suspicions for a very long time now. What the hell does he teach them? [should i give examples and stats?]. I think there is a lot to be said on this forced arrangement …. One thing i do know. Whatever he is doing, isn’t bloody working! … A complete rooky … The evidence is there for all to see!

    Good players don’t necessarily make good management. End of.

  10. A good summary. We were terrible. There’s nothing positive to say. Clutching at almost invisible straws, our offside goal, a great ball from Grealish to Samatta. Samatta finished well, but 3 players off-side.

    Just rubbish against an average side before a Cup Final. There must be fans looking to off-load their Wembley tickets!

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