There’s no doubt that teenage striker Cameron Archer is the Villan of the week with a smartly executed hat-trick on his first Villa start, that reeked of composure and potential. It was always going to take something special to top Danny Ings’ wonderful strike against Newcastle to be the highlight of the week, but Archer certainly has given Villa supporters some food for thought.
With Wesley on his way out on loan to Club Bruge and Keinan Davis injured and failing to prove himself as a goal scorer (two goals in nine League Cup games, and only three goals in 72 league appearances, albeit mostly from the bench), the thought of having a young and promising striker in the Villa ranks is certainly a positive.
Meanwhile, in the 6-0 win at Barrow, Anwar El Ghazi added another two goals to the penalty he scored against Newcastle to cap off a decent week for him. Plus, there was useful outings for Philogene-Bidace and Chukwuemeka, who are fast becoming regular match day squad options for Dean Smith.
Villa’s backup back four also got a useful run out to get them up to speed, and Conor Hourihane did well as captain for the night.
MOMS isn’t doing the ratings for the cup games, but wanted to mention the efforts of last night, as we catch-up on the league game against Newcastle.
It was always going to be difficult to perform any worse than Villa did on the opening day at Watford, but with the team still getting up to speed after a disruptive preseason, Smith would have been pleased to kick-start the home campaign with three points.
It was a bit of a scrappy first half, with the first potential game defining moment coming in the first five minutes when Calum Wilson broke free from Tyronne Mings, who failed to play to the whistle. Wilson was left one-on-one with Emi Martinez, but the Newcastle striker fluffed his lines and the Toon never really received a better opportunity to influence the result.
Ings’ bicycle kick was the stuff of legends on the stroke of half-time (how many fans missed it, queuing for a pie?), while VAR correctly made sure a couple of times that the points would be Villa’s, with El Ghazi cementing them with his penalty.
Player Ratings vs Newcastle
Emiliano Martinez – 6
The Copa America winner only faced one shot on target, so it was a relatively easy afternoon’s work. Doing enough to put off Callum Wilson early doors, after the Newcastle striker broke through Mings challenge to be one-on-one with the Argentine, was probably his most telling contribution.
Martinez did have a moment of madness in the second half when he flattened Wilson in the penalty box, but the penalty decision was overturned by VAR, after an offside.
Matty Cash – 7
While he wasn’t perhaps tidy in possession, Cash improved on his performance last week having more influence further up the pitch. His long throw led to Danny Ings cracking opener.
Ezri Konsa – 7
Konsa was back to his effortless reliability. He wasn’t overly stretched as Newcastle’s main threats were largely neutralised before they got to him.
Tyrone Mings © – 8
It was a bit of an unsteady start for Mings and he really should have played to the whistle, once he was hustled by Wilson, but he soon became on the most influential figures on the pitch. His flick on from Cash’s throwing, was certainly a well won header. With Villa’s lack of height across the team, Mings and Konsa need to be more potent in the opposition box when it comes to set pieces.
Ashley Young – 7
With Targett still getting up to speed after his preseason injury, Young was largely untroubled at the back and was continually involved when Villa were attacking. No Villa player had more touches. He took responsibility for set plays and certainly looks like an asset. Also, it’s good to have another vocal influencer on the pitch, as Newcastle’s Jacob Murphy found out when he tried to mug Young off for a penalty.Targett certainly will have a fight on his hands getting back into the team.
Douglas Luiz – 7.5
It was half-expected that Smith would start Luiz bearing in mind he was match fit considering his exploits with Brazil over the summer. Villa needed to be a bit more progressive on the ball when in possession, and Luiz was looking for the ball at every opportunity to get things going. Was tidier in possession than his speculative shot. If you don’t notice Luiz, that probably means he’s having a decent game.
John McGinn – 8
A solid all round performance by McGinn. If McGinn kicks on and gives Villa a proper disciplined box-to-box performance week-in-week-out, imposing himself on games, then Villa should finish in the top half. This was a decent performance by McGinn and he was one of the main reasons Villa were largely comfortable in the game.
Jacob Ramsay – 8
After bringing some spark to Villa’s game when he came on against Watford, Ramsay was added to the Villa midfield to give it more energy and purpose in possession. His first start at Villa Park was perhaps his best showing in the first team, as the Holte soon began to serenade him in the second half for his efforts.
The experience will certainly give him a confidence boost and a good platform to build on, as he is already playing without fear.
Emi Buendía – 6
Buendia played more on the right-hand side against Newcastle, in a performance that was more about effort than guile. He showed more what he brings to the team off the ball with his pressing. Still perhaps a game or two off in terms of sharpness.
Danny Ings – 7
Overall, Ings wasn’t in the game much registering just 18 touches in the 90 minutes, but he showed why he could be key to Villa success at Villa Park this season. After the backline kept 15 clean sheets last season (bettered only by Manchester City and Chelsea), if they can keep it tight this season, then Ings pedigree as a finisher will see them win games when the team aren’t playing at their best.
The game against Newcastle was a case in point. Villa stuttered in the first half, but suddenly up popped Ings in emphatic fashion. His volley was a beauty, an acrobatic overhead kick that took us all back to the giddy days of…Carlos Gil!
It’s two from two for Ings (not quite on the level as Archer!) and a sound start for the England striker. A good bet for 20 goals for the season, if he avoids injury? Give me a player who will chalk up real stats like that over players that are only good at stats like progressive carries and winning fouls.
Anwar El Ghazi – 6
After his Watford performance, you were questioning if El Ghazi had a future at Villa. Yet, within the space of a few days, he’s proven that he can at least be Villa’s specialised penalty taker. If only English football had special teams like in NFL, then El Ghazi would be a key man.
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Off the Bench
Axel Tuanzebe (88) N/A
It was good to see Tuanzebe back in a Villa shirt and there’s no doubt Tunazebe coming off the bench in the final stages in the DM position to defend leads could be a regular occurrence. Villa aren’t blessed with too much height in the team, so his added height and physicality will help when it comes to defending set pieces and long ball onslaughts in the dying stages of games.
Philogene-Bidace (85) N/A
Decent enough cameo and he continues to show he’s certainly comfortable at this level.
Wesley (90) N/A
A token gesture sub to run the clock down in what could be his last action in a Villa shirt (at least for a while).
Dean Smith – 7
A good win for Dean Smith to make sure no reactionary online nonsense starts. With the far from ideal preseason preparation due to Covid interruptions, loss of his captain, incoming players and international duties, it was always important to pick up points while his team found its feet in the opening weeks of the season.
The reality is, Smith will be a few weeks away from fielding his full strength starting XI.
His midfield switches did the trick against Newcastle, ultimately forcing Newcastle’s front threats to come deep to get the ball and keep them in front of Villa’s backline.
Every coming week will see a more organised Villa, and if Smith can get three points from a tough looking test against Brentford, it’ll set him up nicely for the international break, after which, he’ll be able to pick from a stronger team.