Bristol City 0 Aston Villa 3
Only nine days on from the late Jack Grealish show at the Pirelli stadium, the Villa boys had another match in the sugary energy drink Cup. The opponents this week, Bristol City, had got off to an unbeaten start to the season. They would be looking to continue this run, despite having a rotated starting XI.
The game screamed potential banana skin, when you also factored in Villa’s teamsheet.
Similarly Villa also put out a different starting XI to that which beat Sheffield United. The whole team changed, with the unexpected addition of Ahmed Elmohamady at centre-back sparking some confusion and laughter on Villa fan social media. Jacob Ramsey kept his place in midfield from the last Cup game, and Bertrand Traore made his debut in Villa’s Birmingham inspired third kit.
The first half was a walk in the park for the Villans. Anwar El Ghazi fired home unmarked from close range, after some good work dancing round defenders from Keinan Davis. Villa the continued to press as Bristol City played sloppy passes and generally looked lethargic. Then in a week that has been good for Villa debutants, Traore nonchalantly cushion-volleyed the ball across goal and into the top corner.
Villa opted to sit back more and hit on the break in the second half. A couple of good chances for El Ghazi, shortly after the break, should really have been put away. Ollie Watkins came off the bench to score a simple finish into the bottom corner, and the game was well and truly over. A mistake by Kortney Hause led to the greatest threat to the Villa goal, but Semenyo couldn’t make the most of the chance. For the Villa faithful, this can probably be described as the least stressful Villa match to watch in recent years.
Jed Steer – 7
Jed Steer was only called upon to make two saves in 90 minutes. That says a lot about how toothless Bristol City were. Villa’s play-off hero of 2019 showed he is a very capable option in between the sticks, should he be needed. He was calm and collected on the ball and didn’t get himself into any trouble.
Frederic Guilbert – 7
There were plenty of trademark runs forward from Fred Guilbert, in the Frenchman’s first outing of the season. His committed style was evident as he made tackles, interceptions and blocks, to snuff out what little threat there was down the Bristol left.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 7.5
Forget James Milner or John O’Shea, it’s Ahmed Elmohamady that is the ultimate utility man. The experienced defender looked like he’d played at centre-back for years, as he made two tackles, interceptions and clearances in a very solid performance. He also used his long passing ability in a fantastic fashion, as he bombed forward out of defence and played accurate balls to each flank.
Kortney Hause – 7
One error late on, when the match was already won, does detract slightly from what was a composed performance from Kortney Hause. When Villa sat back in the second half, Hause made a few useful clearances to release any pressure. The 25-year-old also passed the ball relatively well, which was handy, as he had a lot of the ball. 83 touches of it, to be precise.
Neil Taylor – 7
Neil Taylor did his defensive duties when required, but wasn’t really challenged by a limp Bristol City attack. You know what you are going to get with Taylor, a performance that doesn’t set the world alight, but often gets the job done. He did exactly that in this match, and helped Villa secure the win.
Henri Lansbury – 7
Despite giving the ball away a handful of times, Henri Lansbury was a presence in midfield for once. The ex-Nottingham Forest man made six key passes and generally passed the ball excellently. Despite this, one performance against lower league opposition isn’t going to push Lansbury up the pecking order, for a place on Monday against Fulham.
Marvelous Nakamba – 6.5
Zimbabwean Marvelous Nakamba once again highlighted that he has plenty of ability, in terms of tackling and regaining possession. He also showed however, his lack of ball playing skill, as he got himself into one or two slightly hairy situations. Nonetheless, flair and skill aren’t exactly what Marvelous is in the team for.
Jacob Ramsey – 8 MOTM
Young Jacob Ramsey put in a brilliant performance, with darting runs from midfield, accurate passes, and an assist. The academy product really showed off all of the elements of his game, and proved that he isn’t satisfied with just starting cup games. Three key passes, including the ball into Traore for the second goal, displayed his passing range.
Bertrand Traore – 7.5
New winger Bertrand Traore tormented the helpless Robins defence, on his debut. The Burkina Faso international showed not only flawless technique, but an intelligent football brain to boot. Lyon fans were quick to say that Traore had no right foot as he left their club. Bertrand must have taken issue to this, as he calmly slotted the ball into the top corner, with his right foot, on the volley. Let’s remember that Lyon fans were happy to see the back of John Carew in 2007, look how that one turned out!
Anwar El Ghazi – 7
Dutchman Anwar El Ghazi was a real live wire in the first half, but his performance dropped as the game wore on. He finished a simple chance to open the scoring, but lost his finishing touch as several other chances fell his way. This was certainly El Ghazi’s best performance in a while.
Keinan Davis – 7
As has been said many times about Keinan Davis, he did everything but score. The energetic striker tormented the Bristol defenders, particularly when assisting the Villa opener. This performance comes after the 22-year-old signed a new contract up to 2024, which emphasises the faith that Dean Smith has in him.
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Off the Bench
Trezeguet (69) – 6.5
Trezeguet made an immediate impact off the bench, to set up Ollie Watkins on the break for the third goal. The Egyptian made only 7 other passes in his time on the pitch, when the game that was well and truly over.
Ollie Watkins (69) – 7.5
Ollie Watkins made a menace of himself from the first minute of his short cameo. Villa’s record signing deftly finished his first chance into the bottom corner, and then continued to create chances for himself, using his off the ball movement. Though he couldn’t finish these chances, the positions he is getting into and the chances he gets speak volumes of his ability. Hopefully a first Premier League goal will follow.
Conor Hourihane (77) – n/a
There was very little for Conor Hourihane to do after he entered the field of play after 77 minutes. The Irishman had 100% pass accuracy, completing 16 passes, as he saw out the match.
Dean Smith- 7.5
There were a lot of reasons for Dean Smith to be pleased with this performance. A heavily changed side managed to cruise into the next round of the League Cup without breaking a sweat. They played some decent football in patches too. The unbeaten run continues for the Villans, and this can only give Smith and his staff confidence heading into the clash with Fulham. In terms of cup action, it’s Stoke up next at Villa Park.
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