It was Aston Villa’s first five-goal win since the time they turned Sunderland over 6-1 at Villa Park. As with that result, the timing was perfect, jolting back some optimism in Villa’s promotion potential after a woeful December.

Villa were unrecognisable from the team we’ve tended to watch at Villa Park. Instead of trying to manufacture a win by grinding it out, they decided to start 2018 with vigour and craft a win with attacking artistry.

Grealish and Hourihane pressed higher and were always scheming away behind most of Villa’s forward play. Snodgrass too was a man regenerated. Elphick and Chester stood firm and once again looked impressive.

When the games come thick and fast, then rotating Elphick to preserve Terry is a real option now.

If today Bruce turned over a new leaf, then 2018 should be a good year.

Villa Player Ratings vs Bristol City

Sam Johnstone – 6

The second game on a trot where Johnstone has only faced one single shot on target. We might not need a keeper at this rate, but saying that, don’t believe the hype of him going to WBA.

Ahmed Elmohamady – 7

Had the most touches of any Villa player, but didn’t seemed as involved as Hutton on the other flank. If Villa continue to play as they did against Bristol, then he may have more licence to bomb forward.

Tommy Elphick – 8.5

Another top show by Elphick, who is now starting to make a mockery of the fans and manager that perhaps doubted him. He led the way in terms of clearances and headers, and also got a vital block in too.

I don’t know about you, but I feel sound with Elphick and Chester as a partnership.

Terry, take your time, mate.

James Chester – 8

Chester is Villa’s consistent rock. He does the same thing every match and rarely lets us down. A good partnership with Elphick is up and running.

The centre-back also exemplified a more positive attitude from Villa, when out on the touch-line in the opposition’s half, Chester elected to backheel it forward to Adomah, rather than pass it back. Seconds later, after Hogan’s header from Adomah’s cross was well saved, Snodgrass pounced on the rebound to make it 2-0.

Alan Hutton – 8

Kept his place on the left-flank. Made a few runs into the centre of the park and at one point was on the edge of Bristol’s penalty box about to pull the trigger. Also, to be seen spraying balls from the middle of the park to switch the play. Got an assist and was tidy with the ball too.

Mile Jedinak – 7.5

I actually saw Jedinak cross the half-way line. Yes, it’s true. It looks like the question in terms of Villa’s first XI will be Jedinak or Whelan. Based to today’s showing by the rest of the midfield, I’d certainly go with Jedinak.

Robert Snodgrass – 9

Doubt they’ll be anymore haters for the Scottish international, who finally delivered end product. He was unlucky not to make it a hat-trick when he had a decent chance in the dying minutes. If you have Snodgrass giving it 8/10+ every game and the rest of the midfield stepping up, then Villa should start putting away teams.

Conor Hourihane – 8.5

Hourihane was certainly playing a lot more forward and with Grealish were the schemers behind most of Villa’s attacks. Whatever his instructions were today, keep doing this Bruce. Deserved his goal. More to come too.

Scott Hogan – 7

Hogan’s alive! Again, he didn’t see much of the ball in the game with 18 touches in 82 minutes (the same Bjarnason managed in 21 minutes), but strikers are paid to score and Hogan’s header was a beaut (he almost had a second too, but for a good save).

A massive confidence builder for the striker and I’d play him against Peterborough to try to get him into a groove.

If Hogan comes good, then half the promotion battle will potentially be sorted.

Jack Grealish – 9 MOTM

Will the real Jack Grealish please stand up! Grealish was very much the heart beat of the transformation of Villa as an attacking force against the Robins. He was impressive in both halves as he continuously went looking for the ball at every opportunity and drove Villa forward when he got it.

He certainly teased Villa fans to the last second in setting up Snodgrass for Villa’s third, after running with the ball for half the length of the pitch. Unlucky to hit the post with a decent effort, as he deserved a goal for his efforts.

Albert Adomah – 7

A good assist to get the ball rolling and relished the new commitment of Villa to attack. Some of his crosses failed to beat the first man though, but ultimately that didn’t matter today.

Off the Bench

Callum O’Hare (79) – N/A

Didn’t really see much of the ball to make an impression.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy (82) –  N/A

Likewise, while he did put himself about, too short a cameo to judge.

Birkir Bjarnason (71) – 8

GOAL! GOAL! GOAL! Feed the Birkir and he shall score! Great to see him involved and on the score sheet. Also, made himself a presence across the whole of the midfield and got stuck in, contributing also to the fifth goal.

Promising cameo and a player that still has more to offer this season.

Team Performance – 9

The first 45 mins were one of Villa’s best in this division. Purpose, positivity and drive. The way they saw out the game in the second half was good to see too. Rather than settle and lock down the game, they looked for more and were rewarded.

UTV

Follow MOMS on Twitter – @oldmansaid

New podcast episode coming this week. Subscribe below to the show on Apple/iTunes:

8 COMMENTS

  1. Great to watch us in this form. Agree with all MOMS comments on Grealish, Hourihane, Elphick and Jedinak, but like MOMS I have been wanting Elphick in, Grealish playing in a proper number ten role, Hourihane pushed further forward, and for Hogan to get a run with the sort of service that will get goals. So, well done Bruce. Just concerned it took illness and injuries before the ‘boro game to force the changes on him. Hoping now he finally realises what we can do when we go at teams, and doesn’t revert to the dire stodgy stuff he was dishing up for most of December.

  2. Our attacking play was great to watch. It is also just as an effective way to defend instead of just sitting back like we usually do. If you have the ball in the opponents half, they can’t score either. My only worries are the way we looked before the goal and will Bruce learn from his past mistakes based on this performance. MOMS said the first 45 mins was our best in this division. Maybe so based on how effective we were turning chances into goals but the goal came against the run of play and we were nowhere before that for 23 mins. We were sluggish at best and BC should have punished us. If we keep starting games like that we will be 1 or 2-0 down for sure. Bruce is a stubborn old wotsit and it wouldn’t surprise me if he merrily starts playing Whelan again when he is fit and also doesn’t let us play attacking football like yesterday but insists on playing it safe and sitting back. That said, these are just my concerns. If we keep playing the ball forward and play with energy and purpose, we have the quality to score 3 or 4 every game against Championship teams. UTV and Happy New Year everyone.

  3. bruce is a genius, Hourihane playing further forward, grelish playing rather than a box to box player at no 10 , playing a centerback and not the slowest one on the books at centerback and not having to carry whelan, took him a while but he got there, give as much pitch time as poss to ohare in and we’ll fly
    🙂

  4. feel a bit relieved,,, ive said before our style of play can be effective if we play a bit more football and ditch the hoofball,,, just hope bruce now realises he can get everyone on board if we play more like this more often,,, the players are there to play football and while we will have setbacks along the way it wont sap the confidence like some of the dreadful tactics we have employed and have to watch,,
    just need more service to hogan,,, and i just pray bruce can find a way to do this
    hopefully we can kick on after today,,,
    and im so happy i could kiss a blues fan,,,, probably,,,

  5. Speak as you find I don’t like Bruce but outstanding performance this evening, best we’ve played all season if we can play the same 11 in the same positions they will be full of confidence this should send a message to the rest of the league, dissapointed in Bristol City manager making stupid comments clearly a bad looser, but who cares come on the Villa.

    • thought his interview was pretty good,,, he is a good manager and what he has done with bristol is outstanding,,, it is worth a listen,,
      he did mention the fact we goaded them and it upset him a bit,,, but citys fans mocked the villa fans first
      so what does he expect,,,
      todays result was just brilliant and unexpected ,,, but we have the players to do this and bruce needs to
      learn from today,,, its an example of what can happen if you go for it

  6. What a shock! Hogan ran his socks off 2 great headers 1 goals another made. his runnig made the space for others to exploit. Snodgross who has been poor of late, looked a world beater, agressive skillfull, and should have a hat trick. A man of match performance easily. However, Grealish was even better. He looked agressive, fetched and carried but more importantly he went forward! This encouraged others to go forward too. Our midfield players suddenly had more than one option when looking to pass forward instead of the usual zero. The players are more than good enough. They proved that tonight. The difference was the mental attitude. Keep same 11 Bruce. Tell them to keep it simple and carry on the good work. Send Onomah back tell whelan hes cover for Jedinack. Dont add anything to squad unless its striker cover. We should be scaring teams to death like Wolve. With an attitude like this promotion dream could yet come true. I believe the nearest we have go to the top 2 was in November and the gap was 4 points the same as now. Shame we could have been second with a couple of half decent performances in December. But let’s look forward and have this same attitude until the end of the season. If we do the Trinity upper will have to opened.

What do you think? Comment...