The visit of bottom of the table Burton was a strange kind of game, one that Aston Villa never really had total control of. At 2-0, MOMS even turned to his fellow spectator sitting next to him at Villa Park and said, “I think we’ll need three to be sure of this”.
Over the course of the game, Burton actually had more possession (53%), as there were spells that the Villa team seemed to be content on sitting back in two deep banks of four.
Hogan and Grealish were often left isolated and without options, as their teammates at times seemed to be a little reluctant to get forward with any conviction.
However, the game would have had a different score and feel, if the ref had given what seemed to be a cold stone penalty after Jack Grealish was felled in the box. Instead, the player was booked for alleged simulation.
After a couple of lapses in the Villa rearguard, including a bizarre Elmohamady own goal, Villa were just happy to come away with the three points and with their winning-run intact.
— MY OLD MAN SAID (@oldmansaid) February 3, 2018
Villa Player Ratings vs Burton
Sam Johnstone – 6
Again offered a composed and safe figure inbetween the sticks. Couldn’t really do anything about the two Burton goals. His save from a close-range effort from a Burton corner deserved better than having the ball blasted over his head and into the net by Elmohamady.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 6
It was an odd afternoon for the Villa right-back. After a steady first-half, things started to go wrong for him when Tuanzebe came on and he was shifted further up the field on the right.
Rather than play as a more out-and-out winger, Elmohamady seemed cautious in terms of how forward he went (like the rest of the midfield), often leaving Villa playing with two right-backs.
His own goal was just bizarre. After a decent save by Johnstone, Elmo trying to hook the ball out of the box, instead lashed it into the roof of his own net. So emphatic was the finish, that watching the game live, MOMS just assumed one of Burton’s strikers had finished it off.
He redeemed himself later on, providing the cross that Grealish volleyed home for Villa’s third.
John Terry – 6
Not Terry’s greatest game for Villa. He was out-jumped defending the corner that lead up to Elmo’s own-goal and then later was caught flat-footed in no man’s land on Burton’s second goal.
James Chester – 6.5
Had a better game than Terry, made several key clearances and was in control of most things that came his way.
Alan Hutton – 6.5
Got stuck in a couple of times to lift the crowd, but on Burton’s second goal, lost his man, who was running in behind Terry. It’s lapses in concentration when it comes to marking, that have proved to be one of the player’s main weaknesses.
Birkir Bjarnason – 7
Again, Bjarnason looked very composed in midfield and like he’d been playing DM all season. With the Holte calling for him to have a pop a few times too, which shows that he still managed to get forward despite his primary defensive duties.
Robert Snodgrass – 7.5
Another game, another assist. His ninth of the season, which is unsurpassed in the division. Snodgrass also provided a killer defence-splitting ball in the middle of Villa’s slick passing move that set up Villa’s first, with Adomah then laying it up on a plate for Hogan to stroke into an empty net.
When Villa struggled to create something, Snodgrass provided some inspiration.
Conor Hourihane – 6
Played better than against Sheffield United, but still perhaps could force the issue more going forward and dictate the play more alongside Grealish.
Jack Grealish – 8 MOTM
This season’s Jack Grealish is a much improved model and he’s starting to show consistency. With the effort and enthusiasm that now flows through his game, against Burton, he covered the pitch like an all-action central midfielder. He certainly put in a shift – tackling back, bringing the ball out, probing the opposition defence and igniting the crowd with flashes of brilliance, like the shot that hit bounced off the bar and his volleyed goal.
With Villa at times playing in a functional manner, Grealish’s endeavour on the pitch was a god send for supporters.
Scott Hogan – 7
Hogan was on the end to finish off a nice free-flowing passing move by Villa and was unlucky not to score another with a header. Burton dealt with his runs well for the majority of the match and he was caught offside a few times, but despite only having 14 touches of the ball throughout the game, he did his job by scoring.
Albert Adomah – 7.5
It was a return to Adomah’s scoring ways, as he headed in Villa’s second, taking his tally up to 12 for the season. He also unselfishly laid it off for Hogan’s opener in what was a decent afternoon’s work for the player.
Off the Bench
Axel Tuanzebe (67) – 6
Played a cautious game when he came on, didn’t do anything wrong or anything that stood out. Will be interesting to see how Bruce plays him in the next few weeks.
Josh Onomah (68) – 6
Linked up well with Grealish at times and showed that the two of them seem to enjoy playing with each other and are on the same wavelength.
Mile Jedinak (83) – N/A
Didn’t have the desired effect of calming a defence that looked uncharacteristically nervous at times. Didn’t see much of the ball though.
Team Performance – 6.5
It was as if Villa were waiting for something to spark them into life. Luckily, they managed to get two goals, before Burton broke through. Lapses in defensive concentration and a reluctance to take the game to Burton was disappointing and can’t be repeated against the Blues. Still, they dug in and saw the game out for maximum points