After one win in the last five games and some pretty lame performances, Villa’s 1-0 win against Cardiff was a little too late for Villa in the context of the league table and automatic promotion.
Speaking positively though, it showed that the team still has the ability to rise to the occasion and win, which will be an essential quality come the play-offs.
It was also a good time to win, considering that Prince William was in the house. It will no doubt make Jack Grealish’s winning volley an extra special moment for the player too.
Here’s what MOMS thought of the Villa’s player’s performances…
Villa Player Ratings vs Cardiff City Home
Sam Johnstone – 8.5 MOTM
Johnston made a collection of top draw saves, including a great save to prevent Glenn Whelan scoring an own goal and a fine save later on in the game from Mendez-Laing. Top draw stuff.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 6
Made a vital clearance off the line in the first half from Whelan’s attempted block, even though he didn’t know much about it. The very definition of right place at the right time, after we criticised his positioning in the last Ultimate Player Ratings.
Mile Jedinak – 7
Lets say it was a lot more composed than his previous outings at centre back this season. Don’t know if I’d be comfortable with Jedinak at centre back for the play-offs, but lets hope Terry is back asap.
James Chester – 7
A return to form for Chester. He almost got on the end of an Adomah effort to put Villa in the lead in the first half. Defensively, this was a much better display than in recent games.
Axel Tuanzebe – 5
The United loanee was a little slack when he got disposed in the centre circle, which led to a great chance for Cardiff, with the post saving Tuanzebe’s blushes. Went off injured soon after.
Glenn Whelan – 6
Could have scored two own goals after being a surprise inclusion, after Birkir Bjarnason went AWOL despite being on the teamsheet. Whelan made a great cut out, prior to Elmohamady’s goalline clearance of his second attempted interception. Then shortly after, Johnstone made a very good save indeed to deny an own goal off Whelan’s head.
At times, Whelan seemed to be involved in a game of pinball.
Overall though, he had an ok game, but without his two teammates efforts, it would have been scapegoat time for the Irish midfielder.
Robert Snodgrass – 6
Not back to his most influential yet, but it was his freekick that led to the goal.
Jack Grealish – 8
What. A. Volley. A glorious winner, highlighting Grealish’s technical prowess. Again, Grealish was the driving force in the Villa midfield, although he had a rough night against Cardiff’s hatchet squad. They managed to upset his rhythm a little, the normally tidy Grealish’s pass completion was down to 71.4% and he saw a little less of the ball than normal. In the end, marks for persevering and responding in style.
Conor Hourihane – 6
He had a couple of chances to win the game before Grealish stepped up, he perhaps should have done better after being put clean through from Grabban’s perfect defence-splitting pass. Still question marks over his midfield influence…
Albert Adomah – 5
Seven games without a goal and an indifferent game from the player who had previously been Villa’s main man. As I said in the player ratings from the Norwich match, have the opposition sussed him out and neutralised his right foot on the left wing novelty?
Lewis Grabban – 7
Played a great through ball to put Conor Hourihane clear in the second half and had some good moments during a game, where he faced off against a formidable par of centre backs.
Off the Bench
James Bree (26) – 7
There’s a certain irony to this substitution. As MOMS has proposed before, maybe we didn’t really need to loan Tuanzebe at the expense of blooding a player we only recently brought in permanently and is a similiar age to the United player. Considering Bree wasn’t even in the matchday squad in the lead-up to kick-off, until Bjarnason’s last-minute injury changed the teamsheet, it was a decent night’s work.
Surely Bruce will give him some game time in the final games?
Jonathan Kodjia (59) – 6
There’s no doubt he gives the crowd a lift, but there are still big question marks about his decision making. Again his greedy nature came to the fore, when a smart cut back to Grealish, rather than trying to score from an impossible angle, would have been preferable.
I’m not convinced Jimmy Danger is the answer for Villa long-term, but he could be the impact player Villa need come the play-offs.
Chris Samba (87) – N/A
A rare sighting. Good to see he’s still alive. One touch, so not worth comment.
Team Performance – 7
Ultimately, Villa hung in there and rode their luck, so in that respect that’s where the credit is given. When it came to winning the game, they yet again had to rely on some individual brilliance.