Villa’s 1-0 away win over Nottingham Forest is what is known as doing a professional job. Similar in many respects to the recent away win at Middlesborough, such controlled wins on Villa’s travels are certainly a firm step in the direction of promotion.
After taking an early lead, after Scott Hogan latched on to a devil of a ball from Robert Snodgrass, Villa jabbed their way to the win with Forest unable to lay a glove on Villa.
The return of the John Terry and James Chester centre-back partnership once again served up another clean sheet, as they helped marshal Villa over the line. Birkir Bjarnason also made a notable contribution coming on at half-time for an injured Glenn Whelan to play the defensive shield midfield role well.
Villa’s away form is now the 4th best in the league and with six wins they already have two more than the entirety of last season.
With three league wins on the trot, it’s also hopefully the start of a substantial winning run, that will help claw back Derby for an automatic promotion spot.
— MY OLD MAN SAID (@oldmansaid) January 13, 2018
Villa Player Ratings vs Nottingham Forest
Sam Johnstone – 7
With John Terry back, it meant a quiet afternoon between the sticks was once again on the agenda for Johnstone. Made a decent save late on from a swerving effort and was alert throughout, but a comfortable evening for Johnstone on the whole.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 7
Did fine defensively, but seems to have regressed in his game when it comes to going forward, despite having the most touches of any Villa player during the game. As noted in previous Player Ratings it would be good to see him going forward with a little more conviction, at least at Villa Park.
John Terry – 7.5
After Steve Bruce declared him doubtful for the trip to Forest, it was a surprise to see JT play. Having shaken off the rust of his Peterborough performance, he looked more himself and was unlucky not to mark his league return with a goal, after heading against the bar.
While harsh on the improved Tommy Elphick, it was a welcomed return for Villa’s captain.
James Chester – 7
No backheels today, but another steady game on the whole. Led the team for clearances (7). When it comes to describing Chester, less is normally more.
Alan Hutton – 7
Had to start again at left-back after Neil Taylor performed poorly in the FA Cup. Favoured caution first with Villa happy to see the game out while ahead. No qualms with him any of the times he’s played on the left.
Glenn Whelan – 7
A twisted knee meant he didn’t come out for the second half. His injury was apparently picked up in one of his two vital blocks. An error-free showing, as he kept things simple and covered well.
Robert Snodgrass – 8 MOTM
Orchestrated all of Villa’s main moments – Hogan’s goal, Terry’s header and also forced a smart save from the Forest keeper early doors. Also, kept the crosses bombing in. While Snodgrass added some tenacity to Villa’s midfield as soon as he joined Villa, he’s now added an improved end product to his performances. A big plus.
Conor Hourihane – 7
While he returned back into his shell a little, compared to the Bristol City game, he very much kept the midfield ticking over. The plus points were found more in his effort and hustle in the middle of the park, leaving the creation to Snodgrass.
Scott Hogan – 7
Proved his ‘fox in the box’ credentials with a smart run and well-taken goal. A willing runner, but often receiving no pass, so still not seeing as much of the ball as he’d probably like. Still, he’s scored in back-to-back games now and that is a massive step in the write direction, as he could be the key to Villa’s season.
Jack Grealish – 7.5
Won a lot of free kicks, rarely wasted a pass and was unlucky with an headline grabber attempt from outside the box on the left-hand side. Certainly there was a visible evidence of the improvement in Grealish’s all-round game. In terms of concentration, effort and the defensive side to his game, that away games will sometimes require from him.
Another positive step in the direction of becoming one of Villa’s main men.
Albert Adomah – 7
Attacked with speed, used the ball well and linked up constructively at times with Grealish. A promising partnership on the pitch that will only get better with more games.
Off the Bench
Birkir Bjarnason (46) – 7
Showed his versatility by doing a decent job of replacing Whelan in a deeper defensive midfield role. Encouraging to see his very different contributions in the last two league games, proving he has a role to play.
Keinan Davis (82) – N/A
Gave something different for Forest to worry about and a logical substitution, as Villa began to hit it a little longer later on.
Neil Taylor (90) – N/A
Came on in injury-time.