Belatedly we look back at the horror show that was Villa’s participation in this season’s FA Cup. Ultimately it was a result that floated further question marks above the head of the Villa boss in terms of his team selections.
While Villa were never likely to go at full strength against Peterborough, playing without a recognised centre-back alongside a returning John Terry was a puzzling move. Especially, when you consider the normal safety first approach of Steve Bruce.
Instead of say Elphick, Bruce elected to shoe horn both James Bree and Ritchie De Laet into the defence instead.
The rest of the team should have been good enough to deal with the Posh, if their application matched the visitors.
The only other worrying thing was the state of the Villa Park pitch, which looked in the worst condition it has been for many a year.
In summation of the game, Villa were 1-0 up with 15 minutes to go. While they’ll kick themselves for failing to at least double their lead to break the spirit of their visitors, the reality is, Jed Steer was Villa’s best player, even though he eventually shipped three goals.
This was very poor from Villa and the ‘we can concentrate on promotion now’ excuses (like we were doing in December?) just don’t cut it.
Villa Player Ratings vs Peterborough
Jed Steer – 7.5 MOTM
When you look at Peterborough’s shot tally it’s down to one man that the score wasn’t a lot higher. Yes, Villa’s performance was that bad. Steer’s sound positioning was responsible for most of his saves, but there were at least a couple of were worthy of applause.
Steer has always looked able in the cup games he’s featured in, it’s just a shame he won’t get any more this season.
Ritchie De Laet – 5
His burst down the right initially set up Keinan Davis’s opening goal, apart from that he didn’t make too much impact going forward. Will he move on in this transfer window?
James Bree – 4
First game for a while and he plays centre-back? Surely play him at right-back and let a recognised centre-back help ease John Terry back into action after his injury? While Bree has played the position before for Villa, was now really the time?
John Terry – 5
The key to Terry is to have a decent centre-back alongside him to take the weight off his 37-year-old shoulders. Instead when he’s left babysitting a young player in James Bree who doesn’t normally play centre-back, it’s asking for trouble.
If I was the Peterborough boss and I saw the Villa defensive line-up, it would have been all the encouragement i needed to have a go.
Neil Taylor – 4
I’m not surprised the right-footed Alan Hutton has taken Tayor’s place at left-back in the first team. Taylor was shown up by Marriott more than once. This was a poor all-round performance by the Welshman.
Josh Onomah – 4
Seems to struggle to impose himself on the midfield if it gets a bit physical and the opponents are pressing. Also worrying is his distribution, which at times was somewhat wayward. Will need to step-up soon or it’s a long stretch on the bench for him in light of the improvement and return of Grealish.
Conor Hourihane – 5
Having played him further forward against Bristol City, Hourihane was suddenly once again playing deeper. Was he forced to due to his ineffective midfield partners? Maybe. Not one of his best games in a Villa shirt.
Birkir Bjarnason – 5
An inch lower with his effort that hit the bar at 1-1 and the game may have been saved for Villa. Overall though the Icelandic international offered little of the spark he played with when he came on against Bristol City. Likely to leave in this transfer window?
Callum O’Hare – 5
Certain sections of the Villa fanbase have been calling for him to start in Villa’s first XI. But based on what? In Villa’s League Cup games earlier in the season, O’Hare showed bright moments, but he’s very much a work in progress needing to be drip fed into the team.
If O’Hare was the finished article, he would have had much more influence on this game. At times he didn’t do the simple things well, overplaying at times. Instead, his performance was further evidence that some Villa fans need to show patience and common sense.
Keinan Davis – 6
Did well to dig out the goal, but at times chose the wrong option after holding up the ball. Didn’t look enough of a threat overall to trouble the Posh and could have done with closer support.
Andre Green – 6
This game was more about Green getting up to speed after a long lay off. He forced a decent save from the Posh keeper, although at times he was a tad predictable with his dribbling.
Off The Bench
Henri Lansbury (45) – 5
I forgot he even got on the pitch, but one thing of note he did do was put O’Hare through on goal with a smart pass. Lansbury coming on for the second half should have helped lock down the midfield, but Peterborough’s confidence only grew.
Jack Grealish (80) – N/A
The inclusion of Grealish at 1-1 was hopefully going to help Villa grab the winner in what was turning into an increasingly tougher game. Whilst he tried to create something, he was largely powerless as Peterborough created the better chances.
Hepburn-Murphy (80) – N/A
Had little to do apart from be a bystander to a shock Villa defeat that they ultimately deserved.