After the impressive performance in the win away at Loftus Road, Villa this time secured the three points in a rather more laboured fashion.
It was a distinctly scrappy first half, yet while Sunderland had most of the possession, they failed to register a shot on target and had no response to Adomah’s opening goal on the 10 minute mark.
The game waited for Villa to take it over, but despite going further ahead with Onomah’s deflected strike, Villa didn’t go for the throat and allowed Sunderland a lifeline, when some unconvincing defending led to Grabban’s close range finish.
A hushed Villa Park reflected the team’s lack of conviction.
In the end, it was all about those three points that see Villa jump to fourth in the Championship league table.
Aston Villa Player Ratings vs Sunderland
Sam Johnstone – 6
Bugger all to do in the first half, when despite the Black Cats superior possession they failed to produce a shot on target.
Question marks will be asked of Johnstone’s assertiveness in terms of not preventing the Sunderland goal. The keeper initially parred a shot back out to play in an unconvincing fashion and then when the ball came back in, like the goal conceded against QPR at the weekend, it was scored within Johnstone’s six-yard box.
Normally his handling has been good, so we’ll chalk it down to being a one-off lapse.
Alan Hutton – 7
There was some good crunching Hollywood tackles by Hutton throughout the game. A memorable top draw one in each half. He’s had a decent last few weeks.
Chris Samba – 7
James Chester – 6
The tidiest Villa player on the ball in terms of his passing (although nothing fancy). Was his normal self without doing anything of real note.
Neil Taylor – 6
Steady enough performance.
Glen Whelan – 6
Was in the wars during the game and picked up a couple of knocks, which is perhaps why Bruce replaced him with Jedinak. Made a decent tackle in the first half in his own box. Not much going forward, but did his job defensively.
Robert Snodgrass – 7.5 MOTM
Snodgrass was at the heart of whatever positive play Villa created. He should have done better after being put through on goal just after the 30 min mark, but with two assists and some good closing down in the middle of the part, he put in a good shift.
Conor Hourihane – 7
Saw more of the ball than any other player. Still playing a little deep for most Villa supporters, who would like him to dictate play more further forward. Saying that, his defensive game has been on point over the last few games – a vital interception just before half-time being the most memorable against Sunderland.
Josh Onomah – 7
Scored what turned out to be the winner, albeit via a deflection. Would have liked to have seen a bit more composure from him on the ball at times to give Villa more of a foothold on the game.
Keinan Davis – 6
Not one of his most impressive games for Villa, although Davis wasn’t helped by some poor deliveries at times from the flanks.
Albert Adomah – 7
His goals are proving vital for Villa and today’s opener, coming in on the back post, showed the instinct of a striker. In terms of his play as a winger though, his deliveries seemed a bit too casual, sometimes failing to beat the first defender.
Off the Bench
Jedinak (63) – 6
Came on to replace Whelan. Didn’t really have too much to do
Mohamady (87) – N/A
A token late sub appearance. Touched the ball once.
Grealish (75) – 6
It could be argued that this game was crying out for Grealish to be introduced earlier on in the game with Villa lacking urgency and guile up front. Didn’t really have chance to do much in the closing stages of the game.