By Jonathan Parkin
There aren’t many words that can sum up what the Villa faithful have been subjected to at the King Power Stadium. Other than a positive opening ten minutes, Villa offered nothing of note, and looked to have thrown in the towel at 1-0 down. Currently, it seems as if Dean Smith’s team selections are getting increasingly random, Elmohamady starting on the right of midfield, Hourihane being chucked into a midfield three; it seems as if Deano is just praying something will somehow work.
The first goal came from a horrific goalkeeping error more like something you would see on a Sunday League football blooper reel, than in the Premier League. In truth, Leicester could and should have been about 3-0 up at half-time. Free headers, born from dreadful zonal marking at corners, presented themselves for Soyuncu and Evans, but the Leicester duo couldn’t put the chances away.
Villa came out for the second half with all the fight of a pacifist with a pop gun. Frederic Guilbert over committed and Harvey Barnes whipped a ball across the box. Whether the ball hit Tyrone Mings’ shoulder or arm is up for debate, the one thing that Mings did however was thrust his arm towards the ball and asked the question of the referee (to get wrong). Vardy stuck away the penalty to confirm the Villa loss.
Leicester scored two more goals from dreadful bits of marking and defending in the box. Villa’s midfield was nowhere to be seen as Douglas Luiz strutted around up the pitch and Marvelous Nakamba was forced to do the work of three men.
The players needed to show the grit of the cup final wasn’t a one off, but they showed it definitely was. After the third and fourth went in, the players looked at each other to try and shift the blame, they should all be looking at themselves, every one of them wasn’t good enough.
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Pepe Reina – 4.5
A Goalkeeper with the amount of experience that Pepe Reina has, shouldn’t be making mistakes like he did for the first goal. The Spaniard may have made some saves at other times, but manner of the mistake that meant Villa went one down is irredeemable.
Frederic Guilbert – 4
In the past few league games there has been something up with Frederic Guilbert. He really doesn’t seem at it, and the enthusiastic full-back was caught overcommitting time after time again. This allowed Barnes to create the penalty situation, and his inept defending allowed Vardy to score his second.
Bjorn Engels – 4.5
For a big defender Bjorn Engels can’t mark or win a defensive header at a set-piece. His poor marking allowed Soyuncu a free header. His defensive work all round was dire, and his passing wasn’t up to scratch either.
Tyrone Mings – 5
To say that Tyrone Mings was the best of the Villa back four is far from a compliment. Mings’ theatrical leap and thrust of his arm towards the ball for the penalty summed up the Villans evening, infuriating. Mings does show some good leadership qualities, but he only had a handful of Premier League games before this season, and he is expected to lead a backline of complete rookies.
Matt Targett – 5
Matt Targett like the rest of the back four, didn’t have the best day at the office. He was run ragged by the combination of Albrighton and Pereira. His link-up play with Grealish was non-existent, with the left-back really struggling to get himself up the pitch and have an impact.
Marvelous Nakamba – 6
Marvelous Nakamba certainly worked very hard, and whilst at times there was very little quality, he did the job of two men in the centre of midfield. Luiz and Hourihane wandered the pitch like ghosts, but Nakamba at least tried to put a tackle in here and there. Villa’s poor performance wasn’t due to the lack of effort from the Zimbabwean.
Douglas Luiz – 4.5
Yet again Douglas Luiz had a game where he was happy to float through without effecting much. Leicester scythed through the Villans’ midfield and the Brazilian made one tackle and no interceptions in the ninety minutes. He also gave away the ball via unsuccessful touches or being dispossessed six times. He couldn’t even provide his token piece of skill to get on the Soccer AM showboat.
Conor Hourihane – 4.5
There isn’t really much point to having Conor Hourihane on the pitch if he can’t put in a decent delivery from a set piece. It’s hard to think of anything the Irishman did during his time on the pitch, other than casually try to close down the rampant Leicester midfield.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 4
Ahmed Elmohamady didn’t provide much by way of defensive back up for Fred Guilbert. The utility man ran up and down the right-hand side a bit, but his lack of pace and any kind of composure killed Villa on the break. What Smith saw in his performance at Wembley that warranted another start, who knows?
Ally Samatta – 6
When Ally Samatta gets the ball into his feet or even just played into him, he looks like a good player. The issue is Samatta either didn’t get the ball, or when he did, he was surrounded by Leicester players with no support. Samagoal cannot score goals if he’s the only Villa player in the opposition half.
Jack Grealish © – 5
This has to go down as Jack Grealish’s worst game for a long while. The Villa skipper really struggled to have any impact on the game. He overran the ball on a number of occasions and looked flat and lifeless in the few times when he got the ball in space. Villa can’t even rely on Super Jack to drag them out of trouble, he really needs some help.
Off the Bench
Anwar El Ghazi (62) – 5.5
Anwar El Ghazi came off the bench, and for about thirty seconds, the Dutchman had some energy and attacking impetus. He then proceeded to do nothing for the rest of the time he was on the pitch, as the Villa slumped to defeat.
Keinan Davis (66) – 6
Big man Keinan Davis did one or two good things in his time on the pitch. He showed his physicality and ability to drive at defenders. Unfortnately for the Villans, Davis’ introduction left a big old hole in the centre of the midfield. This allowed Tielemans and co to have all the space they wanted late on.
Dean Smith – 4
After the Cup Final, there were plenty of positives to be seen. What Dean Smith has done is destroy any hope or optimism that performance had brought. Every defensive set piece looks like a guaranteed clear-cut chance or goal, the players look beaten after they go one down, and the only plan b is to throw on an extra striker and hope for the best. Deano can sound off at the players as much as he likes, but he doesn’t have much to choose from and the run of games coming up is hard. Relegation is looking more and more of a likelihood.
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