By Jonathan Parkin
We are constantly being told about the ‘Magic of the FA Cup’ (I think the BBC have applied to ™ it), there’s no such thing, unless you’re a lower league team with an improved chance of going on longer cup runs due to understrength teams. Aston Villa’s tie away against Fulham certainly won’t be one that’s replayed in years to come. Other than two screamers from Fulham’s Anthony Knockaert and Harry Arter, the quality on show was woeful.
It’s never nice to see the Villa lose a game, but at least some consolation can come from a weekend off in late January. It was a game that neither team really wanted to win, but the Villans wanted it less. The second-string line-up did little to inspire, and it’s hard to see many of them pushing for a place in the starting XI when the Carabao cup Semi-Final rolls around.
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Orjan Nyland – 7
The big Norwegian Orjan Nyland kept Villa in the game a number of times with some good saves. His claiming of crosses was decent; however, his distribution is shaky at best.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 4
Ahmed Elmohamady did nothing to inspire confidence at right-back. He put in a few passable balls, but his defensive work was poor.
Bjorn Engels – 5
Bjorn Engels looked a step off the pace all game, and he looked anything but sturdy in defence all game. He did little to close the Fulham attackers when they ran at the backline, and so Fulham had plenty of chances.
James Chester – 6
James Chester didn’t show any reasons as to why he should be considered over Konsa, Mings or Hause for selection. He still easing his way back after a long lay-off, but the reality is his Premier League days maybe over.
Neil Taylor – 4
There was nothing new from Neil Taylor. Knockaert ran him ragged all game, and scored because the Welshman allowed him breeze past him to cut inside and take a shot.
Marvellous Nakamba – 4
Marvellous Nakamba tried relatively hard, but was all over the place. He gave the ball away sloppily on a number of occasions and didn’t help his cause when he got himself booked lunging in early on. He doesn’t completely fill you with much confidence when he picks up the ball in front of the centre-halves.
Conor Hourihane – 6
Conor Hourihane’s passing was relatively tidy as ever, but he lacked real energy to influence the game He played in some menacing balls from out wide and set-pieces, but didn’t do much else.
Henri Lansbury – 5
Once again Henri Lansbury ran about a bit. It seems to be all he can do, he offered very little to the Villa midfield throughout. Fulham were able to play through the midfield with ease at times, and Lansbury’s presence or lack there-of didn’t help things.
Jota – 5
Jota played one nice ball to Kodjia for the Villa goal. One good ball does not make a good performance. The Spaniard really hasn’t shown much to get Villa fans excited so far.
Anwar El Ghazi – 5
El Ghazi should’ve scored at the end of the first half, and if that had gone in who knows what could’ve happened. The winger was caught running with his head down time after time yet again, and his tracking back was pretty non-existent once more.
Jonathan Kodjia – 6
Jonathan Kodjia provided most of the threat for the boys in claret and blue throughout the 90 minutes, the problem was he was offside and gave the ball away far too many times. Though he was the most threatening of the team, it wasn’t a display that’ll have many fans jumping for joy about the prospect of him starting next time out.
Off the Bench
Trezeguet (75) – 4
After he came off the bench it’s hard to remember if Trezeguet actually impacted the game in the slightest. There wasn’t even his trademark energy down the flank.
Indiana Vassilev (79) – N/A
It was good to see Indiana Vassilev get on the pitch for his debut, but the game really passed the 18-year-old by.
Jacob Ramsey (85) – N/A
Again, it was good to see youngster Ramsey get on the pitch, however the rest of the team had seemingly given up by the time he entered the fray.
Dean Smith- 5
It can easily be seen that Dean Smith hardly had the lads fired up for the cup. However, with two League Cup semi-finals and relegation battles around the corner, another cup run is hardly the priority.
Still, there was enough on the pitch to win the game and it would have been good to see at least a bit more fight from the players though. It certainly doesn’t inspire any confidence in the back-up players in the squad. They had a great chance to make an impression, but yet again, let themselves down. Why aren’t these players motivated?
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