By Jonathan Parkin
Expectations were low for Villa’s first game at Villa Park of 2020, but somehow, they should have been lower. It’s hard to say anything about what happened in the 6-1 loss to Manchester City other than the Villans were schooled by a far superior footballing outfit.
The Villa boys and Dean Smith added to their own problems with stupid mistakes and odd selections. However, even if every player had been at the top of their game, it would’ve been a tough day at the office. De Bruyne and David Silva ran the show, and for the majority it was like watching a boxing match between your Nan and Mike Tyson. The only hope Villa fans could hold out for was the Citizens taking their foot off the gas, or the ref stepping in to stop the onslaught.
The game was over as soon as City went one up. It was clear Dean Smith had set up to frustrate the champions, but they cut through the Villa ranks with ease. The midfield was weak and sloppy, and Anwar El Ghazi cut a solitary figure up front.
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Orjan Nyland – 4.5
Nyland got things off to a bad start when he failed to stop Mahrez’s soft shot that made it 1-0. His afternoon got worse as his wrists turned to jelly for City’s third. The Norwegian certainly didn’t cover himself in glory with his performance, and Pepe Reina won’t exactly be shaking in his boots when he looks at Nyland as his main competition.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 4
Like the rest of the defence Ahmed Elmohamady had a pretty shocking game. He provided a little bit of something on the front foot, but that hardly ever came into play, especially once Man City had got ahead. The decision to play Elmo over Guilbert was a questionable one, and I can’t see how the Frenchman could’ve done much worse.
Ezri Konsa – 3.5
Ezri Konsa is young, and it really showed against experienced players like Aguero and David Silva. The 22-year-old was pulled out of position a number of times, and found it hard to even stick in a tackle.
Tyrone Mings – 5
Mings spared Villa’s blushes a little with a clearance off the line at 5-0, and he covered for the mistakes of the other two centre-halves on a couple of occasions. Despite this, it really wasn’t a showcase of how good the England international is.
Kortney Hause – 3.5
Ironic cheers and ole’s where going around Villa Park as the Villans passed the ball round the back at 5-0 down. This was tempting fate somewhat, as Kortney Hause perfectly picked out Riyad Mahrez who slotted through Sergio Aguero for his record-breaking goal. This just about summed up Villa’s afternoon.
Neil Taylor – 3.5
Neil Taylor was dragged out of position while pushing up the pitch before City’s first goal, this allowed Mahrez to make his way through essentially unchallenged. His afternoon didn’t improve from there, his passing and defensive worked were pretty diabolical.
Douglas Luiz – 3
The only word I can think of to describe Douglas Luiz’s performance is gutless. Luiz is a luxury player that the Villa can’t afford to have at the moment, he couldn’t even put in a foul when City hit Villa on the break. Weak in the tackle, sloppy on the ball under pressure, not a recipe for a good player. He shows glimpses of talent, but it feels like only a coach like Guardiola could get that talent out of him regularly.
Danny Drinkwater – 3.5
There was nothing refreshing about Danny Drinkwater. The 29-year-old added nothing to a toothless Villa midfield. It’s obvious that he’s rusty, we can only hope that he improves from here. Maybe throwing him in at the deep end wasn’t the best idea from Dean Smith.
Conor Hourihane – 4
Conor Hourihane was pretty much a non-entity for much of the game. He didn’t do anything noticeably wrong, but it’s hard to see what the Irishman actually did. In a game where you need grit, adding Hourihane to the midfield isn’t going to be the answer. He only touched the ball 29 times.
Jack Grealish © – 5.5
Though Jack Grealish did well to win fouls and drag City players towards him when he had the ball, he couldn’t do much with no one around him. Occasionally Jack and El Ghazi linked up quite nicely, but they didn’t do it enough. When they did, it was two players against the entire Man City backline.
Anwar El Ghazi – 6
Anwar El Ghazi had the thankless task of running about up front with little to no support. He put in plenty of effort, and once or twice looked good when taking on City’s defenders. His hold up play wasn’t exactly fantastic, which highlights Villa’s need for a proper number nine. He got his goal from the penalty spot, which at least gave those still left in Villa Park something to cheer about.
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Off the Bench
Marvellous Nakamba (64) – 6
Marvellous Nakamba came onto the field at 5-0 and did better than Douglas Luiz had. Though City had definitely slowed up their play a little, Nakamba pressed and harried relatively well, and his passing was much improved. It certainly wasn’t Marvellous’s fault that City scored their sixth.
Trezeguet (70) – 6.5
Trezeguet provided a bright spark in the all-round awful game for the boys in claret and blue. He took on the Man City defenders and did well to earn the Villa a penalty right before the final whistle. The Egyptian probably should have started.
Henri Lansbury (78) – n/a
The game was certainly very dead when Henri Lansbury came on. The midfielder did very little once on the pitch.
Dean Smith – 4.5
Dean Smith’s selection was very puzzling for this game. He tried to solidify with an extra midfielder, but this just resulted in Villa having no out ball whatsoever as El Ghazi had no support. The security of the back five was nowhere to be seen, however it would be good to see smith stick with it, but with only two midfielders in front.
The plan for the game didn’t work and there was yet again no plan B. The Villa were outplayed by one of the best teams in the world, this just emphasised how big the gap is between the top and the bottom of the Premier League. A striker and a midfielder are needed before the game against Brighton, or it could be an uncomfortable few weeks for the Villa faithful.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter here – @JonParkinSports