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.
More movement is needed in the transfer market…and fast.
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
So the most recent link we have is ANOTHER defensive midfielder in nzonzi. I genuinely give up
We’re all on the same page it’s just the club and Smith that don’t see the problems. We’re doing a lot of talking again same old same old all talk no action have we actually got a recruitment team,? if we play our next game against Brighton with no striker we have very little chance of a result, so come on Villa pay the price get a quality striker in now before next Sunday put Man City behind us hit the ground running and let’s start getting some points in the bag, how can we even contemplate playing a third game with no striker, what I find really worrying is that no one seems bothered by our situation which is recoverable but we can’t allow it to get any worse. It’s crucial that we act now and I mean before Sunday not the last day of the window when it will be too late. Just on the Benteke saga personally I have very mixed feelings is it worth the risk, maybe him on loan together with a quality striker might be the answer Benteke on his own not so sure.
I can’t think why Smith wants to stay. The City game was the worst performance of the Premiership this season. He seems clueless. Recruitment at Villa is very poor. Four players are Premiership level; Heatkn, Grealish, Trez and El Gazi. We dont seem to bring young players on very often. They get limited opportunity. A bit odd really as Grealish came up through the ranks.
Looks like a return to the Championship. If that happens, goodbye Jack Grealish, he deserves better.
Great comments from everyone. It’s all about these next 3 games. Need at least 5 to 7 points. We are so lucky that there are 5 other P**s poor teams around us. We probably only need about 6 or 7 wins to survive. Until we get a striker in- play Vassillev in a 3-5-1-1 (Grealish in a free role), clear out players who just have no future (Hogan/ Kodja/ Chester) and bring in quality for the next 5 months. A little money now gets repaid if we survive. Again, if we beat the likes of Bournmouth/ Brighton/Watford/ Palace etc we can survive! Cheers and UTV.
I avoided commenting here immediately after the ManCity game, because I really think time was needed to reflect. So, having done that, here goes. I agree with Dean Smith that our season will not be judged on this game. I said before Christmas that the fixture list had games in the second half of the season we could and should win. The change in formation, and the good performances that bought victory at Burnley and a draw in the cup at Leicester was a justified cause for optimism. The next three games will probably define us. If we can’t get anything from Brighton, Watford and Bournemouth then we are likely returning to the Championship.
I’ve watched a lot of live football over the last fifty years, mostly at Villa Park, but also whenever I got the chance on trips abroad. I’m struggling to remember when I watched a team as good collectively and individually as that ManCity team were on Sunday. I watch in the Trinity Road. My stepdaughter is in the Holte. Straight after the game she called me and said “How the **** are they so far behind Liverpool?” I know what she meant.
Having said all that, we were really poor. Saw a stat today that suggested we only made four tackles. I remember just before their fourth goal asking the guy next to me if anybody, at any point, was going to try and tackle Mahrez. Our Head Coach desperately needs some decent recruitment in the next few weeks, by whoever is responsible for recruitment…
Villa were atrocious yesterday. Its down to Dean Smith selections. Drinkwater should have started from the bench. I will not criticise him. The lad needed game time,just maybe not against Man City. Pointless to sign Reina and Recall Sarkic. Kalinic and Nyland are decent enough cover with Steer still to return from injury.
Dean Smith was the reason we lost yesterday and i have been questioning his tactical acumen.The loss yesterday confirmed my suspicions.
Defensively we are pants now.I think we have the worst defence in the league after yesterday’s result.
I know Brentford are in the Championship but you have to look at their trajectory a year after Smith left. They could be replacing us in this division and i think they have the best defence in that division too. Mr Smith time to stop the sentiment of being a Villa fan and manager and get to the real job of making Villa a proper Premier League side.
Totaly agree with Drinkwater comments not good enough for Burnley now we’re linked with Slimani who wasn’t good enough for Newcastle or Leicester, what are our club thinking about if these players are not good enough why are we pursuing them, we clearly have no idea what we are doing, and apart from a set piece coach we also need a fitness coach we are way below where we should be, and as for yesterday embarrassing and clueless, the players should be ashamed.
Summed up pretty well
Brought in to replace John McGinn, I think we made a huge mistake with Drinkwater. We need energy in the midfield and I don’t think he is going to add any.
When it comes to low work rate and pinging passes around, Villa are stacked.
Also, we need a setpiece coach, defending and attacking has been pathetic all season, it is going to cost us big time.
Completely agree with the scores and comments especially on Luiz who many have overlooked and want to focus more on Drinkwater. Luiz has no energy or desire to fight. Marvellous isn’t the greatest but when you are in the mire I would have him every time.
The comments i agree with but I can help feeling a sense of de ja vu! It’s always the same with the villa. Too many average players in the same positions and we bring in more! I genuinely cannot fathom the GK situation. Dotn get me started on drinkwater but the 50 or 60k we have got to be paying him and then the who knows what Reina is on could’ve gotten us 2 attack.minded players to give us some bite up front and take the pressure of grealish trez and ghazi.
I do need to ask…. but what exactly is john Terry doing with this defense, he either isnt a very good coach or this lot just dont want to listen but something isnt right as we are so poor in defence at times its embarassing..
I dont want to be that guy who says it like this but we have a family friend season ticket holder who has been going for decades and obviously knows those around him, and they reckon something isnt quite right behind the scenes at the moment with Terry and smith….. 🤔 worrying times ahead and we are almost half way through the transfer window and pretty much nothing positive has been implemented, this should’ve been lined up ready to go in the first week!
Terry and Smith were visibly arguing on the touchline and JT threw his arms at Smith in despair. It looked like he was making a suggestion but Smith wouldn’t listen.
It seemed like Villa had 5 in a line at the back marking just Aguero, Had 1 in attack being marked by 2 City centre backs and in midfield Villa had the other 4 players trying to cope with 7 City players. City just passed around them. We needed to play 4-5-1 and have the numbers in midfield to match City. We would still have lost but may at least have given them a game. Also no wingers, so no out balls. We should never play that formation again, it is just surrendering the game.
I am now seriously concerned that Smith will take us down to ffp points deduction and oblivion. Any decent players sold off cheap. I really think he’s out of his depth. Why did he not bring vassilev on at half time. Our only striker he gets no game time how is he to learn. What on earth are we doing it’s just like Bruce. We have 4 international goalkeepers, we loan another, we have umpteen international midfielders we loan another who has not played for 3 years but he did manage 3 assists for City!! No tactics no closing no fight no pattern. I’d get rid now. I do hope we can win our next 3 just 1 defeat leaves us behind. It’s just like Bruce again buy 6 midfielders, 4 goalkeepers, oh sorry they are crap can I have some more please…. No manage the ones you’ve got that what your paid for. The board look as naive as the last one.
I think Jinsky makes some good points here. Why we need another midfield player especially one that has had so little game time in the past 3 years is beyond me……..and how much are we paying him per week is it £110k? The same with the goalkeeping department Nyland is a good keeper he was man of the match v LIVERPOOL in the cup and again against LEICESTER in mid week in my opinion, did he have much chance with any of the goals yesterday (apart from maybe the 3rd one??)
We have quality players within this squad surely we have to find a way of making them play to their strengths rather than their weaknesses. I know we played against a top team yesterday but we had no heart, no drive, desire, determination confidence skill or passion. Why don’t we actively press the opposition quickly to win the ball (when we do this we look so much better Norwich away Newcastle at home are evidence of this) surely if we do this and have the ball we can play to the strengths of El Ghazi, Trez and Grealish who can all beat a man and are exciting to watch and could interchange positions quite easily and score goals …are we not fit enough as a team to press higher if not why not?
I have said previously I don’t think making sweeping changes at manger and board level are the answer at this stage of the season (although Ancelotti must have been tempting)
Come on Villa, all we ask as fans are that you play with heart and give 110% every game. Any player doing that will always be a fan favourite and if everyone does it we can and will pull through this season.
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