Match Ratings: Aston Villa 4-2 Norwich – High: Hourihane – Low: Hutton

Johnstone (7)

Another steady display by the loanee ‘keeper.  Unlucky to concede two goals courtesy of some dubious defending in front of him.  Made a telling save at a crucial moment of the second period as Norwich threatened an unlikely come-back, clearing well after a scramble.  Distribution was erratic at times, often looking for difficult chips into the wide areas where easier options existed.

Hutton (3) (Sub off 64 mins)

Endured a torrid time throughout and was repeatedly targeted by the visitors.  Hooked off just after the hour, but could easily have been removed after ten.  Whilst Hutton cannot be accused of not trying, he looked an obvious weak link and was one which was exploited.

Bree (6) (Sub on 64 mins)

Came of for the hapless Hutton and immediately settled the back-four.  Bree has quietly impressed to date, which has led this blog to question just why he has featured to little since joining from Barnsley.  With De Laet lacking match sharpness & Hutton’s struggles, Bree surely has to be blooded as the first choice left back.

Chester (7)

Chester has had a mixed start to the new campaign, but performed well over 90 minutes.  Guilty of missing a glorious chance in the second half, seeing a diving header over when seemingly easier to score.  Composed next to Terry for what appears to be the first choice partnership.

Terry (6.5)

Physically commanding and a constant talker, Terry is a genuine presence in the Villa side.  Whilst there are reasonable question marks around the conceded goals, Terry’s visible annoyance and motivation of those around him were notable.  Won plenty of headers, unafraid of a challenge, but pace remains a worry

Taylor (7)

Taylor’s best performance of the season, a solid, calm and assured defensive display.  The Welshman also worked well behind Green, a willing runner, pulling players away and providing dangerous overlaps.

Elmohamady (8)

Skillful, threatening and a constant menace.  Unlucky to see an effort crash off the underside of the bar in the 2nd half.  A real addition to the squad on showings such as this.

Whelan (7)

The former Stoke man delivered his most comfortable display of the season, breaking up the play and dropping deeper whenever the ball was with the opposition.  A deceptively accomplished footballer, picking a number of forward passes across the 90.

Hourihane (9)

An outstanding display full of drive, perseverance and goals.  The Irishman has often been shackled in a much deeper role under Bruce, but against Norwich was free to roam and hurt the visitors.  Hourihane will hopefully be permitted to threaten teams in the coming weeks, but must also back this up with consistency.  However, we saw a glimpse into the talent brimming within the Irish international, which Bruce must now seek to harness as a matter of routine.

Green (7.5)

Green’s most composed appearance of the campaign, combining well with Taylor and proving a threat whenever he ran with the ball.  Rewarded for his efforts in the first half with a fine curling strike whilst on the run.  An encouraging performance from the youngster who had struggled to find his feet in the opening weeks.

Onomah (7) (Injured 30 mins)

Another striking showing from the Spurs loanee whose link-up play in the opening third wiht Davis really caught the eye.  Unfortunately had to be withdrawn but made a significant impression upon the eye and proceedings.

Lansbury (7) (Sub on 30 mins)

A quietly efficient performance having come on for Onomah.  Linked play well and was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet on at least 2 occasions.  A better showing from the previously indifferent Forest man and his 60 minutes of football provided enough to inspire confidence.

Davis (8.5) (Sub off 87 mins)

An eye-catching and unexpected display from the U23 graduate.  Leading the line, Davis was a constant thorn in the opposition.  Strength, guile and skill in abundance.  Davis was unlucky in the opening moments, breaking free to see his effort saved.  Minutes later a good header was parried away by Gunn.  After more good work, his squared ball was finished by Hourihane.  He later crashed the bar with a powerful dipping effort.  Davis ran tirelessly, his movement was a breath of fresh air and proved a constant goal threat.  The days of Gabby?  Numbered.