Player Ratings: Villa’s Forest Flops – High: Bree/Hogan Lows: Grealish/Johnstone

Johnstone (3)

The January loan signings worst performance to date in a Villa shirt.  Was singled out for poor judgement and a fumble against Brentford & made a costly error at Forest.  The error gifted Forest an equaliser & momentum into a game which they didn’t look like finding beforehand.  Opting for a young and inexperienced ‘keeper may be history repeating itself all too quickly after the departure of error prone Gollini.

Chester (6)

Generally composed but can be drawn to the ball.  May be dissapointed with his positioning for the Forest winner, with the ball sailing over him before falling to the boot of Brereton.  Also missed a glorious chance to score, despite producing a fine save out of Henderson.  However, with the goal gaping and with the benefit of hindsight, failing to convert these chances hurts us time and again.

Elphick (5)

The jury remains out on Elphick.  At times a strong presence at the heart of the defence, but also seen scrambling to recover in equal measure.  Also had 2 golden opportunities to score, firing a reaction snapshot wide of the goal and heading straight at the keeper from the resulting corner.  By no means a bad performance, but far from assured either.

Baker (5)

Baker worked hard all evening, but we are all too familiar with his limitations.  Lost the battle in the depths of injury time, failing to win a headed clearance.  The resulting header from Assombalonga set up Brereton for the winner.

Bree (7)

The result overshadowed a positive debut for the 19 year old signed from Barnsley.  Immediately improved us on the right hand side and showed interest in getting forward as well.

Hourihane (5)

Ineffective in the first half but [to contrast with the rest of the side], much improved in the second.  Looked much better when released into a more creative role, which raises concerns that team instructions could be limiting his contribution.

Lansbury (5)

Struggled to make any great impression on his return to the City Ground and was withdrawn towards the end of the 2nd half.  Observed by many to be player a much deeper role than he has previously, again raising the question; Why?

Bjarnason (5)

A better game than his disappointing debut at Brentford.  In just his 2nd game in 6 weeks, more time will be needed to judge & has played a variety of positions already.  Villa cannot be helping him adapt to his new surroundings, as a right footer being used on the left either.  Whilst ineffective, another tactical head-scratcher to ponder.

Grealish (2)

It’s increasingly hard to defend the lack of discipline and contribution.  Some may cling to the pass to Kodjia, setting him up for his fine finish.  However, glaring issues abound.  Grealish broke a quick counter in the first half, playing a dummy to nobody with Forest torn apart.  Then a needless yellow card for kicking the ball away.  And what about his anonymous second half display?  It will only be remembered for his second yellow & sending off.  Going down to 10 men can reasonably be circled as the moment that cost us; but arguably we were already playing with 10.

Kodjia (6)

Took his goal exceptionally well, but a single mindedness when on the ball is harming the team.  Kodjia has all of the ability to hurt the opposition, but running blindly and without using the support of others just assists them.  Too many times the ball found its way back to Forest, simply by him over-playing or running into trouble.  He has the attributes we need to get goals, but he must also recognise how his decisions may contribute to them at the other end.

Hogan (7)

A direct and hard-working performance which was unfortunate not to be rewarded with a goal after a great run in the first half.  Chased and ran his legs off, but will likely have felt over-looked by his strike partner on more than one occasion.  With his work ethic and eye for goals, we will hope to reap the rewards in the coming weeks.  Villa will need to improve their awareness to his runs and movement to see any benefit though.


Bruce may well point to significant errors from Johnstone and Grealish, undoing his pre-match work.  However, it was the lack of a tactical response at key times for which he will come in for scrutiny.  Grealish could reasonably have been withdrawn before his sending off.  He had been anonymous afterall.

Equally, the midfield appears restrained, particularly giving the qualtiies of the players purchased.  We have creativity and goals in amongst Lansbury and Hourihane, yet they appear to have been anchored to much deeper roles.

Whilst the players certainly need to do more, Bruce must also recognise where changes are required, or he’ll oversee more capitulations like this.