An improved showing over recent performances from the loanee ‘keeper. Pulled a decent save off from a dangerous Bent header in the first half and collected a couple of awkward balls which dropped in the box. Prone to poor distribution and indecision at times; experience is largely key to his development.
Hutton again gave everything in a tireless, combative display. Whilst the Scot can sometimes find himself in difficulty, often of his own making, he cannot be accused of not giving up. Once more drove the team forward on more than one occasion, carrying the ball out of defence. Was under constant pressure from Derby who looked to exploit Villa’s inability to deal with width, but Hutton fought for 90 minutes with little or no support from the hapless Adomah.
A return to the early season form which captured the eye. Chester has struggled in recent weeks, but cut a commanding and disciplined figure at the heart of defence. Scored the opener, his first since joining from West Brom, controlling Lansbury’s cross before heading expertly beyond the stranded Scott Carson.
A physical menace in both boxes, Baker’s only failing is errant distribution, with a tendency to hoof the ball downfield. However, he coped well with Derby’s threat and made a nuisance of himself from most set plays. Notably headed the ball back into danger in the second half, with Hutton unable to convert a glorious chance from the centre of the goal. Baker must reasonably be preferred to Tommy Elphick by Bruce.
Another steady performance from the fullback, who stick to what he can do well in a role that has been difficult to fill at Villa Park in recent seasons. If there’s one criticism today, then it would have to be that a number of crosses went largely unopposed as attempts to jockey his man failed. Like anyone in a fullback role at Villa though, he was afforded limited support from the wide man (in this case Green) to which Derby attempted to exploit all afternoon.
Post match comments from Bruce sought to praise Bacuna’s work-rate. Well, that’s fine, but a measure has to be contribution over 90 minutes. Many players put a lot in, but it’s the product of such effort which counts. Bacuna played a more advanced role throughout, but also found himself the lone striker after Kodjia was removed late on. The final few minutes were telling, as he dreadfully skied an effort well over the bar with an open goal at his mercy. Worse was to come as the absolute numpty then needlessly squared up to and appeared to bump the referee’s assistant. All this after not getting a decision on a throw-in. Bacuna was promptly shown a red card and could find himself subject to a significant fine, ban or both as a result. This left Villa, who were under immense pressure in the final period of the game, having to see out the final moments with just ten men. Ill-disciplined and brainless actions from Bacuna.
When the Australian was missing from the side through injury recently, there was a gaping hole in the side. His uncompromising but effective play in front of the defence brings not only a comfort but an outball at all times. Lansbury looks every bit the player we hoped for with Jedinak doing the dirty work behind him and this has the potential to be a very effective midfield pairing for the immediate future.
Adomah (2) (Sub off 72 mins)
The Ivory Coast winger had an absolute mare from start to finish. If he wasn’t gifting the ball away, he was running into trouble. A performance that raises question marks about his overall quality, consistency and certainly a day to forget.
Amavi (4) (Sub on 72 mins)
Came on into what this blog would consider a more natural left midfield role for the final period of the match. Amavi has come in for rightful stick for abysmal defending and this could well be a position worth abandoning for now. However, with his pace and crossing ability, a left midfield role does seem a natural alternative. Amavi certainly looks to be lacking in confidence and match sharpness. Another irk, post the injury he suffered, is an obvious dislike to go in for 50/50 challenges. That’s understandable given the awful injury he received, but it takes away an essential part of his game.
Lansbury (8) *MOTM*
As mentioned above, Lansbury looked far more comfortable and free to maraud with Jedinak doing the tidying up in front of the defence. A key example was his positioning today was much further up the pitch. His effort in the first half was deflected wide for a corner, which he took and Chester scored; pretty much summing up his worth. In Lansbury we have a player capable of picking a pass, but also delivering a consistently high standard of set-piece into dangerous positions. Notably every opportunity the ball was seized by him and pumped into dangerous areas around Carson. A performance to take great heart from – as much as his vocal celebrations to secure a first win in a Villa shirt at full-time.
Green (6) (Sub off 74 mins)
Struggled to impose himself today but shows enough effort, desire and craft to warrant a place over the lacklustre Jack Grealish. Indeed, Green sticks to his job and runs the line/channel repeatedly to try and force luck from wide. With that said, he had limited success today, but was extremely unlucky to not score early in the second half, seeing a fine header saved by Carson. Faded as the half wore on and was withdrawn by Bruce, correctly.
Bjarnason (5) (Sub on 74 mins)
Brought on to provide legs and running as Derby stretched and pressed us deeper in the final 20 or so minutes. Not a standout sub, but effective in the role required.
Kodjia (5) (Sub off 88 mins)
A really indifferent performance from the striker whose head seems to have completely gone in recent weeks. Kodjia has power, strength and is incredibly dangerous, but doesn’t appear to have any vision. That’s perhaps a polite way of stating the obvious; he doesn’t pass. Didn’t have much luck at all today but wasn’t helped by limited service from the out of sorts Adomah and erratic Green. Disappointing.
Gardner (-) (Sub on 88 mins)
Whilst not on long enough to warrant a score he did impact the game with his first foray. Gardner closed down Carson, who dallied, enforcing a poor clearance which the inept Bacuna could only manage to hammer into the God’s. His 6 minutes featured lots of running from fresh legs, which were badly needed in the circumstances.