Full match report, reaction and post Blues Podcast to follow!
VILLA 1 – 0 BLUES
Whilst largely untroubled, did pull off a low, if straightforward save in the second half. Guilty of some errant distribution at times and found himself in no mans land from a cross midway through second half. Rarely tested though, & good experience if nothing else.
Another imposing performance from the rejuvenated fullback. Hutton continues to give his all, and whilst given frequent tests down the right flank all afternoon, can feel satisfied with his work. A loose ball in the first half may have been seized upon by better teams, but a broadly solid performance. Visibly enjoyed the celebrations at The Holte End at the end of the game and tossed his shirt to the crowd.
— Villa Underground (@avfc_vilr) April 23, 2017
An improved showing after a recent dip. Chester is the brains to Baker’s braun and today’s performance underlined this. The Captain was rarely out of the action, with neat touches and consistent defensive work the norm. Another of Chester’s strengths is his positional awareness; a valuable asset as Villa sought to see the game out.
Baker often gets marked down on account of his agricultural approach. Whilst not always easy on the eye, he delivered a no nonsense display at the heart of Villa’s defence. Blues’ limited success hoofing the ball into the channels and efforts to lump a ball in were often thwarted by Baker’s body or head. A tireless, physical performance, arguably one of his best in a Villa shirt.
For a man barely acknowledged upon his arrival from Swansea, he has grown into a steady, reliable figure at left back. Indeed, his absence through injury against Reading & Fulham were telling. His return today marked a return to calm, sensible fullback play. Taylor cut a composed, reassuring figure on the ball, rarely putting a foot wrong all afternoon.
Delivered the dangerous corner which lead to the goal after Blues failed to clear. Lansbury has yet to shine at Villa Park and on this showing looks to have a gear in reserve. With that said, he always shows for the ball and kept the ball moving for 90 minutes.
Jedinak (8.5) (MOTM)
It was a close call between Jedinak & Baker for the Man Of The Match, but the Australian Captain edged it. Whilst we have become accustomed to his physical presence, when his passing is on the same wavelength as team-mates he looks a superior player. There were countless tight moments where he not only won the ball but played the safe, simple pass out of danger. As Villa looked to secure the points, he also reverted to a virtually extra centre half role, over-powering all comers. Yet another dominating showing – reminding us as to his value to any promotion push next term.
A hard working showing, but limited end product. Whilst Bacuna’s work rate can rarely be questioned, the matter of quality often rears it’s head. The game suffered for the lack of ingenuity in either midfield, with Bacuna as guilty as any. The final ball was rarely sought and there were instances of poor control or dispossession.
Adomah (4) (Sub off 76 mins)
A real struggle for the wide man in a game crying out for a dose of craft or creativity. Little went his way or looked likely to & was rightly withdrawn with 15 minutes to go.
Gardner (-) (Sub on 76 mins)
Came on to chants about his brother being a tw*tt. If that won’t inspire you to greatness, then what will?! Gardner provided an willing runner in the closing stages and proved a nuisance as Blues tired. Another whose effort cannot be faulted, but whom it’s difficult to see where he fits in Bruce’s long term plans.
Hogan (6) (Sub off 83 mins)
Another honest if unremarkable display from Scott Hogan. Starved of any sort of supply chain, Hogan increasingly looks to feed off scraps. Is beginning to come in for some unfair criticism as he seeks to reinvent himself in a side either unable or unaware of the need to take advantage of his runs. Positionally always marauding the middle third and looking to break beyond the last man, it’s baffling that Villa didn’t once seek to exploit a dodgy looking Blues defence.
Hourihane (-) (Sub on 83 mins)
Grealish (5.5) (Sub off 59 mins)
Jubilant full-time celebrations from Jack cannot mask the fact that he was hooked on the hour mark by Bruce. If the first half showing was lethargic and ponderous, the second half bordered upon anonymous. Many walked away from the derby delighted at the win, but in agreement it was an abject game of football. Central to this were performances like Jack’s who contributed nothing of note to the occasion. Grealish demonstrated his talent with a fine strike at Fulham, but football is about much more than singular moments.
Agbonlahor (Sub on 59 mins)
The Pantomime Villan? The headlines write themselves. Gabby entered the field like a man possessed, immediately making a firm tackle on the halfway line to roars from all four corners of Villa Park. His goal was a right place, right time affair, but he took his chance with aplomb. Gabby is also an expert wind up merchant on these occasions & his presence alone rattled a number of Blues players. He picked up a silly booking for wrestling near the corner flag, but the seed was sewn. Gabby cannot be seen to be rehabilitated or the future of Aston Villa, but occasions like this remind us of the talent he had & writes another chapter in the second city derby history books.
— Villa Underground (@avfc_vilr) April 23, 2017