Aston Villa dropped more points with their third draw in a week, this time at home to Reading. Steve Bruce commented that the players looked tired but didn’t make many changes. This is how we rated the performances. Do you agree with our ratings?
Orjan Nyland – 7
Would have deserved an eight rating if we had hung onto a clean sheet. The Norwegian stopper looked calm and composed in between the sticks. Not to mention the heroics he produced late on where a double save from yards out denied a Reading goal. Notably, Orjan’s distribution also looked much better since first arriving at B6 where loose passes where common.
Axel Tuanzebe – 7
Axel showed good ability on the ball, moving in filed with confidence opening the wings, creating space for Elmohamady to manoeuvre in. Defensively solid also, neither Reading’s Barrow or Blackett managed to move beyond the Man United loanee. However, Tuanzebe seems reluctant to overlap or provide himself as an attacking option. Unlike Alan Hutton who won’t need a second invitation to gallop down the left flank.
James Chester – 6
Although in theory, he threw away two points, Chester was again solid when reading the game. Each and every pass that attempted to open up our back line. He also dealt with tall forward and former Wolves striker Bodvarsson whose presence caused Blackburn all sorts of problems in Reading’s last game, scoring a double to prove it.
Mile Jedinak – 6
Mile looked not so out of place, yet struck fear into all of us when Reading pushed forward. Again winning every aerial duel, it’s clear to see why Bruce likes to pick him as Chester’s partner. Yet, when mistakes are common with the big Aussie it’s hard to relieve pressure off his defensive teammates.
Alan Hutton – 6
It was no coincidence that Hutton’s bright start coincided with a positive start from the Villa. However, when we sit back and absorb pressure it’s hard for Alan to make the attacking impact we know he can. As Bruce doesn’t intend to bring in Matt Target from Southampton on a season-long loan, Hutton looks a permanent fixture in the Villa back line, so let’s hope he can form a good bond with El Ghazi on the left side.
Birkir Bjarnason – 7
An energetic and aggressive display from the Iceman, who helped drive the home side forward, and in Bruce’s opinion, he does it better than his midfield partner Glenn Whelan. Granted the two share similar attributes, but Birkir has that cutting edge in front of goal, exemplified when he struck late against Wigan a few weeks back.
Jack Grealish – 6
Had a limited impact on the game and made way for Conor Hourihane at the break after suffering from a dead leg. Villa’s star man had one effort at goal as he flashed a volley wide of Reading keeper Vito Mannone’s goal in the first half.
John McGinn – 8
If McGinn converted his early opportunity or even squared it to Kodjia, he’d be receiving a nine here. His energy and work ethic is excellent. The Scot gets through as much work as two players combined as he covers every blade of grass. And even better, winning the ball back deep in the opposition half. An excellent addition to a side that has all the attributes to gain automatic promotion. Given that we continue to attack and create chances, especially when at home, watch how Leeds do it.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 6
The goalscorer adds a solid base on the right flank but fails to make an impression at the other end. I know that sounds delusional when he grabbed the goal but at home, in front of over 33,000, we do not need a wing-back crossing aimlessly into the box when Kodjia is sitting on the edge of it, not interested in making a run. Instead, the likes of Andre Green or even Adomah can provide that cutting edge in the final third, or at least a less predictable style of play which will open up the opposition more times than not.
Anwar El Ghazi – 7
An inspiring debut from the Dutchman who looked comfortable on the ball, driving at oppositional full backs who struggle to disposes him of the ball with his tall and powerful stature. His technique adds the quality we need in wide areas and to some degree addresses the problem of losing Robert Snodgrass. Anwar and another new recruit Yannick Bolasie both have the ability to tear open any Championship defence.
Jonathan Kodjia – 5
Kodjia looked lightweight at the top of the attack as Liam Moore and Tiago Ilori dealt with his presence no problem. Struggling to hold the ball up for others, he rarely made enough movement to harm the back line also, even if he combined well on the wings. This again highlights the need for competition in forward areas.