Aston Villa lost their first game under Dean Smith when they took on Norwich City. Despite an early goal and bright start, the home side turned the game on its head to win 2-1 at Carrow Road.
We rate the performances of the starting eleven:
Orjan Nyland – 6
Looked comfortable especially in the first half against Norwich, without flapping at crosses. The Norwegian caught and played out from the back impressively. However, he didn’t need to come off his line when he failed to claim Buendia’s corner.
Alan Hutton – 6
Alan impressed on his favoured right side, where he and Elmo worked well, combining on the flanks. Fans are starting to pinpoint him as the weakness in the side though. Will be interesting to see Smith’s thoughts.
Axel Tuanzebe – 8
The effect of John Terry has clearly rubbed off on the young centre-half looking to prove his place with Chester. Looking strong and quick, Axel is capable of sweeping up as well as attacking balls with his physical prowess.
James Chester – 7
His goal could’ve proved vital if we didn’t run out of steam come the final 30 minutes. Looks like he’ll settle in a Smith’s back four nicely. Both comfortable and agile on the ball.
Neil Taylor – 6
A big positive of the first two games (Swansea and Norwich) of the Smith era, square pegs in square holes. Taylor, whilst limited going forward, certainly provides the backbone for either Adomah or El-Ghazi to express themselves in the final third.
Conor Hourihane – 6
A nice headache for Smith. Either the tenacity and aggression of McGinn or the sublime technique or Conor. Could they play together?
Glenn Whelan – 6
Used as a foil for the tired Birkir Bjarnason. Whelan fits in well to what Smith asks of him, keeping the ball and screening the backline.
Albert Adomah – 6
Looked sharp on the left flank when on the ball. Certainly, his defensive awareness in front of Taylor is a key asset Smith likes. But the Ghanian is unlikely to feature against his boyhood club QPR on Friday after picking up an injury against Norwich.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 5
Whilst Elmo has produced many assists this season, he gets in enough positions to supply more quality on the wing. Too many wasteful deliveries came from the right flank at Carrow Road.
Jack Grealish – 5
We simply need better from Jack. Whatever the influence was from JT the last term is the same missing ingredient Jack needs to add to his game this season. The key man in any Villa side, Grealish must step up and take games by term scruff of the neck.
Tammy Abraham – 6
Looked isolated somewhat when Villa failed to move quickly through the thirds. Yet, Tammy still holds the ball up well, using his strength and technique to offload to wingers. He’ll always get a chance with his attacking instincts – always a threat.