Aston Villa secured a 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night, with Steven Gerrard naming a strong starting XI.
Given our poor start to the Premier League campaign, the Villa boss took no chances in midweek against the League One outfit, as he opted to make limited changes as we looked to build some confidence and momentum following two defeats in three to start the league season.
The signs weren’t promising in the first half as we fell behind after a lacklustre performance that lacked any real quality play in either phase of the game, but a goal from Douglas Luiz, direct from a corner, ensured we went into the break on level terms.
While Bolton faded in the second half, Villa started to find some rhythm and goals from Danny Ings (penalty), Lucas Digne and Leon Bailey secured a comfortable victory in the end, albeit the result certainly still masks issues that continue to cause some concern.
Gerrard will be relieved that we came from behind to advance to the next round and his decision to name such a strong XI was justified as we prevailed in front of 5,000+ travelling Villa fans, but ultimately we now have to back this up on Sunday against West Ham Utd, otherwise the same doubts and question marks will remain over his management.
Aston Villa player ratings vs Bolton Wanderers:
Emiliano Martinez, 6 – Couldn’t do much to stop the goal with his defence leaving him exposed, but alert to danger when he needed to be in an otherwise quiet night’s work.
Ashley Young, 6 – A good shift down that right side as he defended well and showed urgency and energy at times to push forward and offer an attacking outlet too.
Calum Chambers, 6 – Turned too easily for the Bolton goal and so he’ll be disappointed he didn’t do better to cut that threat out, but that aside, it was a decent shift from him on his return to the starting XI.
Tyrone Mings, 7 – Another solid showing from the Villa defender as he went about his business with minimal fuss and showed good strength and composure to offer us some quality in both phases of the game.
Lucas Digne, 6.5 – Was troubled at times defensively as he was targeted on occasion and lost out on a few physical battles. However, he recovered well and continued to attack in the second half, and was rewarded with a goal.
John McGinn, 5 – Nowhere near his best level at the moment, and it’s been that way for some time. Lost countless duels as he just seems to be lacking something and is off the pace. Villa need more from him in that midfield scrap otherwise Gerrard has to start looking at his other options.
Boubacar Kamara, 6 – Did well in the middle as he competed throughout and was constantly breaking up Bolton play and disrupting their attacks. Will feel he can still do better and be more influential both in protecting the backline and building our attacking play.
Douglas Luiz, 6.5 – Dallied on the ball in the build up to the Bolton goal, but made up for it with a superb strike direct from a corner to bring us level. He’s capable of giving us control and technical quality in midfield, but didn’t show enough of it, particularly in the first half.
Philippe Coutinho, 6 – Endured a frustrating first half as he couldn’t quite get his final pass right with Villa opening up Bolton a few times but failed to take advantage. Will need to sharpen those passes up if he wants to start racking up some assists and goals moving forward.
Danny Ings, 6.5 – Took his penalty brilliantly after winning it himself, and conceded after the game that he should have had a couple more. Hit the post with one effort while his running across the line was causing real problems for Bolton.
Ollie Watkins, 6 – Worked tirelessly off the ball and his movement was key in the early stages to give his teammates an option and a way to try and get in behind Bolton’s defence. Wasn’t able to make a decisive contribution but played an important role in the win.
Jacob Ramsey, 5.5 – Should have opened his account for the season but struck his effort straight at the goalkeeper from a great goalscoring position.
Emiliano Buendia, 6 – Full of energy and desire to get on the ball and make things happen. Almost played a couple of perfect through balls but there was no end product to match it.
Leon Bailey, 7 – A brilliant contribution off the bench as he added more directness and pace to our attacks. A superb solo run down the right side was complemented with a composed and controlled finish to get on the scoresheet and wrap up the win.
Cameron Archer, 6 – Looked lively in limited playing time, with his movement, composure and goalscoring instincts all on show despite only being involved for around 10 minutes. Big decision ahead for Villa on what happens with his future in terms of staying with us this season or being loaned out.