Aston Villa suffered a 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Saturday with another bitterly disappointing performance under Steven Gerrard.
After the improvement and positivity in our win over Everton last time out, it was hoped that Villa could string some results together moving forward and build some momentum as we strive to put the inconsistency of last season behind us.
It certainly started positively in south London as Ollie Watkins gave us an early lead with a clinical finish, but that lead didn’t last long as Wilfried Zaha struck back for the hosts just minutes later.
Zaha turned things around from the penalty spot in the second half after a contentious handball was given against Lucas Digne, before substitute Jean Philippe Mateta came off the bench and wrapped up a deserved win for the Eagles.
In truth, Villa were second best throughout as Patrick Vieira’s side were better than us in almost every department with their intensity, tempo and aggression.
The home side had chances to make it more comfortable and arguably should have put the game out of our reach in that period after their second goal, although Leon Bailey did strike the crossbar with a long range effort and Villa did have some moments.
However, there was little to argue that we deserved anything from the encounter, and we’ll now have to regroup and try to bounce back from this fresh disappointment with a much-improved display next weekend.
Nine months and around 30 games into his tenure, there are no signs of sustained improvement or progression under Gerrard as Villa boss as we continue to take one step forward before taking one back.
While there is real disagreement with the penalty decision, the emphasis placed on that moment by Gerrard in his post-match interview was both expected and disappointing as ultimately that didn’t define the game as we were second best throughout.
It’s so frustrating that we’re still bemoaning issues that date back to last season in terms of no physical presence and control in midfield and an exposed and vulnerable backline, while we’re not seeing any sign of the identity and philosophy that Gerrard has constantly spoken about since taking charge.
At this stage of his reign, the least we should expect is a solid foundation that makes us hard to beat, with a style and direction of play that maximises the attributes of the players at his disposal even if it isn’t the greatest football to watch. Instead, we still appear to be so hit and miss and the strategy and tactical thinking may or may not work week to week.
Aston Villa player ratings vs Crystal Palace
Emiliano Martinez, 7 – Our top performer on the day, and that in itself tells the story of the game. Unfortunate after saving Zaha’s penalty that he couldn’t get to the rebound in time, and little he could have done to stop the other two goals with some top finishes and poor defending.
Matty Cash, 5 – Defensively troubled by Zaha throughout and was caught out for two of the goals down that right side. Did try to push forward as often as possible and set Buendia up with a good chance, but a poor defensive shift.
Ezri Konsa, 4 – Another shaky performance that raises question marks over what has happened to his form dating back to the end of last season. Caught on his heels a couple of times and just not sharp enough to keep on top of Palace’s threat.
Tyrone Mings, 6 – Got caught out for the third goal which was poor, but played a key role in the build up to our opener and was the best of the bunch at the back as he showed some strength and determination in trying to keep Palace at bay.
Lucas Digne, 4 – Harsh penalty decision against him, but was poor throughout from a defensive perspective as Palace really put him under a lot of pressure both with long balls over the top and with their direct running. Needs to be stronger and more committed in the tackle to shore things up down that flank.
John McGinn, 4 – Walked a tightrope after being booked and didn’t offer enough in terms of physicality and control in midfield as we lost that particular battle yet again. Needs to be more involved on and off the ball as captain, as he needs to set the tone for our performance instead of going missing.
Boubacar Kamara, 5 – A difficult afternoon for him not only because he had little to no help, but he was put under pressure from Palace from all directions. Will continue to need time and games to adjust to the Premier League, but he most certainly needs more support from his fellow midfielders rather than being left exposed.
Jacob Ramsey, 4.5 – Improved after the break as he began to drive forward and be more direct which opened things up, but isn’t having a big enough influence or impact on games when he’s not scoring. Needs to improve his all-round game and start running things in midfield more.
Emiliano Buendia, 5.5 – Looked lively early on as he tried to create in the final third and put in a good shift out of possession too. However, his influence on the game waned as it went on and he saw one big chance go by when he perhaps should have tested the Palace goalkeeper more.
Leon Bailey, 5.5 – Nice cushioned header to put Watkins through for our goal and so picks up an assist and hit the crossbar with an excellent attempt. However, still lacking that decisive touch in the final third in the Premier League, and while he’s offering a bigger general threat, we need those numbers to start racking up.
Ollie Watkins, 6 – Took his goal brilliantly as he showed good composure and a clinical edge. However, starved of service thereafter and didn’t really get into the game.
Danny Ings, 5 – Didn’t really change things in the latter stages of the game as we struggled to offer any real attacking threat.
Douglas Luiz, 5 – Similar to Ings and although he did keep the ball better in midfield for us, it didn’t change the flow of the game and the result.
Philippe Coutinho, N/A