Aston Villa secured a battling 1-0 win over Southampton on Friday night with Steven Gerrard prioritising pragmatism over style in a below-par overall performance.
The important thing for Villa at this stage is that we picked up all three points and continue to move in the right direction in the Premier League table, as we followed up our draw with Man City last time out with another key result.
With that in mind, it’s understandable to an extent that Gerrard would adopt this more cautious approach with a focus on the defensive side of our game.
Having secured back-to-back positive results now though, the real test still awaits as Villa must maintain this defensive solidity and work ethic out of possession, but also combine that with more quality on the ball and show more in the final third to make it more convincing.
Given the pressure that was on the players and Gerrard not so long ago, it’s easy to see why Villa have changed tact. That said, with confidence and belief building heading into the international break, we’ll need to see more improvement to be fully convinced that we’ve turned a corner for long-term progress.
Aston Villa player ratings vs Southampton
Emiliano Martinez, 6 – Didn’t have much to do as Southampton were so poor, but commanded his box well and was up to his key tricks late on as we looked to take the sting out of the game and collect all three points.
Ashley Young, 6 – A solid defensive performance as he filled in well at right-back for the injured Matty Cash. Uses his experience well in certain situations to calm the game down and to lead others, an important contribution.
Ezri Konsa, 6.5 – Wasn’t as accurate as needed with his passing at times, but defensively a good shift as he kept Southampton’s attacking players quiet when they did manage to get into the final third.
Tyrone Mings, 7.5 – A top display from a defensive perspective, as he dealt with everything that came his way whether that was stepping in and intercepting or clearing danger with his head. He still needs to show more composure on the ball instead of hoofing the ball forward aimlessly, but a great effort overall.
Lucas Digne, 6 – Worked hard throughout down that left flank as he defended resolutely and pushed forward when he could, but lacked the quality needed with his final ball to make a decisive contribution.
John McGinn, 6 – Put himself about and showed good character and grit to get the crowd going on occasion, but overall his performance was poor as he wasn’t good enough with his passing and struggled to show any real quality in midfield.
Boubacar Kamara, 6.5 – Was excellent until he was forced off with an injury just before half-time. Swept up danger and provided protection in front of the backline, and given how important his role is, it’s hoped that the injury isn’t serious.
Jacob Ramsey, 6 – Was quiet in general as he struggled to get into the game and have a bigger influence with his powerful running on the ball. However, he produced the one big moment of the game to break the deadlock and hopefully that will be a catalyst for him to kick on this season and start scoring more consistently having added an assist vs Man City.
Leon Bailey, 5.5 – Showed positivity with his direct running and trickery down the right side, but was often dispossessed or gave away possession with his final pass as he couldn’t find a breakthrough. Needs to stop slowing play down when he receives the ball and use his pace and technical quality when getting defenders in 1v1 situations to be more explosive.
Ollie Watkins, 6 – Wasn’t given a great deal to work off until Buendia came on and tried to find him with early through balls, but he worked tirelessly off the ball with his movement stretching the Southampton defence. Has improved his first touch and hold up play, but still has some way to go to play that role effectively if that’s what Gerrard wants from him.
Philippe Coutinho, 6 – Glimpses of his quality were on show whether it was an inventive flick or effort from long range, but for a player who is our creative hub and spark, we need more from him and that ultimately means a more decisive presence in the final third. In games like this where we need to find a breakthrough against a defensively stubborn side at home, he needs to do more.
Douglas Luiz, 6 – Added composure and technical quality in midfield and almost scored from a corner again as the Villa Park crowd urged him to try his luck. Will potentially have a bigger role to play after the international break if Kamara is ruled out.
Emiliano Buendia, 6 – As we’ve come to expect, added urgency and creativity to our play immediately after coming on. Couldn’t quite make the difference in the final third, but showed positive signs of what he can offer if given more time on the pitch.
Leander Dendoncker, 5.5 – Added a physical presence in midfield but seemed to struggle with the pace of the game and couldn’t get into it. Will hopefully continue to improve after the break.