Aston Villa secured an impressive 2-1 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday night in a much-improved performance.
Dean Smith will have been left delighted with the result, but it came in a thrilling encounter with both sides having good chances and playing at a frenetic pace.
Villa though edged it in terms of creating the better opportunities, as we also hit the woodwork twice having gone close on a number of occasions, particularly in the first half.
It took a superb strike from Anwar El Ghazi to secure all three points, after Ollie Watkins had seen his early finish cancelled out by Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Aston Villa player ratings
Emiliano Martinez, 7 – Produced one crucial save in particular in the first half to deny Calvert-Lewin, but Everton were mostly wayward that chance aside. Did well to marshal the backline throughout though.
Matty Cash, 8 – Back into the side after serving his suspension, he makes such a big difference to the team’s play both defensively and going forward with his energy and pace. Defended well to nullify Alex Iwobi’s threat.
Ezri Konsa, 7 – A bit sloppy in possession again as he seems to be going through a little dip in form in that area of his game, but was solid for the most part at the back to help keep things tight with a couple of key blocks between him and Mings.
Tyrone Mings, 8 – A top performance from the captain as he led by example with his defending. Put his body on the line to block efforts, won plenty of aerial duels and got things started in defence to move into attack.
Matt Targett, 8 – Looked like he might have picked up an injury in the first half, but that didn’t stop him from putting in a great display. Solid defensively and pushed on when possible.
Douglas Luiz, 6.5 – Had his moments where he showed his vision and quality to play some great passes, but outmuscled a few times and sloppy with his decision-making. Decent, but not near his best still.
John McGinn, 7.5 – Combative display from the Scottish international as he contributed in both phases of the game. Did well to help us get a foothold in midfield, and the game as a whole, while also offering a threat going forward with efforts from distance.
Bertrand Traore, 7 – Showed real class at times with his silky skills, and this was certainly a better effort compared to what we’ve seen in recent months. Went close to a goal of his own which Pickford did well to save, while he played the ball into El Ghazi for the winner.
Ross Barkley, 7 – Similarly for Barkley, this was much better from him. Played at a quicker tempo, looked for intricate passages of play and looked a threat in the final third. At fault for the Everton goal though as he lost Calvert-Lewin at the back post, and faded in the second half. Still, it’s an improvement from the loanee.
Anwar El Ghazi, 7.5 – Almost scored in the first half as he crashed an effort off the crossbar, and looked a threat at times with his directness. Still goes a little quiet for periods and loses possession, but made up for it with a stunning winning goal.
Ollie Watkins, 8 – Outstanding performance from our frontman. His movement and runs in behind were a constant headache for the Everton defence, and he did brilliantly for his goal. It encapsulated everything positive about him with his pressing and pressure coupled with composure to slot home the goal. Great link-up play and will be frustrated he didn’t add to his tally.
Jacob Ramsey, N/A
Keinan Davis, N/A