Aston Villa suffered a damaging 1-0 defeat at home to Watford on Saturday in another setback for Steven Gerrard and his players.
Villa started the game brightly and looked a threat in the opening 20 minutes or so, but that soon faded and the visitors, who deployed defensive tactics throughout with 10 men behind the ball for the most part, started to create opportunities on the counter attack and ultimately had the best chances in the encounter.
Emmanuel Dennis eventually found the breakthrough in the 78th minute, and with Villa struggling to create anything to launch a late comeback, Gerrard saw his side suffer back-to-back defeats and consecutive games without scoring.
That in turn raises the pressure and concern ahead of our trip to Brighton this coming weekend, as it remains to be seen if he rings the changes this time and if there is a reaction that is desperately needed now.
Aston Villa player ratings vs Watford:
Emiliano Martinez, 8 – Little he could have done with the goal with his defence leaving him exposed. Scoreline could have been much worse for us had it not been for some top-class saves from the Argentine. Showed his class while those around him struggled again.
Matty Cash, 5 – A decent performance defensively as he managed to control things down that flank for the most part before being replaced after picking up a yellow card. However, it’s his play going forward once again that will be scrutinised, as he gets into good positions but doesn’t have that final ball.
Calum Chambers, 5 – Similarly to Cash, it was an OK display as although he looked a little shaky at times, he generally won his duels. However, he lost a key one in the lead up to the only goal of the game on the halfway line, got dragged out of position and Watford duly scored at the back post where he would have roughly been.
Tyrone Mings, 6 – No-nonsense from the Villa captain as he kept things simple in possession to tick the ball over and covered well defensively by putting the ball out of play rather than try anything which could lead to mistakes or Watford pouncing on the counter.
Lucas Digne, 6 – Another solid shift from the Frenchman as he defended well and got forward down the left flank as often as possible. Similarly to Cash though, while he was more threatening with his deliveries, he couldn’t quite find a teammate in the box to be a decisive contributor.
John McGinn, 5 – Always a positive sign when McGinn sets the tone for us early on with some crunching tackles, as it sets a standard for his teammates to follow and gets the crowd going. However, it didn’t last as he was forced to do more defensively than get us going in an attacking sense, and so his influence became limited.
Douglas Luiz, 4 – Poor again. Far too passive and offers little protection in front of the backline. Can pick out a pass, but as our No. 6, he simply doesn’t do enough as we were left exposed and vulnerable on the counter attack and he never really grabbed hold of the game to control things in that midfield battle.
Jacob Ramsey, 5 – Picks up the ball and drives well to get us going in the right direction, but it’s his play in the final third that he needs to find consistency with. We know what he’s capable of with the goals that he has scored so far this season, and so he must deliver that week in and week out or at least be a threat from a creative point of view too.
Emiliano Buendia, 6 – Our brightest player in the first half in particular, as he looked to thread some dangerous balls in for Ings to latch on to. Much like the rest of the team though, ran out of steam and ideas as the game went on as he never really looked like scoring, and so he’ll be desperate to make a bigger contribution next time out.
Danny Ings, 5 – A bright start as he came in for Watkins, with his movement and runs off the ball causing Watford problems. However, faded after the first 20 minutes, and with no real service coming his way as the game dragged on, his threat became more and more limited.
Philippe Coutinho, 5 – Struggled to really have a big influence on our play in the final third. Found pockets of space in between the lines and looked a threat on occasion, but it wasn’t often enough to make his mark on this game.
Ollie Watkins, 5 – Added a bit more bite and pressure to our play off the ball and a threat in attack, but wasn’t able to make that game-changing impact off the bench.
Ashley Young, 4 – Not a particularly good impression after coming on for Cash. Didn’t make much of a difference to our playing going forward, and was poor with his marking of Dennis for the goal as he lost him at the back-post and allowed him to get off a free header.
Leon Bailey, 4 – Again, didn’t offer a great deal to try and swing the game back in our favour.