On Saturday, Aston Villa blew the cobwebs off the fixture lull owing to the international break and proved it hadn’t affected our momentum as we made it five wins on the spin with a comfortable victory over Blackburn Rovers.
A scintillating first half showing should’ve had a greater reward than Tammy Abraham’s solitary goal going into the break, but whilst we weren’t as free flowing in the second period, Tyrone Mings made it 2-0 and the only real complaint was, we didn’t improve our goal difference further.
Blackburn made it a more nervy end as they got a goal back, but it was a justified win.
Vital Villa forum member McGrath4Pope gave us his thoughts and player ratings in our match day thread, and simply put, here’s what he had to say.
Well, what a contrast between halves!
First half I thought we were OUTSTANDING. The Man City of the Championship. Blackburn couldn’t get close enough to us to even attempt a tackle and on the rare occasion they got near us they were left for dead. If we’d been 3 or 4 up by halftime no one could have claimed it wasn’t deserved.
Second half we sat way too deep and allowed a Mowbray team to do what they want – control possession. Even then they only scored through a ‘keeper error. Whilst the second half performance was disappointing I did see a huge positive – we saw it through! We can’t steam-roll teams every week (despite the first half suggesting that’s exactly what would happen) but we didn’t throw away the win when things stopped going our way. That resilience should not go without credit.
Steer: 5 – not much to do and you could claim that credit should be given to the free-kick taker for ‘calling his bluff’ and not shooting at the space he was being offered. However, had he stayed still instead of taking that step to his left he’d of had a straight forward catch and saved a lot of nerves on the pitch and in the stands.
Elmo: 7 – solid at both ends.
Mings: 8 – outstanding (again). The man is an utter colossus and utter quality with the ball at his feet.
Hause: 7 – another good showing.
Taylor: 7 – best performance for a while. Offers nothing from an attacking perspective though.
Whelan: 8 – the renaissance continues, I always felt he was undervalued but never thought he had these performances in his locker. Dominant, great passing, proper leadership. MOTM
McGinn: 8 – gave away stupid free kick for their goal but other than that showed why he’s a cert for player of the year. Tireless work rate mixed with genuine ability. I gave him a standing ovation for that 100 yard run to the corner flag at the end which relieved the pressure. Should of scored (a hattrick).
Grealish: 6.5 – never done a .5 rating before but Jack was excellent first half, dictating the tempo of the match and throwing himself into 3(!) crunching tackles. Completely anonymous 2nd half, head seemed to drop and was rightly subbed.
Green: 6 – his run lead to the first goal but, after that, once again, promising situations evaporated time and time again when he should have done better. Though, he’s still young and I used to say the same about Albrighton…
El Ghazi: 7 – typical winger, looks sublime one moment but utterly anonymous the next. I get the feeling that if we could get him ‘at it’ more consistently we’d have some player on our hands – but I guess that’s why he’s playing in the Championship.
Tammy: 7 – great to see him back on the scoresheet, worked really hard BUT my God did he waste a lot of great opportunities!? Failed to finish the game off by missing when it should have been easier to score.
Adomah: 6 – some nice touches but wasted opportunities at the same rate as Green had been doing.
Hourihane: 7 – added an element of calm when required. Set up a glorious chance for Tammy to finish the game.
Deano: 7 – first half I was singing his praises. Team noticeably sat back after halftime and I can’t imagine that wasn’t due to being instructed to do so which played into Blackburn’s hands. Thought he could have made changes sooner BUT who am I to argue with 5 wins on the bounce? After 4 wins in tough games it would have been so ‘Villa’ to come unstuck against the likes of Blackburn at home!
Special mention – the reception Angel and Laursen (who must have given Mings tips on attacking a cross at halftime) was spine-tingling. Fantastic to see a genuine fan-favourite and one of the finest players I’ve seen play for our club being welcomed back with open arms.
It’s great being a Villan right now!