A late Jamaal Lascelles equaliser rescued us a point, however we could’ve taken all three had it not been for an unfortunate own goal and lack of quality in the final third.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my marks out of 10:
Dubravka – 7.5 – Couldn’t do anything about the own goal that took a wicked deflection and went in off the bar, made one vital save from a Villa counter attack to keep us in the game at 0-1, showed quick reflexes to deny Trezeguet in the first half and showed good handling to gather well hit strikes from El Ghazi and McGinn.
Krafth – 5 – A lack of quality on the ball saw him pass it out of play a few times. Did OK defensively and tried hard, but was walking on egg shells in the second half after picking up a booking for a foul on Watkins after being caught on the wrong side and out of position. Was replaced by Manquillo with 10 minutes to go.
Lascelles – 8 – Salvaged a last minute equaliser to save us coming away with nothing, showing great desire to get up highest and head home Murphy’s cross. Also had a solid game defensively, keeping Watkins quiet and making a few big blocks. It was a frustrating night, but the skipper stepped up at both ends.
Clark – 7 – Defensively rock solid for 85 minutes until he was caught on his heels and unfortunately deflected Watkins header past Dubravka. Still deserves real credit, with him clearing most of what Villa threw at us from crosses, reading the game well and passing the ball out of the back well.
Dummett – 8* – Reliable as ever at the back, but also offered something going forward. Kept Traore and Trezeguet quiet, reacted quickly to danger, produced some good crosses that deserved more and played an incisive pass into Murphy just before he struck the bar late on.
Shelvey – 4 – Too many wayward passes, overhitting a few out of play and scuffing two straight to a Villa players to give them a chance to counter. Produced a couple good blocks but only seemed to get going once we went 1-0 down. 60% passing accuracy just isn’t good enough considering it’s a part of his game he relies on.
Hayden – 6 – A few typically tough tackles to stop Villa midfielders as they tried to break. A strong performance from a defensive point of view, but showed his limitations on the ball at times – one example being an overhit pass when he had both Manquillo and Joelinton to choose from down the right.
Willock – 7 – The most energetic player we had on the pitch tonight and looked very calm on the ball, especially in the second half where he showed his athleticism and engine to drive us forward. The odd under hit pass to spoil promising attacks, but ended the game with a pass accuracy of 83% and played one lovely ball in behind to release Joelinton.
Fraser – 5 – Started in the Almiron role just behind the two wide forwards but failed to stamp his authority on the game. He was sometimes ignored when free in good areas, however he didn’t offer that spark needed to change the game. Looked more comfortable when he switched to the left hand side. Worked hard and got a few players booked the odd time he ran at them, but needs to deliver more if he wants to cement his place in the team.
Joelinton – 6 – Caused the Aston Villa defence plenty of problems but looked lost once he had used his strength to get passed Mings. Had a huge chance to pull the trigger in the second half but opted to pass it again – stinking of a player with confidence issues. Some nice link up play, plenty of hard work and signs of the powerful bursts he’s capable of, however his poor decision making and lack of cutting edge in the final third let him down.
Gayle – 4 – Not sure what Bruce’s plan for Gayle was on the night but he is wasted playing as a left-sided forward stuck on the wing. That said, he didn’t offer enough on or off the ball and was largely anonymous – even if we did little to play to his strengths. The fact he started picking up the ball in centre midfield in the last 25 minutes said a lot about how lost he was out there!
Murphy – 7 – Replaced Fraser with 10 minutes to go and immediately caused the Villa defence problems with his directness. Maybe should’ve done better with the finish which subsequently hit the bar, however he ran at them, got himself into good positions and set up the equaliser with a good cross for Lascelles. Time for him to start against Brighton?
Manquillo – 5 – Didn’t do a lot wrong after replacing Krafth, but could have done more to close down Targett’s cross that led to Clark’s own goal.
Carroll – N/A – Hard to give him a mark given he was only on the pitch for five minutes, however his desire to unsettle the Aston Villa defence and bust a gut to win the ball back as we searched for an equaliser was admirable. Not convinced he’s the answer from the off but he needs to be brought on from the bench sooner.