Aston Villa got back to winning ways on Saturday evening, cruising to a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United at Villa Park.
The hosts opened the scoring on 13 minutes when Fabian Schar failed to intercept Matt Targett’s cross from the left flank, and Ollie Watkins headed home with just the goalkeeper to beat. Watkins had the ball in the net for a second time midway through the first half, but his strike was ruled out for an offside infringement.
The Villans did get their second just before half-time, when Jack Grealish pulled the ball back for the onrushing Bertrand Traore, and the winger stroked a wonderful rising shot in off the crossbar.
Villa continued to dominate proceedings, creating a handful of second-half chances, but they failed to find a way past Karl Darlow again. Dean Smith’s men sealed the three points with a solid display, and plunged Newcastle further into trouble, as Steve Bruce’s side took another step towards the relegation zone.
Let’s take a look at the player ratings from a one-sided affair.
Emi Martinez (GK) – 7/10 – Could have recorded a podcast during the match and no one would have even noticed his absence. I’ll give him a seven – it’s not his fault Newcastle are so bad.
Matty Cash (RB) – 8/10 – Offered much more attacking than defending, supporting Traore and helping Villa transition up the field. So at ease in this division.
Ezri Konsa (CB) – 7/10 – Didn’t have too many hairy moments throughout the game, playing the ball well and doing his defensive work calmly and effectively.
Tyrone Mings (CB) – 8/10 – Had to handle the human windmill that is Andy Carroll, but denied the striker the chance to dominate their backline. Commanding as ever.
Matt Targett (LB) – 8/10 – Whipped in a devilish cross which Schar couldn’t deal with for the opener. A solid presence at the back, and willing to overlap Grealish time and time again. The perfect foil.
Douglas Luiz (CM) – 7/10 – Provided some gorgeous little flicks and touches in the final third, and mopped up defensively when needed. Controlled the middle of the park, and proved just why Pep Guardiola desperately wanted to keep him at Manchester City. Classy but gritty.
Marvelous Nakamba (CM) – 8/10 – A destroyer in the middle with bags of energy. Stopped Newcastle progressing and kept his passing simple, allowing the more talented ball-players to dominate the match.
Ross Barkley (CM) – 7/10 – Flashed a decent header wide from a free-kick. Broke between the lines to support Watkins and Grealish on the march forwards.
Bertrand Traore (RW) – 8/10 – The least involved of the three forwards, but got on the scoresheet with a beautiful finish which kissed the crossbar on the way in.
Ollie Watkins (ST) – 9/10 – Produced a brave header to open the scoring, throwing himself in the line of fire to nudge the ball past Darlow. A poacher’s finish. Terrorised Newcastle with his movement and energy. A complete performance.
Jack Grealish (LW) – 8/10 – Freed Targett down the left flank to supply Watkins’ early header. Beautiful cut-back to assist Traore for the second. A captain’s display.
80′ | Double change for Villa…
Anwar El Ghazi (LW) – 6/10
Trezeguet (RW) – 6/10
Jacob Ramsey (ST) – N/A
Karl Darlow (GK) – 5/10 – Left exposed for Watkins’ header, but didn’t cover himself in glory with his attempted stop. A very, very busy man.
Isaac Hayden (CB) – 5/10 – Dropped into the centre-back role when defending, but always looked more comfortable further up the pitch. Fighting a losing battle.
Fabian Schar (CB) – 4/10 – Horrible defending for Watkins’ opener. Tried to intercept the cross, but just teed it up for the forward to nod home. Awful.
Jamaal Lascelles (CB) – 5/10 – No longer the solid defender he once was. Surrounded by mediocrity, and it seeped into his game, too.
Javier Manquillo (RWB) – 4/10 – May as well have not been on the pitch. Non existent in stopping Grealish or Targett down the line, and offered zilch going forward either.
Jonjo Shelvey (CM) – 5/10 – Put in a bad tackle on Grealish. Jogged about a bit and pretended to close down the Villa midfield.
Miguel Almiron (CM) – 5/10 – Showed one moment of class when threading a ball through to Fraser in the second half, but couldn’t offer much else in the rigid and defensive system in which he plays. A shame.
Jeff Hendrick (CM) – 4/10 – Got in a bit of an argument with Grealish, which was one of the first times he was noticed on the pitch. Chased shadows and very much was a shadow.
Jamal Lewis (LWB) – 5/10 – Played high up the pitch and delivered some crosses from that left flank. Left terribly exposed on the counter attacks, though. Not adapting to the demands of the Premier League.
Andy Carroll (ST) – 5/10 – Won the odd header deep in the penalty area, and caused one nervy moment for the Villa defence on the hour mark. Lunged into a horror challenge on Nakamba in the second period.
Callum Wilson (ST) – 5/10 – Incredibly isolated yet again, trying to occupy dangerous areas, but received little service. A boring evening for the forward.
70′ Double change for the Magpies…
Allan Saint-Maximin (LW) – 6/10
Ryan Fraser (RW) – 6/10
Dwight Gayle (ST) – 5/10