The international break has been a welcome distraction for Aston Villa as the Pride come off the back of consecutive losses.
The break has also given us fans a time to reflect on the season so far.
I’ve graded every player who’s played at least five games this campaign. Find out who’s top of the class and who’s lagging behind.
Albert Adomah (A) – The Ghanaian is Villa’s top scorer with 14 goals this season, and found a new lease of life on the left-wing. Adomah seems to have picked up a knack of being in the right place at the right time to finish things off this, and has won over 20 points for Villa with his goals. All those Middlesbrough fans who thought Adama Traore was going to be a step up from Adomah are starting to look rather silly.
Gabriel Agbonlahor (C-) – The former Villa captain got his season off to the best possible start with a strike at home to Hull, but since then things haven’t worked out for him with only a couple of cameo appearances. Agbonlahor hasn’t featured for Villa this year and is unlikely to be offered a new contract. I still harbour dreams of the Gabby getting the play-off final winner at Wembley, what a send off that would be!
Bikir Bjarnason (B-) – The Icelandic international was shunned onto the left-wing earlier in the season and looked lost, it was obvious he wasn’t in his natural position. However, Bjarnason has turned it round this year with a number of solid performances in the centre of midfield, and also popped up with a couple of goals, including THAT finish against Wolves.
James Chester (A-) – Mr Reliable. The Welsh defender could probably get into some Premier League defences if he so wished. Chester has played every minute of every game in the leaguein 2017-18 and is an excellent reader of the game. It’s very rare that the former Manchester United trainee has an off day, but when he does, we normally lose.
Keinan Davis (B) – Without doubt, this has been the striker’s breakthrough season. Davis demonstrated his ability to hold the ball up and bring defenders into play on the last day of last term, and has put in some excellent displays against the likes of Barnsley and Norwich City at the start of this one. Over the Christmas period it was clear how jaded he was, and needed a rest. Now Davis must try to force his way back into the side.
Ahmed El Mohamady (B) – The Egyptian goes under the radar, but still deserves praise for his consistency at right-back. Elmo makes up a strong partnership with Snodgrass down the right hand side, and often gets forward; adding an extra dimension to Villa’s attack. He’s got a good delivery too, with five assists this season, just don’t mention his own goal against Burton!
Lewis Grabban (B+) – The Bournemouth loanee had already got 12 goals for struggling Sunderland by the time he came here, then got four goals in four games making an instant impact upon arrival at Villa. Grabban isn’t afraid to drop back and pick up the ball from deep, plus he has that ability to go past players. Hopefully he signs for Villa permanently in the summer.
Jack Grealish (A-) – Super Jack seems to have recaptured his form under Tim Sherwood this campaign. Grealish has ran the show in most games he’s played in, notable mentions include last months derby and the win over Wolves, and has benefitted with a regular run in the side. The only criticism I have of the man is that he doesn’t find the back of the net often enough, although he’s starting to rack up the assists to make up for it.
Andre Green (C+) – The young winger has suffered with injuries which have kept him out for most of the season. Nevertheless, Green was quality earlier on in the term, his goal against Norwich a particular highlight. The boyhood Villa fan recently signed a new contract too, so when he eventually comes back into the fold there’s no doubt he’ll be raring to justify it with his electric speed and fast feet.
Scott Hogan (B) – At the start of the season Hogan couldn’t buy a goal, his poor start to the season best illustrated when he cleared the ball off the oppositions line in our 0-0 draw at home to Middlesbrough. Then, as 2017 became 2018, the striker found a new lease of life, grabbing four goals on three games including a brace against Barnsley. However, questions marks still remain about his overall contribution to the team.
Connor Hourihane (B+) – The Irish international has played almost every game for Villa this season in a deeper role than he’s used to. Despite his improvement defensively, Hourihane has popped up with nine goals from midfield. Memorable moments include his free-kick winner at home to Forest and a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Norwich.
Alan Hutton (B+) – Some fans were outraged when it was revealed Villa wouldn’t be renewing the 33 year olds contract. That’s because Hutton has cemented his position as a fans favourite this season, and ousted Neil Taylor for the left back role a couple of months back. Villa have missed the Scotsman in recent games. Hutton is usually guaranteed to do a solid job in both attack and defence down the flank.
Johnathan Kodjia (C+) – Last season rival fans were calling Villa Johnathan Kodjia FC, and to some extent that was fair with the Ivorian scoring 40% of our goals. With Villa having a much more rounded side this season, for the most part the we haven’t really missed him. Kodjia played eight times and scored once before that injury, it’ll be intriguing to see if he gets back in the side when he does recover fully.
Mile Jedinak (C+) – The Australain has had a successful season internationally, helping his country qualify for the World Cup, but on a domestic level Jedinak has failed to reach the heights of the last one. A game that sticks out is the home draw to Sheffield United in December where we found out Jedinak couldn’t play at centre-back. However, he’s had some good games in midfield, and was pivotal to beating Wolves.
Sam Johnstone (A-) – The Villa keeper is the best one we’ve had for a while, yet he’s not actually ours. Johnstone has been in fine form, and like Chester, is Villa’s Mr Reliable. There’s been a few blips like in the away defeat to Fulham (namely Ayite’s goal), but those blips have been few and far between. Sign permanently and that A- might just become an A.
Henri Lansbury (C-) – The former Arsenal midfielder was signed from Nottingham Forest last January with a high Championship pedigree, but unfortunately Lansbury hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. He’s been unlucky with injuries too. The the late equalizer against Leeds is his main highlight so far, while the sending off at home to Middlesbrough and a sub-standard performance against Millwall have been the lowlights.
Josh Onomah (C+) – I was surprised to see the Spurs midfielder drop down to the Championship to play for Villa this season, and Ononah had a good start to life in claret and blue with some promising cameo displays and goals against Bristol, Sunderland and Brentford. In recent games Onamah hasn’t looked all too interested, and he’ll find it hard to get back into this Villa team.
Christopher Samba (C) – The highlight of the Conglonese defenders time at Villa was his consolidation goal against Sheffield Wednesday, but apart from that, there hasn’t been to much for the big man to shout about as a bit part player. On the other hand, Samba has looked reasonably solid in the games he’s played in and is very much an “if in doubt get it out” type defender.
Robert Snodgrass (A) – It’s been a while since Villa Park has witnessed a player with such a good left foot, but the Scotsman has changed that. Snodgrass has played a major part in twenty Villa goals (7 goals, 13 assists) and his wealth of experience has fired us up the table. Surely the former Hull winger won’t want to return to West Ham once his loan finishes?
Neil Taylor (B-) – The Welshman was one of our most consistent performances last season, but this time around Taylor hasn’t played as much as he perhaps would’ve liked to. Still, the left back is a fairly reliable player who comes in for criticism for his of offering in attack, or his lack of it. It’s likely that Hutton will take Taylor’s place in the team when he returns against Hull next weekend.
John Terry (B+) – If these grading’s were based on overall contribution to the club this season, the former England captain would get an A+. It’s obvious that Terry had made a positive difference to the dressing room, plus he’s been one of the first names on the team sheet alongside Chester at the back. Only on a few occasions has Terry had a poor game, or been caught out, and like Chester, on those ocassions we normally lose.
Glenn Whelan (C+) – The Irishman has been somewhat scapegoated this season for going missing, perhaps unfairly. Similarly to Onomah, Whelan has had his fair share of ups and downs in 2017-18. When Villa went on an eight game unbeaten streak earlier in the term, Whelan was a staple in the team. Coincidence? Because of his age, Whelan must be managed carefully by Bruce in order to get the most out of him.