Aston Villa have their first three points of the season – but how did the side rate against Wilder’s low block?
Aston Villa have an opening day victory in the Premier League thanks to the goalkeeping heroics of Emiliano Martinez and a goal from centre-back Ezri Konsa.
The side looked in control throughout the game, but made hard work of breaking down Sheffield United’s low block – and especially once the side had gone down to ten men following Egan’s dismissal.
How did the Aston Villa players rate in their first game of the season?
Emiliano Martinez – 9 (Man of the Match)
The new Aston Villa goalkeeper was confidence personified when John Lundstram stepped up to take a penalty in the first half. He dived to his right, palming the ball out for a corner and keeping his clean-sheet intact.
The Argentinian, who received an international call-up just a few days prior, did not put a foot wrong on his debut and was vocal between the sticks, often providing intelligent pieces of information and more to the players in front of him.
A strong debut, which bodes well for the fixtures to come.
Matty Cash – 7
Another strong debut on the night, Matty Cash took on his first-game nerves and grew into the game throughout.
The full-back provided a number of tidy challenges and clearances for his new club, whilst also providing a consistent attacking outlet down the right-hand side.
He looked close to picking up an assist in the early stages of the game as he marauded down the wing – but could have perhaps been more vocal with his team-mates – an issue addressed by Tyrone Mings during the game.
Ezri Konsa – 8
Ezri Konsa managed a full 90 minutes when at half-time it looked like he was about to be replaced by Kortney Hause after picking up a strain in his hamstring.
It’s a good thing he didn’t go off. Although Konsa was at slightly at fault for the conceding of the penalty, the Aston Villa defender was on top form defensively.
The centre-back came up with the winning goal, meeting Tyrone Mings’ flicked ball at the back-post with a weak header that flummoxed Sheffield goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.
With Gareth Southgate looking on – there may be another call-up to the England squad for Villa this season.
Tyrone Mings – 7
Tyrone was an ever-present leader at the back for Aston Villa, and seemingly worked well with the other leader at the back, Martinez.
He did what everyone has come to expect from the defensive Titan, headed balls away, cleared crosses and put in all important blocks – like denying Sander Berge in the closing stages of the game.
Mings also provided the flick-on assist for Konsa’s goal, a perfect way to cap off a day that saw him sign a new four-year deal with the club.
Matt Targett – 5
Matt Targett looked off-the-pace for Aston Villa this evening and perhaps wasn’t as fit as fans would have expected.
The left-back’s positional awareness was lax at times, and this resulted in the awarding of a penalty to Sheffield United in the first half as the defender tripped Basham in the area as he attempted to recover the ball.
He did look exciting going forward, but his usual marauding up and down the flank was a little more lacklustre than usual.
Douglas Luiz – 6
“Burkey, Burkey, on the number six!” was a phrase repeated at length to Oliver Burke from Chris Wilder during the game, with the Sheffield United manager noting how important Douglas Luiz is to Aston Villa’s build-up.
Luiz had a good game, nothing exceptional, but a good game. He controlled the ball at the base of the midfield well and it’s something that fans have come to expect from the Brazilian since Project Restart.
A few of his passes went awry, and this will likely improve going forward as the season truly gets underway.
John McGinn – 5
Giving John McGinn a five feels a little harsh as he’s truly getting closer to the McGinn we all know and love. He was rampant in midfield, hoovering up loose balls and making a nuisance of himself at all times.
He did, however, look a little too sloppy with the ball against a side that weren’t offering much pressure, and lost possession when Aston Villa were looking to attack.
An average performance from the Scot.
Conor Hourihane – 5 (Subbbed for Keinan Davis, ’61)
Hourihane provided a number of good balls into the box in the first-half that unfortunately his team-mates couldn’t make the most of – but in this game, that was all the Republic of Ireland international could muster.
In some games, Hourihane looks off the pace, and too slow to be a regularly-starting Premier League midfielder – and he’s likely to be the next player that is ‘replaced’ in the starting eleven.
That was the case against the Blades, and even though his set-piece deliveries were strong, he was subbed off after the hour mark as Aston Villa looked to win the game with Keinan Davis in the fray.
Trezeguet – 6
Trezeguet instantly looked a better player than the one that turned up more often than not last season. His touch was sublime – with those ‘sticky feet’ doing great work down the wing throughout the game.
And it showed, as he played the full 90 minutes rather than the more-often-than-not El Ghazi cameo with 20 remaining.
He was a constant burden to the United defence, looked tricky and faster than he was last season. He also contributed well defensively, listening to instructions from Martinez and Mings.
Should have scored later in the game – but the Egyptian drove his volley into the ground and subsequently wide.
Jack Grealish – 6
Jack Grealish didn’t have a bad game by any means – but didn’t live up to what we’ve come to expect from the captain of our club.
At times he was ineffective and sloppy, losing possession a few times in key positions – but in others he looked sharp and on another day would have likely had a goal.
It’s always been the case with Jack though – he takes a few games to get up to speed in a season – and then he’ll set the league alight once more.
Ollie Watkins – 6
Give or take a few inches, and Ollie Watkins would have scored a wonder-goal on his first Premier League start for Aston Villa.
The forward looked confident and assured, and was getting into all of the right positions that are expected of a forward in the top league of English football.
He looked sharp, and was effective once Keinan Davis was brought onto the pitch and he was moved out wide, allowing Grealish a more central role. More to come from the new Villa man.
(Sub) Keinan Davis – 6
Keinan did what Keinan does – and made a nuisance of himself for defenders. Arguably, his presence in the box might have meant that Mings and Konsa could combine for the goal.
His brute strength was a necessity in this game, but the forward didn’t offer much more than an option for hold-up play.