Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Villa player ratings

Hart Made some important saves - from Eric Lichaj, and from a low free-kick, in the second half. Distribution also improved, probably thanks to the presence of Mario Balotelli up front. 7

Richards Back in the side after a few games out, he played well in fairly comfortable circumstances. With Adam Johnson ahead of him there was not as much space as there might be, with, say, David Silva on the right. But he was astute enough overall. 6

Kompany He has certainly had harder challenges this season than dealing with Gabriel Agbonlahor. But complacency is as anathema to Vincent Kompany as losing his man, or letting the ball bounce, and so he was predictably faultless. One of the highlights this season has been his growing confidence bringing the ball out of defence (comparisons with Lúcio or Piqué are not facile), and there was one Zidane roulette in the first half which revealed just how total is his set of talents. 7

Lescott Kept in the side despite the return from suspension of Kolo Touré, he looked confident. A bit more direct with his distribution than I'd like him to be, but with Balotelli in the side (and Dzeko on his way), he can afford to be. Scored his first goal in a while - a powerful header from a corner that Barry Bannan could not get away in time. 7

Zabaleta Back in the team after a rest (I'd always find a way to include him if possible), and in at left-back this time. Did fairly well against Stewart Downing, making six interceptions in useful positions. Performed an important attacking job: staying wide on the left flank, maximising the breadth of the pitch while David Silva came inside. Had one left-footed shot which he hit over. Relax: he's already scored his 2010 goal. 7

de Jong Captain for the day, he had a fairly easy time of it in what was a gently-contested midfield. Had time to pick his passes, and completed 59 from 65 - including an unusually perceptive cross-field ball to Adam Johnson in the build up to our fourth goal. A few important tackles, although gave away a needless free-kick on Stiliyan Petrov which might have cost us. 7

Vieira I think that as our Europa League campaign becomes more serious, Vieira's luxury deployments will increasingly be in the Premier League. This was a comfortable afternoon stroll for Vieira, alongside de Jong in our 4-2-3-1. He had time on the ball, he occassionally jogged forward to join in attacks but on realising that our forwards were doing well enough without him he decided against it. 6

Johnson Good to have him back. (I sympathise with him given his rare selection this season, so I like to see him in the team). Stephen Warnock is probably AJ's dream opponent, so he revelled in the savannah of the left-back area, taunting and beating whichever defenders were in his way, buying the penalty off Marc Albrighton for 4-0 (the fourth such penalty he's won at Eastlands in 2010), and putting in the corner for Joleon Lescott's goal. The sad thing is that his all-round game has improved under instruction from Mancini, but he's still not playing as much as he might. 8

Yaya Touré Powerful movement and intelligent distribution through the middle of the pitch. A useful beacon for Joe Hart's long kicking. Only one or two of his charges but still a good overall performance, the highlight being the interplay with Silva before our third goal. 7

Silva It seems a waste of effort to write, again, that he was the best player on the pitch, and played football to embarrass the other 21. But he was, and he did, at least as responsible for our win than Mario Balotelli. He slid Balotelli in goal-side of Lichaj to win the first penalty. His ball to Yaya Touré won the corner from which Lescott scored. He played a one-two with Yaya, made space and shot across Friedel before Balotelli tapped in his second. Throughout, his little drifts and darts dragged Villa players around, making life easier for others. 9

Balotelli The sixth, seventh and eighth Manchester City goals from the club's most natural finisher. His two penalties were very witty: he paused mid-run-up, as if waiting for the goalkeeper to move. Friedel was frozen, so Balotelli side-footed the ball past him. He then repeated the trick in the second half. His other goal was a tap-in, the missing of which would have been beyond Darius Vassell on an off day. (I appreciate that making a joke about Vassell makes his scoring against us in the cup inevitable.) Balotelli's all-round game was good, though, as he showed for the ball, ran in behind, and threw his weight around. I imagine this was not disconnected from his rejecting any arguments with opponents, team-mates or officials. 9

Subs:

Milner Put himself about nobly. 6

Jo Too late to evaluate fully but he tried hard enough. n/a

Bridge Another one of Mancini's 'ironic substitutions' just to embarrass the team we are playing against. n/a

2 comments:

Tombola said...

9 for Balotelli seems very generous. I appreciate that getting a hat trick has to warrant a decent mark, but beside a tap-in and 2 pens (which, let's face it, really ought to be scored) I can't remember him doing anything of note. He spent most of the game with his hands on his knees.

RENATO said...

Balotelli wasn't at his best against the worst Villa squad of my times but he scores an hat-trick ... looks like Blue Moon becomes more Italian day after day!