A delightful, professional performance from the boys in Claret and Blue, who are really starting to motor under this new system. Goals from Phil, Matty Cash and Candreas Chambiesta were more than enough to propel us into the top half, as well as sink a Tyrone Mings sized boot into the sinking ship that is Leeds under Ted Lasso (I’m sorry Jesse, I’m sure you’re a nice bloke but it’s just too easy). Elland Road was a library by the end and that fact alone will get me through work today.
Cracking performances all round – lets not mess about.
Emi Martinez – 8
Pretty tricky to rate Dibu tonight, as he really didn’t have a lot to do. Collected every cross and weak deflected shot that came his way, and his distribution was pretty much faultless. Have the feeling that even if Leeds could have created a shot on goal, he would have stopped it anyway. Go watch his interview with Ben Foster, it’s class.
Lucas Digne – 8
Very composed performance from the Frenchman tonight; he doesn’t have the bombastic attacking ability of Matty Cash, but he was rarely beaten defensively and still managed to marauder forward on several occasions – it was his initial cross that led to Coutinho’s opener. Looks far more comfortable now that he's not expected to be the sole creative outlet down Villa's left hand side.
Tyrone Mings – 9
What a man. He was only a few weeks back under the most pressure he’s ever faced in his career, and since then he has produced four world class performances to silence his critics. All the sweeter when those critics are loudmouth Leeds fans calling him “f##king s##t” (for like half an hour, genuinely), only to watch him drop a defensive masterclass on them. Never threatened, occasionally hurried by the Leeds press but remained composed throughout, and his ability to identify attacking possibilities from his post in central defence continues to astound me. Cheeky assist to make it two in his last three games.
Calum Chamdinho – 11*
*actually a 9 but he gets two bonus points for making Beckham look like a league 2 player.
Three weeks ago, Ezri Konsa was the first name on the team sheet for Villa – now he’s fighting to get his place back. Chambers’ goal was as beautiful as it was unexpected, but what impressed me more was his defensive game; he has relished playing next to Mings and he cleared absolutely everything today, right to the final whistle. I wondered what kind of player we were getting with Chambers, and it looks like we have a very solid, undervalued defender who is determined to prove his worth at the top level. Big ups Calum.
(Calum Chambers, Twitter)
Matty Cash – 10 (MOTM)
Even L’Equipe would struggle to deny this man a perfect score tonight. A classy assist and a brilliantly taken goal, yet he was absolutely everywhere defensively as well. I can’t remember a single occasion that Leeds threatened down their left-hand side – he just always seemed to be there (ably supported by SJM). The Polish Cafu is in inspired form at the moment, and I think if the big clubs and their chequebooks come knocking, we’d be silly to let him go for anything less than a substantial amount of cash.
Douglas Luiz – 7
A solid performance from the charismatic Brazilian, although not without its flaws. A few loose passes proved to be a minor blight on an otherwise good showing, something that happens so often with Dougie and can be punished by a good team. Luckily, we were playing against Leeds, and they mattered not. Went in hard as per usual and more often than not came out of the 50/50 challenge with the ball. Picked up a needless yellow card for kicking the ball away after McGinn ragdolled Bamford (lol). Replaced by Young in the 87th minute.
John McGinn – 9
Brilliant from the Scotsman. Was absolutely everywhere, and his new defensive coverage while we attack down the wings is, I think, a major part of our form turnaround since we last played this lot. Placed all of his long passes to perfection (bar one in the dying seconds) and the tenacity he’s showing at the moment is why we all fell in love with him in the 2018/19 season. Used his fat booty to great effect, and ragdolled Bamford immediately after the Leeds man came on (lol).
Jacob Ramsey – 7
Lacklustre first half from the Starboy, as his run and carry often resulted in nothing once he reached the final third. However, he was much more impressive post restart, and Gerrard showed his faith in him by letting him play out the full 90. His link up on the left-hand side was much better and he finished the match as a livewire after a sloppy start. In saying that, he has played more football than ever recently and is probably due a chance recharge this Sunday.
Phillipe Coutinho – 9
Bold take here, but I actually think we should sign Coutinho this summer.
Jokes aside, the man is the classiest player I’ve ever seen for the Villa, and it’s a true pleasure to watch a man rediscover his love for the game whilst also banging in the goals. He was everywhere once again today, and I think his presence was a large part of us beating the Leeds press today – all game plans must go out the window when you look up and see Coutinho dribbling straight towards you. Taken off in the 77th but the game was already won. Slightly fortunate with his goal but it matters not; he is electric and affords the rest of the team so much space when he’s on the ball. Sign him ASAP.
Danny Ings – 8
Superb shift from Ings, who is adapting into his new role as supporting striker far better than I thought he would. He constantly seems to be shifting over to the left wing whenever we attack that way, and it paid dividends twice; his clever link up play with Digne lead to the opener, and his ball to pick out Matty Cash alone at the back post showed off some of his lesser-known qualities. Gerrard has been patient with the two up top game plan, and with some experimentation he has found the balance to get the whole team operating as a unit. Ings was replaced by Sanson in the 71st.
Ollie Watkins - 8
Gut busting game again by Villa’s talisman, who would’ve almost certainly had a penalty if Coutinho hadn’t scored. Absolutely everywhere and constantly showed his pressing ability – every long clearance from the Villa defence put Leeds under immediate pressure thanks to his hard running. Unfortunate not to grab a goal after Junior Firpo instigated a glitch in the Matrix, but with the way Watkins is playing it’s hard not to see him bagging a few more in the coming fixtures. Both strikers seem a lot more relaxed now that they’re not in direct competition for the starting spot.
Sanson (Ings, 71’) - 7
Didn’t look the slightest bit out place, albeit it in a game with the sting taken out of it. Slotted right into the midfield and created space from nothing on several occasions, showed his class on the ball as well. Should be in the mix for a start on Sunday.
Buendia (Coutinho, 77’) – 7
Looked as classy as ever on the ball and off it, and his presence added a bit of urgency to a game that was crawling towards the final whistle. Nearly scored after a mazy run through the white traffic cones. Mark against him for injuring Firpo, who had been rather handy for Villa all night (in all seriousness, hope the man is ok – terrible sign when someone is stretchered off despite not having a visual injury). Buendia is another who could play a big part on the weekend, and this cameo will have done no harm to his chances of involvement.
Young (Luiz, 87’) – 7
Touched the ball about twice but I can hardly leave him out of the high rating fun. Pressed intently and was up for a scrap as always. He was a star when I first started supporting the Villa, and I get a few nostalgia endorphins every time he’s on the pitch.