Our player ratings feature returns for the 2021/22 season, if you’d like to be involved drop me a message on Twitter or use the comments section at the bottom of this article.

Joining me today is Joey Millington, Georgia Homer and Justin Hawthorne.

Watford took advantage of a below-par Aston Villa in the season’s opener at Vicarage Road. Goals from Emmanuel Dennis and the impressive Ismaila Sarr gave Watford a much deserved 2-0 lead at half-time.

Cucho Hernandez came off the bench to make his debut and curled a beautiful effort from 20 yards past the helpless Martinez – 3-0!

Villa did, however, show some character to reduce the deficit – John McGinn scoring with an eye-catching sweeping half volley, and Danny Ings with a debut goal from the penalty spot but the latter came too late to set up a grand finale!

STARTING LINE-UP

Formation 4-2-3-1

Emi Martinez – 5

In his first competitive fixture since he kept out Neymar and co. in the Copa América final, the Argentinian stopper was under pressure all afternoon in Hertfordshire.

Watford’s new forward Emmanuel Dennis finished smartly inside the opening ten minutes but Martínez will feel that he could have done better, with the ball sliding agonisingly under his torso.

Villa’s newly assigned number one grew in confidence and was helpless in stopping a wicked deflection and a superb curling finish. He made four saves, including a smart stop to deny Dennis a second shortly after the interval.

This was a rare off day for last year’s Supporter’s Player of the Season. (Joey)

Matty Cash – 5

Looked edgy and nervous on the ball and struggled to have any impact going forward as well.

Will be happy he didn’t have to mark Sarr. (Justin)

Ezri Konsa – 5.5

After a solid opening season with Villa, Konsa impressed alongside Tyrone Mings at the heart of Villa’s defence last year. In the opening game of the season Konsa, like so many of his teammates, looked shell shocked and slightly off the pace in a frantic first half. His courageous block would have masked a lapse of concentration in marking Dennis, had the Watford man not rolled the rebound home.

Looked increasingly like the Konsa we know and love as the game progressed, with a trademark tackle on Ken Sema on the hour mark.

He made a couple of key interceptions and showed a hint of his improving passing range. (Joey)


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Tyrone Mings – 5

First game as official Aston Villa captain and deserved a better result. Not directly to blame for the goals but the defensive organisation needs to return to last seasons form and without JT this responsibility falls to our captain. (Georgia)

Matt Targett – 3

Completely rattled by Sarr from the off, Targett was turned inside-out on several occasions as he was unable to cope with Sarr’s pace, energy and trickery!

Support from his teammates never came as Watford continued to tear Villa left-hand side to pieces throughout the first half.

Subbed at half-time. Will come back stronger! (Ryan)


SPREAD THE WORD

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John McGinn – 6.5

Spent much of the first 45mins fighting fire in the middle of the park, as Watford’s physical midfield three overloaded McGinn and Nakamba. Benefitted from the second-half changes which allowed the bustling Scotsman more creative license.

Just as he did against Tottenham two years ago, McGinn scored the first Villa goal of the season with a peach. The former Hibee swept home superbly from the edge of the area following a fluent passing move on the 70th minute.

One wonders whether McGinn may thrive even more if partnered with one of the midfield enforcers that the club has been linked with in recent weeks. (Joey)

Marvelous Nakamba – 3

Had a big chance to stamp his authority on the team with Sanson and Luiz not ready to play and was bitterly disappointing.

Couldn’t get anywhere near the Watford midfield and his passing often let him down, another who won’t be starting against Newcastle. (Justin)


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Emi Buendia – 5

Difficult to watch Buendia out of his favoured position as he slotted in at CAM.

Struggled to see his full potential, but with more players soon to be available, the system will settle. (Georgia)

Anwar El Ghazi – 3

Very disappointing afternoon from Anwar, he suffered from Watford having so much play and dominating the first half as they did, but when he did get a chance to influence the game he failed.

With Traore and Bailey coming off the bench and playing so well I think it will be a while before he starts again. (Justin)


SPREAD THE WORD

𝐏𝐋𝐀𝐘𝐄𝐑 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆𝐒 | 𝐖𝐚𝐭𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐯𝐬 𝐀𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐧 𝐕𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐚 – check it out! #avfc #utv


Ashley Young – 6

Ashley Young’s return for Aston Villa ended in misery at the place where his career began.

Found pockets of space in the first half but was quickly closed down by Watford’s high energy and relentless press.

Dropped back into his more familiar role at left-back after the break and used his experience well to take the sting out of Sarr’s attacks. (Ryan)

Danny Ings – 6

A promising start to life at Villa, Ings looked one of the sharpest on the pitch. Limited service from an experimental attacking set-up, but got on the scoresheet anyway through a very confident late penalty. (Georgia)

Substitutions

Jacob Ramsey (on for Targett – 45mins) – 6

Made an instant impact firing in a cross-shot moments after coming on as he sparked a bit of energy into the Villa attack.

I’m personally yet to have that moment where I think yes, Ramsey has got it! (Ryan)

Leon Bailey (on for El Ghazi – 60 mins) – 7

Debut assist for the Jamaican setting up John McGinn for Villa first goal of the season.

We have a real good player on our books and I’m very much looking forward to seeing him in action against Newcastle on Saturday. (Ryan)

Bertrand Traore (on for Buendia – 72 mins) – 7

Won Villa a penalty which Ings dispatched!

Substitutes not used: Steer, Tuanzebe, Hause, Philogene-Bidace, Chukwuemeka, Wesley

GOALSCORERS

Watford Dennis (10), Sarr (42), Hernandez (67).

Aston Villa McGinn (70), Ings (penalty, 90+7)

REFEREE

Mike Dean.

OPPOSITION

Watford Bachmann; Kabasele, Troost-Ekong, Cathcart, Masina; Sarr, Etebo, Cleverley (Deeney, 78), Kucka (Gosling, 70), Sema; Dennis (Hernandez, 66).

Substitutes not used: Foster, Ngakia, Rose, Louza, Fletcher, Sierralta.

LOAN WATCH

Kaine Kesler-Hayden – 8.5 (Swindon)

The energetic full-back ran the show for Swindon today.

He was defensively sound as well as brilliant in the transition allowing the team to counterattack effectively.

Kaine wasn’t scared to take on his man and did so numerous times to great success. The only thing lacking was an end product with a few wasted chances. He was very unlucky to be sent off receiving 2 very harsh yellows.

Big thanks to Swindon Town fan Dan for his contribution!


PLAYER REACTION

THE BOSS

HIGHLIGHTS

TABLE

UP NEXT

Newcastle United (H) – 21st August 2021


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