The Steve Bruce era began very similar to the Roberto Di Matteo era, with a 1-1 draw–Aston Villa’s eighth draw in twelve league games.
Pause if you have heard this before. Aston Villa played well in the first half, took the lead, created more pressure, failed to score a second goal, and wilted in the second half.
Surely not this season, no.
Aston Villa were very lucky to even receive a point in this match. If not for two point-blank saves from Pierluigi Gollini, we’re talking about Steve Bruce’s first loss.
In a match that saw a six yellow cards; a pair of penalties, one from Jonathan Kodjia and one from Helder Costa, meant the two West Midlands club shared the spoils.
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GK Pierluigi Gollini 7, and ClaretVillans Man of the Match
Only conceded a penalty in the first half. Made the most incredible save off a corner in the second half. Had another incredible save on Dave Edwards around the seventy minute mark.
RB Micah Richards 5
Typical Micah Richards outing: very strong, highly athletic, powerful in the air, and got injured. With Ritchie De Laet out for the season, Richards could stake his claim as the number one right back from here on out (if he stays fit).
RCB Tommy Elphick 4.5
Rather ‘meh’ appearance for the club captain. Was caught out on two Wolverhampton attacks in the first half. Left injured in the second half. Needs to improve his game to keep his place above Nathan Baker.
LCB James Chester 4
Booked in the second half and probably should have been sent off. Lucky not to have conceded a penalty in the first half as well. Might be his worst Villa appearance yet after impressing in his recent performances.
LB Aly Cissokho 2.5
So bad. I refuse to discuss Aly Cissokho any longer. Total liability in possession.
CM Mile Jedinak 5
Substituted early in the second half. The match was too fast-paced for his skill set.
CM Aaron Tshibola 5
Did some things well and other things not so well. Highly involved in the middle of the pitch, but conceded costly turnovers with his passing. His energy was highly needed, however, as several Aston Villa players sleep walked through the match.
LW Jack Grealish 6
One of the few bright spots in the Villa lineup. Drew the penalty that Kodjia scored on and went the full ninety minutes.
RW Albert Adomah 5.5
End crossing product was very poor, but caused havoc on his side of the pitch. Best performance in a Villa shirt for Adomah who remains the only natural wing player in the squad.
ST Ross McCormack 5
McCormack simply could not link up with teammates very well. Very spirited on the pitch and should have scored a goal on a clear opening, but Jonathan Kodjia refused to pass.
ST Jonathan Kodjia 5.5
Took and scored his penalty very confidently. Nearly scored a stunning volley, if not for a Carl Ikeme save. Left isolated up top for the final fifteen minutes as Villa switched to a 4-2-3-1.
CM Ashley Westwood 5
Came on for Jedinak and was noticeably quiet as always.
RB Alan Hutton 4.5
Stumbled around with his defending and was rather fortunate not to be beaten. Came on for the injured Micah Richards so we could be seeing more of Alan Hutton.
CB Nathan Baker N/A
Tommy Elphick’s injury threw a wrench in Steve Bruce’s plans by exhausting his last substitution. Baker could get the next start if Elphick is not fit from his calf problem.