Poor game to be honest, I was hoping for more… Nonetheless there were some decent appearances, so let’s have a look down how at they did…
Schwarzer – 6, caught all the crosses he needed to apart from one where he made a good stretch, wasn’t particuarly tested, maybe should have had the nous to stop knocking it long to Johnson and Dembele when Zamora went off but really can’t fault him for anything today
Hughes – 5.5, when counted on to defend he did it of course but he is simply not a right back. Offered nothing offensively and yet still got caught out on the counter a few times. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Senderos – 6, I like him actually, I think he’s a very talented player. Good on the ball and can make some fantastic Hangeland-esque headers and tackles too, plus he’s deceptively quicker than he looks. Whether he makes a better partner for Hangeland, I’m not sure, but he did well today no doubt.
Hangeland – 6, like Senderos didn’t miss a thing defensively really and was composed on the ball but a few times gave the ball away cheaply trying to overcomplicate passes from defence with delicate through balls – he’s a good passer no doubt but he’s not great and it would be nice to see him play it more simply sometimes.
Riise – 7, very astute display. Was arguably our most inventive player going forward (should have scored though) and defensively wasn’t really caught out apart from once when he almost stopped running because he assumed an offfside which let a Villa game get into the box completely unmarked, but nothing came of it. Looking forward to seeing more of him this season, although I’m suprised that he’s not our primary left footed set pieece taker, seems Duff is still in control of crosses.
Etuhu – 5, poor display. I appreciate his qualities, and there are games where he has really stood out. There were some examples of what he is good at in today’s game in terms of breaking up play and winning the ball but it is not too much to expect a Premier League midfielder to be able to pass the ball, nothing fancy but the amount of easy, easy passes that Etuhu got wrong today was really quite abysmal. Just basic technical ability that Etuhu seems to lack, and that’s the main reason why most would take Sidwell over him.
Murphy – 6, never seemed to command the game but he did make some fantastic passes; the slide rule pass to Riise, the ball for Zamora’s one on one, and a couple of first time awkward volleys within the space of about 10 seconds out to players on the wing stand out. Did seem quite laboured, as demonstrated when Delph skipped past him for a free kick very easily, plus he gave the ball away cheaply a couple of times but Villa shut him down quite effectively.
Duff – 6, woke up in the second half after a fairly muted first half and played in a couple of nice crosses. As always, worked exceptionally hard and plays like he’s 7 years younger his age. After Zamora went off he went to attacking mid and was incredibly ineffective (not necessarily his fault though).
Dempsey – 6, only returned to training recently but looks fairly fit. Turned well, twisted his way out of some tricky situations and use his strength but his attacking passes were often straight at Villa defenders. It was very noticable how narrow he played and how far wide and far forward Riise was on the left hand side.
Johnson – 5.5, buzzed around alot, perhaps should have scored when he cut in but seemed to hit it straight at Given. Struggled when was up there alone, and I do worry about how he holds the ball up (not in the Zamora sense but he’s not reliable when you want to hit a ball down the flanks because he doesn’t seem to have strength or too much pace)
Zamora – 6, missed a couple of sitters but was at the heart of everything good we did offensively and I was really suprised to see him taken off.
Dembele – 6, seemed bright when he came on and eager to make an impression, showed a few flashes of class too. Played at right mid though, and I don’t think he’s very effective there, behind the forward or on the left.