West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Aston Villa Player Ratings: El-Ghazi shines

 

Rodriguez ‘grabs’ the equalizer – bbc.co.uk

Jay Rodriguez’s controversial injury-time equalizer ensured a 2-2 draw between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa at the Hawthorns on Friday night. Here’s our Player Ratings from the contest.

West Bromwich Albion

Sam Johnstone – the goalkeeper was a star performer at Aston Villa last season, mainly due to his excellent shot-stopping but he appears to have declined in form this season, with question marks about whether he should have done better for the away side’s second goal. 5

Tosin Adarabioyo – the Man City loanee offered composure in possession which allows him to pick quality forward passes in the attacking phase. Sometimes the odd defensive error can be an occupational hazard, with one misjudged pass that led to a presentable opportunity for Abraham. 5
Craig Dawson – the experienced defender has won over some of theĀ fans who were not too happy with the way the he handled a mooted summer transfer move to Burnley, but this was not among his better games; he looked a tad reluctant to engage in physical duels with Abraham. 5
Ahmed Hegazi – the Egyptian’s lack of pace was a serious problem for West Brom, as well as the difficulty he had in playing the ball out from defence. Theoretically, he should be better at defending his penalty area but the own goal he scored, deflecting El-Ghazi’s shot past Johnstone after a quarter of an hour, provides evidence to the contrary. 4
Kieran Gibbs – having represented Arsenal for a decade at senior level, Gibbs brought a touch of class to this Albion side. His forward runs were once again valuable, as he was so often able to get ahead of El-Ghazi in the attacking phase, especially in the first half. 7

Matt Phillips – the former QPR winger was once again one of West Brom’s stand-out performers this term and we saw more of his driving forward runs from the right channel here. Sometimes, he occupied a central role which allowed him to involve himself heavily in the build-up play but he also showed for Rodriguez’ equalizer that he can pose a threat from crosses. 8
Jake Livermore – the deep-lying midfielder liked to stick to his defensive work, but sometimes he lacked the bravery to impose his physicality on Villa’s attack and put challenges in. Not ideal, considering he offered very little technical quality in possession. 4
Gareth Barry – facing the club at which he starting his career two decades ago, Barry was always an option in possession for West Brom’s centre-backs and he sprayed some impressive passes into the wide areas. However, his lack of mobility was perhaps problematic in the second half, when his fitness levels appeared to decline. 5

Dwight Gayle – Darren Moore’s decision to start Gayle wide of a front three might seem surprising, considering how much of a goal threat he can pose when played down the middle. In this role though, he was able to exploit the ambiguity of who was to mark him due to the gap between Chester and Taylor, ghosting in to equalize on the break in the opening period. Came close twice in the second half, too. 6
Jay Rodriguez – the former Burnley striker did not have the best of night’s in front of goal on Monday and, after one poor scissor-kick flew off target late on, it looked like he could be entering an individual barren spell. Instead, he managed to claw back the deficit, twice making contact with the ball from close-range in injury-time to bundle it over the line. 5
Harvey Barnes – the Leicester loanee’s bright runs from the left channel were a huge part of West Brom’s build-up play. Equally adept with both feet, Barnes beat full-back Alan Hutton at will – as we saw when his persistence led to that counter-attacking equalizer. He also though produced moments of fine, technical quality, meaning that the crowd lifted every time he collected the ball. 8

Chris Brunt (on 72) – the Northern Irishman was brought on to help West Brom pose more of a threat from set pieces and improve the quality of deliveries from deep; he had a reasonable influence on the game. 7
Oliver Burke (on 80) – Darren Moore hoped the Nottingham Forest academy graduate might inject energy and creativity into Albion’s play late on, but in truth he was not the biggest factor behind the team’s late resurgence. 6

Aston Villa

Orjan Nyland – the Scandi stopper is yet to win over his critics after questionable displays against Birmingham and Forest, so his failure to command his career in the lead up to Albion’s second equalizer will not help him. Although, he could have done little to keep out Gayle’s goal. 4

Alan Hutton – the Scot struggled to keep Barnes quiet, as we saw when he slipped twice in the lead-up to the equalizer and did not seem to generate the conviction in his footing that he used to be able to. Although, he moved to left-back for the second half and seemed to fare slightly better there. 5
Axel Tuanzebe – the Manchester United failed to get goal-side of Rodriguez in the lead-up to Albion’s equalizer. However, he did not look as rash as he did in the early weeks of the campaign and appears to have acquired some composure in possession, which is a sign of Dean Smith and Richard O’Kelly’s coaching methods taking effect. 7
James Chester – facing his former club, Chester continued to look slightly burdened by the responsibility of captaincy. Although he has popped up with two goals in the last four weeks as well as one or two vital goal-line clearances, there is a sense of hesitancy about him when it comes to winning duels with strikers. 5
Neil Taylor – although a full-back billed as being solid rather than spectacular, Taylor struggled to even perfect the basics of defending. Not only did he struggle to handle Phillips one-on-one, he also failed to track Gayle’s run in the lead-up to the equalizer. The fact he was taken off on 52 minutes does little to dispel suggestions that Smith will see left-back as a position he can upgrade in January. 4

Anwar El-Ghazi – another excellent attacking performance. Not only did he effectively score the first half opener thanks to a heavy deflection, he then hit a cleaner, belting strike on the hour-mark that beat Johnstone at his near-post before beginning to threaten on the break. Guilty of switching off defensively on one or two occasions, especially in the first half, but the quality was there for all to see. 8
John McGinn – the Scot not only provided impeccably accurate deliveries, from set pieces as well as open play, he also pressed with admirable energy and exuberance. His fitness levels allowed him to grow in influence as the game progressed. 7
Conor Hourihane – the Irishman sometimes struggled to influence games under Steve Bruce, but appears to be seeing more of the ball from deep under Dean Smith’s tutelage. Perhaps, that meant he was not in the final third quite as often as he used to be, but it also meant that he had more space to dictate proceedings. 6
Yannick Bolasie – not long ago regarded as one of the best wingers in the Premier League outside the top six, Bolasie is beginning to show his pace, power, skill and quality at Championship level. Buoyed by a star performance at Middlesbrough, the former Palace man did not even need to be running at full pelt to scare West Brom’s defence. 8

Jack Grealish – for spells, the intensity of West Brom’s play meant Grealish was not able to dictate proceedings as much as he liked but for other spells, he linked play superbly. His intelligence came to the fore in the second half, when West Brom’s aging midfield had difficulties picking up the playmaker, who had the creative tools to bring key attacking players to life. 8

Tammy Abraham – the Chelsea loanee might not quite have been the four-goal monster we saw nine days ago, with a series of disappointing misses from close-range. However, the fact he kept getting into dangerous areas shows that his athleticism, work rate, movement and link-up play made him a massive threat, capable of creating space for himself and others. 7

Ahmed Elmohamady (on 52) – the right-back is used to providing width with his adventurous runs down the flank and producing crosses. This though was more of defensive performance from the ex-Hull man, who at least had some success negating Barnes’ threat for a period of the second half. 6
Jonathan Kodjia (on 82) – two years ago, Kodjia was by some distance Villa’s stand-out performer; this term, the impact of Bolasie, El-Ghazi and Abraham has seen him fallen down the pecking order. At a time when he needed to show tactical awareness, the former Bristol City man failed to track his runner for Albion’s leveller and appeared to be playing his cameo as if it were a park game in which only individual goals were rewarded. 4
Glenn Whelan (on 87) the like-for-like replacement for Grealish, who picked up a knock late on, would have been Callum O’Hare, who Dean Smith perhaps did not want to risk at such a crucial stage. Whelan’s arrival though appeared to slightly disrupt the balance of the midfield, which began to invite pressure. 4