Heurelho Gomes 7.5
Was having a good game until his afternoon was ended early by injury. The highlight of his performance was the way he impressively tipped a Scott Sinclair effort over the bar, while he also made a smart double save to deny Jordan Ayew and Sinclair. He could not be to blame for the goal Villa scored past him but did elected punch a couple of balls when it seemed easier to catch them. Should be fit for Norwich.
Allan Nyom 7.5
Improved tenfold on his disappointing performance against Manchester United last week and may have just arrested his dip in form. Nyom was back to his best, rampaging forward to support Juan Carlos Paredes and the forwards when necessary, but also dealing with the attacking threat posed by Carles Gil, who the head coach identified as a dangerman. Bizarrely ended up in the left-back position with Nathan Ake on a few occasions, which left the right side exposed.
Craig Cathcart 7.5
After breaking up an exchange of words between Etienne Capoue and referee Lee Mason, Quique Sanchez Flores went straight over to embrace Craig Cathcart at the final whistle. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. Cathcart lost Micah Richards for Villa’s first goal but apart from that blip, was outstanding. His stand-out moment came when a deep cross looked set to fall to either of two Villa players at the back post. Unable to get a clean connection, others would have left it to reach the waiting attackers but he got the slightest of touches which deflected the ball for a corner. He did the same against United last week, so it’s more than a coincidence.
Miguel Britos 7
Admitted in the week he would have preferred to play against Rudy Gestede but did not get his wish as Villa played with more mobile, fleet-footed attackers. Looked just as home against them, though, covering for Ake on a couple of occasions on and reading the game well. Barely put a foot wrong.
Nathan Ake 6.5
His inexperience and poor positioning was evident yesterday, though it was not helped by the Hornets playing a very high defensive line. Improved as the game went on and linked up well with Almen Abdi and Etienne Capoue down the left. He’s a real prospect and has to be the first choice left-back.
Ben Watson 7
With the exception of the game against West Ham, Watson tends to play better away from home. He broke up play and did the dirty work well at Villa Park. Villa got a bit too much space around the edge of the Watford box for his liking and he also gave away the foul which led to Richards’ goal. Yet he was in a good position on the edge of the box to pick up a cleared ball and fire in a shot, which was deflected and landed at Odion Ighalo’s feet for the opener.
Etienne Capoue 6.5
Capoue showed his experience to thwart a Villa counterattack in the second half with a cynical foul. Like Ashley Young last week he was booked, taking one for the team. Together with Watson he could have done a bit more to reduce the space Villa were afforded around the area. He did not break up play as much as his midfield partner and should have done better when put through on goal by Troy Deeney. Someone of his talent should have registered his first goal of the season by now.
Juan Carlos Paredes 5.5
Paredes said he may look for a new club in January if he did not get more minutes under his belt. Not sure how many minutes he will get after this. A start yesterday gave him the chance to shine but he did not take it. He started the game reasonably well, offering some support both offensively and defensively, and beautifully controlling a long pass before cutting inside Kieran Richardson in the first half. But the Ecuadorian’s performance deteriorated as the match progressed, often looking clumsy or chasing shadows. It was no surprise when he was dragged off. Deeney appeared to have a go at him at one point for pulling out of a challenge.
Almen Abdi 6
Reacted well to pounce on Ighalo’s deflected shot and although his cross back in was deflected away, it caused danger and led to the opening goal. Abdi defended well from his new wide position, blocking a corner at the near post and often tracking back to cover Ake when required. Did not create as much as he usually does and he’s probably the one player this system does not suit as much of his best work is done going the other way.
Troy Deeney 8.5
Joked post-match that he wanted to be given the assist to the second Watford goal, and in fairness, he deserved it. The precision of the pass was near-perfect. He played a similar ball through to Capoue shortly after the opening goal, which is further proof of how the forward has improved his creative output. What he loves though, is scoring goals and they way he reacted to Ighalo’s deflected shot looping up tells you all you need to know about the confidence and alertness he is playing with. Has four goals in his past five games, meaning he’s a fifth of the way to making it four consecutive 20 goal seasons.
Odion Ighalo 7.5
When a Watford goal is scored, Ighalo always seems to be involved. He scored the first, was the reason Alan Hutton had to get a foot on the ball for the second, and it was his deflected shot into the air which Deeney headed past Guzan for the third. Ighalo teed up Deeney from inside the area for the first chance of the game early on and his hold-up play was miles better than it was against United. Watford will be glad he does not have to travel to Africa and back for a while as, not suffering from jet lag, he is a menace to any defence.
Ikechi Anya 5.5
Named on the bench for only the second time this season, Anya replaced Paredes when the make-shift winger started to tire. Anya’s pace helped to deal with the home side’s raiding wingers in the latter stages but he continues to frustrate with his decision making going forward. He does not make enough use of his explosive pace and rarely takes on his man. On the one occasion he did attempt a run inside Richardson, he was too hesitant and was out-muscled.
Giedrius Arlauskis 5
The life of a reserve goalkeeper is not easy. Sat unused on the bench for the last 11 games, Arlauskis was parachuted into the thick of the action when Gomes went down injured. He did not inspire much confidence. He came out of his area twice; once he cleared the ball into the stands, not trusting himself to try to clear upfield, and the other he scrambled back to his box to pick up the ball, but only just managed to dive on it before a Villa attacker. He also dropped the ball on two occasions when it looked easy to catch it. His frenzied celebration at the third goal showed just why Deeney called him “mental” when he arrived.
Adlene Guedioura 7.5
His name was sung as loud as anyone’s this season when he entered the field to effectively double his tally of minutes this season. Guedioura looked incredibly sharp for someone who had only eight Premier League minutes to his name and showed great skill to take a touch inside Hutton and burst into the box before his shot was saved well by Guzan. Another shot, a dipping volley, was also tipped just wide by the Villa keeper. Also made a fantastic hooked tackle to prevent a Villa counterattack. Must be pushing hard for a start.