Aston Villa continued their march towards the top 6 with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.
Many Villa fans wouldn’t have seen this scoreline coming due to the fact that the defence has been leaking goals as of late, whereas Tony Pulis’ men had only conceded 10 goals in 19 matches. To add to this, the home side had not lost a game since the start of October.
However, they just could not cope with the pace and skill of Villa’s attack. In their current form though, not many teams in this league will be able to.
If Dean Smith can get his defenders to be as consistent as his attacking players, Villa, to use one of Steve Bruce’s favourite quotes, will be there or there abouts come the end of the season.
This fourth win in five matches leaves Villa just three points outside the play-off places, but they have another difficult game next Friday as they take on West Brom.
Here are our player ratings for tonight’s dominant win over Middlesbrough:
GK: Orjan Nyland - 6
Put in a better showing than what he did midweek (not that difficult to be honest) but still looks suspect when coming to meet the ball.
RB: Ahmed Elmohamady - 7
Came into the side to replace the injured Hutton and put in an assured defensive performance.
CB: James Chester - 7
Scored his fourth goal of the season and was rarely troubled defensively throughout the match.
CB: Axel Tuanzebe - 8
He was cool when put under pressure, dealt with any attack that came his way, and was assured with his passing.
LB: Neil Taylor - 7
Had one of his better games for Villa this season and had Downing in his back pocket for most of the match.
RW: Anwar El Ghazi - 8.5
Got given his first start under Smith and he showed everyone what he is capable of. His footwork was eye-catching, he was positive with his dribbling, and he put in a number of teasing deliveries. Played a part in the second and third goals.
CM: Conor Hourihane - 6
Played in a deeper role today and did the job that was asked of him. However, he is a perhaps a little to lightweight to consistently play in this position.
CM: John McGinn - 7.5
Like usual, he left everything he had in his tank out there on the field. He was always one of the first ones to try and win the ball back and he barely misplaced a ball.
CM: Jack Grealish - 7.5
He is thriving playing alongside Hourihane and Grealish as they allow him to express himself. He played a part in two of the goals and Middlesbrough’s only response to his skill was to take him out.
LM: Yannick Bolasie - 7.5
He worked well alongside the other forward players and put in a number of testing deliveries. He needs to improve his finishing touch though.
ST: Tammy Abraham - 7
He struggled at time against Middlesbrough’s physical defence, but he got yet another goal to take him to 11 goals for the season.
SUB: Jonathan Kodjia - 5
Came on in the 73rd minute for Bolasie, but he didn’t have much of an impact on the game.
SUB: Scott Hogan - 5
Came on for the remaining 7 minutes, so didn’t have much time to make an impact. However, he made a nice run that eventually led to Whelan’s goal.
SUB: Glenn Whelan - 6
Was on the pitch for a matter of seconds before he scored Villa’s final goal. He has Randolph to thank for that.