Aston Villa hosted reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at Villa Park on Saturday evening, and Steven Gerrard can breathe a sigh of relief with his team coming away from the clash with a 1-1 draw.
Despite having only 28% possession, 10 fewer shots and completing much fewer passes, the Villa boss can be proud of his team for holding off Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten powerhouse. Indeed, they may have been robbed of an opportunity to take all three points.
A controversial decision saw Philippe Coutinho’s second-half goal ruled out after the linesman flagged for offside, and the whistle was blown before the Brazilian pulled the trigger. However, upon second viewing, the former Liverpool midfielder was quite clearly in an onside position, yet the linesman’s original call was not reviewed by VAR.
Aside from this, Gerrard can be proud of the solid performance of his team who took their few opportunities to take a point from the game. However, there was one player who failed to make an impact throughout the match, with Villa captain John McGinn remaining anonymous throughout.
The 27-year-old newly-appointed skipper had fewer touches than Emiliano Martínez (24 v 60), made just eight accurate passes, failed to win any of his duels (0/2) and lost possession of the ball every 2.4 touches, before finally being hooked by the manager in the 65th minute.
In fact, the side finally scored their equaliser less than ten minutes after McGinn was subbed off for Coutinho, proving that the tactical change was a success.
It will be disappointing for Gerrard considering the Villa boss made the decision to put his confidence and trust into the player to lead by example when he gave the captain’s armband to the midfielder at the beginning of this season, as McGinn was one of the worst performers in the team over the course of the game.
Aston Villa had lost three games in a row ahead of their draw with Man City and now sit 17th in the Premier League table, something that must drastically improve over the coming weeks and months if they don’t want to be dragged into a relegation scrap over the final stages of the season.
With that being said, Gerrard must continue working to find a solution to Villa’s struggles and find the best way to deploy his team to achieve a positive outcome, which could put McGinn’s inclusion under question over the next few fixtures.