Player ratings as wasteful villains fail to meet opportunities

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Burnley came out of the relegation zone after holding a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa, where the hosts failed to break the deadlock despite having more than 20 attempted goals.

Villa dominated from the first whistle and intended to test Burnley’s defense from all angles, creating opportunities on both flanks with carefully constructed attacks. However, they couldn’t find any clear opportunities, and Burnley grew in the game after opening 20 minutes to make it a contest from start to finish.

Anwar El Ghazi saw a sublime free kick saved by Nick Pope just after the half hour, which was the half chance. The Clarets were eager to break into the counter but did not have enough to open the scoring, sending an open game at halftime at 0-0.

Jack Grealish, Ben Mee
Burnley’s defense looked back in their prime | Gareth Copley / Getty Images

The Villans were the team that came out looking their best after the break and continued to push, but the inspired defense from the visitors saw players like El Ghazi and Grealish scratching their heads.

Burnley seemed to run out of steam but stayed in the competition, making the final 15 minutes wide open. It seemed that a goal was guaranteed and there to be won by both sides, but the truth is that neither team possessed the quality in the final third to snatch the three points, summarized by Tyrone Mings shooting wide from a free header in the minute 88.

In a frustrating and cautious affair, this is how the players rated.

Mings continued his good start to the season | MOLLY DARLINGTON / Getty Images

Emiliano Martínez (GK) – 7/10 – He didn’t see the ball for 20 minutes and then was forced into action by taking a good save to deny Chris Wood. Less busy in the second half but always confident.

Ahmed Elmohamady (RB) – 5/10 – Elmohamady was eager to impress in what is a rare start in the Premier League these days and looked like a threat going forward, but at times he struggled to contain Dwight McNeil.

Kortney Hause (CB) – 7/10 – He didn’t miss a step in his first league start to the season, and he positioned himself perfectly alongside Mings to knock Burnley’s forwards out of the game.

Tyrone Mings (CB) – 7/10 – Confident and led by example on defense, covering occasional long balls and going forward when necessary knowing that Hause had things covered at the back.

Matt Targett (LB) – 5/10 – Quite quiet afternoon for Targett, who didn’t need to advance with Grealish helping to double with El Ghazi down the left wing.

Jack Grealish and Dwight McNeil
Jack Grealish looked like a threat with every touch of the ball | Gareth Copley / Getty Images

John McGinn (CM) – 6/10 – McGinn’s contributions were not significant in the first half, but his positioning, off-the-ball movement and retention were excellent.

Wonderful Nakamba (CM) – 5/10 – Quiet first half for Nakamba who had little to do but did the simple things with confidence and swept the oncoming counterattacks efficiently.

Jack Grealish (CM) – 10/7 – He grew up in the game as the first half progressed and blew up the Clarets as they tried to break out of his shell with some neat passing and labyrinthine runs.

It was a frustrating night for El Ghazi, 25 | LINDSEY PARNABY / Getty Images

Bertrand Traore (RW) – 6/10 – He intelligently lobbied Burnley’s defense and put together some good attacking plays in the first half, but to no avail. He had a great chance to score the first goal after 50 minutes, but didn’t shoot.

Ollie Watkins (ST) – 5/10 – Watkins moved defenders well in the first half, but was largely swallowed up inside Burnley’s area. Unusually quiet night in which the Englishman seemed discouraged.

Anwar El Ghazi (LW) – 6/10 – The Dutchman was really looking forward to catching the ball, but couldn’t score for toffee. Eight shots on goal, but none made. You have to show more variation and stop leaning on your right foot. Wasteful afternoon.

Keinan Davis – 5/10

Nick Pope (POR) – 10/8 – He was denied a perfect one-inch free kick by El Ghazi in a tremendous way by tilting him towards the crossbar to its full extent towards the end of the first half.

Matthew Lowton (RB) – July 10 – It lacked a proper attacking presence, but it ticked all the boxes and kept El Ghazi at bay, all the while entering and reading danger elsewhere. Smart and rugged performance.

James Tarkowski (CB) – 8/10 – He led the charge in defense of his team with an aggressive but measured performance in the first half and kept Ollie Watkins quiet throughout the game.

Ben Mee (CB) – 7/10 – Mee looked back and showed his best experience as Villa continued to knock on the door, winning four major aerial duels.

Charlie Taylor (LB) – 7/10 –
Concentrated defensive performance from Taylor, whose tireless work ethic was key to Burnley staying resilient. He had an answer for Bertrand Traore at every opportunity.

Anwar El Ghazi, Robbie Brady
Robbie Brady was overrun against the Villans | Pool / Getty Images

Robbie Brady (RM) – April 10 – The Irishman failed to really prevail in the first half and was caught by Villa’s attackers at times, almost letting the hosts in with a hospital ball after the break.

Ashley Westwood (CM) – 6/10 – He worked hard on the ball and was disciplined to stop attacks, but he didn’t do it enough to cause a threat down the road.

Josh Brownhill (CM) – 5/10 – The game largely outplayed Brownhill with Burnley’s best chances coming from the long ball. He didn’t wake up after the break and was caught in possession once or twice.

Dwight McNeil (LM) – 7/10 –
By far the best football brain in Burnley. He seemed like a threat every time he touched the ball and used the space around him well to put his teammates into play, but the lack of quality from the forwards disappointed him.

Chris Wood was tagged out of the game by Villa’s focused defense | MOLLY DARLINGTON / Getty Images

Jay Rodriguez (ST) – 5/10 – He was sharp at half-time and proved to be more than just a scorer by running the channels, but couldn’t find any clear opportunities and was hooked after an hour.

Chris Wood (ST) – 5/10 – Wood was starved for possession for the most part, but couldn’t muster anything significant when he was in it. Perhaps he should have been substituted before ten minutes to go.

Ashley Barnes – 5/10

Matej Vydra – 5/10

Erik Pieters – N / A

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