BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25: Nikia Jelavic of Everton celebrates his goal with team mate Leighton Baines in front of dejected Aston Villa players during the Barclays Premier league match between Aston Villa and Everton at Villa Park on August 25, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
What an awful game.
Shay Given: Not a good performance from Shay, and worryingly reminiscent of his horror-show during the Euros. Tough to blame him for Steven Pienaar's opening goal, but the second was almost entirely his fault and he really should have done better on the third. A very forgettable afternoon.
Matthew Lowton: Far from the most culpable among Villa's defense, but not a good performance by any stretch. The first real tough day for Lowton in a Villa shirt; it will be interesting to see how he responds.
Ron Vlaar: It's difficult to pinpoint any real egregious errors by Vlaar, but he was on the back foot most of the day just as much as the rest of his teammates. On a day that was desperately crying out for someone to take over the defense and regroup, Vlaar wasn't up to the challenge. He can't necessarily be faulted, but it would have been nice to see.
Ciaran Clark: A day to forget. I still think Clark can be a good player for Villa, but he can't have many more days like this.
Nathan Baker: A lone bright spot. I'm still unconvinced by Baker as a left back and his weaknesses in wide areas were still evident, but he was excellent after shifting to the center and had a few nice forays going forward (including one of the nicest crosses of he day.) His showing so far may have him ahead of Clark on the depth chart.
Chris Herd: So far as tactical decisions are concerned, Paul Lambert's choice to play Herd wide with Bannan in the middle was rather questionable. The plan was likely to run with a midfield diamond and Herd spent most of his time drifting inside, but some forays down the flank are necessary; Herd didn't provide that, but I have a hard time placing too much of the blame on his shoulders.
Barry Bannan: I like Barry Bannan and I think he has a place on this team, but I'm less and less convinced that said place is in deep central midfield. I don't know if that's a function of his skillset or the construction of this team, but Bannan was overpowered and crowded out much of the day. He's not always going to have to battle it out with Marouane Fellaini, but without a true destroyer alongside it's a concern. However, I'm willing to kick his rating up slightly because he won a header against Fellaini and it made me cackle with glee.
Karim El Ahmadi: KAE was pretty much helpless most of the day, but he was likely Villa's best player once again, even before his stunning 30-yard strike. It's early days, but this is looking like a very good bit of business.
Charles N'Zogbia: N'Zogbia was probably Villa's best attacking player, but that's like saying he was the best fire repression system on the Hindenburg (TOO SOON!) A few decent moments, but he has to be better.
Darren Bent: Bent's heat map from this game is more depressing than the second season of Breaking Bad.*
Brett Holman: This was the right sub to make, but it was way too far gone at halftime for it to make much of a difference. Everton was pretty well bunkered down and Holman didn't have much to do. Still, a few nice moves later on after Villa got on the board were a cause for optimism.
Eric Lichaj: Looked decent on the left, though he was exposed a time or two. He was generally able to recover and made some nice attacking runs. I see little reason that he's being picked behind Baker for the position.
Andreas Weimann: Weimann continues to look solid and at this point I think he's earned the right to start alongside Bent in the withdrawn forward position. Good runs, good vision, and had his shot that hit the bar been just an inch or two to the left things may well have gotten incredibly interesting.
*I just finished watching the second season and I swear to god if there are any spoilers in these comments I will ban you to death.