Aston Villa will have been anticipating the starting lineup that Dean Smith would utilise against Tottenham Hotspur.
Not only is this due to the fact that it is a game that gave them a chance of breaking away from the relegation zone, but they had also gone two weeks without seeing their team in action.
However, they were bitterly disappointed when it was announced, with a particular point of frustration being the inclusion of Danny Drinkwater.
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This is how we line up to face Spurs this afternoon.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) February 16, 2020
The midfielder’s start to life at Villa had been underwhelming, especially with his debut against Manchester City, when he gave the ball away in his own box.
It is this that had plenty of fans questioning why he was starting, with one claiming he “must play like prime Zidane in training”.
Red Herring or Real Hero: Only hardcore Villa fans will get all of them right….
The general consensus was that this decision put Villa at a real disadvantage.
You’re telling me I swam all the way here for Danny Drinkwater.
— ⅃ (@OneMellberg) February 16, 2020
No Mings and drinkwater starts. pic.twitter.com/n5JAqkLLCx
— danni (@itsdxnni) February 16, 2020
Drinkwater and El ghazi
— will (@TORBAY_AVFC) February 16, 2020
Drinkwater must play like prime Zidane in training
— Aston (@aston_1997) February 16, 2020
The fact that he was playing over Marvelous Nakamba only seemed to add to fans’ frustrations about the call from Smith.
This comes even though there was an acceptance that the Zimbabwean is not perfect, with one fan saying “at least Nakamba wins the ball back when he gives it away”.
Were you impressed by Drinkwater?
It was Nakamba who he was eventually brought off for on the hour mark.
Drinkwater over nakamba?!?!
— ᴊᴀᴄᴋ ᴊ ᴡ (@Grief_Addict) February 16, 2020
Where is Tyrone and why are we still entertaining drinkwater? At least Nakamba wins the ball back when he gives it away
— Tyrrell Furlow (@TheTGF4) February 16, 2020
— Roger. W (@RW43avfc) February 16, 2020
In the end, Drinkwater didn’t do much to disprove these opinions, as he often looked slow and laboured, whether he had the ball at his feet or was in pursuit of opposition players.
This is best epitomised by the fact that he made one tackle, while being dribbled past four times throughout the 60 minutes that he was on the pitch – one memorable moment in which this happened came when Steven Bergwijn sprinted past him in the middle of the pitch.
Aside from that, he maintained a pass success rate of 86%, while making one key pass, one interception and two clearances.