Aston Villa beat Middlesbrough 3-0 and Dave Woodhall is feeling pleased.
There’s been a lot to talk about this season – ten-goal thrillers, controversial equalisers, magnificent away performances and also a fair bit of Worst Performance Evers. One thing that the Villa haven’t done much of is routine wins but we came as close as we could get with Saturday’s performance against Middlesbrough.
Score reasonably early, kill the game off with another goal before half-time, coast through the second half then make doubly sure with a third towards the end. Ruthless efficiency is another way of putting it. We’ve seen quiet a bit of that over the years, although lately most of it was by the opposition. It’s nice to see it happening the right way round for a change.
As is usually the way when Villa are doing well the first goal was a long way from being the first chance. John McGinn picked out Anwar El Ghazi with an inch-perfect ball, the winger timing his run on the blindside of the Boro defence perfectly to to put Villa one up. McGinn then came bursting powerfully from midfield to pick up the ball and score from the edge of the area. It’s been a long time since we had a central midfielder who can do that, and the best of the lot also played in a 3-0 win at home to Middlesbrough although the rain was a lot worse on that day.
It’s often said that a two goal lead is the most difficult to defend, although anyone who does say that has probably never seen a Tony Pulis side in action. Boro seemed as though they’d be happy if the score at half-time was the same at the final whistle.
Villa did their best to make sure that would happen, missing more than a few opportunities to improve the goal difference, until a Keinan Davis shot was spilled by the keeper for Albert Adomah to tap in the third with a couple of minutes left.
It might have seemed a routine win, but it was also against a team that were looking at automatic promotion a month ago and although they’ve slipped since then they were still capable of getting a result. Instead, Villa put in what might have been the best home display of the season, and although the bigger names might get the headlines, the past couple of weeks have seen Glenn Whelan putting in a couple of the best performances of his Villa career and I don’t really have to highlight Tyrone Mings – saying “same as usual” is enough.
Three points and somehow, Villa have climbed into the top six. Other clubs have games in hand but Villa are the form team. I’d say that we’ve sneaked up unnoticed, but this season it’s impossible not to notice anything the Villa have done. It’s been a horrible few days off the pitch so let’s think about the football, because going into the international break there’s more than enough there to be going on with.