Villa beat Leicester City with Dave Woodhall watching ever-incredulously.
The game against Liverpool was an absolute one-off. Everything went right and deep down you know we’ll never see another day like it. Coming up against a side like Leicester was always going to be a more accurate test of how the season will go – they’re top six and aiming for higher while we still harbour sneaking worries about getting sucked into another relegation battle.
Villa, not surprisingly, started unchanged while the home side were missing Jamie Vardy, although I was still half-expecting him to line up anyway. They’re another team who we’ve long struggled against, and it was impossible not to think back to that horrible night in March, when Villa looked like slipping out of the Premier League without a struggle.
From what I can remember, the weather that night matched the result and to be honest it would have been fitting for much of Sunday evening’s entertainment, which was more suited to a normal season than the ever-increasing insanity that 2020-21 has brought us so far.
Both teams went at it much as you’d expect, and they promptly cancelled each other out for most of the game, although as it wore on and the play opened up Villa gradually got on top. Douglas Luiz had a shot saved, Emiliano Martinez did well with a deflection and Jack Grealish showed some lovely touches, but it seemed as though we were headed for the first goalless draw of the season – which in itself shows the massive improvement Villa have made this season.
With ten minutes to go Bertrand Traore came on for Trezeguet, not because the Egyptian had been disappointing, but because Villa can now bring on a substitute of equal talent if they need a different approach. And a different approach was what happened. I still don’t know why assists get so much prominence now, although I daresay money has a lot to do with it, but while John McGinn got the credit, mention should be made of the way Tyrone Mings started off the move with a quality lay-off. Into stoppage time and you’re still looking to attack – that’s another bit of progress.
Ross Barkley collects the ball and lets fly from 25 yards. Thank you, good night and another three points are in the bank.
All in all it was another quality team performance with no outstanding performers but equally, nobody who had anything like an off-night. After the first two wins I reckoned that anything from the next two games would be a bonus. Two points would have been more than acceptable; six, and eight goals scored, is just incredible.
It also begs the question of just what this team can achieve. A 100% record, the best goal difference and least number conceded in the league would indicate that we’re certainly on the up. Not getting too carried away, but in boxing terminology Villa now seem to be at the level of gatekeeper – not potential champions themselves, but the sort of opponents that the very best have to beat if they’re going to be successful. If the last two games have shown how good the team can be, the next two will show how consistent we are.
And I might have said we’re not potential champions but it’s been a long time since a Villa side looked this good, so excuse me while I start to get a bit carried away.