strong>Villa’s good form continues with a 2-1 win over Leicester City. Dave Woodhall reports.
Back in the far distant past, the latest entertainment on offer at Villa Park had all the hallmarks of one to forget. A 4.30 Sunday kick-off on a cold, damp December afternoon agaist one of our (many) bogey teams would have been a good bet for the lowest gate of the season and a temptation to stay at home in the warm. As it was, we had another sell-out, or as near as makes no difference, and if the entertainment on offer wasn’t exactly top-notch it was yet more proof that the great Aston Villa revival still has a long way to run.
The revitalised Ashley Young started at left-back with Jacob Ramsey recalled and playing wider than usual, Tim Iroegbunam the latest to make the move from the reserves, as I still insist on calling them, to the bench. Villa didn’t start too brightly, Leicester seemed to be quicker to the ball and their opening goal on the quarter-hour wasn’t much of a surprise. But, to their credit the team hit straight back wth Ezri Konsa getting the final touch to a header that was probably going in anyway and from then on they were well on top.
Ramsey should have scored in first half stoppage time but his goal was disallowed because Kasper Schmeichel’s fingernail was close to the ball. You can argue about whether or not the keeper had it under control but what’s beyond doubt is that it was a Villa player who scored, so therefore it should have been allowed.
No matter; ten minutes after the restart Konsa got his second, from a corner and to make it ever better Schmeichel was at fault, obvously still traumatised from the serious injury he’d earlier suffered and letting the ball in at the far post. After that we could have got a few more, with Ollie Watkins missing a couple of chances and having one disallowed, which meant that Emiliano Martinezz had to make a magnificent save towards the end to make sure Villa got a deserved three points.
Despite Konsa’s goals the man of the match was a toss up between the ever-improving Marvelous Nakamba and the getting even better John McGinn. if the former could be as consistent as the latter he’d be some player; as the latter is as consistent as any midfielder in the league, some player is what he is already – as seen with his magnificently futile run towards the end of the match. Throw in Douglas Luiz at his best, which he showed in flashes, plus another impressive appearance from Morgan Sanson, and you can see that Villa’s midfield is now something to contend with. That’s before considering Ramsey, Chukwuemeka and their brothers.
The win put Villa into the top half of the table and closed the gap between us and a few more clubs. It also showed that we can grind out results when things – particularly referees – are going against us. Next up will be another game where the media spotlight will be about more than the players and the ninety minutes but the way Villa are performing there isn’t any team we should be fearing and we certainly won’t be outfought by anyone, no matter how horrible the weather is.