Villa beat Brighton 6-1 and Dave Woodhall is very impressed.
There’s always one game, one afternoon, when everything goes right, a good performance becomes a statement result and after spending so much time under that radar you finally get noticed. Villa’s win against Brighton did come on an afternoon where everything came right, it was a statement result and the only difference is that I hope we don’t get noticed because we’ve been doing very nicely thank you in that position under the radar.
After a week when it seemed that things might be starting to ever so slightly go wrong, with cup elimination, growing corporatism and badly-designed shirts, Villa had to put in a good display against opponents who more than anyone else we’ve played this season would show exactly where we are in the Premier League pecking order. Brighton have been improving year on year despite losing their best players every summer and with players still out and morale low after the midweek League Cup defeat, this would be Villa’s toughest home test so far. Unai Emery kept faith with the side who beat Chelsea, and if ever such faith was repaid this was the day.
With fourteen minutes gone some first-time passing saw Matty Cash square the ball back for Ollie Watkins to put Villa into the lead. Seven minutes later Moussa Diaby’s ball saw Watkins take out three defenders with one turn to put his shot just inside the post. There was, of course, a VAR check but luckily sanity prevailed. The third goal took another five minutes to come, when Diaby’s shot was deflected back on target. There could have been more goals but no point im being greedy.
Brighton got one back at the beginning of the second half but while that might have been a cause for worry in the past, you know now that Emery can solve problems in the blink of an eye. Jacob Ramsey came on for Nicolo Zaniolo and his arrival stopped what hopes Brighton had of getting back into the game. If Villa have gone under the radar, so too has Ramsey. Other players get the headlines but here’s a midfielder who is shaping up to be Villa’s best youth product for decades, and even allowing for injury he’s hardly getting noticed.
John McGinn, who’s not really been on top form lately, was back to his best this afternoon and his ball found Watkins to compete his hat-trick. Ramsey got a welcome goal with five minutes remaining (Lucas Digne deserved an assist for his run which occupied the Brighton defence to give Ramsey the extra couple of seconds he needed to get his shot off) and in stoppage time Watkins’ shot was saved, the ball fell to Douglas Luiz and that was six.
You can debate when Villa had last played so well; Newcastle last season or perhaps the Liverpool Seven game are the obvious comparisons. Brighton are a good team, no question, and if they’re the best yardstick of how good we really are, the answer has to be ‘very’.
It’s difficult to be objective abut what Villa are capable of. We’ve seen so many false dawns over the years to remain cautious in the extreme but everything they’re doing now makes you think that this team really is the real deal.