Aston Villa secured three vital points as we defeated Brighton 2-1 on Sunday ahead of the World Cup break.
A brace from Danny Ings ensured we turned things around after conceding in the first minute at the Amex Stadium, and it results in finishing on a positive note before Christmas with our next game now coming on Boxing Day.
An early mistake led to Brighton’s opener, but after suffering defeat to Man Utd in the Carabao Cup in midweek, Villa were able to respond and bounce back with a win that moves us up to 12th place in the Premier League table.
Back-to-back wins under Emery, first away win
After defeating Man Utd last weekend, Villa were able to follow that performance up here and showed great character and resilience to come from behind to win.
Further, having struggled so much on the road so far this season – and beyond that – it will hopefully be a major confidence boost for the players to win away from home and it should build belief within the group.
With time now for the squad to continue their work with Unai Emery, it’s a solid foundation on which we can build and so hopefully it puts us in a great position to continue to improve and it’s an ideal way for the Villa boss to start with an immediate lift and plenty of positives.
Great character shown by Villa after early setback
In truth, there were doubts that we would show enough quality and grit to turn it around after conceding in the way we did so early in the game.
That could have killed our momentum and confidence immediately, but it almost had the opposite effect in that it almost galvanised us and got us going.
Villa produced a great response after going behind and not only that, we also dug in and showed real determination to protect our lead and hold on for all three points.
No issue with playing out from back, up to players to adapt
One contentious point was the manner in which was conceded after a minute. Emi Martinez’s poor pass put Douglas Luiz under pressure, and the Brazilian didn’t show enough strength to hold off Alexis Mac Allister who pounced and scored.
Personally, there’s no issue with the idea of playing out from the back. If that’s what Emery wants, then the players need to adapt and be better in those situations.
A lot of the top teams play that way, and for us specifically, instead of constantly shifting the ball to our full-backs to play long balls forward, it’s refreshing to see us try to play our way out of trouble and a press from the opposition and open up spaces for our midfielders to then cause them problems.
If that’s one of the fundamentals and principles of how Emery wants Villa to play, it’s not about abandoning that if the players are struggling, it’s a challenge for them to improve and show we can do it consistently.
Kamara shows his class
While Ings will make the headlines for his decisive brace, Boubacar Kamara was excellent in the Villa midfield and he was a key reason as to why we were able to come away with the victory.
Not only did he provide us with a physical presence and solidity in that midfield battle, but his awareness and agility to nip in and steal possession from Brighton led to their moves breaking down and their rhythm being disrupted.
On top of that though, Kamara also has technical quality and composure on the ball, and that helps us build attacks. In turn, the Frenchman is the whole package and when he’s fully fit again, he will be hugely influential for us.
Perfect way to sign off before the World Cup break
It’s a great feeling for Villa to sign off with a win before the break for the World Cup. It leaves everyone feeling positive before we return, but importantly it puts us in a stronger position in the table.
That in turn alleviates the pressure on Emery to get immediate results and move us away from the bottom three, which effectively also gives him more breathing space to implement his ideas and improve the players at his disposal.
Villa showed a bit of everything on Sunday too as we showed quality at times but also the grit and resilience to dig in when we need to. Those qualities will all be needed moving forward, and it will hopefully continue to improve the longer Emery is able to influence things.