Aston Villa picked up all three points against Norwich City at Carrow Road on Tuesday night, with Jacob Ramsey leading our charge.
It’s a big week for Villa with games against the Canaries and Burnley, and Steven Gerrard would undoubtedly have been targeting six points.
That’s one win down and one to go, with Villa producing an impressive first-half performance in particular as they dominated Norwich for the most part, and while they had to defend well and hold out after the break, Ollie Watkins wrapped things up late on to seal an impressive victory.
Coming of age performance from Jacob Ramsey
All those connected to Villa are fully aware of the quality and potential that Ramsey has, and the hope has been that he starts to kick on and cement his place in the side moving forward.
While he’s impressed in terms of his pressing and work-rate along with his progressive runs and influence in our build-up play, the missing piece has been assists and goals.
His opener showed the class that he has and he’s more than capable of breaking forward and finding the back of the net. The key now is to make that happen week in and week out.
Clear signs of Gerrard identity
Since his arrival, Gerrard has spoken about his desire to implement and establish his identity on his team, stamping his mark in terms of the way we play both on and off the ball.
Particularly in the first half, we saw exactly what he wants in terms of our defending as a unit, possession and causing the opposition problems with our movement and passing in the final third.
The big challenge now is to produce that level consistently, and so it’s hoped that we’ve set a marker for the upcoming games.
Villa’s defensive solidity key factor in turnaround
After conceding 13 goals in the five-game losing streak that ultimately led to Dean Smith’s sacking, Villa have now conceded just five goals in their last six outings.
That ability to be harder to beat and frustrate the opposition to then also put our attacking talent in a position to go out and win the game has been key, and will continue to be pivotal moving forward.
It’s not just the backline and Emi Martinez that deserve credit for that too, as the midfield and our front three are all playing their part in that aspect of our performances.
Gerrard arguably now has a good headache regarding the Villa midfield.
Although Marvelous Nakamba might be sidelined for a significant period of time now due to injury, Douglas Luiz, John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey combined well on Tuesday night in his absence.
Add to the mix Morgan Sanson and Carney Chukwuemeka, does Gerrard have the options he needs or will he be keen to strengthen that department in January? Time will tell, but it’s good to see our key players step up.
Watkins continues fine form
That’s now three goals in his last six games as Watkins has stepped up under Gerrard and flourished back in his role as our sole striker leading the line.
It’s great to see him rewarded for the all hard work he puts in off the ball as he defends from the front for us and sets the tempo, and so to see him get goals on top of that will be huge for his confidence and morale too.
With Danny Ings fit again now, it remains to be seen how Gerrard uses the pair, but it’s hoped that he doesn’t tweak Watkins’ role now as he is back to being a decisive figure for us.