Aston Villa were held to a 1-1 draw by Brentford as Dean Smith looks to regroup over the international break having picked up four points from our first three games.
Villa fell behind early on through Ivan Toney’s goal for the visitors, but Emiliano Buendia’s stunning strike restored parity as the two sides couldn’t be split thereafter.
With our absentee list growing longer each week, Smith was without a number of key players for this encounter, and so the priority over the international break will be to get everyone healthy and fully-fit to ensure we can build on our start.
Ultimately a return of one win, one draw and one defeat after our first three games is an underwhelming start given the opposition and the belief of obtaining better results, but Villa have a foundation to build on and it’s hoped we go from strength to strength from this point onwards.
Buendia magic lights up Villa Park
It’s been a relatively slow start for Buendia at Villa as he has been battling to get fully fit after a disrupted pre-season which has complicated the process of building an understanding with his teammates on the pitch too.
However, we finally got a look at him producing real quality as he scored his first goal for the club and was much more influential in this game on the whole.
Villa will need more from him moving forward, but he’s moving in the right direction and as other key attacking players return from injury, it will only help him to find more space and time in the final third to hurt the opposition.
Chukwuemeka takes another big step
After getting the nod to start, Carney Chukwuemeka became the second youngest player to start a Premier League game for Villa with only Gareth Barry ahead of him.
The 17-year-old didn’t look out of place in the slightest as he produced a good performance in the first half, albeit his presence waned in the second half and he was subsequently replaced.
Time will tell how prominently he features for the rest of the season, but it’s a big step forward for him in his progression and development into a key player for Villa.
Ollie Watkins boost
While it was only a brief outing, it was a huge boost to see Ollie Watkins get minutes in the latter stages of the game having missed out so far due to injury.
Our top goalscorer from last season had two decent attempts on goal in that short time on the pitch, which in itself was pleasing to see as he gets back to his sharpest.
Like many of his teammates, he’ll benefit from the international break now to get himself up to speed as he looks to fire in the first game back against Chelsea.
Ezri Konsa concern
Our stand-in captain was forced off with a knee injury late on in the second half, in what looked to be a worrying blow as he attempted to run it off with no luck.
Konsa looked far from comfortable after sustaining the knock, and so there is concern for now until further tests are done as to how serious the injury might be.
Hopefully he’s fine after the international break and won’t miss any playing time, but there is a fear at this early stage that he might face a spell on the sidelines.
Crucial Villa get everyone healthy over international break
As eluded to with a number of the players above, it is absolutely crucial now that Villa get everyone fit over the break and raring to go for Chelsea on September 11.
Tyrone Mings, Ezri Konsa, John McGinn, Jacob Ramsey, Morgan Sanson, Leon Bailey, Bertrand Traore and Keinan Davis are all hopefully going to be available for selection, while the likes of Matt Targett and Ollie Watkins are still not 100% fit.
If we get our strongest XI out on a regular basis, we’ll be a handful for any side in this league and so it’s imperative that this two-week break for most of the players named above helps them get back to their optimal condition.