Aston Villa secured a deserved 1-0 win over Man Utd at Old Trafford on Saturday, in what was a huge result for Dean Smith and the players as our season begins to warm up.
Villa endured a difficult start to the Premier League campaign with defeat away at Watford, but given our disrupted pre-season schedule and the injury and fitness issues that we’ve had to deal with through the opening month of the new season, it has been far from ideal for Smith.
However, albeit we’re still not at full strength, things are now starting to click into place for Villa and it’s hoped that the win over Utd is a foundation on which we can build, continue to improve upon and put together a strong run of form to lift ourselves up the table.
Huge win for belief, confidence of side
While we threatened to secure a win at Chelsea, we ultimately came up short and so while the performance earned us praise, Smith wants results to back them up.
The fact that we’ve gone to another ‘big six’ club and gone toe-to-toe with them, something Smith has insisted that he’s confident doing now with the players and squad available to him, and this time secured the three points, will be huge for the belief and confidence for the group.
We know we can give any side in the Premier League a game, but it’s important we start making a habit of picking up wins in the process too if we want to progress and take the next step in terms of our development towards being a more competitive side.
Back-to-back clean sheets
A key factor in the last two games has been the return to us keeping clean sheets against top opposition. It was a crucial part of our success last season, and it’s hoped we see that return this year too.
Emiliano Martinez played his role with some important saves as well as his unnerving of Bruno Fernandes ahead of the late penalty, but from Ollie Watkins to Ezri Konsa and the entire XI between them, we’re working hard as a unit to make it difficult for teams to break through us.
Admittedly, Utd did have their chances on Saturday, but the commitment, awareness and concentration being shown by the players often brings about good luck too.
Hause caps off great week
Fresh from his impressive display in midweek at Chelsea, it was good to see Kortney Hause follow that up with another top performance at the weekend.
Defensively, he was almost faultless, as he slotted into the back three well and gave us real protection in our final third with Cristiano Ronaldo kept relatively quiet.
Smith now has a big decision to make even if he sticks with the 3-5-2 system, with Axel Tuanzebe knocking on the door to come back into the side. However, Hause has arguably done enough in the last two games to deservedly keep his spot.
Smith claims another big scalp
The Villa boss is making a habit of securing impressive results against the top sides in the league. We’ve seen him mastermind victories over Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Man Utd over the course of his tenure now, and it’s hoped that habit continues.
However undeserved it is, he continues to get some stick from some quarters, but these results don’t just happen by magic and it’s his tactical flexibility and the way in which he sets the team up that is a fundamental part of why we’re making such important strides under his stewardship.
There’s still a long way to go, but he’ll be delighted to get the better of another of the sides we’re looking to ultimately compete with year on year.
Importance of following it up
A brilliant result, and one that all concerned should certainly enjoy.
However, it’s back to business this week as we prepare for another difficult away day at Tottenham on Sunday.
It’s imperative that we follow up the win over Utd and show we’ve really set a standard and are a team that will contend at the top end of the Premier League table. If we do that, it will only continue to see the belief and confidence in the group grow as we look to kick on now and put a solid run of form together.