Aston Villa got back to winning ways on Saturday as we secured a 2-0 win over Brighton at the Amex Stadium.
Following back-to-back defeats without scoring a goal, Steven Gerrard and his players would have been desperate to get a result this weekend and goals from Matty Cash and Ollie Watkins ensured we did just that.
While it wasn’t an entirely convincing display, we dug in and showed a significant improvement in our performance compared to recent outings, and it’s something that we can now hopefully build on and start to put together a good run of form off the back of.
Matty Cash steps up and makes key contribution
One of the key aspects of Gerrard’s system and style of play is that the full-backs have to get forward and offer an attacking threat both in terms of creating for others and as a goalscoring threat themselves.
Cash has shown that he can make an important contribution in that regard, but it’s been too inconsistent and it’s been clear that he needs to work on his end product.
While one goal alone doesn’t solve the issue, it’s certainly a welcome boost as it shows that he can get into the right areas and offer something in both phases of the game.
📊📈 Matty Cash vs Brighton…
— Talk Villa (@thetalkvilla) February 27, 2022
Ezri Konsa return vital for Villa
It was important to see Konsa back in the Villa XI this weekend, as his influence in the backline is obvious.
From his physicality, recovery speed and awareness to his positioning and composure on the ball, he is such a pivotal figure in the Villa defence and he was missed over the last two games as he served his suspension.
It’s hoped that the defensive line as a unit will build on this clean sheet now and repeat the positives in terms of organisation and discipline.
Douglas Luiz still a problem
While there was a bit more bite to his play this weekend as he needed to step up and solidify his position in the side, it still wasn’t enough from the Brazilian.
His defensive positioning is questionable, and his habit of making awful passes that gift possession to the opposition and spark dangerous counter attacks has not been eradicated from his play.
Villa were arguably quite fortunate on two occasions where he did that at Brighton, and so it has to be asked again whether or not we really don’t have a better option to play in the No.6 role.
Delight for Ollie Watkins getting back on scoresheet
After a seven-game goal drought and the pressure that comes with that, coupled with being dropped last time out, Watkins would have been desperate to get on the mark.
It’s important to acknowledge that it hasn’t all been his fault, as the service and role being asked of him in recent weeks to act as a target man to hold the ball up is not playing to his strengths.
As we saw with his goal this weekend, playing balls in behind the defence for him to use his pace and movement is where we’ll get the best of him, and his composed finish showed that he hasn’t lost his confidence in front of goal. Hopefully there will be many more to come now.
Big moment for Tim Iroegbunam
There was a senior Villa debut for Iroegbunam in the latter stages, and it was a delight to see another one of our youngsters get a chance to impress at the top level.
As seen in the tweet below, Gerrard clearly thinks very highly of the 19-year-old, albeit he knows that there is still a lot of work to be done to develop and improve him into a Premier League player.
Nevertheless, while it was a small sample size, he looked tidy and not overawed by the occasion, and it’s hoped that he can earn more minutes between now and the end of the season to stake a real claim of getting a bigger role under Gerrard.
Gerrard on Iroegbunam: “He’s deserved that since first day I came in. Fantastic profile for No.6, long project for us, still very raw, got a lot of attributes we like. One I’m really excited to keep developing. Great kid, just got to stay humble & keep working hard.”#avfc #UTV pic.twitter.com/X1gKLArmdD
— Talk Villa (@thetalkvilla) February 26, 2022