Just a couple of weeks ago I had a bad feeling that the international break may stunt Villa’s growing momentum and slow our rise up the table but Brucey’s boys have kept on motoring along. Another 4 points from two games and we’re within touching distance of those playoff spots.
The most pleasing thing about the last two games was not just the results but the manner in which they came. The first priority upon Bruce’s arrival was to start grinding out results. The how didn’t matter as long as the points were coming. The gaffer didn’t disappoint.
Far from settling for bare minimum, Bruce has gone and added an extra feather to his cap and gotten Villa playing, and winning, with style.
Against a Brighton side who are no pushovers under Chris Hughton, Aston Villa dominated in large spells for the first time under Bruce. Not only that but Villa showed serious desire to go on and win the game rather than settle for a point.
The winning goal didn’t come but the style and intent shown in the second half in particular were a sign of things to come, and indeed how far Villa have already come under Bruce. Being disappointed at not gaining a deserved win against a decent Brighton is huge turn around from early season collapses against minnows like Luton Town.
Fast forward a week and Villa added the extra goals and points to the previous weeks impressive display. At 2-1 Villa survived a lull in control and pushed on to put the result beyond doubt late on. Every week new improvements are visible in this squad. Jedinak is finally putting his stamp on games, Adomah and Grealish are taking every chance to impress and Jonathan Kodjia is already on his way to being a real hero for the club.
While Jonathan Kodjia has been dominating the highlight reels, there is another player who has been improving week on week in a less flashy manner. After a shaky start at Villa Park and a horrifying injury, Jordan Amavi is starting to show exactly why Villa invested in the young Frenchman. Amavi’s ability to bomb forward was never in doubt but lapses in concentration plagued his early Villa appearances.
Under Bruce the left-back’s defensive performances have improved dramatically. From a defensive perspective this fortnight brought two of his best performances in a Villa shirt. Amavi is already a fan favourite and seems to be developing an affinity for the club and fans. Holding onto him would be a huge sign of intent for the club as the talented full back has plenty of talent, and plenty of time to improve further.
Improvement in defence have been a long time coming but it’s the other end of the pitch that is finally firing on all fronts. Villa once relied on Benteke’s firepower alone and struggled to replace his goals. We now have genuine options up front. Kodjia is fast becoming as popular as the big Belgian was at Villa Park and with the ability to spring McCormack, Ayew, and Gestede, with service from the likes of Albert Adomah, goals almost feel like a sure thing for this team.
Gabby has failed to set the world alight since his return, and is hardly prolific anyway but his presence does supply added depth one way or the other. Kodjia’s decision to allow Gestede to take the late penalty on Saturday paid off and is sure to provide a confidence boost to the big man. Seeing multiple players on the scoresheet is a healthy sight for the club and suggests a much more stable structure than relying on one man to hang around and deliver single-handedly.
The fact that Villa will lose Kodjia to African Cup of Nations duty in January makes sharing the load even more imperative. On a brighter note, there’s still plenty of time for JK to rack up some more scores before then.
Mind Over Matter
Finally Villa have taken a step we have all been crying out for, employing a sports psychologist. Morale and belief have been somewhere between fragile and non-existent in this squad for several years now and this decision should be of massive benefit to the squad, and then mentality at the club.
In the words of Steve Round “Confidence is Building”. That makes this the perfect time to solidify a positive feeling at and around the club. For the first time in what seems an eternity, supporting this team is properly enjoyable again. Players and fans alike seem to be buzzing and any steps towards maintaining that feeling can only be a good thing.
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