Despite recent short-sighted press articles (especially The Mirror’s tedious one with the clickbait headline of ‘The signing Aston Villa need to make to take pressure off Jack Grealish‘), Aston Villa proved there is depth in the squad and life without Jack Grealish, as they got their revenge against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United with a 1-0 win at Elland Road.
For hack-eyed journalists who don’t follow Villa so closely, the summer following Villa’s promotion to the Premier League, a swift rebuild was undertaken. A number of talented young players were recruited to give the team a foundation for the future, after a sizeable number of players exited.
While the knee-jerk national media dismissed the likes of Mings, Wesley, Luiz, Konsa and Targett, at the end of the season, as poor recruitment, they were only going to improve with Premier League experience (and three of them have since become internationals with top level international teams).
The window before the 2020/21 season began was all about upping the quality in the first team, and in Martinez, Barkley, Watkins, Traore and Cash, Villa did just that. Grealish also had to step up a level and provide consistency to help improve Villa further and win over the neutrals, who weren’t besotted by his ‘One of Our Own’ status.
The ‘pressure’ was soon taken off Grealish, by his new teammates and that is why the Premier League have ultimately seen a better version of Villa’s captain. While Barkley maybe currently suffering for form after a long injury lay off, initially the Chelsea loanee gave Villa a top class midfield treat duo going forward and proved a willing partner for Grealish to scheme with. Watkins was instantly a striker that Villa’s captain also appreciated, while Traore has certainly contributed and is fast dissolving his wildcard tag.
The big question is though, how can Villa be considered a one man team when they possess both one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League and one of the top three tightest defences in the league. You only chalk up 13 clean sheets in 24 games at the top level through an immense team effort.
While the forwards and midfield also contribute to the defensive shape and effort, the Villa back four and keeper have been outstanding this season. So that surely makes Villa a bare minimum ‘six man team’ (including Grealish), if you really want to discount a certain Scottish international, two recent England internationals, two future Brazilian squad mainstays and a striker who scored 25 league goals last season.
On the latest My Old Man Said podcast episode, the MOMS team discuss how Dean Smith neutralised Leeds United and what Villa’s midfield options are going forward to compensate for the absence of the Villa captain. There’s also more big praise for the Villa defence, which, as mentioned above, is the team’s main asset at the moment, proving Villa are very much a solid team.
As well as the latest Villa news, The Three Points touch on clapping referees, XG going to court and eco wooden stadiums.
In an extended and therapeutical Overrated or Underrated, it’s the turn of ex-Leeds and Villa midfielder Fabian ‘The Snake’ Delph to step up and be examined.
Do we have to mention there’s a ton of laughs to be had as well?
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David Michael – @oldmansaid
Chris Budd – @BUDD_music
Phillip Shaw – @prsgame
Dan Rodgers – @avfc_vilr
Editor/Producer – David Michael
Music – Philip Marten