Aston Villa made it seven wins on the trot as they entrenched themselves firmer into the Championship play-off picture. After two successful trips to South Yorkshire, beating both Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham in thrilling comeback wins, they now have a five-point cushion from Middlesbrough, the team currently in seventh spot in the Championship league table.
If Villa conjured up a great late show with an injury-time one-two sucker punch to beat Sheffield Wednesday, their win against Rotherham, after being 1-0 down with 10-men, was of Houdini proportions.
John McGinn produced the performance of two midfielders to level up the numerical disadvantage, while Jack Grealish inspired his team, with notable support from Axel Tuanzebe, Mile Jedinak and Jonathan Kodjia, although every man played his part in a top draw team performance.
The season now is officially heading towards a potentially thrilling climax, in the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful…
As some readers will know, MOMS was present at Bodymoor Heath a week ago today, on the Thursday before the Sheffield Wednesday game to view the Villa team training.
We got a genuine fly-on-the-wall view of the kind of smart quicksilver passing in tight spaces that served the team well going forward when they went down to 10 men against Rotherham. We also got to see the evident camaraderie amongst the squad.
Both elements certainly came into play in come-back-from-behind victories against both Wednesday and Rotherham, where the team went through some adversity with unconvincing starts to pull the three points out of the fire.
John McGinn was phenomenal against Rotherham, when Villa were in a spot of bother, 1-0 down and reduced to 10 men. His tenacity, his ability to both win the ball and retain it, his low centre of gravity and all-action style, with his ability to spin out of trouble, made him a joy to watch.
McGinn was the engine and inspiration behind the comeback at the New York stadium, as he was instrumental in getting and keeping Villa higher up the pitch, so they didn’t come under sustained pressure that their numerical disadvantage could have invited.
He was just brilliant, as he has been in recent weeks.
While the likes of Grealish, Mings and McGinn have taken the spotlight during the winning run, the likes of Albert Adomah, Jonathan Kodjia and Mile Jedinak, all coming off the bench in recent games to play their part, have been vital to get Villa over the line in terms of collecting three points in games.
Adomah inspired the Wednesday win at both ends of the pitch, while Jedinak and Kodjia helped turned Villa’s 10-men into a dynamic force against Rotherham.
All have made pivotal contributions and proved that lazy social media doubters of the Villa squad strength and quality earlier in this year, were way off the mark.
It was disappointing to see the nature of how the Villa defence gave up Sheffield Wednesday’s opener and MOMS started to doubt the praise it had dished up to the defence in recent weeks.
In the second half, Jed Steer and his back four impressively held firm against decent Wednesday pressure and ultimately set up the game-winning drama that happened in injury-time. The pivotal moment being Steer’s penalty save.
Likewise in the second-half against Rotherham, despite getting their main defensive man Tyrone Mings sent off, Villa were watertight with 10 men, with Jedinak certainly playing his part alongside the cool headed Axel Tuanzebe.
While wins have got harder to come by in recent fixtures, there’s no arguing with seven-straight wins, that make Villa the division’s form team, even pipping league leaders Norwich City in the form table. The Canaries recent draw against Reading, ended their own impressive winning-streak to leave them two points behind Villa in the last six games form guide.
Villa now have a chance against Bristol City to beat their seven-straight wins last season in a match that MOMS is dubbing a play-off quarter-final.
In terms of form, Villa are in the right place at the right time now, ala Fulham last season.