Dean Smith made it two wins out of two at Villa Park, as Villa chalked up a fairly routine 2-0 win against Bolton. Smith may not have been too convinced by his team’s performance, but it’s good to see a manager with standards and a clear view of where he wants his team to be.

The upcoming trip to Derby should be a juicy one. In the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful…

Scoresheet

Dean Smith’s employing Jack Grealish further up the field and getting him to break from the midfield beyond the forwards is starting to reap rewards. Grealish timed his run and latched on Tammy Abraham’s through ball perfectly to open the scoring. If Grealish’s starting position is higher up he’s less lightly to encounter as much traffic as picking up the ball from deep. Plus, Villa have limited themselves by not having midfielders break forward into the box more often, it’s a promising sign.

Another Clean Sheet

Despite another nervous display by Nyland, Villa managed to get through the game without conceding, mainly to a vastly improved display by their centre backs. James Chester’s acrobatic clearance off the line was as good as a goal. If Villa manage another clean sheet or two in their other November games (Derby, Blues & Forest), they’ll be more than happy.

Accuracy

Villa’s passing accuracy being the second best in the league was mentioned in the last Five Reasons column, but it’s improving even more under Dean Smith. It’s now up to 79.3%. Only Swansea top it in the division with 81.5%.

Wise Words

No more “that’s the Championship”. No more “we go again”. Etc, etc. Dean Smith’s post-match analysis is actually interesting, articulate and worth listening to. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that about a Villa manager.

Meaty Midlands Clashes

The season starts for real now. A defining two months of fixtures will tell us more about where Villa will end up this season. First of all, November offers up the Midlands clashes of Derby, Blues and Nottingham Forest, which should all be good ones. Certainly they wet the appetite more than playing many of the current teams in the lower half of the Premier League.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Cheer up Colin, we are either winning or losing at the moment, ( Not the bor8ng defensive approach that ked to 6 draws so far this season. we are showing endeavour in our approach and some tactical awsreness, again something not seen at villa park for several years, at least from the home team.. so I agree, we are far from the finished article I can see the shoots of improvement in our game, so I’m much more positive than I was 6 months ago. I’m not sure if we can make it up this season, but to coin a phrase, we should be there or there abouts. 😁

  2. Without getting carried away, what impressed me most were Smith’s post-match comments. Instead of crowing about the result or muttering platitudes he offered a simple realistic appraisal of the performance. ‘Average’ was his assessment before identifying where and how he wants to improve.

    Anyone who has suffered watching the dire hoofball of previous incumbents can only take heart at this, it is refreshing. What is more, the effect of simple coaching is plainly evident in the way Villa are playing. Nowhere near the finished article maybe, and results may be up and down in this phase, but I am feeling more confident than at any time since Martin O’Neill spat his dummy out. Without getting carried away of course.

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  3. Let’s not get carried away with a home win against a very poor team, after we have played the next two or three games we will be in a better position to asses how we are doing. So let’s just wait and see.

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