It would perhaps be remiss of MOMS not to fire-up the long-running ‘Five Reasons to be Cheerful as Villa Fans’ column, after Aston Villa hit Norwich City for five at Carrow Road.
Why has the column gone into exile? Well, mainly due to time, as the focus has recently been on the podcast, which takes up a lot of time. If you would like ‘Five Reasons’ to return, drop MOMS a line on email or on socials to say so (or comment below).
So the game against Norwich City, was one of a trio of games – Burnley, Norwich and Brighton – that Villa really needed to take points from, after many a missed opportunity, so far this season and a tough upcoming schedule.
Points were needed to climb out of the bottom three, but also to instil belief into the players in order for them to kick-on.
Hopefully, Villa’s 5-1 win should do just that, for all the reasons below.
While Daniel Farke may bemoan an injury crisis that leaves Norwich City short of nine or 10 players, some of them are squad players, and their starting XI against Villa was only three players short from the team that beat Manchester City at Carrow Road.
So, until the international break is over, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Aston Villa fans…and the highlights
It’s alright playing one up top, but if that front man doesn’t get support or there’s nobody in the box for crosses, then you’re not exactly going to create many goalscoring chances.
A part from the odd counter where Villa midfielders have broke on beyond Wesley this season, it’s a rare sight to see more than two Villa players in the opposition box, when Villa have the ball in wide areas.
Against Norwich though, it was like the whole team were playing 20 yards further up the pitch, with the likes of Grealish, Hourihane, El Ghazi and McGinn, all playing with more freedom and intent, especially with their off the ball running.
The Norwich rearguard was run ragged, as Villa’s midfield found space and provided their teammates with options to create numerous opportunities and goals.
Wesley is just 22-year-old, playing in a new league and a new country. Let’s not forget that.
In pre-season and in patches this season, he’s already shown he has ability and great potential. So far this season, it’s not been the story of a striker missing chance after chance. Rather, it’s a case of a striker and a team finding its groove and their way in playing with each other.
Wes’s opening strike and his hold up play that fed many a Villa attack, were prime examples of his ability. His second showcased his cool, while his missed penalty hinted at a casualness in his play that hopefully will be ironed out in due cause.
We’ll address the main issue with Wesley that perhaps has held him back a little, but as the Norwich game hinted at, there’s potentially big things to come for this work-in-progress.
PS – He’s now scored the same amount of league goals as Mo Salah.
Eat My Goal
Grealish, Hourihane and Luiz all served up top draw finishes, the kind of stuff you pay your money to see. Glorious stuff. More please.
See the above highlights for their strikes and see below for Norwich’s favourite son, Alan Patridge…
Shout out to Matt Targett, who again showed why Villa stumped up over £11m for the full-back. As MOMS has always maintained, the key to Smith fully realising his system and the way he wants to play, he must have full-backs that carry intent and end product in the final third.
It provides the midfield with the capability of more controlled possession and an increased potency in the final third.
As progresses, Villa’s midfield and big Wes will only benefit.
Nakamba finally could be the DM Villa have been looking for. While some may call him Kante-lite, the Zimbabwean midfielder is fast showing why he may become one of the Premier League buys of the season.
The 25-year-old patrols in front of the Villa backline with purpose, is cool in transitioning play, and allows Grealish and McGinn to operate further up the field.
He potentially could be a key midfield dynamic in bringing out the best of the team, as Kevin Richardson once was under Ron Atkinson.
He’s also perhaps a more dynamic player in Villa’s own half than Douglas Luiz is, based on the evidence we’ve seen so far. It’s great to have both in the squad though, as they’ll no doubt be a few twists and turns throughout the season.