For Aston Villa in their first season back in the Premier League, capitalising on big opportunities arising in-game that give them an advantage, will be crucial in progressing this season. After failing to break down a 10-men West Ham team and then managing to lose against Arsenal, after being a goal and a man up at half-time, concerns over Villa’s potential this season began to rise.
Yes, they dispatched a weakened Norwich City team before the international break. But against Brighton, a team who frustrated the Villa midfield and were worth their 1-0 lead, Villa finally took their opportunity when the visitors went down to 10-men, albeit with only 10 seconds left on the clock.
It was looking like it was going to be an uncomfortable afternoon against an 11-men Brighton team, who were organised and tidy in possession, and looked like the likely winners once they had taken the lead.
Inspired by an effervescent Grealish, who with his licence to roam, popped up everywhere, Villa despite labouring to break down Brighton’s rearguard, never gave up and were rewarded with Matt Targett’s 94 minute strike.
With Villa now up to 11th in the Premier League, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villa fans…
Jack Grealish seemed to be on a one-man mission to be the antidote to VAR ruling out Conor Hourihane’s opening goal, which he was instrumental in the build-up to. Having run with the ball on the right to feed Wesley with a potential one-two, he then ghosted in though the Brighton defence to bundle the ball over the line, after the ball was played into the box, after Wesley decided to spread it out wide.
It was Grealish’s first ever Premier League goal at Villa Park, a goal that some Villans were hesitant to celebrate, due to what had gone on before. Personally, MOMS just transferred its mad Hourihane celebration into Grealish’s account.
Highlights of Grealish’s inspirational display vs Brighton 💪pic.twitter.com/kZqFeGEXS9 #AVFC— My Old Man Said (@oldmansaid) October 21, 2019
Speaking of Grealish, it was one of his most complete performances in a Villa shirt and he was largely responsible for Villa getting the three points, beyond his goal and assist. Not having a bigger footprint on determining games has perhaps understandably held back his England call-up.
The Brighton game was all about Grealish, from his confidence in playing himself out of danger in his own box and appearing in all areas of the pitch to torment Brighton, right up to his end product.
Southgate will no doubt be interested to see how Grealish performs against the very best, in the next couple of league games against Manchester City and Liverpool. If he can show he can influence games in such company, then expect to see him in the England squad next month.
It was the second visit of the England boss to Villa Park this season and Villa have won both games. Somebody get the England boss a season ticket!
F**k the Traffic
If we’ve learnt anything from last season, it’s to expect late drama from this Villa team. With the game poised at 1-1, with Villa pushing to try to capitalise on the extra man, it was a surprise to see many Villans leaving to go home (“and beat the traffic”).
Villa needed the three points, after letting opportunities slip previously and also with Manchester City and Liverpool next on the fixture list.
Surely there’s no better time to help the cause and try to roar and encourage the team on?
I’m not talking about the the people leaving during injury-time or with a couple of mins to go, I’m referring to the ’80 Minutes Club’, who leave on 80 minutes every game.
It’s your life, but if you’ve made the effort to fork out the cash and get to the ground, surely you want to catch the ending? And help your team achieve the best ending possible?
How does it motivate the players to try and get the winner, if they see you sneaking out in the corner of their eye?
Do you walk out of the cinema, ten minutes before the end of a film?
You do you, but it seems odd.
For those that stayed, we got to witness and revel in the bliss of 90+4 drama!
Thanks Mr Grealish and Mr Targett.
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Hitting Their Mark
As we stated on the My Old Man Said podcast, after dropping points this season, whether down to VAR or a lack of killer instinct, Villa certainly needed to put some points on the board from the trio of matches against Burnley, Norwich and Brighton. Life in the league certainly gets tougher with sterner tests later on in October and November, and the seven-game month of December.
While, still a fledgling team in the league, Villa had perhaps no divine right to earmark any game for three points just yet. But their competitiveness in matches suggested they were at least capable. In the podcast, we had said, seven points from nine was the kind of haul they needed to fire up the confidence levels, as the season began to take shape.
After ultimately a disappointing draw against Burnley, to register back-to-back wins in their last two games, Villa superbly hit the seven-point target bang on.
They demonstrated there’s hope for the season ahead and that this team certainly already has potential.
Arise Sir Mings
It’s been a decent couple of weeks for Tyrone Mings. Sandwiched between back-to-back wins for Villa, he made his international debut for England and impressed the nation.
Not only was Mings comfortable and flawless on the pitch in England’s 6-0 win in Bulgaria, but how he faced up to the racial abuse he and his teammates suffered from the stands was exemplary.
While some claimed it wasn’t an ideal debut to have, the truth of the matter is, it couldn’t have gone much better in terms of showing the football world what a top man Villa have on their books.