Well, it hasn’t been an easy last few weeks in terms of fixtures for Aston Villa. From Manchester City onwards, you’d have probably have predicted Villa getting four or five points in seven games. And four points was what they got. It was simply a case of toughening it out.
That said, it’s good to see that by and large Villa have been picking up the points they were expected to get; the home win over Newcastle being a case in point. Hopefully this will extend into the period of games over Christmas against the current bottom three.
Until those games, here’s five reasons to be cheerful as Villans…
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Jack Grealish will know it takes more than scoring against the likes of Rotherham and Twitter fanboys calling for his inclusion into the England squad, to become an international player.
Dean Smith told him at the start of the season that he needed to increase his end product.
“What he needed to improve on was goals and assists and he’s starting to do that now,” said Dean Smith, after Villa’s trip to Old Trafford.
Influencing games on the biggest stages and helping your team get a result, was always going to be key for his international hopes.
Under the Old Trafford spotlight, Grealish did just that, with a sublime curled finish that left David de Gea helpless. At Villa Park, against high-flying Leicester City, he also gave his team hope with a fine strike before half-time.
Such is football, Grealish has had to take the rough with the smooth.
He had a guilt edge chance for a second against United, which he missed from six yards out. While in the Leicester game, a casual wayward pass found Foxes midfielder James Maddison, which ultimately lead to a Foxes goal. You’ll also remember Grealish’s indecision on the edge of his own box, which led to a Spurs goal on the opening day of the season.
If the Villa captain can iron out such mistakes, with an increasing end product to the game, then Grealish’s impact on the rest of the season could be massive.
Back to that United game, it was Villa’s first point at Old Trafford for 10 years, since Gabby Agbonlahor’s winner secured a 1-0 win there back in 2009. The point and performance should certainly give the team more confidence on their away days going forward this season.
Yellow Not Red
Villa’s frustration against Leicester City at Villa Park in the recent 4-1 loss, manifested itself in some ill-discipline on the pitch. Villa chalked up six yellow cards, but it could have been so much worse.
Matt Targett would have been sent off on another day for his reckless sliding tackle, while John McGinn escaped getting a second yellow, after inviting a booking by petulantly kicking the ball away.
Grealish too picked up a cheap yellow that leaves him one booking away from a suspension.
Not a great day at the office for Villa for many reasons, but it could have been worse.
After the Newcastle United win, Dean Smith was rewarded with a new four-year deal, which in the words of Christian Purslow, at the recent Aston Villa Fan Consultation Group meeting with the Villa CEO, sees him front and centre of Villa’s rebirth in the Premier League
‘Dean is at the heart of our rebuilding process and that is the rationale behind his contract extension’, it was stated in the meeting’s notes.
Speaking of the Fan Consultation Group with Christian Purslow, MOMS was able to trigger the discussion with Purslow that led to the club reducing ticket prices for season ticket holders at the eleventh hour for next week’s League Cup game with Liverpool. Now all season ticket holders can get a ticket anywhere in the ground for £20. If they’ve already bought a ticket, they will be sent out a £10 voucher to spend on the Villa Park concourses for a future game.
It was good to see the club act on the group’s suggestion. Hopefully they’ll be a bit more support at a game that could reward the club with a cup semi-final and possibly more this season.
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