What a difference a game makes. Aston VIlla’s 5-1 away win over Norwich City was perfectly timed, falling mere days before Head Coach Dean Smith celebrated his first season as Villa boss.
A loss would have left Villa with one win in eight and sitting in the bottom three of the Premier League, after teams around them like Brighton and Newcastle had both scored unlikely wins. It would have certainly taken a fraction of the gush out of most people’s first anniversary reviews of Smith’s tenure. Many would have voiced concerns for the season ahead, rather than preaching about the second coming.
Villa though by everyone’s own admittance are a season ahead of schedule, considering where most Villans at the end of February would have projected the club would be. The current Villa team would have looked a lot different from one lining-up to play in the Championship this season (there would have been no Grealish, McGinn, Mings or Wesley, for starters).
Living in the now though, the Norwich win highlighted the results of a few adjustments Smith needed to make for Villa’s current line-up to excel and get the results that they had threatened in earlier fixtures this season.
In the latest MOMS podcast episode we looked at the tactical progress Smith has recently made.
Smith’s new approach of playing a more fluid midfield set-up, that includes Conor Hourihane playing at the expense of one of Villa’s more wider midfielders, has clearly bared fruit. As well as getting the end product of the Irishman into the first XI, it also takes away the weakness of having two potential luxury wingers in the team, whom have already this season been guilty of flitting in and out of games.
There’s also the apparent improvement of the likes of McGinn, Grealish and Hourihane getting further forward and making runs alongside and beyond Wesley, that in turn has beefed up Villa’s attacking threat. The emergence of Marvelous Nakamba has certainly aided in this.
Wesley too has certainly showed what an asset he can be in the lone striker role, when he focuses on his game and increases his commitment…rather than becoming preoccupied with trying to win free-kicks by fair means or foul.
While, yes, Norwich City was just one game, Villa had already been making progress in the direction of what played out at Carrow Road in previous games. So it was good to see some reward for their efforts.
We’ll obviously see what happens in the upcoming and decidedly tougher months, but there are certainly signs of Villa being able to hold their own in this division.
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Aston Villa Find Five Goal Season Catalyst
It wasn’t quite panic stations yet, but being in the bottom three of the Premier League table was fast becoming a bad look. Cue a trip to Carrow Road, where Norwich City had beaten the champions, and five goals later, Villa have a spring in their step.
We look back at Villa’s best win and performance of the season so far, and their five top draw goals. Plus, pinpoint what transformed Villa and gave them the extra spark against the Canaries. Beyond the glory on the pitch, we also look at the Villa player song sung on the away concourse that offered up three unfortunate racial slurs.
Elsewhere, the government finally issue their report on standing in football stadiums and Iranian female football fans get some good news after pressure by FIFA.
One word of advice for Hogan Touch Count fans, hang on to the post-credit sequence.
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