Leicester City 0-1 Aston Villa
An eventful international break behind them, the Villa boys returned to action in the Premier League, or should it be Premier Greed. The controversial £14.95 pay per view price definitely irked fanbases up and down the country, with it exploiting fans in the midst of a global pandemic.
Villa would look to build on the confidence gained from the 7-2 drubbing of Liverpool. The opposition this week, Leicester were walking wounded, with the likes of Vardy, Ndidi and Soyuncu out.
Villa’s side was unchanged from the thrashing of the reds, Ross Barkley started his second game in a claret and blue shirt. The link between him and Jack Grealish was impressive. Reports stating that Grealish messaged Barkley constantly to get him to the club, emphasise the extent of their chemistry on and off the pitch.
Bjorn Engels replaced Keinan Davis on the bench. The last time he was seen in a Villa shirt was in Villa’s 4-0 loss to the foxes before Lockdown.
It’d be fair to say that the first half wasn’t the most exciting affair, with both teams failing to carve out many chances. The best chance of the half fell to Trezeguet, who’s strike fizzed just wide. Villa’s defence had a handful of sloppy moments, but generally recovered well. Kelechi Iheanacho was getting a lot of room in between the lines however, and looked a threat whenever he got the ball into feet.
The game opened up in the second half, and Villa started to get a bit more of the ball. Emi Martinez was called into action from several Leicester shots, but Villa still looked relatively comfortable. It looked as if the game was going to be the Premier League’s first nil-nil of the season after Bertrand Traore failed to capitalise on a chance at the back post. Villa suffered so much in the dying moments of games last season, but this new look side is the one that deals out the pain. Ross Barkley picked up the ball in acres of space on the break, and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner.
Villa fans you aren’t dreaming, it is four wins from four games, and only two goals conceded. Villa were demolished at Leicester last season, and to see this kind of transformation is quite remarkable. One-Nil to the Villa!
Emiliano Martinez – 8
There were some good saves from Emi Martinez, especially as Leicester looked to take control of the game just after half-time. The Argentinian came out well to clear a ball through in the first half, and was as assured as ever with the ball at his feet. A monumental part of why Villa have kept three clean sheets, is Martinez. A quality goalkeeper is the foundation of a solid defensive unit.
Matty Cash – 8.5 MOTM
Matty Cash was one clumsy challenge away from a red card as the game drew to a close. His performance was incredible, though he may want to give Harvey Barnes his shorts back. Up against Barnes, one of the paciest wingers in the league, he held his own and was still able to bomb forward on the attack. Four tackles, five interceptions, four clearances, stunning stuff from the 23-year-old. Considering how Barnes and co. gave Fred Guilbert the run around at the King Power, earlier this year, really puts this into perspective. A marvellous display from Cash.
Ezri Konsa – 8
Ezri Konsa was dragged out of position once or twice, and played a sloppy pass in the first half that resulted in a Leicester attack. Despite this, he had another very sturdy game, and Iheanacho failed to get in behind the defensive line at all. Konsa and Mings also continued their pattern of bursting forward with the ball from the back, with one such Konsa run leading to a period of Villa pressure.
Tyrone Mings – 8
It looked early on as if Mings was back to his old casual ways, with some dodgy footwork creating an opening for the Foxes. He put this to one side, and was a colossus at the heart of the defence once again. Many of his ambitious long passes didn’t come off, but once or twice they did. This helped Villa to break the Leicester lines and hit on the counter.
Matt Targett – 8.5
Leicester struggled to influence the game down their right hand side, and the work from Matt Targett was part of the reason why. The 25-year-old wasn’t given as much support from Grealish defensively, as Cash had from Trezeguet, so his display was particularly pleasing.
Douglas Luiz – 7.5
In the first half, Douglas Luiz didn’t look up to speed. The Brazilian struggled to influence the game and was passing more sideways and backwards than forwards. Some of this can be down to the relentless pressing from Leicester, coupled with two matches in a trip to Brazil in the past week. He grew into the game, and made some important tackles and fouls when he was needed.
John McGinn – 8
John McGinn got the all important assist for Ross Barkley’s late goal, and sped forward from midfield to cause problems throughout the game. One negative is the Scotsman is now on three bookings in four games, and Villa can’t afford to lose his influence in the centre of the park, even if it was for one game. That being said, McGinn continues to dominate the midfield with his dynamic and energetic style of play.
Ross Barkley – 8
What a time to pop up with a goal. Most Villa fans were probably thinking about how good a point was when Ross Barkley drilled the ball home. His influence on the game ebbed in periods, and he drifted slowly further and further back in the first half. There is no doubting his quality, and his precise, driven runs from midfield are an invaluable asset. His link up play with Grealish is fantastic, and having a player of his calibre in the starting XI will win points for the Villans going forwards, as it did here.
Trezeguet – 8
What a shift Trezeguet put in. The Egyptian was Villa’s best player in the first half as he hared up and down the pitch to make tackles and interceptions, and offer threat on the right. He was unlucky his first half shot went just wide, as the tireless winger desErved something for his hard work. As the game wore on, he got a little sloppy with his passing and play with the ball, but overall a real showing of guts and detremination.
Ollie Watkins – 7
There were sections of the 90 minutes in which Ollie Watkins didn’t see any of the ball. Despite this, the striker stuck at his task and managed to influence the game more as it opened up in the closing stages. His quality and ability to beat a man was emphasised by a nice run that was eventually ended by a hack from Jonny Evans.
Jack Grealish © – 8
The Southgate household would have switched their TV off in preparation for this game. It’s a real shame, because Jack Grealish was slick and skillful, running the show at times in this encounter. He was guilty of dubious decision making in key moments by holding onto the ball for too long, but there was no doubting who was Villa’s main creative outlet. One piece of trickery will have had the Villa faithful purring, as Jack feinted one way, then the other, to send Hamza Choudhury and Ayoze Perez skidding in the opposite direction. Leicester often doubled up on Super Jack, but he seemed to relish it.
Off the Bench
Bertrand Traore (80) – 7
Burkinabe winger Bertrand Traore wasn’t on the pitch for long, but looked neat and tidy, with good pace. He had a great opportunity to open the scoring, with his head at the back post, but he couldn’t generate the power needed to score
Dean Smith- 9
In March after the drubbing at the hands of the Foxes, many were calling for Dean Smith’s head. This really shows the stellar job that Deano has done to turn the ship around. Defensively the pieces have fallen into place, and a Leicester team that is always sharp in attack was blunted.
Consecutive wins against Liverpool and Leicester is an unbelievable achievement, and is the result of hard graft and positive recruitment. Sky Sports’ darling, Leeds United, stand in the way of five wins in five. Bring it on!
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