Aston Villa Middlesbrough
There’s a lot to talk about after Aston Villa’s win yesterday, but we’ve picked out five key talking points after another strong performance from the Pride.
Words by Harry Trend (@HazaTrand)

Aston Villa put Middlesbrough to the sword on Saturday night, with goals from James Chester, Tammy Abraham and Glenn Whelan making it a happy trip south for Villa fans. Here’s five talking points from the game.

A Fast Start

On Wednesday Villa found themselves 2-0 down after six minutes against Nottingham Forest, but there was no nightmare start this time round. In fact, it was quite the opposite, with the Pride enjoying the lion’s share of ball in the opening stages. After 15 minutes, Villa had 75% possession, five shots and two corners to Middlesbrough’s none. I’d even go as far to say the one-nil Villa lead going into the break flattered Boro.

El Ghazi Impresses

The Dutchman has struggled for first team action of late but earned his start with a peach of a goal against Forest in midweek. El Ghazi didn’t disappoint at the Riverside, the Lille loanee almost scoring a wonder-goal early on when he skipped past a couple of Boro challenges, one using a ball roll, before firing over with his left. The winger looked comfortable on the ball, but worked hard too, showing a desire to impress Dean Smith. Late on he could’ve had an assist had Johnathan Kodjia headed his cross either side of Darren Randolph.

Midfield Three Starting to Gel

Remember those days were Villa lacked any sort of passing rhythm in midfield, seems like a long time ago doesn’t it? Villa are now attacking with purpose from the middle of midfield with the trio of Jack Grealish, John McGinn and Conor Hourihane oiling the Villa machine. The Irishman was much improved against Boro compared to his outing at home to Forest, keeping his position in front of the back four instead of raiding forward and leaving the defence exposed. A 90 plus percent pass accuracy speaks for itself. Looking further forward, Jack Grealish and John McGinn have now fully developed an understanding of how to play together, with Grealish providing the link from midfield to attack while McGinn chases down every ball in sight.

Abraham on a Hot Streak

It was another strike from Tammy Abraham tonight, the forward stretching low to poke in Yannick Bolaise’s cross to make it six goals in a week. The England under 21 striker has found an extra gear under Smith and has now has 11 for the season. Abraham has that knack of being in the right place at the right time, but works hard too. Let’s just hope that injury isn’t too severe.   

Riverside a Watering Hole

Villa’s 3-0 win against Boro made it seven games undefeated at the Riverside, a stadium that is quickly turning into a favoured watering hole for the Pride. Previous memories in Teesside include Mile Jedinak’s play-off semi-final header last season and a rare Olof Mellberg goal in another 3-0 win up north in 2007. We next play Middlesbrough in March, hopefully by that time we’ll have leapfrogged them in the table. 

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