We take a deeper look, over five points, at the Play-Off Final that saw Aston Villa return to the Prem.
Words by Regan Foy | @FindFoy
Yesterday afternoon still seems surreal as Aston Villa secured their place in the Premier League for the 2019/20 season – returning after three years in the exciting, but restricted English Football Leagues.
We’ve profiled five key talking points about the game, which saw Aston Villa see out the game as worthy 2-1 winners against Derby County.
El Ghazi is a Big Game Player
Anwar El Ghazi has since endeared himself to Aston Villa fans further after the game, revealing that he had forgone his Ramadan fasting requirements for ‘professional’ reasons – to ensure he was at his peak for the final after continuing his fasting over the two-legged Semi-Final games. He also revealed that he would ‘love’ to stay at the club past his loan spell.
But Anwar has proven that he thrives in big games – making a impact against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns last year, across the unbeaten run that saw the club finish in the play-offs, and in the game yesterday – where he should have really walked away with Man of the Match.
Mings Willing to Hurt for the Cause
It’s pretty evident that Tyrone Mings would love to sign permanently this summer, especially after the club achieved promotion. He’s been spotted singing fan chants a number of times over his half-season at Aston Villa.
But he truly showed what a centre-back he is with a challenge late in the game that saw him get injured and have to leave the pitch for the final part as he was replaced by Kortney Hause.
His last-ditch tackle ended up resulting in Derby’s only goal of the game, which is unfortunate. Had this tackle resulted in nothing for the opposition, or a corner instead, it would have likely been referred to as one of the tackles of the season.
Conor Hourihane showed exactly why Glenn Whelan didn’t even make an appearance from the bench in the Play-Off Final.
The midfielder was exceptional, and tireless. He was all over the pitch often covering for Neil Taylor at times. If Derby had the ball, you’d have seen Conor Hourihane chasing it down.
Derby have struggled against Aston Villa in each of the three times that the sides have met this season.
Granted, this game was nothing like the 3-0 and 4-0 drubbings that Aston Villa handed out earlier in the season, but the East Midlands side still struggled to make much of an impact for the majority of the game, and only really came into it when time was very close to running out.
Grealish Gets a Personal Trophy
Seeing Jack Grealish lift the Play-Off Final trophy was something that every Villa fan, including himself, had dreamed of throughout the season – but Jack will be able to take his own personal trophy from Wembley.
Whilst the Play-Off gong will remain at Villa Park, Jack will now be sporting a scar above his eyebrow thanks to Club Captain James Chester – who lifted the trophy alongside him.
He’ll be able to see the Play-Off trophy whenever he wants, but never as often as the reminder that will be sat upon his brow from now on.