Some fans may take Jonathan Kodjia for granted, but he deserves his chance as at least a back-up in the Premier League.
Words by Matt Blogg | @Blogg_Matt
Jonathan Kodjia has been an Aston Villa player for three seasons now, and was a key cog in the promotion machine, but with his best season in a Villa shirt coming in his first, is he ready for the Premier League?
The Ivorian scored 19 goals in his first league season with Villa back in the first campaign in the Championship, and it looked as though he would go on to be the main striker at Villa Park for years to come. However, persistent injuries in his second season meant he fell down the pecking order behind the likes of loanee Lewis Grabban and even youngster Keinan Davis as the starting striker, and he started being deployed more as an option on the wing. Since Dean Smith has been at the helm, Kodjia has only really had opportunities as a wide player due to the un-droppable form of Tammy Abraham, and was often frustrating, scoring 9 times.
Still Villa’s second highest scorer however, Kodjia proved he can be an asset to the team given chances, and he knows exactly where the back of the net is. His finishing is pretty good, and when he is on the top of his game, he can carry Villa to a result, like the home game against Brentford early last season. The goal doesn’t move when you get promoted, so Kodjia will score goals in the Premier League if he gets chances.
One of Kodjia’s best attributes is his ability to create chances for himself, not being dependent on service from elsewhere. Of course, any goal-scorer needs good service, but as Kodjia is a mixture of a wide player and a centre forward, he boasts a huge variety of attributes. Goals like his at home to Stoke and Preston, as well as away at Ipswich, all came from clever, powerful headers after classy deliveries into the box. But then you take his goal against blues or his first against Brentford, and you see he has so much more to offer. The one against Brentford stands out in particular. Starting with his back to goal wide on the left, before rolling the defender with ease and smashing the ball in at the near post demonstrates just how dangerous he can be, when he is ‘feeling it’.
When he isn’t ‘feeling it’, he can be a liability. And this is where the doubts are coming from. A lot of fans seem to be dismissing him from being an option in the Premier League, but given his proven quality and his relationship with the rest of the team, not using him would be an error. He is a crazy man and a unique player. But he is ours, and that will be important going into the season. You don’t want to change too much entering the big league or you will lose all identity, just look at Fulham. Of course you have to improve, but do it wisely, and replacing Kodjia probably isn’t too high up the list of priorities. He won’t start the season as first choice in any position, but you can bet your house that when we need him, he will come into the side and do a job. Look at Rotherham away. He got subbed on with the team in trouble, took on responsibility in taking and scoring an emphatic penalty, and was instrumental in the win. He then hit form in the run in to the season and despite not playing in the play off final, looked absolutely delirious to have won.
He played a massive part, and has earned a shot in the Premier League. Kodjia will go down in history for scoring the only goal in what was our 10th consecutive league victory, and has averaged just about a goal every three games in a Villa shirt, so fans taking him for granted and wishing for him to be cast aside may have to rethink. He isn’t a world-beater, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a huge player for us next season. He has earned his chance.