Tyrone Mings and Björn Engels – or Mingles as we like to refer to them – are showcasing a rapidly growing partnership after just two games.
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Björn Engels and Tyrone Mings have played one competitive game as a centre back partnership, and what a partnership it appears to be.
As Villa marked their return to the Premier League with an unenviable trip to North London to face Tottenham Hotspur, Björn Engels made his Aston Villa debut alongside fan favourite Tyrone Mings, and despite conceding three in a difficult defeat, neither put a foot wrong in a performance that prompted praise from all fans of a claret and blue persuasion.
24-year-old Engels was a bit of an unknown entity when he arrived from Stade de Reims for around £7,000,000 this summer, but he is already repaying that price tag, with impressive pre-season showings before the birth of ‘Mingles’ in competitive action. Already it seems that, despite signing four very talented central defenders this window, Villa’s first-choice partnership is obvious, because good luck to Kourtney Hause, Ezri Konsa and James Chester in their mission to take the shirt off one of these two.
In that Premier League opener at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, both defenders looked incredibly assured, comfortable, dominant and more than capable of competing against the country’s best attackers. Even when playing a so-called lesser team in Bournemouth in the first home game, they will come up against an England international in Callum Wilson, so there really is no let-up. However, I would say the attacker is likely to be more concerned about his opposition than our defenders, with the pair keeping Harry Kane quiet until the final stages last time out.
Watching it live, it seemed as though the two players were winning everything, keeping possession and nullifying Spurs, and the stats demonstrate the exact same story. Björn Engels, on his competitive debut for Aston Villa, completed 13 of his 15 passes, made an excellent nine interceptions, five blocks and of course that memorable clearance, hooking the ball away whilst flying towards his own goal. On top of this, he also won 50% of his defensive duals and 66% of his aerial duels, so if you ask me, that is not a bad way to get your feet under the table at your new club.
His defensive partner, however, already with his feet firmly under the table and his seat permanently reserved, was arguably even better. 20 of Mings’ 24 passes found a teammate, including that outrageous (and definitely deliberate), assist for McGinn’s first Premier League goal. He also managed a simply ridiculous 22 interceptions and 17 clearances, including countless headers, won from Tottenham corners. Importantly, Mings also won 100% of his defensive duals as well as 33% of his aerial duels, making that initial £20,000,000 price tag more and more justifiable by the minute.
Either defender could very easily have got Man of the Match on the day, and on another day they would not have conceded three. Unfortunate ricochets and the best finisher in the league combined to ensure a Tottenham win in the end, and while I’m sure both players are disappointed with the defeat, they can hold their heads extremely high. They epitomised what Dean Smith wants from his defenders, and exactly why Villa will not get relegated this season. You do not get relegated with defensive quality like that.
Mings is woven into the hearts of every Villa fan already, his summer move remaining an absolute no-brainer, but Engels is well on his way. Villa might have lost, but the newest centre back partnership was born, and optimism for the season grew with every minute. The scary thing is they will only prove too. Villa’s defence is in very, very good hands.