Wesley finally introduced himself to the Premier League on Friday against Everton, and can continue to progress for Aston Villa.
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On Friday Wesley introduced himself to the Premier League.
Against Everton the Brazilian put two underwhelming performances behind him with a cool first-time finish to open the scoring and would later play a starring role in Anwar El Ghazi’s sealer.
It was the 21st-minute goal which summarised Wesley as a player. Making an initial run down Everton’s left side, the 6-foot-3 inch striker threw his arm in the air after not being found by Jack Grealish. Outburst over, Wesley tries again, but this time the run bears fruit. The striker exploits the space in front of Micheal Keane, curving his movement to allow Jota to stroke the ball into his path. You know the rest.
Absurdly, some wrote off Wesley after the first two games.
Granted, at Spurs the £22 million-pound attacker went down easily on too many occasions, and against Bournemouth he struggled to make much of an impact. Even then, they weren’t poor showings from the big man. Far from what some social media accounts would have you believe. If Aaron Ramsdale didn’t tip away Wesley’s effort after he held off Steve Cook, perceptions would have changed. Instead, they didn’t. Sentences such as, “This Wesley bloke Aston Villa have impersonating a striker is gonna get them relegated,” and “It seems to me Aston Villa aren’t going to stay up because they don’t have a decent striker”, were uploaded to the internet.
Wesley’s all-round play against the Toffees was enough in itself to quieten the doubters. Moments after his goal the Brazilian made another run, this time darting in-behind Everton’s defence only to see his shot blocked by a sliding Yerry Mina. It was the only time Mina got the better of the Aston Villa marksman all game. Not only did Wesley stretch the opposition defence, but he held the ball up superbly too – a key reason why the likes of Jota and Fredric Guilbert had such a good game.
The former Club Brugge player achieved a pass accuracy 16% higher than Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton’s lone striker on the night. One of those passes being to John McGinn who set up Anwar El Ghazi for the Pride’s second goal of the night.
In the words of Dean Smith, “If you look at his record for Brugge he scores a lot, but he creates too.” His assist on the turn for Scott Hogan’s decider against Shrewsbury in pre-season a prime example of this.
Talking of the summer, many wanted to see the return of another striker originally plucked from the Belgian leagues during this period. Christian Benteke – a man who may well come up against Wesley when Villa take on Crystal Palace next Saturday.
At his best Benteke was unplayable for Villa. Even though the target man is struggling to find the net at Palace, Benteke is still getting picked by Roy Hodgson for his involvement in build-ups; as shown by his contribution in Patrick van Aanholt’s winner against Man United.
But perhaps what Benteke currently lacks is a nasty streak. This hot-headedness is something Wesley possesses. In the Everton game Wesley squared up to Yerry Mina and Seamus Coleman, the latter because Coleman fouled Trezeguet; thus illustrating the camaraderie Wesley has with his teammates at this early stage of the campaign.
Playing as a lone frontman is one of the hardest jobs in football. It requires self-motivation. Wesley having a bit of fire in is belly certainly helps this, but it’s not as though it’s something he’s only recently discovered. The striker lost his father at nine, then worked in a screw factory to make ends meet before football became his profession and fathered two children at 16. It’s no surprise that two sub-par showings didn’t dent his confidence.
Benteke-who, by the way?