We’ve picked out five key talking points that ‘need talking about’ following Aston Villa’s 2-0 win over Newcastle at Villa Park.
Words: Harry Trend | @Hazatrand
Aston Villa got back to winning ways against Newcastle United yesterday evening, providing much to talk about.
We’ve picked out five key points worth discussing from the game.
Hourihane justifies inclusion
There’s always a confident murmur around Villa Park whenever the Pride win a free kick with Hourihane on the pitch, and rightly so.
The Irishman opened the scoring after 32 minutes after Jack Grealish’s lay off allowed him to bed his strike around the wall and past a rooted Martin Dubravka. Minutes later, the midfielder would again utilise a set-piece just outside the area, zipping a ball across the six-yard box to set up Anwar El Ghazi.
Credit to Hourihane, he’s been in and out of the side since the start of the campaign, but every time he’s offered a chance – he takes it.
Spreading the play
Newcastle weren’t up to much last night – especially in the first forty-five, but Aston Villa moved the ball around nicely to keep the Magpies guessing.
In the opening stages, it seemed that a switched ball was always on, and at times Matt Targett and Frederic Guilbert operated like slightly-deeper wingers.
It’s good to see the understanding of movement improving between players – Grealish dummying a Hourihane pass for Targett a microcosm of this.
Let’s not forget, we’re only thirteen games into the season with a new-look side.
Steve Bruce can be a handy Championship manager on his day, but this game was just another demonstration of why Aston Villa were completely right to dismiss him just over a year ago.
Bruce came to Villa Park to hold the fort and hit Villa on the counter, and in the end didn’t achieve either.
Whilst in charge of Aston Villa, a classic Bruce technique would be to throw on as many forwards as possible in order to salvage something. Defeats to Fulham and Norwich in 2018 are good examples of this.
The former Manchester United defender did the same last night – but needless to say, Joelinton, Andy Caroll, Dwight Gayle, Christian Atsu and Miguel Almiron were all marshalled well by the Villa backline.
Best on the park
He might have been slightly sub-par at the beginning of 2019/20, but Jack Grealish is in full flow now as the 24-year-old dictated the game from start to finish, with the most touches, ninety-six, and chances created, six, of any player.
This ‘version’ of Grealish seems to be hungry for goals too, with the midfielder leading the way with the most attempted shots with five.
There was a moment where he drove forward, played a calculated one-two with El Ghazi, before floating a shot just wide of the top corner.
Are you watching, Gareth?!
Losing run ends
It was a relatively short streak of defeats, but the way that Aston Villa went down in defeat at the Molineux before the International Break meant that a fruitful performance was required tonight.
The Villans now sit four points above the relegation zone with a tough run of fixtures including Manchester United, Chelsea and Leicester City in December.
It’s not ideal, but Aston Villa will likely be closer to picking up points in these games than some outsiders think.