Ezri Konsa was signed to be used in the future, or as more of a back-up, but is staking a claim for regular games despite Bjorn Engels’ strong start to the season.
Words: Mark Jirobe | @VillaMarkPGH
In the greatest sporting stage of them all, the Premier League, chances to show what one can do are few and far between.
It takes a strong personality, and an even stronger will to take hold of every opportunity that comes your way. This is the case for Ezri Konsa, the young Aston Villa centre-back who had quite the performance against Newcastle earlier this week – and was one of the standout performers in a drab side against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Konsa is one of a panoply of new players in the squad, and one of the younger additions too. Where he may lack in experience, he puts his nose to the grindstone by exuding defensive capability and above-average tactical awareness.
He has been afforded playing time in the absence of Bjorn Engels, another promising addition to Aston Villa in the summer. Engels has missed the last two games with a hip injury, but could return to a spot on the bench if Ezri has any say in the matter.
The former Brentford centre-back, who already has a history of playing under Dean Smith, boasted a 98% passing accuracy against Newcastle under the Villa Park lights. That kind of high statistical strip from a centre-back is generally unusual.
Konsa was also able to showcase his defensive capabilities against Newcastle – making 10 interceptions – with nine of then coming in his own third of the pitch.
To state that his second 90 minutes in the Premier League went well, is a pretty gross understatement, and is the reason for Aston Villa’s first clean sheet win in the league since August.
On the offensive side of the pitch, Konsa has shown his desire to chip in from dead-ball situations too. In the 53rd minute against Newcastle, a corner from Grealish found Ezri with empty yards around him – and a little more luck would have seen the defender score the third goal of the game. Instead, he headed the ball directly into the path of Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, who parried the effort away.
Konsa has already scored his senior goal for Aston Villa, although some fans may not remember it. He was the first goalscorer in an emphatic 6-1 demolition of Crewe Alexandra in the Second Round of the Carabao Cup.
Only time will tell if Bjorn Engels will have to fight to regain his place in the starting eleven, but Konsa has grabbed the chance to impress firmly with both hands. Dean Smith has spoken highly of the partnership and chemistry between Engels and Mings, but the Premier League is based around strong competition for places – or at least Aston Villa’s Premier League squad is.
Konsa may have been acquired from Brentford to be ‘one for the future’, but the more you watch him, the future might be more like the present for the 22-year-old.