Kortney Hause and Ezri Konsa looked to be back-up players, but they’ve proven they can cut it as starters in the Premier League.
Words: Mark Jirobe | @VillaMarkPGH
It definitely was not the prettiest win that Aston Villa supporters will look back on, but the 1-0 victory against Norwich City was exactly what the players and fans desperately needed.
Aston Villa had a pretty torrid, yet ultimately challenging run of games throughout the entire month of December – but alas, the win against Norwich was their first victory since the 2-0 expunging of Newcastle at the end of November.
The starting eleven selection from Dean Smith has changed, opinions on players have changed, and some players have missed out via injury, but one constant has been the uplifting play of Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause when called upon.
Dean Smith decided to rotate the defence against Norwich and at the full-time whistle, it seemed as though the gaffer made the correct decision. Ahmed Elmohamadyy replaced Frederic Guilbert and Ezri Konsa stepped in for Bjorn Engels; who had a relatively underwhelming performance against Southampton. Kortney Hause would keep his place in the starting eleven as a natural left-sider in the absence of Tyrone Mings.
Make no mistake about it, Norwich versus Aston Villa was a football fans game. Two sides at the bottom of the table scrapping to get a morsel of positivity from the game generally doesn’t provide an entertaining spectacle.
If there’s one place that fans can take pride in after the result, it’s the two players at the heart of defence.
Ezri Konsa yet again looked like a player well beyond his years. Five interceptions against a slick passing Norwich side should not be taken lightly. There were times when Konsa looked faster on and off the ball than Aston Villa’s midfield, and he also won all four defensive duels he was tasked with.
He’s not the tallest of centre-backs at Aston Villa, but he’s winning his fair share of aerial duels. Of the 24 aerial duels he’s been involved in this season, he has won 16 of them with a 66.7% success rate. Against Norwich, the defender misplaced one pass – a long attempt in the second minute.
Konsa boasted a 96% accuracy throughout the game. Touted as “one for the future” upon is arrival, but the future may be happening “now” for the 21-year-old.
Kortney Hause is stepping into his own rather nicely at Aston Villa. In only his third Premier League start, Hause is getting better game-on-game. He drove the Canaries mad with his incessant determination for having the ball at his feet.
Hause won 7 ground defensive duels, and won 100% of his clashes in the air – just as astute as his defensive partner.
Aston Villa played a large portion of the latter stages of the Norwich game on the back foot, and to be defensively cognitive ensured the victory. There’s something to be said about two players who some supporters had serious doubts about earlier in the season.
While the level of competition against Norwich may make some supporters think the 1-0 victory was not deserved, Konsa & Hause are beginning to prove their worth to Aston Villa supporters at a very important time in the season.