Aston Villa rounded out their Summer Series experience with an entertaining draw against Brentford, in which both sides had to fight to come back.

Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy


Aston Villa ran out against Brentford this afternoon, for their final game in the Premier League Summer Series. Brentford had no hope of winning the silverware available, but with a win and draw under their belt, Unai Emery’s side had every chance of leaving Maryland with a trophy.

The Aston Villa squad was strong but interesting, with Jaden Philogene-Bidace starting his fourth game of pre-season, albeit on the opposite flank, and Pau Torres operating at left-back. It was almost a mirrored version of the tactical style used against Fulham – where Ezri Konsa operated as a narrow fullback, and Philogene-Bidace was the key operative racing up and down to offer defensive and offensive support.

In the eighth minute Ezri Konsa was forced into bringing down Kevin Schade who had raced beyond Aston Villa’s offside trap. Bryan Mbuemo stepped up for the resulting penalty and fired the ball into the bottom right, wrong-footing Martinez in the Villa net. Brentford had the lead against the run of play. It was questionable whether Schade was onside and whether the challenge warranted a penalty.

The 13th minute was unlucky for Ollie Watkins, whose excellent pressing almost paid off as he found himself on the end of a Pinnock pass and one-on-one with Brentford goalkeeper Flekken. Watkins managed to round the ‘keeper, but stumbled over his feet and nudged the ball just wide.

Brentford doubled their lead in the 22nd minute as Josh Da Silva curled an excruciatingly perfect shot into the top left corner of the Villa goal, past the outstretched gloves of Emiliano Martinez.

In the 26th minute Ezri Konsa made amends for conceding the penalty by channelling his inner Alan Hutton. The defender raced from inside his own half, showing strength to keep challengers at bay, until he found himself inside the Brentford box. A side footed shot followed and the ball nestled in the top right corner.

Just six minutes later, and Moussa Diaby made it two goals from two pre-season appearances. The French forward cut inside from the right hand side and fired a low, bullet shot into the bottom left corner of Flekken’s net. Aston Villa answered Brentford’s two goals emphatically, and the game was suddenly level.

Matty Cash was the man to complete Aston Villa’s post-drinks break turnaround, racing into the box on the right and rounding the challenging defender before firing deftly past Flekken to give Unai Emery’s side the lead and put Aston Villa at the crest of the Summer Series table. Emery’s side were playing some truly exciting football.

After four minutes of added time at the end of the half, Aston Villa went in ahead – and looking likely to score more in the second half.

There was one change at the start of the second half for Aston Villa, as Diego Carlos replaced goal scorer Ezri Konsa.

It was the Villans who had most of the incentive during the opening period of the second half. Possession and much of the attacking intent came from Unai Emery’s side, although Brentford were keen to remind Aston Villa that they were still there from time to time.

The hour mark welcomed a raft of changes for Aston Villa. Pau Torres, Jaden Philogene-Bidace, John McGinn and Boubacar Kamara left the pitch, while Lucas Digne, Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia and Youri Tielemans came into the fray.

In the 65th minute, Brentford equalised. Lewis-Potter curled an attempt from the left which struck the bar and bounced out for Wissa to attempt a volley. Wissa’s volley was blocked by Mings – but the ball fell into the path of Shandon Baptise who was able to finish past a rooted Emiliano Martinez.

During the final cooling break of the tie, Unai Emery opted to make three more changes. Ollie Watkins, Moussa Diaby and Matty Cash were replaced by Cameron Archer, Philippe Coutinho and Calum Chambers.

From here, the game fell into somewhat of a lull, with both sides showing attacking intent but neither side truly challenging the opposition goal.

There were two added minutes at the end of the 90.

An interesting tactical battle between the two sides, leaving Aston Villa at the top of the Summer Series table with Chelsea and Fulham left to play this evening. A win for either side would mean that Villa would be pipped to the silverware. The Villans now head back home for a tie against Lazio in Walsall.

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