After winning against Birmingham City in the third round of the Capital One Cup, Villa will have bragging rights at least until the two teams meet again.
The first half featured tepid football that brought to mind Saturday's match against West Bromwich Albion rather than some of the thrilling Second City Derbies that litter the history books. Neither team looked likely to do much of anything, though if I were pressed to choose the better team it would have been Birmingham. That said, there were plenty of comparisons saying that this match looked like something straight from the Championship, and I'd be hard-pressed to disagree.
Tim Sherwood's idea of starting with Ciaran Clark in a defensive midfield role and Joleon Lescott as a CB proved to provide plenty of consternation at the back. Birmingham were given ample opportunities to capitalise, but luckily they couldn't. Up front, Rudy Gestede proved that he should never be given a ball to his feet because he kicks less accurately than Brad Guzan.
At the half, though, Sherwood made a couple of changes that altered the match entirely. Jack Grealish and Jordan Ayew came on for Gabby Agbonlahor and the aforementioned Lescott. That meant that Clark was free to return to the back line and that Villa had some creativity up front. The impact was immediate and Villa began dominating possession and getting the majority of the chances.
It finally paid off in the 62nd minute when Jordan Amavi got the ball out wide on the left and drove it in to a waiting Gestede who hammered home the header. It was exactly what we've been expecting for the season from the duo, and it showcased how Villa could succeed going forward.
From there it was a matter of simply seeing it out. Birmingham had one great chance but Jacques Maghoma couldn't convert a one-on-one against Brad Guzan that he should have easily equalized with. Instead Villa were able to hold onto the 1-0 lead and will now advance to the 4th round of the League Cup. The draw will be held tomorrow night after the conclusion of the Spurs-Arsenal match.
And as for Villa, this doesn't change any of the problems the team have right now, but a win over City feels absolutely glorious. Maybe this will let everyone relax ahead of a trip to Anfield this weekend. Jordan Ayew put in his best shift in claret and blue and maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to see play like the second half repeated. Up the Villa! SOTC!