Let's get one thing out of the way first: despite the 3-1 loss to Arsenal today, the Aston Villa U21 squad put in an absolutely immense performance in the U21 Premier League division 2 playoff final. An early goal from Rushian Hepburn-Murphy was canceled out by Chris Willock's third in two matches. Then Arsenal took the lead and an extra bit of padding on a brace from Stephy Mavididi.
The match was barely a fair fight, given the fact that Arsenal started Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Joel Campbell, and Calum Chambers. That quartet have 69 appearances between them in the Premier League this season, and the quality gained in the midfield was probably the difference in this match.
Nevertheless, it was a really fun match to watch. End to end football showcased the Aston Villa youth playing with passing, continuously running hard, and not giving up. That sounds like a bare minimum, but given what we've seen from the Aston Villa senior squad this year, it was a refreshing change of pace.
If this is what Villa have to build on, it bodes well for the future. Maybe not next year, but eventually. There is a lot of talent in this system, and with as much as these players have had the chance to play together, they may be the cheap solution that allows Aston Villa to be competitive in the coming few seasons.
And to send you out on a happy note, here is Rushian Hepburn-Murphy scoring the opener. Things are terrible at Aston Villa right now, but there is hope for the future.