As the ball dropped on the pitch at Villa Park, many Villans had certainly set their own goals for 2018.
Little did they know, they were about to witness Aston Villa start off their New Year with plenty of goals and a dominant display.
After the final whistle blew on Monday night, many were left in disbelief after the claret and blue produced a 5-0 victory over Bristol City.
That result and the way in which it was achieved, left many supporters now believing that Aston Villa and manager Steve Bruce, might be capable of meeting their New Year’s Resolution of winning promotion to the Premier League.
Here is a brief recap of the incredible night of football in the B6:
As the players exited the tunnel at Villa Park, an impressive pyrotechnics display greeted them. It was a cracking New Year’s Day atmosphere. That environment was quickly dulled by a rather poor start from the claret and blue.
Less than two minutes in, Bobby Reid had found the back of the net. Fortunately for Aston Villa, Aiden Flint was well offside when he played him in with a header.
From that point on, it was a choppy affair, especially for Steve Bruce’s men. The Robins pressured Villa and forced them into giving away the ball far too quickly.
That pressure led to two decent attempts for Bristol City.
In the 9th minute, Ahmed Elmohamady’s headed clearance landed at the feet of Marlon Pack. His strike from distance was just inches wide of Sam Johnstone’s right post. Six minutes later, Josh Brownhill also went close with a right-footed effort.
The next few minutes were uneventful. In that time frame, we tweeted this:
20’: Just two touches for Scott Hogan thus far. At this rate, he might get 9 or 10 pic.twitter.com/1jhb5GVc2U— 7500 To Holte (@7500toHolte) January 1, 2018
Lone behold in the 23rd minute, after quality link-up play from Albert Adomah and Jack Grealish, Scott Hogan floated a header off of Adomah’s cross over the keeper and into the back of the net!
The surely relieved Irish striker collapsed to the ground in celebration of his first Championship goal since March of last year.
The wait is over. Scott Hogan scores his first goal for Aston Villa in 1,087 minutes of Championship football! 289 days have passed since he scored against Wigan.— Jack Grimse (@JackGrimse) January 1, 2018
That goal really livened the home side up as Villa got on the front foot and began to pressure Lee Johnson’s side. As Aston Villa got control of the ball, the attacking moves began to materialize more frequently.
Eventually a clever back heel from James Chester found Albert Adomah on the left-flank just outside of the box. Adomah played another fine cross and Scott Hogan fired a quality header at Luke Steele.
The Bristol City keeper was only able to deflect right into the feet of Robert Snodgrass. Talk about being in the right place, at the right time. The Scot was left with a simple tap-in to put Aston Villa up 2-0!
Villa’s second really deflated the visitors. The first half ended with the claret and blue comfortably in control of the match.
The second forty-five got off to a frantic start. Immediately an Albert Adomah low ball created a half-chance on target for Scott Hogan.
Lee Johnson changed things tactically by putting the towering Aiden Flint up top - Christopher Samba anyone? Bristol City’s route one play to the big lad immediately created a chance for them in the 48th minute.
In fact, it was Flint who had a point blank attempt on an open net. Being the striker he is not, the defender scuffed it. James Chester was then able recover to rescue the claret and blue by clearing the ball of the line.
The Welsh centre-back’s clearance sparked a Villa counter. Jack Grealish – who was just brilliant – was the catalyst for a move the ended with Robert Snodgrass putting an attempt over the bar.
For about the next six minutes, the game continued to be end-to-end. However, there weren’t any clear-cut chances in that time frame.
In the 59th minute, Chester cleared a dangerous cross out for a Bristol City corner. Sam Johnstone was able to parry the corner. His parry sparked a counter move from Jack Grealish.
Villa’s no. 10 produced an incredible dribble into the 18-yard box. Grealish just about found Robert Snodgrass with a pass to his right. The Scot checked the ball to create a bit of space and was able to get a shot off from about 8-yards out.
‘Snoddy’s’ shot found the back of the net, to make it 3-0 to the good! That marked his second of the match, and third in the past two.
Snodgrass on fire #avfc pic.twitter.com/TgSRg8Mc5c— thevillazone (@thevillazone) January 1, 2018
The next few minutes saw Villa continue to look push forward and grab goals. However, some of the quality moves produced by the likes of Albert Adomah, Jack Grealish and Conor Hourihane did not yield a fourth.
In the 69th minute, Birkir Bjarnason replaced Albert Adomah. The Ghanaian was given a proper round of applause, as he was once again instrumental in the goals.
Just three minutes later, a solid piece of play from Alan Hutton allowed him to release Bjarnason with a quality through ball on the left-flank.
The Icelander did well to stay onside with his run and was in on Luke Steele’s goal. His shot found the bottom corner. Steve Bruce’s men were up 4-0 and ‘Thor’ had his first Championship goal!
Birkir Bjarnason first league goal for #avfc pic.twitter.com/I2aby5hDSr— villareport (@villareport) January 1, 2018
As it would turn out, Aston Villa weren’t done. Just after Rushian Hepburn-Murphy replaced Scott Hogan in the 82nd minute, the claret and blue made it FIVE.
Conor Hourihane got back on the score sheet in the 85th minute. The Irishman was left in acres of space after a combination of Snodgrass, Birkir and Hepburn-Murphy just picked apart the Robins defence. It was an impressive piece of attacking play.
Much to the delight of those who stayed at Villa Park, the claret and blue pushed for a sixth. ‘Snoddy’ tried to grab his hat trick with two quality chances in quick succession.
It was not meant to be for the West Ham loanee. Either way, Aston Villa’s 5-0 win over promotion rivals Bristol City was some way to start 2018.
That victory sees Villa move up to 5th with the third best goal difference in the league (i.e. +14). It was a dominant performance that will surely take a lot of pressure off manager Steve Bruce.
Aston Villa next face Peterborough United in the FA Cup this Saturday at Villa Park. After that, they are back to Championship action on the 13th of January when they travel to Nottingham Forest.
Happy New Year and Up The Villa!