Your Claret and Blues enter Second City Derby week riding highest after a professional putting away of bottom side Brewers.
Aston Villa’s incredible 2018 form continued and their offensive capabilities extended even so far as firing screamers into their own net on Saturday evening as Villa picked up another three points in the table to continue a perfect year.
The victory pushed Villa to the second of the automatic promotion spots briefly before being slid back down to third by Derby County, yet Villa is inching closer to claiming that spot with each roaring counter and every beautiful cross—of which there were plenty on the evening.
Steve Bruce continued with his most successful XI he’s found—the most successful XI that Villa have fielded in two decades—with the 4-1-4-1 alignment and Villa controlled the bulk of the match up to Scott Hogan’s 33rd minute goal. The goal accounted for his fifth in five matches as he continues his assault on the netting.
To Burton’s credit, their side showed no signs of poor form or defeat, they continued to press the attack and Villa looked to break out on counters to extend their lead. The match had a frenzied box to box pace for long, entertaining stretches of the second half, with Jack Grealish, Conor Hourihane and Robert Snodgrass pushing forward with eyes down the field looking for Hogan who combined with Adomah for six offsides flags on the day—a decent enough percentage of them earned. The aggression from Villa was exciting, encouraging and exhibited an unsatisfied mentality that this team will need to continue to carry throughout the rest of the promotion push.
The assist for Hogan’s score came from the talented boot of Albert Adomah who would take another half hour to restore himself to the scoresheet. In the 65th minute Snodgrass worked his way free along the attacking right side and placed a pin point cross just inches above the head of a Brewer defender to the waiting Ghanaian’s noggin. Adomah’s header put the club up 2-0 and looked to close accounts for the day, yet referee Scott Duncan and Ahmed Elmohamady would have other ideas.
Villa had been prepping lineup switches and with the second goal in hand, Steve Bruce brought on the squad’s young loan signees Josh Onomah and new man Axel Tuanzebe for the recently linked and embodiments of football flame Snodgrass and Adomah.
Mere minutes after the swap and for an entire match of seeking a score, Jack Grealish finally found an advantage on a defender in the box, made a move to goal and was brought down for a likely penalty; however, Duncan, in spite of the protestations of nearly every fielded Villan, rewarded Jack with a yellow for diving.
It was yet again only minutes after the card that Burton pushed the attack and put a cross on net that ricocheted around before Elmo found himself over the ball on the goal line. His rocketed attempt to clear went straight into the corner of the net to bring Burton back within a score. Even when Villa is at their own net, they can’t be kept off the sheet.
The match stayed rather tight for another spell and in the final few minutes before stoppage time Jack found his goal and Elmo earned his redemption. Newcomer Tuanzebe pushed down the right side on the counter and was sprung into the corner where he held space open for Elmo coming on as reinforcement, Tuanzebe let for Elmo who crossed and Jack’s turning aerial strike found its way into the net for the goal that sealed the victory.
Burton were able to find net again a minute into a very elongated stoppage time and in spite of a tense final few minutes, Burton were not of Villan quality and it took referee error and Ahmed Elmohamady’s own goal to keep the very physical Brewers engaged and competitive in the match. There was a stretch of twenty minutes or so in the first half where Burton earned four yellows consecutively which showed that Burton weren’t to be intimidated by playing at Villa Park against the in form larger club and wanted to play a physically taxing match.
The bad news for them was that Villa completely matched that aggression, earning three yellows to their four, and can couple that with more talent and a driving will to score, will to dance and will to win. This club is simply not to be denied at this point from their three points. Scoring first, putting pressure on the other team to dedicate men to an attack completely opens up the pitch for Bjarnason, Grealish and Hourihane to pick out Hogan and Adomah stretching taxed defenders back to their end line. Having Snodgrass on the right and Elmo at right back, and, absolutely incredibly Alan Hutton willing to put an attacking shift in from the defensive left means this team can play the whole width of the pitch while pushing centrally. The dedication to counter while up and just putting a heel to the throats of less talented teams is all the Villa faithful have called for.
We’ve won all of our league matches in 2018 and another going back to last year. We’re sitting on 14 goals scored to two conceded over the stretch. We’re a point out of automatic promotion and we look like we can beat anyone. It’s time to rip out the emergency protocols, check the index and find out what to do when we’re confronted with the situation that this team is exceptionally good…and we’re still going up.