Aston Villa’s win over Ipswich was pure theatre. A slow, meaningful start - plunged into life, after a display of villainy that forecast the end of times for Ipswich Town. Aston Villa were only too happy to dole out a most apocalyptic thrashing.
Conor Hourihane bagged a goal through a showcase of smart positioning if not a showcase of excellent finishing. Following that, Grant Ward was sent off for Ipswich after one of the silliest challenges you’ll see all season. That shouldn’t camoflauge how visceral it was, and Neil Taylor is lucky to have played most of the game following the challenge. That being said, he knows a fair bit about throwing a dodgy one in.
Lewis Grabban is pretty much an AutoBot up front. Smart, heroic, creative and transformative. He turns on a dime, has jets for days and an eye for goal. A cunning signing for Villa and deserved his goals. Grabban is a devastator on his day, and looks every bit of a train tearing through a car on a level-crossing when he’s on form.
What more is there to say? Villa controlled the match and disciplined Ipswich when the Tractor Boys stepped out of line. It was their field, and by God, they marshalled it. Routine.
A big shout out to those who filled our open thread with comments after the last game. Join in next time!
The Manager’s Thoughts
Villa’s Assistant Manager, Colin Calderwood, stepped in for Steve Bruce on the official site post-match presser. He thought Villa’s first goal was important, but the deciding factor was the red card for Grant Ward. He even argued that it might have been a yellow card for that challenge back in the day. Oh dear.
Josh Onomah and Lewis Grabban performed well in an exceptional team performance, and we’ve got a full breakdown of player ratings here. Enjoy!
GET THEM WHILE THEY’RE HOT
Expected goals can tell us a fair bit about a match. Here’s an explainer. In the long term we can judge how well a team is doing in front of goal. On a match-by-match basis, we can simply judge chances, and how well they are taken.
Villa: 1.77 (4)
Ipswich: 0.1 (0)
Data provided by Infogol
Villa scored three goals more than the Leeds match despite a very similar xG tally. They are good value to win games based on the chances they are creating. Jack Grealish would have padded Villa’s xG if he’d managed to find his feet in the six-yard box and crack a shot on goal.
In terms of chances taken, Henri Lansbury had the second biggest opportunity for Villa, and buried his header, while Hourihane bagged the clearest chance of the game from point blank range. As for the rest? Villa made the best of their half-chances.
Ipswich? Hopeless in this game.
Goalscorers: Conor Hourihane kicked off the route, with Lewis Grabban adding two more. The match was capped off with a Henri Lansbury headed finish from close range.
Big winners: Mile Jedinak is improving his stock as a centre-back every week, and I think Villa should keep him in place until the play-offs start. Josh Onomah was also a delight and played like a pinball bumper, slapping the ball around the pitch with aplomb. Also, if you were to think that Birkir Bjarnason was going to be quiet at left-back, then you’d be wrong. Lewis Grabban can’t possibly ‘win’ anymore than he is doing right now.
Big losers: Scott Hogan is having a bit of a dry patch at the moment and nothing is coming off for him. We’ll be keeping the faith, though.
Best moment: My Grandchildren will hear of the day when Henri Lansbury sprayed a ball out wide to a rampant Birkir Bjarnason, only to receive the ball back from fifty yards onto his head and into to the net. I’ll call it the footy fleaflicker, the Sam Allardyce 1-2. It matters not, it was glorious. Long ball, they will write Sagas of this. It will go down in legend.
Worst moment: Grant Ward’s stupid tackle ruined the game for Ipswich. It could have been a lot worse for Neil Taylor as well.
Man of the Match: Lewis Grabban remains on fire. Two goals, and a model performance at centre-forward as he chases down the Championship Golden Boot.