It’s been nothing less than a marvellous March for Villa who are now right in the mix for a play-off place. Thanks to two neat finishes from Tammy Abraham and Tyrone Mings, Aston Villa were able to bag three points and render Blackburn to the hands of yet another defeat.
The tone was set early on as Jack Grealish hunted down Rovers ‘number 10’ Bradley Dack, kicking him down twice within thirty seconds to legally win the ball and crush a Blackburn attack. Dack’s luck dwindled out from there and despite sparking a shot off his boot towards the end of the first-half, he had no effect. On the other hand, it was a much more defensive performance from Jack Grealish, who probably wasn’t as involved as he’d have liked to be on the ball. For him, that was probably a bad thing. For us? It means Villa are creeping away from one man team territory.
Villa’s first goal came after a deft finish from Abraham who buried a rather unselfish pass from Anwar El-Ghazi (who is growing in confidence with every game). The home side then threatened, with Blackburn completely retreating.
Tyrone Mings was able to score a soft bouncing header to double Villa’s lead, but Blackburn were far from done.
Dack’s removal in the second-half strangely beckoned a new Rovers, who pressed high and played nifty football. They earned a goal after Jed Steer failed to block a curling free-kick, with the rebound being buried.
Rovers kicked on, and were good value for an equaliser until John McGinn took things into his own hands - sprinting to the far corner flag with the ball and earning Villa enough field position to run away with the three points.
The Manager’s Thoughts
Dean Smith was a bit concerned with Blackburn’s high-press late on as it turned the game against Villa, but was relieved that his sides growing quality in defense won the day. Speaking to Aston Villa’s media team, Smith said that although there’s a lot to work on, he is pleased with the performances of his team. Bring on Sheffield Wednesday.
Dan Bardell caught up with the Villa faithful (including Miss Universe!) post-game
We cannot disprove this.
Big John always knows..
Max Stokes of Villa on Tour isn’t wrong, is he?
I’ll leave you with a tweet from daddy.
First time back to #VILLAPARK since I left the club back in 2007, not even in my wildest dream would’ve off expected to have such a warm welcoming reception, extremely honor and great full to have written my name in the history of this extraordinary Club @AVFCOfficial #Avfc pic.twitter.com/DxPMB0evPb— Juan Pablo Angel (@JUANPABLOANGEL) March 30, 2019
ROLL UP ROLL UP
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: 2.0 (2)
Blackburn: 1.2 (1)
Probably a perfect single-match performance. Villa were worth the two finishes and with a bit of luck and clean finishing would have stolen 3 or 4 goals in all. Blackburn were worth their goal as well - and it probably felt a bit more tense than it should have done. Blackburn didn’t really threaten and had to rely on a wobble from Jed Steer to gift them the goal that they needed to kick on.
Either way, there cannot be much room for complaint, at all. Villa did well.
Goalscorers: Tammy Abraham got Villa off the mark before Tyrone Mings sealed the deal.
Big winners: Glenn Whelan is etching himself into Villa history, as are John McGinn and Tyrone Mings. Tammy Abraham got another goal which would serve as some slight relief.
Big losers: Andre Green seems to suffer when played on the right. It’s an awkward position for him. With a bit of time, he’ll get there - but how much time can Villa afford right now? Also, Jack Grealish could only put out a ‘good’ performance in front of the watchful eyes of England boss Gareth Southgate. He’ll surely be a little bit frustrated at only putting in an 8/10. Jed Steer might be replaying his ‘mistake’ over and over and over, as well.
Best moment: John McGinn was a big reason behind Villa’s late nerves as he tried to do a little too much to win the game. However, his cross pitch dribble to take the ball into the corner flag and release all the pressure in the game was as good a match-winner as they come. Brilliant player.
Worst moment: Seeing Blackburn push hard late-on to bag a point. While it was always in hand for Villa, it was rather uncomfortable to watch.
Man of the Match: Glenn Whelan is putting the other players to shame. His work-rate is immense and his ability to turn up the tempo is underrated. He’s come a long way and has been Villa’s best player in the last two outings by a country mile. He’s taken his time, but now he is shining. Anwar El Ghazi, Tyrone Mings and John McGinn are close as well.
The Play-Off Race
Villa now find themselves in 5th place in the table ahead of a trip to Sheffield Wednesday next weekend (that could end up being a six-pointer). Bristol and Derby have a game or two to play - but Villa are in a strong position. Forest and Preston are still in the mix, while Middlesbrough are risking a complete and utter collapse.
Next up? 11th placed Sheffield Wednesday will hope to keep their hopes of sneaking into the play-offs alive as Villa visit.