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One moment: El Ghazi and Mings share a big ‘headbutt’

El Ghazi ‘headbutted’ Tyrone Mings in an entirely forgettable event that nobody is going to let us forget.

Aston Villa v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

One Moment’ is a rebooted post-game Aston Villa column that takes a closer look at one single moment from the last Villa game. This week, we’re looking at the moment when Anwar El Ghazi and Tyrone Mings clashed.


For a moment, Villa fell apart. The left-side collapsed, the centre could not hold. A ball bounced over Neil Taylor who was left helpless as the West Ham wing attack threatened. Anwar El Ghazi, late for dinner, turned up expectantly only to be met by a raging Tyrone Mings. Fists clenched, veins throbbing - Mings let his winger know the score, Taylor should not have been alone.

El Ghazi did not take this lightly. He marched up to Mings and roared back, pushing his head into Ming’s face.

Freeze frame, grab the clip and write the copy - there are clicks to be bloody well had here!

We can frame the moment that El Ghazi pushed his face into Mings’ as a headbutt, or ‘dropping the nut’ or a violent assault - or whatever we want. This is the magic of copy. We can use words to alter situations.

Let’s tell the truth, and for once, let’s remove the hyperbole from football because it doesn’t need to exist in this moment. El Ghazi didn’t headbutt Mings. He didn’t drop the nut on a giant. He didn’t raise his hands and do battle. He leaned in, squared up and left as an equal.

El Ghazi? He was wrong. Damn wrong. He reacted badly, he reacted rashly, but my god he knew that in his own mind he was right. Is there really anything so badly wrong with that?

Here’s what it shows. It shows that Tyrone Mings isn’t to be shoved around, and neither is Anwar El Ghazi. Mings collared him about his defensive output and El Ghazi got in close to a big man and told him where to go. Mings was right, but friend, I’ve got some news for you - wingers don’t track back all the time, not even the really good ones. What’s more, they almost always get pulled up on this by their full-back counterpart or the centre-back on their near side. What do they do then? They hold up their hands in apology and continue to commit the same mistake over and over. This is what they do, it’s a frustratingly inconsistent position across the board for most teams that can’t roll out elite talent.

The referee on the night, Mike Dean, also made a huge fuss as VAR checked for a red card. He was baying for it, and if he was to send Mings or El Ghazi off for the clash, it’d say a lot more about the rules and the referee than the Villa players involved in the ‘spat’.

I remember 2015 well, don’t you? When Villa players held up their hands to atone for their errors and all was well with the universe as a nice team plummeted down and down the table, eventually crashing out of the league itself. Meekly taking instruction from false leaders? Forget that - argue with the real leaders, be wrong, give a damn.

Show that you care. We cry for effort, and we cry for passion and when it is standing before us - throbbing and angry - we dig for avenues to bury our complaints. It’s a non-issue, but here we are, football, to make this into one.

From the reaction, you wouldn’t believe that they shared a high-five about three seconds after ‘clashing’ would you?