Before the first leg of the Carabao Cup semifinal against Leicester City Dean Smith highlighted the fact that his side’s previous mistakes could be a teachable moment:
We’ve got to learn our lessons [from the Premier League defeat]. We were very open in our defending and they counter attacked very well. It’s easy to forget that we had the best chance after 12 minutes and hit the crossbar. All in all, they were better than us at Villa Park and we’ve got to make sure we learn our lessons. I prefer to play away first, but the key thing is making sure we’re still in the tie. We’ve got to strike the balance between being cautious and trying to win. If you sit back and defend against Leicester, they’ve got players who can hurt you.
After dispatching Crewe Alexandra, Brighton, Wolves and Liverpool could the boys in claret and blue gain an advantage going into the second leg of the Cup tie at Villa Park? The passionate Villa Faithful were hoping for a fantastic display after losing to Fulham on Saturday.
Brendan Rodgers’ side slowly grew into the game in the opening stages with Jamie Vardy forcing Ørjan Nyland into action, despite which the Norwegian was nothing short of exceptional throughout the 90 minutes.
Although the home side dominated, Villa’s defence continued to remain resolute. It was the Villans who took the lead in the 28th minute as Frédéric Guilbert connected with Anwar El Ghazi’s intricate cross to send the ball into the top right hand corner.
Ezri Konsa came close to extending the away side’s lead, hitting the bar with his powerful header in the 42nd minute; ultimately, the first half ended 1–0 to Aston Villa.
The Foxes flew out of the traps in the second half and continued to test Villa’s defence with Youri Tielemans, James Maddison and Hamza Choudhury all nearly equalising for Leicester City. Led by Tyrone Mings, the boys in claret and blue remained cohesive and rigid. Unfortunately, Konsa’s inaccurate free kick led to the equaliser after Kelechi Ịheanachọ latched on to the ball and calmly struck the ball into the roof of the net.
Vardy and Maddison’s late efforts on goal proved insufficient and the first leg finished 1–1, with the Villa faithful at King Power stadium ardently applauding their teams performance throughout the game.
The match was a fantastic display from Dean Smith’s side as many players in claret and blue worked tirelessly for 90 minutes, first to keep the lead and then defend the draw. However, one man constantly led from the back and was fantastic defensively. That man is my Man of the Match, Tyrone Mings!
The England international was a colossus at the back, continually winning his aerial battles as well as instructing other players. Since returning to the starting lineup against Burnley at Turf Moor he has been an influential presence and I thoroughly look forward to watching him progress over the next few months, nationally and internationally. Aston Villa social media influencer Ty Bracey also showered Mings with praise for his performance, “I thought he was outstanding, commanded the team from the back and filled the boots of Heaton showing how important his leadership is within the squad and giving a 10/10 performance!”
The question now is, can Aston Villa produce another win over Manchester City on Sunday in the Premier League?