Aston Villa’s 4-2 win over Birmingham City was an important victory for the claret and blue army.
Dean Smith has Aston Villa rolling with three wins on the bounce against Bolton, Derby County, and Birmingham City. The victory, and subsequent three points, pulls the club up to 8th-place in the EFL Championship table.
Villa have a quick turnaround, however, with two more matches in the next six days. A home game vs. Nottingham Forest occurs Wednesday, followed by a trip to 2nd-place Middlesbrough next Saturday. With an arduous December schedule looming, three points against Blues was crucial – both in terms of practicality and morale.
1. Immortalize that Alan Hutton goal forever
My goodness, what a goal.
Bask in its glory and everything it stood for. The Scottish Cafu told Henri Lansbury and Yannick Bolasie to get out of the way as he took the ball 60+ yards through five Birmingham City defenders.
Yes, Alan Hutton did that.
It’s a goal I certainly will never forget.
2. Injuries mount-up ahead of Holiday schedule
If Birkir Bjarnason’s sudden groin surgery won’t test Aston Villa’s midfield depth, further problems to John McGinn and Henri Lansbury will. McGinn missed the Second City Derby with a calf problem, but it’s not one that is expected to keep him out long-term.
Probably by next weekend he should be back.
Lansbury, however, making his first league appearance of the season, lasted just eight minutes after coming in around the 70th-minute. Stylistically, he’s a better fit for Dean Smith over Glenn Whelan as Conor Hourihane can slide back as a deep-lying playmaker. I was excited to see what Lansbury could do in his return to the first-team, but it looks like it will have to wait.
I believe Mile Jedinak missed out with a groin injury, but Villa weirdly have not disclosed his absence. Callum O’Hare and Anwar El Ghazi both occupied places on the bench.
Update: Dean Smith announced in his post-match press conference that both Mile Jedinak and James Bree are dealing with injuries. No bueno.
3. Jonathan Kodjia makes the most out of free-roaming wing position
I have to be honest, I was pretty skeptical about Jonathan Kodjia as a full-time wide player. I had questions about his positional awareness and off-ball work rate, but outside of poor finishing in previous matches, he’s been dynamite.
Dean Smith’s system plays to Kodjia’s strengths. In this amorphous left-wing position, Kodjia can carry possession in wider areas where his power and array of tricks fool opposing defenders. With Tammy Abraham playing centrally, the Ivory Coast international striker plays off him for good scoring opportunities. Playing outside lets the player shoot from distance a little bit more as well, which is a positive, even if it is sometimes erratic.