Forward Cameron Archer scored three goals on Tuesday evening as Aston Villa cruised past Barrow, 6-0, in a second round Carabao Cup tie.
Archer scored the opener in the 10th minute and twice more in the second half. Villa’s trip to Cumbria proved memorable for the 19-year-old, who spent the 2020/21 season with Solihull Moors in the National League.
Anwar El Ghazi assisted on Archer’s first and second goals and tallied two goals of his own, including a filthy Panenka in the 24th minute.
Frederic Guilbert scored in the 75th minute in what could potentially be his final game with the Villa, and Archer wrapped up the scoring in the 88th minute.
Aston Villa youth on show at Barrow
Archer wasn’t the only academy product on display Tuesday night. The Walsall native was joined in the starting XI by fellow teenagers Carney Chukwuemeka and Jaden Philogene-Bidace. The former is Villa’s reigning Academy Player of the Year and was a part of Villa’s FA Youth Cup-winning side last season.
Chukwuemeka played a sound game in midfield while Philogene-Bidace threatened all night and eventually assisted on Archer’s third goal.
Academy players Aaron Ramsey and Hayden Lindley, as well as newly-signed Caleb Chukwuemeka, Carney’s brother, made appearances off the bench.
Curtain calls for Connor Hourihane and Frederic Guilbert?
Guilbert and Connor Hourihane made cameos for Villa having played sparingly over the last calendar year. A lack of games led the pair to seek loan moves in January of 2021.
Hourihane started in a two-man pivot with Marvelous Nakamba and played well. The Republic of Ireland international set up Archer’s first goal when he played a long ball over the top for El Ghazi, who played a cross to the forward in the box.
Guilbert played in his natural right back position and capitalized on a loose-ball situation late in the second half that led to the Frenchman’s third competitive goal for the club.
Both veterans are likely on their way out of the club with both loan or permanent deals possible. The imminent departures are bittersweet as Hourihane played a prominent role in the club’s promotion to the Premier League, and Guilbert never found his stride in Birmingham.
Game time for struggling Matt Targett
Matt Targett’s troubles in Villa’s 3-2 loss at Watford on August 14 are well documented. The left back missed time during the preseason due to injury and has struggled to find his footing in the club’s opening match.
Ismaïla Sarr ran riot on Targett’s side of the pitch and had a hand in both of Watford’s two first-half goals. Targett was promptly replaced at halftime, with Ashley Young assuming responsibilities at left back. Young reprised his role in the win over Newcastle at the weekend, and Targett was an unused sub.
Barrow, then, proved an opportunity to get 90 minutes in his legs and recoup some of the confidence he’s surely lost. Defensively he was good at Barrow, but you would have tipped the Matt Targett of last season to be dominant against a League Two side.
On paper, he was surely the best player involved on Tuesday night, but his performance was just OK. It could be a long road back into the starting XI for Targett considering Young’s recent strong play and elite fitness.
We’ve seen Villa struggle to create from the left side through the opening two matches, and it comes as a result of Targett not playing or not playing well. With Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins through the middle, it will be crucial to get Targett back to his best, whipping in crosses from the left.
Hopefully, the 90 minutes he bagged at Barrow brings him one step closer to his 2020/21 form.