Aston Villa kicked off the post-Steven Gerrard era with a dominant 4-0 win over Brentford at Villa Park on Sunday afternoon.
Villa looked a totally different side under caretaker manager Aaron Danks, who dropped both John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey in a move to a 4-2-3-1 shape.
A front four comprised of Leon Bailey, Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins, and Emi Buendia produced attacking quality not often seen during Gerrard’s tenure. With each goal, a greater sense of relief washed over the Villa Park faithful.
Group therapy after a dark year.
Danks said of his side’s brilliant start: “We asked the players to start with as much energy as they could and build a tempo. The start to the game was fantastic and the momentum they built into the game.
“Our fluidity, our forward passing was excellent today.”
Ings, who scored twice, said: “Today, we owed the fans that performance and that result.
“Naturally, you always see a reaction from a team when something happens like what happened this week with the gaffer leaving.
“For us, we knew how much frustration the fans have. For what we have in the dressing room, it was quite simply not good enough for a long period of time.
Aston Villa 4-0 Brentford: how it happened
Villa opened the scoring in the second minute when Bailey fired the hosts into the lead with beautifully-worked sequence off a corner kick.
The Jamaican provided the assist on Ings’ first goal in the seventh minute, which capped off a lovely combination that came about directly after Ashley Young played Bailey in behind the Brentford defense.
Tyrone Mings won a penalty minutes later and Ings bagged his second goal when he converted from the spot kick in the 14th minute.
The fourth goal was an end-to-end sequence that started with Bailey beating several defenders on the left side.
The winger, with the help of Ings, broke out from Villa’s defensive third and played a perfectly weighted cross to a breaking Watkins, who needed three attempts to beat David Raya.
It was a dream performance from Villa, who generated 3.13 expected goals and saw important attackers get on the scoresheet.
Onward and upward, now, as Villa set their sights on the top half of the table.
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