It’s a bit dizzying being up so high in the table. For a day or two, at least. But there we were in second when Aston Villa came up aces in the Second City Derby with second-half goals from Albert Adomah and Conor Hourihane powering the home side to a 2-0 win. Oh, and it also marked seven wins in a row for those following along at home.

The Good
The winning and the points are obvious. Fantastic day with a large crowd in full voice, and plenty to cheer about for the home fans. Adomah continuing to score, Hourihane also finding goal again with a cracker. Jack Grealish continuing to shine and even making a tackle or two. Mile Jedinak adding height and strength at the back, making the swap-out with Bjarnason look clever.

Beating blues? Well…that’s always better than good.

The Bad
It might all have gone differently had John Terry’s slip-up ended up allowing blues to go ahead. But there was the small matter of the post to beat, and the post held firm, so it didn’t matter.

But really, that’s not bad. It happens. Just something to fill in the space.

The Ugly
Well, blues for a start. And the way they play football.

Final Verdict
You always know you’re going to get kicked around playing small heath, and they didn’t disappoint. But it didn’t matter in the end because Villa just had too much quality (and no one got hurt). And that really was the bottom line. Villa looked and played like the better team because they were.

Goals from everywhere continue to support the fantastic run. Whereas loads of fans were not overly impressed with Hourihane’s outing, at least in the first half, he pops up with a lovely strike to seal the game in the second. For his part, Albert Adomah just keeps ticking along, almost casually converting opportunities at the most opportune times. While Grealish is grabbing all the headlines of late, Adomah’s been vital all year in keeping Villa in the hunt. Hogan was unlucky not to get one himself, but he never stopped working and finally seems to be enjoying his football.

Jack Grealish was everywhere, running the game, playing hard at both ends, and continuing to impress. Playing a bit deeper, he’s invaluable moving us forward through the middle, opening up space on the flanks, and keeping us from playing hoof ball. Up front, he provides movement and guile. Occasionally tries to do too much, but is adding that touch of magic Villa have been lacking for years. He’s starting to show the total commitment Delph had, but with more quality on the ball.

Mile Jedinak stepped back in to boost Villa’s ruggedness, and delivered a great performance that reminds what he has to offer. He’s obviously a different kind of player than Bjarnason, but horses for courses. And it’s lovely to have that option, solid professionals who accept their roles.

James Chester was his usual, calm and assured self, and it’s easy to almost forget he’s there because he’s so dependable and does all the right things without seemingly trying. John Terry continues to be the wily veteran, and showed plenty of fight and commitment. His reaction at the end was great to see. This actually means something to him.

What’s really great to see is that there seems to be genuine camaraderie and fight. Players are playing for each other, as well as Steve Bruce. If I had to point to anything big-picture that I’ve seen change over the last few weeks it’s that. We’re chasing and pressing, keeping it up for 90 minutes, more or less, and players aren’t left in isolation. We’re seeing anticipation with little backheels and the like. Scoring feels almost inevitable…Just a question of who’s going to do it.

Of course the run will come to an end. They always do. But as we play through the final third of the campaign, Villa are now right up in it, and seem to have enough to go the distance. At the same time, it’s a mark of how precarious things can be that a seven-game win streak hasn’t really separated us much from those up around us. But it has gotten us up there. So, while while the inevitable bad day lies ahead, the question is how quickly Villa rebound. And let’s hope it’s not a six-point slip-up.

Right now, beating the lesser sides and drawing with those around us might well see us through. All depends on results around us. And if I were a betting man, I’d be thinking that’s how Steve Bruce sees it, too. Not that we don’t want to take down the Cottagers, and just keep on winning after that. But as we’ve been talking run-ins, we’ll just see how it shapes up. They could all end up being must-wins. Never know. But I don’t mind the idea of chasing Wolves. I do think looking forward is better than looking over your shoulder.

Over to you.

Comments 29

  1. Thanks JC- i’ll just slip this in from the last post then waffle a bit 🙂

    Robbo- I like that Agnew was considered good enough to manage at Prem level by them, a bit of a tough assignment with what Borough had player wise and for your first go but encouraging.

    The away form has kept us from challenging Wolves along with a couple of unexpected blips at home to poor opposition. Its not the worst away form obviously but I want us to win the title, how full is my cup?

    Andrew- thanks for that piece on Olly, I know his Dads best mate (a blue nose) all live near me and I get a bit of goss now and then.

    I’m not to worried by what others do now they all have each other to play we just have to keep winning as much as poss and I think we have the quality to do that out of all the league, and we have Jack.

  2. snoddy was pretty well shackled on sunday but adoma seemed to have a bit more space
    which shows that with quality and genuine goal scoring ability across the pitch its going to be hard to stop us scoring,,,
    but we need to be better at the back,,, i still feel we are suspect at corners and that we do struggle against pace,, and i still thing grealish is to slow at times or to greedy or fails to see that by passing it to a player in a better position and going for a one two,, or picking out say hogan on one of his runs ,, he could be 50% more effective than he all ready is,,,
    thats bloody scary,,,,,,,, and very very promising considering he his playing a new position
    and less than two months into his season,,,
    also hourihane seemed to suffer because jedi was playing,,, and thats something they need to consider in the future
    and grabban looked to have a physical presence which will no doubt come in handy as the season progresses
    we are in as good a shape i have seen for a long time,, and if we beat fulham i will be a very
    very happy man,,

  3. JC- Chester as I see it is at this time is player of the season, no doubt in my mind at all. Grealish could end up being most significant player.

    Having a think about Adomah, He is not a million miles away from a bloke called Henri is he? he has to be the most natural finisher we have, Kodjia is more spectacular but for consistency of hitting the target? his shots on goal must be almost the equivalent of his goals scored. shame he’s 30 and not 26 but hey can’t help that.

    As I posted yesterday Wolves have some tough away games that might bring their form closer to ours if we can keep winning the majority. I think we will see a gap open soon if we win all those home games.

    Fulham are a worry in that we don’t fair to well against footballing sides like them and Brentford. But one thing in our favour is we are no longer a typical Bruce type team so much harder to formulate a plan against and nick a point. Have you noticed how open we play lately?

  4. Dave Blurton- good point about Jedinak, I see thor as almost a creative DM and he seems to bring the best from Houriahne and prevent Grealish from dropping to deep. And yes Grealish needs to give and go a bit more although you sense the team trys to feed him as much as possible.

    Heres a thought , what about bringing back Gil next season?

  5. Dave,

    Agreed about Grealish. There are opportunities to play in the quicker ball he’s not taking. Dunno if it’s confidence or greed. I’m sure he’d like to score more, but there have been some moves that would’ve put chances on goal from others with an earlier pass.

  6. And also agree, we do look a bit dodgy on corners, still. None of our back line are that big, assuming Terry’s the tallest. But at his age, don’t know that he has the vertical leap he might have earlier. So, it’s easy to understand Jedinak’s inclusion.

    Speed-wise, Hutton is fast, Chester fast enough and very good with his feet. Turns well. Elmo more of a hybrid. But we’ve been getting away with it. One thing I do notice against many other teams is they have bigger, more physical CBs that can press up more. They are usually younger and more mistake-prone, though.

  7. Mark,

    Chester really has been quality throughout. Very rarely puts a foot wrong. Outstanding acquisition.

    Adomah? Really uncanny from a guy who said he wasn’t a goalscorer, but an assist man. He’s playing with freedom and confidence, always having a go. Good with the ball for a man with long legs, deceptively so sometimes.

  8. Gil – Wasn’t he too lightweight for the PL assuming we get there? And if we don’t would he want to play in the championship?

    I would like to try Onomah in place of Horihane, he and Grealish seem to have a good understanding.

  9. Villalore- I think being in a cr*p side never helped Gil but he is amazingly still our player.
    I do think Grealish would benefit from players on his wavelength too, ohare green Davis and Doyle Hayes all from the same stable and know jacks game or at least McDonald’s

  10. Mark,

    De Laet’s looked good each time he’s played. Not really to say Elmo should lose his place given they’ve all settled in together, but at the same time, not sure De Laet wouldn’t be a bit of an upgrade.

  11. Villalore: “Gil – Wasn’t he too lightweight for the PL …”

    Absolutely. Though he scored that cracking goal at Sunderland from Tratore’s cross, and had good movement, I saw opponents getting to read his ways quite easily and all they had to do was give him a nudge and he would fall over.

    Nice player, but not PL material i.m.o.

  12. Andrew- Elmo’s ok but lacks pace, has got skinned a bit lately, good job the blues players was headless on sunday 🙂 We never actually got to see what Delaet could do, think he would have been decent on the overlap with Snodgrass, the manure kid too, Elmo doesn’t have the engine these days imo but steady player with a cross.

  13. Paul,

    Well, Gabby did at least get the season off to a good start. I hope he will take at least that as a positive to sustain him in his future rather than mulling over what might have been.

  14. We’re on a roll. My estimate is that we need to win 10 out of our last 15 games to get promotion. That number comes with a caveat. We must make sure our home games against Derby and Cardiff are not losses otherwise 10 may not be enough.

    Aternatively, if we do beat Derby and Cardiff then we may only need 9 wins. Fulham this weekend is a 6 pointer so it would be a huge shaker for our rivals if we win it. Think the pressure may already be getting to Derby. Hope so.

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