West Ham v Aston Villa: Smith enjoys fruits of his labour

Thanks to Manchester City dismantling a free-falling Watford - Villa just have to match or better Watford’s result against Arsenal on Sunday.

Dan Morgan

Some form of higher power is clearly watching over this Aston Villa side recently, from fixtures going our way to earning our first league win at home in 22 years against Arsenal – Villa can actually stay in the Premier League, the ball is in their court.

The 90 minutes of football that we experienced at Villa Park on Tuesday perfectly epitomizes what Dean Smith has been working on during the lockdown – finally Villa saw the fruits of their labour as they toppled a team who convincingly dispatched two of the best teams in the world within the past week.

We fielded a defence capable of containing one of Europe’s elite strikers in Aubameyang, played through the thirds excellently and managed to capitalise on one of the many set-pieces we’ve been receiving – you simply cannot ask for any more of Aston Villa.

Frederic Gilbert stepped up wonderfully as Elmohamady exited the pitch early on after the initial drinks break, and certainly played like a man who’s at the peak of his powers… contrary to the news he was carrying a strain.

Fred’s marauders slide-tackles and energy encapsulated what Villa needed on the night.

What now?

Well, thanks to Manchester City dismantling a free-falling Watford – Villa just have to match or better Watford’s result against Arsenal.

Though, considering our destiny is firmly in our hands for the first time in months – a win against the Hammers is a much more desired result.

Michael Antonio has proved to be a man on a mission, scoring eight goals since Project Restart saw the Premier Leagues return – the forward has massively helped guide West Ham to safety and guarantee that top flight football will return to the Olympic Stadium for one more year.

Though since joining in January, Tomas Soucek has proved to be a vital component to West Ham’s great escape of their own – scoring three goals this season, the midfielder is always a threat on set pieces.

It’s important that Villa keep the ball on the deck and continue to play through the thirds as they have been doing recently. West Ham are happy to totally bypass their slow midfield to get the ball upfield to the likes of Antonio and Bowen to initiate the counter-attack.

Given the colossal form Ezri Konsa has discovered in recent weeks, I’m sure he’ll be able to manage the threat of Antonio pretty well.

Super Jack

For the first time in a long time, it felt like we had our Super Jack back, the Jack Grealish who struck the ball past De Gea in the theatre of dreams, who scored a sensational left footed volley to salvage a point against Brighton, the Jack Grealish who buried Burnley at Turf Moor on new years day – our captain is back.

I’m not exaggerating when I say this, the run that Grealish made in the second half to set up the frustrating miss from Keinan Davis was genuinely world class.

A piece of play that wouldn’t look out of place in the Bernabau or Nou Camp, it reminded me of a similar run he made against Rotherham last season in the Championship, which resulted in a goal.

As a rule of thumb, if Jack Grealish plays well so do Villa – so it’s no surprise that we performed so well against Arsenal.

The release of pure joy and elation as the full-time whistle from Grealish as he lay on the pitch at Villa Park encapsulated how much this club truly means to the captain – with only 90 minutes separating Villa from another season of Premier League football.


Football Premier League

Mathematically the Hammers are safe from relegation, most Villa fans would assume we’ll be in for an easy ride in the capital – however, I believe it’s really far from that.

Given the increase in prize money depending on your league finish, they’ll surely look to end the season on a high.

Villa have been playing well during lockdown, and Villa fans will be praying for a win to guarantee survival, so I’ll go with a 2-1 win to Villa… with goals from Trezeguet and Jack Grealish for Villa, and Michael Antoniofor West Ham, which is available at 145.00* using the FansBet Bet Builder

About the Author

Dan Morgan is an Aston Villa season ticket holder and follows the team home and away.

An aspiring sports journalist and football writer, he hosts Heart of the Holte’s podcast ‘The Villa Filler’ as well as writing and editing for Heart of the Holte.

You can follow Dan on Twitter at @danmorgi34

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