Date: 3rd December 2018 at 3:45pm
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Dean Smith was full of praise for Anwar El Ghazi after the Aston Villa winger performed well in Saturday evening’s 3-0 win over Middlesbrough. El Ghazi was given his first Championship start since mid-September and took his chance to impress with both hands.

Smith said to the club’s official website: “I thought he was excellent. He understands the game tactically and has taken on a lot of information. He stopped them getting to our full-backs and closed the outside of their centre-halves. He helped make us very good at picking up second balls today.”

The 23-year-old has only made seven league appearances since his summer loan move from LOSC Lille but is making up for lost time of late. El Ghazi scored his second goal of the season in November’s 5-5 draw with Nottingham Forest and working his socks off in the Boro victory days later.

El Ghazi created two chances and made two dribbles, while making five tackles – more than any teammate. The Netherlands international also whipped in four crosses, made 68 touches and cleared the ball on two occasions. He’s played fewer than 400 minutes of league football but could be in the squad a lot more in fixtures to come.

Villa are currently eighth in the Championship with 31 points from 20 games, boasting four wins and a draw from five. They next travel to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion on Friday, December 7.

Crippy Cooke’s previous article

Aston Villa should sign 21-year-old replace Mile Jedinak – opinion