Date: 4th March 2019 at 7:20am
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What a difference a positive result makes for Aston Villa fans. Saturday’s Championship clash against Derby County at Villa Park certainly didn’t go how many had expected.

A massively positive start from the side with Jack Grealish back and wearing the skipper’s armband saw Conor Hourihane opened the scoring 9 minutes into the tie, and with Tammy Abraham getting his 21st of the season, everything appeared rosy going into the halftime break.

Things got better as Hourihane grabbed a brace and then Grealish hit a sublime volley to make it 4-0 and it was game over before we’d even got to the second half. Although we didn’t extend the scoring, we kept the clean sheet and the team reminded us just how good they can actually be.

Vital Villa Forum member gmvillan, gave us some thoughts on the players.

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So here’s my take from my first visit to Villa Park in quite some years…

First XI:

Steer – excellent, not because of any outstanding saves but because he dominates his box, is brave, and clearly communicates well to his defense, making them more comfortable.

Elmo – back to his solid self and really helped us dominate that side (to the point that Cole was subbed at half time). Superb run and cross for the third goal.

Hause – starting to look like an astute piece of business. Could have done better early on when he gave their winger too much space to cross, but other than that he was rarely troubled and physically dominant. Decent on the ball too.

Mings – looks like a real player and a proper leader. Not afraid to play with his feet.

Elphick – so happy to see this proper pro in good form and seemingly enjoying his football at Villa. Hope the injury isn’t too bad!

Whelan – an outstanding performance. Completely dominated the midfield, rarely misplaced a pass, and was instrumental throughout the 90 minutes. One key moment, late in the first half sticks out when he went for a 40-60 with the Derby centre half (who was a big lad) and he won the tackle and the Derby boy came up limping. Immense. Sent a message.

Grealish – massive boost to have him back in the team and he is instrumental. Comfortable with the ball and always puts opponents on the back foot. His goal was stunning!!!! Proper captain’s performance.

Hourihane – now that’s the way to answer your critics (including me) young man…Still had a few dodgy moments but you can’t argue with two goals and a hard working performance.

Adomah – our right side looks better when he’s playing in front of Elmo/Cafu. Wasted some good crossing opportunities but overall a decent showing.

El Ghazi – great showing of appreciation from the fans after he raced back 40 yards to dispossess Derby’s winger at one stage. Showed today that he could be finally getting to grips with English football.

Abraham – love his work rate and how he manhandled their defense for Hourihane’s second goal. Always knew he’d score once Elmo put that ball across. Still needs to be better with his back to goal, but it’s forgivable if he is putting the ball in the net regularly.

Substitutes:

Carroll – tidy and energetic. Could be an ideal signing for Smith’s declared way of playing. He can pass and move (what a concept!)

Taylor – was fine when he came on. To be fair he was much improved once Mings arrived at the club. Hause’s good form is keeping him out.

Green – worked hard when he came on.

Fans – started quietly but warmed up once we got the second goal. Glad to hear less of the references to Birmingham. Glenn Whelan deserves a song.

Music and Stadium PA – Sounds like a bad day in a 1960’s era train station. And we still have that screeching intro “music” that nauseates!

 
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