Late Luiz Penalty Secures Villa Park Victory Over 10 Man Burnley

douglas luiz aston villa burnley

The range of emotions you can experience following Aston Villa, surely cannot be emulated elsewhere. Across 90 minutes it had it all. Fine goals, head-scratching officiating, ten men equalising, a former player conceding a penalty, and a last-gasp winner in off the crossbar. It’s entertaining, but perhaps not so good for the blood pressure.

This was not a pretty, cohesive performance. But it is an excellent result. If the recent superb win over Manchester City is the pinnacle display, Villa have since had to contend with a packed fixture schedule, numerous injuries and suspensions. It’s affected how we play as a unit for sure, but going into the new year in 2nd place on goal difference and with 42 points cannot be considered anything other than outstanding.

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The Burnley game perhaps demonstrated that even with enforced squad rotation and the challenge this poses, we are learning from our mistakes. Compare the outcomes to the recent draw with Sheffield United (1-1) for instance.

Whilst Villa weren’t nearly sharp enough in the final third over 90 minutes versus Burnley, but we created more clear-cut opportunities and looked to seize the initiative. The obvious issues stand out of course. The backline looks decidedly shakier of late, with the Carlos / Lenglet partnership far from a perfect marriage. Konsa earned his England call-up on the strength of his centre-half showings. Moreno at certain moments looks very much like a player who has had limited minutes after a long layoff.

Despite this, we are not the Villa of old. This is the thing that makes this side different, but it’s hard to shake from our collective supporter psyche. For so long we watched Villa sides give up, roll over or capitulate without so much of a suggestion of any fight. It’s different now.

Under Emery, there is an unfamiliar attribute present, it’s one of never knowing when you’re beaten. When Pau Torres joined the club and was asked about the strengths of the manager, he remarked about how Emery instilled a sense of calm into players. If the opposition scores, then you can score too. It’s not a case of simply losing your head or resigning yourself to defeat.

The positives to take are the more fluid attacks and goals. Bailey, unrecognisable from his first season at the club, scored another fine goal at The Holte End to deliver the opener. Diaby coolly slotted home our second after excellent build-up play. Watkins has 8 Premier League assists. Even the late cameo of Duran, so unpredictable and a total nightmare for defenders, directly led to a penalty award. These things don’t happen by chance.

There are of course inevitably moments that baffle. How were we so easily undone by a long punt upfield by the ‘keeper, and a mere flick permitted Foster a run on goal to score? If we’re being overly critical, Martinez must be disappointed to have been beaten so comprehensively at his near post. And all this with the visitors reeling from Berge having been shown red for two rather soft yellow cards.

The big moments are the telling moments, however. Big players aren’t hiding when the call comes, and Douglas Luiz is quickly elevating himself to a status perhaps thought unlikely previously. The Brazilian is a cool customer when it comes to penalties, and again stepped up to find the net, albeit with the help of the underside of the bar. With the whole of Villa Park holding its collective breath, Luiz made no mistake, and with it, secured all 3 points.

Victory is a fine way to round off 2023, a year of results quite literally like no other.

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