What a season this is turning out to be?
Whilst our sublime early season form (4 consecutive wins) had been punctuated by defeats to Leeds and Southampton, an outstanding victory at The Emirates will be certain to raise eyebrows.
This was a Villa side that within 2 minutes could’ve been ahead. John McGinn was unlucky to see a fierce effort ruled out, with Ross Barkley adjudged offside by VAR.
Whilst Arsenal rarely impressed, this was because Villa relentlessly sought to hurt them. Aside from a wayward backpass and a Lacazette header over the bar, their former ‘keeper Emi Martinez had a largely quiet evening.
Barkley and Grealish were at times unplayable. When the two are in sync, they represent a nightmare for opposition sides.
Grealish prowled, seemingly on a different time-zone to the opposition at times. His and Barkley’s interchange for the first goal was outstanding.
Grealish’s burst in the second half for Watkins’ 2nd and Villa’s third, superb.
Barkley could stand to be one of the shrewdest acquisitions of the transfer window. The Chelsea man demonstrating all his quality, expertly volleying Brazilian international Luiz’s crossfield ball onto the head of Watkins for the second Villa goal.
Trezeguet, in for in the injured Traore, ran hard and worked his socks off. The Egyptian’s stock, perhaps unpredictably, continues to rise. He went close on a couple of occasions and cannot be faulted for commitment nor effort.
After shipping seven goals in the last 180 minutes, Mings and Konsa were reassuringly solid and untroubled at the back. The former put on a display to underline why he is now a regular amongst the England set-up. Targett too must be applauded for a fine far post ball for the opener.
Matty Cash continues to look an absolute steal, with countless interceptions and stamina, performing his duties flawlessly. Quiet, unassuming, but everything done against Arsenal was flawless.
McGinn and Luiz did the dirty work, but encouragingly contributed at both ends too. Luiz’s quality now oozes, with his range of passing and ballplay releasing Grealish/Barkley on repeat.
McGinn, although not as consistent in the pass or the tackle, fought hard and will feel unlucky to see his early effort chalked off. He was, however, incredibly lucky to see Martinez intercept his dreadful backpass with a smart save in the first half.
A word too for Watkins, who grew into a game in a lone role that many Villa striker would exude anonymity. The former Brentford man held the ball when under immense pressure time and time again, often finding a clever pass to retain possession.
Watkins took his goals well too, holding off defenders to head home his first, before coolly slotting home his second after fine work from Grealish.
This was a fine away performance from Villa, and a deserved win that with it lifts Dean Smith’s men to 6th in the Premier League (15 pts).