After the smash and grab victory against Wolves and the 27 shot goalless draw against Burnley, the prospect West Brom and a new manager ‘bounce’ loomed.
In reality, we need not have concerned ourselves about Big Sam nor his dark arts. This was a game that Villa completely dominated from start to finish, with Albion barely able to land a punch.
Villa were ahead early, pressing our hosts from the outset.
Bertrand Traore, who shone throughout, lifted a sublime ball to the far post for El Ghazi to nudge home at Sam Johnstone’s near post.
The next notable talking point was that of a desperate lunging challenge from Jake Livermore. The Albion captain inexplicably lunged dangerously at Grealish, a tackle that could have delivered a far worse result than the red card eventually awarded courtesy of VAR.
Moments later Kortney Hause found himself being reviewed for a possible red, after a clumsy challenge saw him tackle above the ankle. We’ve seen them given, but perhaps he was spared owing to the ‘accidental’ nature of the attempt, in contrast to Livermore’s just minutes earlier.
After the break Villa picked up where they left off and it quickly became a one-nil massacre as the minutes ticked by.
VAR once more reared its ugly head, again penalising Watkins, judging what appeared to be a perfectly in line run and goal as offside. VAR remains an utter joke that this blog can no longer be bothered to ponder, let alone reflect.
Villa didn’t have to wait long for the deserved second however.
After a good burst from Grealish, Traore stroked a delighted finish beyond the helpless former Villa ‘keeper Johnstone. It was a slow motion, uber cool finish from the former Lyon forward. Traore was an utter terror for Albion all evening, with any number of darting, skillful contributions.
Mere seconds later Grealish was borught down in the area. El Ghazi, resurrected after a spell on the fringes, stepped up to score his second of the match.
This was a composed, dominant and deserved victory at The Hawthorns – it also lifts Dean Smith’s side to 9th.
Up next, Crystal Palace, who will arrive at Villa Park on Boxing Day reeling from a seven-nil thumping by Liverpool.Embed from Getty Images