You truly think you’ve seen it all.
Few would have predicted Villa were in the type of form necessary to demolish Derby County in this manner.
Fewer still would have imagined they’d witness a strike as perfect as Jack Grealish’s volley as they took their seat either.
For Smith, it’s a welcome return to winning ways and in impressive fashion too.
Whilst the playoffs are becoming a taboo word, one can’t help but reflect why we haven’t managed to perform like this for months, and with it, whether a glimmer of hope may yet remain this season.
Villa started the game very brightly, Jack was back & with 37000 at Villa Park, it had the ingredients of a good game.
Whilst there’s been some debate on whether Grealish alone prompted the display that resulted, he certainly buoyed us.
In truth, there were a number on the day that caught the eye.
Hourihane, released to a more advanced role, the one he was bought to fill, looked a different man. Free from the responsibilities in front of the defence, he scored a deserved brace and had it not been for an early missed chance, could have had a hat-trick.
Glenn Whelan, who has been on the end of some inane criticism from some quarters of late, delivered a stellar performance. The Irish international delivered a masterclass in breaking up play, barked orders constantly and was relentless in releasing the ball forwards. His floated corner for Grealish to thunder home on the volley? Sublime.
Mings looked every bit a Premier League defender. Kourtney Hause produced another impressive display, as his stock continues to rise with each game. El Ghazi probed. Elmohamady delivered. Tammy, scored his obligatory goal.
Grealish was at times completely unplayable. Despite not having featured since December, he lacked none of the sharpness, movement nor verve upon which we’d come to rely. The captain’s armband surprised many, including this blog. It may yet prove to be a masterstroke from Smith.
Derby, by contrast, were woeful.
Whilst Villa had sent them packing by half-time, along with many of their fans, there are few performances from an opposition side at Villa Park [in The Championship] where such limited competitive edge has been shown. An allowance can be made for their well publicised injury list, but to suggest they ever looked capable of getting into the game would be a lie.
Whilst the first half was an exercise in organisation and slick countering football from Villa, the second period saw us take a foot off the gas. No-one could blame them; the first half was breathless.
Despite this, Steer remained completely untroubled. Indeed, our only concern will be an injury update for Tommy Elphick, whose unfortunate slip saw him stretchered from the pitch in some discomfort.
It was, undoubtedly, a convincing victory.
There is naturally much to heartened about on this showing.
We displayed everything we might need and hope to have in order to get out of this division.
Which begs the question; where has this Aston Villa been hiding?
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