Dean Smith made it two wins out of two at Villa Park, as Villa chalked up a fairly routine 2-0 win against Bolton. Smith may not have been too convinced by his team’s performance, but it’s good to see a manager with standards and a clear view of where he wants his team to be.
The upcoming trip to Derby should be a juicy one. In the meantime, here’s five reasons to be cheerful…
Dean Smith’s employing Jack Grealish further up the field and getting him to break from the midfield beyond the forwards is starting to reap rewards. Grealish timed his run and latched on Tammy Abraham’s through ball perfectly to open the scoring. If Grealish’s starting position is higher up he’s less lightly to encounter as much traffic as picking up the ball from deep. Plus, Villa have limited themselves by not having midfielders break forward into the box more often, it’s a promising sign.
Another Clean Sheet
Despite another nervous display by Nyland, Villa managed to get through the game without conceding, mainly to a vastly improved display by their centre backs. James Chester’s acrobatic clearance off the line was as good as a goal. If Villa manage another clean sheet or two in their other November games (Derby, Blues & Forest), they’ll be more than happy.
Villa’s passing accuracy being the second best in the league was mentioned in the last Five Reasons column, but it’s improving even more under Dean Smith. It’s now up to 79.3%. Only Swansea top it in the division with 81.5%.
No more “that’s the Championship”. No more “we go again”. Etc, etc. Dean Smith’s post-match analysis is actually interesting, articulate and worth listening to. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that about a Villa manager.
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— My Old Man Said (@oldmansaid) November 4, 2018
Meaty Midlands Clashes
The season starts for real now. A defining two months of fixtures will tell us more about where Villa will end up this season. First of all, November offers up the Midlands clashes of Derby, Blues and Nottingham Forest, which should all be good ones. Certainly they wet the appetite more than playing many of the current teams in the lower half of the Premier League.