Whilst we are not yet firing on all cylinders, there are have been some eye-catching performers in the team. In particular, both Conor Hourihane and Albert Adomah have been instrumental in any progress that we have made over the last month or so. However, the midfield as a whole has been contributing to the side much more than in recent years.

Villa has scored twelve league goals so far this season. Hourihane and Adomah between them are responsible for two-thirds of those notches.

Hourihane is scoring from midfield.In fact, Hourihane’s haul of five goals makes him the first Villa player since James Milner way back in 2009-2010 to score that many goals from a central midfield position.

It’s a startling fact and highlights a huge problem that we’ve had ever since the Martin O’Neill era. Our midfield just hasn’t contributed enough over the last several years in terms of goals.

It is no coincidence that we have struggled so much during those years. We have been massively over-reliant on the likes of Christian Benteke, Darren Bent and last season, Jonathan Kodjia to do all the work in terms of scoring the vast majority of our goals.

Our striking options so far this season haven’t really got going at all in terms of goals. Only two of our strikes have come from recognised forwards with Gabriel Agbonlahor and Keinan Davis scoring once apiece.

With Kodjia building up match fitness after his injury, Scott Hogan continuing his barren run in the league and Ross McCormack impressing only enough to seal a loan move to the Australian A-League, we could easily have had a truly terrible start to the season.

It is great to see Hourihane take the responsibility to add goals to his game rather than shy away as so many others have done. We knew from last season with Barnsley that he was creating goals, finishing top of the assists table with fourteen in total. Now he is grabbing some of the goals for himself too.

Yet even apart from scoring, his application on the pitch has been superb. His willingness to rush back to help defensively also has also been impressive. He has stepped up massively and after having so many shirkers in the team, that in itself is something we have missed.

Similarly, Adomah has responded to disappointment in being left out of the side and instead of moaning about it and sulking like so many others have done beforehand, decided to make manager Steve Bruce look foolish for ever thinking about dropping him. Again, another pleasing example of a player rolling his sleeves up and rising to their duties which we have lacked for such a long time.

Three league goals, plus another in the Carabao Cup against Wigan have got the Ghanian international dancing. Literally. Like Hourihane, Adomah is also another assists monster, finishing only second to the Irishman last season with ten contributions. The rumours that Bruce was looking to offload him if true are baffling.

For me, Adomah gives a fairly pedestrian side a real outlet and injection of pace. We are a much better side with him in it. Especially after losing the speed of Andre Green through injury recently. His speed alone causes problems and his positivity on the ball, willing to take the opposition on, is crucial. It is no coincidence that since his recall and starting games, we have looked much more dangerous than in the toothless showings at home to Brentford and Middlesbrough.

The goalscorers will always grab the glory and headlines, yet it isn’t just Hourihane and Adomah who have done their jobs.

The aforementioned Green was looking promising until an unfortunate injury and the youngster grabbed his first senior goal in the 4-2 defeat of Norwich. His return will be eagerly anticipated.

Josh Onomah has also looked bright operating in an advanced midfield role and looks capable of grabbing himself a few more goals to add to the effort that rescued an important point at Ashton Gate against Bristol City a few weeks back.

Ahmed Elmohamady has also steadily gone about his business. Despite being pushed back to right back against Forest on Saturday, the Egyptian had been playing further forward before that and has a couple of assists to his name also.

These may not be viewed as huge offerings compared to Hourihane and Adomah, but it does show that the midfield as a whole is contributing much more so far this season than we have seen in recent years. If that continues, it will be the difference between a shot at promotion or remaining in this league for another season at least.

All we are missing at the moment now, of course, is the one thing that we were able to rely on last year; a striker to score around twenty goals. Obviously, all eyes will be looking towards Kodjia to begin replicating his form of last season.

Kodija is still finding his fitness.On Saturday there were signs that the rustiness from his broken ankle was beginning to be shaken off and with another step up towards full match fitness under his belt, we can certainly begin to hope that the goals will soon follow. The games against Burton and Bolton certainly offer an opportunity to open his account for the season.

If Kodjia finds his form and Hourihane and Admoah, and the midfield in general, continue to chip in with their fair share of goals and assists, then progress should continue to be made. It should also go a long way to easing the pressure on Kodjia in the long run.

It is extremely promising to see goals coming from areas other than just our main striker for a change. Any team heading for a promotion push doesn’t depend on just one player to score their goals. So maybe, after so many years, we finally have a midfield to get excited about.



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