Last night was the second season in a row that I followed Aston Villa to the Bescott Stadium to take on Walsall in a pre-season friendly. Last year we failed to win so it was nice to see us come away with a 4-1 win and a very positive performance.
I have compiled what I believe to be three positives we should take from last nights win.
Steve Bruce opted to copy the Gareth Southgate or as some older Villa fans will refer to as the Brian Little system by reverting to five at the back or three at the back with two wing backs depending on how you look at it.
He lined up with a back three of Alan Hutton (a job he did well on loan at Mallorca in 2013), Tommy Elphick and James Chester with Neil Taylor and Ritchie De Laet as wing backs.
Hutton was his usual committed self and offered an option going forward at times with his runs up and down the field at a rate of knots. Elphick once again looked composed as he didn’t stop talking to his teammates all game while Chester was his usual reliable self.
De Laet offered us something out wide that maybe we missed last season with him racing up the line all game, while also picking his teammates out on several occasions. The one complaint I would have was Taylor didn’t look comfortable and if we are to play this system I wouldn’t be against trying Mitch Clark or even Andre Green in this role.
A lot has been made of us losing Sam Johnstone who has chosen to sign for West Brom due to our financial issues but some wanted to see Jed Steer be given an opportunity.
Steer has now been given the long-awaited chance to make the no.1 shirt his own. He had good cameo appearances in the cup last season and looked comfortable last night against Walsall.
He was demanding on set peices, and his distribution was also very good, always finding a claret shirt. Steer also made a great save, getting down to his right side quickly to deny Walsall of a good goal. Hopefully, he can be our keeper next season and show everyone what he’s about.
Our midfield has been a talking point over the summer with players like Jack Grealish and Adomah linked with moves away from the club.
Bruce opted for Glenn Whelan and Conor Hourihane in midfield with Grealish in the no.10 role just behind Jonathan Kodjia. All three looked impressed as they controlled the game against Walsall.
Grealish was up to his usual antics; gliding through the team and showing everyone just why he has a big price tag on his head.
Hourihane looked to shoot at every opportunity and bagged himself a hattrick with the pick of the bunch being a 25-yard curler into the top corner. Whelan also contributed with a goal and a good one at that.
Although it was only a pre-season friendly against Walsall it is nice to write about something positive for a chance instead of the usual negative stories that seem to circulate around this club at the moment.
Did you take any other positives from the game?