Aston Villa made it three out of three when it came to Midlands derby’s this season following a comfortable 0-3 victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns. It was also Villa’s fifth win and clean sheet from six games on the road this season.
Douglas Luiz and Matty Cash returned to the starting line up after missing the draw with Burnley through suspension. Ahmed Elmohammady and Marvelous Nakamba dropped to the bench. There was still no sign of Ross Barkley or Ezri Konsa.
An early goal for Villa
Despite not being able to be at the Hawthorns tonight, the usual tensions were felt by those watching as the liquidator played around the stadium (or through the TV surround sound). I am sure I am not the only one who chanted “F##k off West Brom, Villa” from the comfort of my settee.
Villa had an early scare when Emi Martinez accidentally handled the ball outside the area but the resulting free-kick from the home side, summed up their attacking prowess on the night.
It was Dean Smith’s men who would take the lead, however, and it took just five minutes. Bertrand Traore, who probably had his best game in a Villa shirt, beat his man on the edge of the box before chipping a beautifully weighted cross towards the back post where Anwar El Ghazi was able to get a touch on the ball and past former Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
Things went from bad to worse for the home side just before the 40-minute mark. Jake Livermore appeared to see red mist when he lunged at Jack Grealish. Martin Atkinson initially showed the yellow card but VAR overturned the decision and rightfully in my opinion.
Frustration before a late show
West Brom came out in the second half and looked a more solid outfit. The kind of side you would expect from Sam Allardyce, sit deep, compact and try and break on the counter-attack.
Villa continued to dominate the ball without really looking like a threat and things started to become frustrating. Most of Villa’s efforts were coming from long range and were pretty comfortable for Johnstone.
VAR struck again on 72 minutes though as another goal was cancelled out for Ollie Watkins. Cash with a great cross across the goal and Watkins tapped the ball in. VAR got their lines out as they like to and once again it was ruled out by millimetres.
Villa did finally double their lead 6 minutes from time through Traore. Grealish broke through the West Brom midfield before laying the ball off for Traore, he continued running at the defence as Watkins made a decoy run to the right and the former Lyon man cuts inside and slots the ball into the bottom corner.
Just moments later Atkinson pointed to the spot after Semi Ajayi foolishly pushed Grealish over in the area. El Ghazi stepped up and made it three from the spot to get his second of the evening and third in two games.
Next up for Villa, Crystal Palace at home where we will hope we can improve on our poor home form so far this season.